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Interview With Stefan Achatz Developer Of ROCCAT Gaming Hardware Drivers For Linux
Posted , 27 March 2014 at 7:10 pm UTC / 8590 views
I took some time to have a chat with Stefan Achatz who took it upon himself to write drivers and interfaces for ROCCAT gaming hardware to make sure they work on Linux.

Linux has been known in the past to be a little iffy with driver support for many different things, so I hope everyone appreciates the work Stefan does.

So, if you have picked up anything from ROCCAT chances are you are benefiting from his work! I will be looking to ROCCAT for some devices that's for sure.

Q: First of all can you introduce yourself and how you got started with Linux
QuoteMy name's Stefan Achatz. I'm a nearly 40 Years old German who can't remember why exactly he ordered a copy of S.u.S.E. Linux 4.3 in a bookshop some 18 years ago.

Q: Can you explain the work you do for gaming peripherals on Linux
QuoteFor 4-5 years now I reverse engineer the USB communications of Roccat keyboards and mice to write according Linux drivers. Nowadays I do this with the permission and support from the Manufacturer, also I started disassembling the firmwares in search for interesting things.

Q: When you say the manufacturer supports you, how do they do this?
QuoteBy now they give me the hardware, sometimes from pilot production which enables me to provide release day support. I'm also allowed to use their graphics and sounds.

Q: What are some of the most interesting problems you have had to overcome to get ROCCAT working on Linux?
QuoteHaving no idea about kernel module programming and USB communications was quite some entry threshold. Once you can sniff the data, finding the meaning of most of it is merely a puzzle.

Q: Why did you decide to take it upon yourself to write ROCCAT drivers for Linux?
QuoteSeeing the Valo at the Games Convention in 2009 I asked the hired booth-guy about Linux support. Him saying yes without getting red led me to write a mail to the company. Not having planned such a thing, they encouraged me to do it myself. While the Valo was delayed I got me a Kone and dug into USB and kernel driver programming.

Q: Why do you choose ROCCAT for your gaming peripherals on Linux?
QuoteI liked Valo's macro keys and wanted to utilize them under Linux. Fun fact: I never finished the Valo driver because the device had quite some design flaws and finally broke down on me. After their firstborn Kone and Valo, Roccat made a big leap in design quality e.g. their devices being really HID compatible. All in all, Roccat devices are the most feature rich which makes them appealing not only to use but to reverse engineer.

Q: What Linux distro and desktop do you personally use and why?
QuoteLinux distros are numerous and every single one has their own peculiarities that change over time. Seeing a couple distros over the years I finally landed using Fedora, my main development system being a mixture of Fedora 13 and 15. I have no plans of upgrading soon as it enables me to make my drivers backwards compatible. I like my desktop classical and slick, using Gnome 2 at the moment but leering at Cinnamon or MATE as future options.

Q: Will ROCCAT look to support you further given all the news about Linux gaming recently?
QuoteThere's nothing to be said against it, the response to their support and my work seems to be quite positive. I'm looking forward to which of last CES novelties will be the next I'm getting to work on.

Q: What are your hopes for the future of gaming on Linux and ROCCAT?
QuoteCurrently I split up the roccat project, creating a library providing manufacturer independent components. Hopefully this provides a unified look and feel and eases the development for others. Generally I'm looking forward for GOG to finally support Linux. And Roccat? They already have the best Linux support for their devices, maybe we should hope for a Linux version of Power-Grid.

Thank you Stefan Achatz for having a chat with me, now go buy yourself some gaming hardware.

I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. A fan of anything techy, and not just Linux stuff.

You can follow my personal blog here.

dimko commented on 27 March 2014 at 7:23 pm UTC

I Didn't read article yet.

I have 2 mice and earphones.
5.1 surround nearnesses are not that great imho, but don't require drivers, as they are analogue.(i am not audiophile, they seem to offer relatively good value for money and are only ones i saw that come with DAC, aka USB sound card, which i refuse to use with my Asus Xonair DX in my main board)

1 wireless mouse i had was pretty bad for gamer, i gave it to my mommy for laptop.

Bow i also have Kone+ from em.

FUCK, THIS SHIT IS AWESOME!
First and yet last mouse that has native profiling, colour management, button rebinding(especially useful in games which use old SDL or some library and ignore more than 2 mouse buttons), sensitivity management. It's just awesome! Must have for linux gamer.

Binding mouse buttons is crucial for gamer. I actively use 7 buttons on mouse. For example, Torchlight doesnt support more than buttons. Same as Metro Last light does not recognize a few.

Stefan Achatz, I owe you a beer or 5. If ever to come to Gorlitz or some other place where i will live in - lemme know my email is drjoms AT gmail

dimko

I Didn't read article yet. I have 2 mice and earphones. 5.1 surround nearnesses are not that great imho, but don't require drivers, as they are analogue.(i am not audiophile, they seem to offer relatively good value for money and are only ones i saw that come with DAC, aka USB sound card, which i refuse to use with my Asus Xonair DX in my main board) 1 wireless mouse i had was pretty bad for gamer, i gave it to my mommy for laptop. Bow i also have Kone+ from em. FUCK, THIS SHIT IS AWESOME! First and yet last mouse that has native profiling, colour management, button rebinding(especially useful in games which use old SDL or some library and ignore more than 2 mouse buttons), sensitivity management. It's just awesome! Must have for linux gamer. Binding mouse buttons is crucial for gamer. I actively use 7 buttons on mouse. For example, Torchlight doesnt support more than buttons. Same as Metro Last light does not recognize a few. Stefan Achatz, I owe you a beer or 5. If ever to come to Gorlitz or some other place where i will live in - lemme know ;) my email is drjoms AT gmail dimko
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Anonymous commented on 27 March 2014 at 7:29 pm UTC

i just read my message. I am tired...
1) Roccat 5.1 headset needs usb as power source and does NOT act as DAC
2) Torchlight doesn't support more than 2 buttons. Metro support couple more, but not all. That's where rebinding keys comes handy, i just bind keyboard buttons to actions. It's confusing to assign keys later, but better than not using em later on. Issue not with Roccat here but with devs of games in question.

i just read my message. I am tired... 1) Roccat 5.1 headset needs usb as power source and does NOT act as DAC 2) Torchlight doesn't support more than 2 buttons. Metro support couple more, but not all. That's where rebinding keys comes handy, i just bind keyboard buttons to actions. It's confusing to assign keys later, but better than not using em later on. Issue not with Roccat here but with devs of games in question.
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lordfragger commented on 27 March 2014 at 7:57 pm UTC

His work is actually the reason I bought a roccat mouse last year. His software seems to be quite close to the windows versions in terms of functionality.

His work is actually the reason I bought a roccat mouse last year. His software seems to be quite close to the windows versions in terms of functionality.
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Coloneil commented on 27 March 2014 at 8:49 pm UTC

I bought a roccat Kone pure, because of linux support. I had some issue with ubuntu driver version at the beginning, so I sent a message to Stephane which replied to me within the hour :-) Again thanks for your help and work Stephan. Keep up the good work ;-)

I bought a roccat Kone pure, because of linux support. I had some issue with ubuntu driver version at the beginning, so I sent a message to Stephane which replied to me within the hour :-) Again thanks for your help and work Stephan. Keep up the good work ;-)
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Xpander commented on 27 March 2014 at 9:10 pm UTC

this is why i completely switched to ROCCAT few years ago. having Kova+ mouse and Arvo Keyboard.
just amazing stuff...
still thinking about getting their mechanical keyboard.. a bit expensive but might be well worth it...

Stefan has always been helpful in the help discussions on sourceforge when i have needed some help or asked about something.
thank you Stefan Achatz
and also thank you ROCCAT for giving this man the hardware to do such stuff.

this is why i completely switched to ROCCAT few years ago. having Kova+ mouse and Arvo Keyboard. just amazing stuff... still thinking about getting their mechanical keyboard.. a bit expensive but might be well worth it... Stefan has always been helpful in the help discussions on sourceforge when i have needed some help or asked about something. thank you Stefan Achatz and also thank you ROCCAT for giving this man the hardware to do such stuff.
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DrMcCoy commented on 27 March 2014 at 9:20 pm UTC

QuoteBy now they give me the hardware

I hope they also give him the sources to their new drivers so he doesn't have to reverse them as well.

Me, I've got a generic 20€ Logitech mouse; I don't really care that much about mice. I'll protect my IBM Model M keyboard with my life, though.

EDIT: Eh, ROCCAT keyboards just use generic dome-switch keys? Meh.

[quote]By now they give me the hardware[/quote] I hope they also give him the sources to their new drivers so he doesn't have to reverse them as well. :) Me, I've got a generic 20€ Logitech mouse; I don't really care that much about mice. I'll protect my IBM Model M keyboard with my life, though. EDIT: Eh, ROCCAT keyboards just use generic dome-switch keys? Meh.
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s_d commented on 27 March 2014 at 9:55 pm UTC
  • GOL Supporter

ROCCAT will be next on my mouse purchase list. I need to buy a high-frequency polling mouse for game engine testing, anyway.

It looks like their MK series of keyboards use Cherry switches. I do not own one, but that's what it says on the ROCCAT website.

DrMcCoyI'll protect my IBM Model M keyboard with my life, though.

Sadly, mine died years ago, and no replacement was readily available. I've since switched to a Cherry MX Blue based board, and I love it. It's no Model M, but after spending six months on membrane, the song of my blue switches was sheer joy!

ROCCAT will be next on my mouse purchase list. I need to buy a high-frequency polling mouse for game engine testing, anyway. It looks like their MK series of keyboards use Cherry switches. I do not own one, but that's what it says on the ROCCAT website. [quote=DrMcCoy]I'll protect my IBM Model M keyboard with my life, though. [/quote] Sadly, mine died years ago, and no replacement was readily available. I've since switched to a Cherry MX Blue based board, and I love it. It's no Model M, but after spending six months on membrane, the song of my blue switches was sheer joy!
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Sabun commented on 28 March 2014 at 5:22 am UTC

It's a shame I can't really get my hands on Roccat gear here locally. The only Roccat gear I got my hands on when I discovered Roccat was ok with Linux, was the Roccat Kave. Best sounding gaming headphones out of all the ones I've tried (Razer, SteelSeries,SonicGear,TurtleBeach).

The Kave has worked in all my Ubuntu installations to date. Never an issue with sound quality (plus the Linux drivers seem to give me heavier bass compared to the Windows ones, I don't know why). Only one issue, the headphones are way too heavy. After playing a couple of hours, it gives me a strong headache and a very sore head.

Keep up the good work Stefan Achatz, and thanks Roccat for the Linux love!

It's a shame I can't really get my hands on Roccat gear here locally. The only Roccat gear I got my hands on when I discovered Roccat was ok with Linux, was the Roccat Kave. Best sounding gaming headphones out of all the ones I've tried (Razer, SteelSeries,SonicGear,TurtleBeach). The Kave has worked in all my Ubuntu installations to date. Never an issue with sound quality (plus the Linux drivers seem to give me heavier bass compared to the Windows ones, I don't know why). Only one issue, the headphones are way too heavy. After playing a couple of hours, it gives me a strong headache and a very sore head. Keep up the good work Stefan Achatz, and thanks Roccat for the Linux love!
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Qantourisc commented on 28 March 2014 at 9:12 am UTC

Currently looking for a mice actually, but Roccat got pushed to the side during the selection, I'll have another look at their inventory.
But good reviews are hard to come by

Currently looking for a mice actually, but Roccat got pushed to the side during the selection, I'll have another look at their inventory. But good reviews are hard to come by :(
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