Valve Updates SteamVR AMD Requirements, Recommends Using PPAs On Ubuntu
Written by Michael Larabel in Valve on 4 October 2018 at 03:48 PM EDT. 9 Comments
VALVE --
Valve updated their Linux graphics driver requirements today for using SteamVR. On the NVIDIA side you just need the proprietary 387 driver or newer and you are all set for SteamVR -- assuming your GPU is fast enough to keep pace. But on the AMD side is where there are still relatively tight requirements which leads them to recommending third-party PPAs for the best experience.

Fundamentally they just require RadeonSI/RADV from Mesa 17.3 or newer as well as the Linux 4.13 kernel or newer. Of course, the newer the Mesa the better for newer Vulkan extensions/capabilities and particularly for better performance.

What they recommend (in order to utilize VR direct mode) and have all around the best open-source AMD experience, X.Org Server 1.20, Linux 4.15, and Mesa 18.2 become the cut-off. While you will get there if using Ubuntu 18.10 due out this month with its Linux 4.18, Mesa 18.2, and X.Org Server 1.20.1 stack, existing users including Ubuntu 18.04 LTS fall out of reach.

For having the better Radeon experience with SteamVR on current Ubuntu releases (or Ubuntu derivatives) they recommend enabling the paulo-miguel-dias/pkppa (the "Padoka" stable PPA) or ubuntu/steamvr ("experimental graphics" Mesa packages for SteamVR) and ppa:kisak/steamvr4pk with that latter repository being a Valve-maintained archive of the newer Linux kernel and xorg-server packages.


At least with Ubuntu 18.10, Fedora 29, and rolling releases like openSUSE Tumbleweed and Arch the AMD Radeon SteamVR Linux experience with the HTC Vive headsets should now be in good shape... This month I hope to have the time to try out the fresh Radeon VR experience. The NVIDIA SteamVR Linux experience has been largely fine aside from Steam/VR bugs while the experience with older Mesa/Linux and X.Org Server 1.19 had been rather shoddy.

Paired with Steam Play, maybe 2019 will be the year of SteamVR Linux gaming? Well, maybe if the HTC Vive prices were to substantially drop...
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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