SteamVR On Linux Is Still In Frustratingly Rough Shape

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 18 December 2017. Page 1 of 3. 15 Comments

If you are exclusively using Linux for gaming, hopefully you aren't hoping for an HTC Vive this Christmas as the SteamVR support on Linux still leaves a lot to be desired. At the start of the year Valve finally put out their first SteamVR developer build for Linux and now nearly one year later, it still feels like a very rough beta.

When first trying out the SteamVR Linux beta back in February, I felt at the time: Trying The SteamVR Beta On Linux Feels More Like An Early Alpha. It's a bit better now as we close out 2017, but still isn't a worthwhile investment even for a serious Linux gamer. Not to mention the lack of any majorly compelling Linux VR game, the overall SteamVR support is in rough shape.

There were pains setting up SteamVR on Linux when it first launched and there remains some old and new problems when trying it out this week with the HTC Vive.

Per Valve's own maintained SteamVR Linux notes, the current driver requirements come down to the NVIDIA 387.12 driver or newer. If using a Radeon GPU, at least now it's supported compared to out-of-tree patches when SteamVR first launched on Linux... If using Mesa 17.3+ and ideally Linux 4.13+, you should be in good shape on the open-source Radeon side (there is no support for AMDGPU-PRO as of writing). But that didn't end up being smooth either, as to be outlined later in this article.

Ubuntu's Steam package on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS still doesn't install the HTC Vive udev rules by default, so that also must be done manually right now. (Though if using Steam's generic Linux installer package, that does appear to now contain the rules).

There's also a host of known limitations that remain currently with SteamVR on Linux. Among the SteamVR known issues right now are poor performance due to runtime and engine improvements still needed, no support for power management of base stations, headset audio device switching not being implemented, and also frustratingly there still is not support for firmware updates of base stations.

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