Join us on our own very special Reddit: /r/Linuxers
Guide - VR on Linux
kennethdodrill commented on 29 January 2020 at 7:04 pm UTC

Hi there, I'm a long time lurker of GOL, but recently made an account because I thought this guide would be handy for most people here.

VR on Linux is not feature complete, but I believe it is in good shape and you can easily play many games and have lots of fun.

To clear a few things up, I'll start off with this: This guide is directed towards people who have not had any (or very little) interaction with VR and SteamVR. The first part of this guide will be on first-time setup and understanding how the thing works.

Also, my only experience with SteamVR on Linux is with a Valve Index, which is what I currently own. YMMW on other headsets like the HTC Vive.

First-time setup

Before setting up the headset and sensors, I would recommend downloading SteamVR, and any games you may want to play. SteamVR is required in order to play your games on Steam.

Before launching SteamVR, I would recommend switching to SteamVR Beta. You can do this by going into the games' properties via Steam, clicking the 'Betas' tab, and switching to SteamVR Beta. I have mostly had no issues with the Beta, except for a bug in December where the overlay would not show up. This is mostly fixed now (you also will probably not use the overlay super often) - I have had some issues with certain UI components not showing up, or even crashing the overlay altogether.

Upon launching SteamVR, you will be presented with a small window / box that suggests first-time setup. Go through the steps, updating your devices and setting your bounds, etc, etc. Once you are finished, you now have everything set up correctly.

Super important notes

  • SteamVR is the software that allows you to visit a hub world and launch your games. You will see a small "VR" box next to the big picture mode button on the top-right corner of Steam whenever you plug in your headset. Click this to launch SteamVR. You can also launch games through the Steam client, which will first launch SteamVR if it is not active.

  • Not every game uses OpenVR, thus you cannot play all games if you are using a Vive or Valve Index. You can check the compatibility of your headset by looking at the "VR Support" section of a products' page. For example, Dirt Rally uses the Oculus SDK. Even though the game is native to Linux, and the valve index is as well, you cannot play this game unless you use an Oculus.

  • OpenVR is an SDK (created by Valve) that SteamVR uses. References to this across forums and articles confused me for a bit - most people will probably be referring to OpenVR Advanced Settings, which opens up some more settings in SteamVR.

  • Sometimes, SteamVR just crashes or does not work very well. You can usually solve this by exiting SteamVR, or by exiting Steam, or by restarting your computer.


Overview of issues

SteamVR for Linux is not feature complete. Issues below:

  • The ability to update the sensors via bluetooth is non-functional.

  • The camera does not work right now

  • There's some performance issues (Windows also seems to have performance issues, according to the forums on Steam)

  • The sensors have to be unplugged in order to turn them off (Windows users have it easy, they can just set them to turn off automatically)

  • Some virtual buttons just don't work, like the "Exit VR" button. You must take the headset off and click "Exit SteamVR" in the pop-up box.

  • There are known audio artifact issues with the speakers on the headset.

  • The microphone on the headset may not work sometimes (fixed by adding a line in your daemon.conf file


Despite these issues, I'm sort of glad that I'm playing VR on Linux. Almost every single update to SteamVR, there are Windows users complaining about whatever random issue that they are facing. They have to deal with customer support to get through their issues (if they even can). There's some really odd issues that I've seen, and many issues are simply "MY DEVICE WON'T TURN ON!!", followed by some angry words.

As far as issues go, Linux users have it a bit easier (and the environment is nicer). SteamVR GitHub Issues was created just for Linux users (NO WINDOWS USERS ALLOWED! - kidding :p). Diving into this and the SteamVR Linux Discussion on Steam helped me solve any issues I had.

Resources

I've prepared a list of helpful resources that I hope helps other people here


Final notes

Currently, I play VR instead of 2D games almost anytime I play games on my PC. I do not own any Windows computers, so I exclusively play on Linux. Games I've played and recommend:

Superhot
Accounting+
Beat Saber
IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad (easily my favorite...)
House of the Dying Sun
ZomDay
Compound
Blade and Sorcery
The Talos Principle VR

Also, quick note on people with glasses...please grab a pair of lenses for your headset from VR Optician. It will change your entire experience (you will be able to see!).

Last note, I played all of these with a Ryzen 5 1600 and an RX 480 for awhile and it worked quite well. I recently upgraded to an RX 5700 and it's much smoother. I still had tons of fun running the games on the 480.

Feel free to PM me or add me on Steam for any questions you may have.

Last edited by kennethdodrill on 30 January 2020 at 1:34 am UTC

sub commented on 30 January 2020 at 12:09 am UTC

Thanks!

Maybe I missed it - you're using which kit?

kennethdodrill commented on 30 January 2020 at 8:15 am UTC

subThanks!

Maybe I missed it - you're using which kit?

Hey there,

Oops! I totally forgot to mention what I'm using. I'm using a Valve Index - I'll update the post with that info.

sub commented on 30 January 2020 at 9:35 am UTC

kennethdodrill
subThanks!

Maybe I missed it - you're using which kit?

Hey there,

Oops! I totally forgot to mention what I'm using. I'm using a Valve Index - I'll update the post with that info.

Also planning to get the Index.

It's a shame there is lots of Oculus exclusive content. :/
Really hope this is no big downer when getting
the Index instead of a Quest or Rift S.


Does this Revive thing also work on Linux?
And if so, does it work well?

Ehvis commented on 30 January 2020 at 11:46 am UTC

Nice summary. Have to check a few of the demos of the mentioned games I haven't tried.

Since you're on AMD, how is the reprojection stuff on that? I'm on NVIDIA and if it's on it's a disaster, the only way I can get smooth gameplay is to turn reprojection back to legacy and make sure I don't drop below the target FPS. I even put back my display rate to 80 Hz to give me the least amount of problems.

kennethdodrill commented on 30 January 2020 at 2:47 pm UTC

sub...

Also planning to get the Index.

It's a shame there is lots of Oculus exclusive content. :/
Really hope this is no big downer when getting
the Index instead of a Quest or Rift S.


Does this Revive thing also work on Linux?
And if so, does it work well?

It does suck that there are Oculus games that you can't play without one, but there still a good amount of VR games that use OpenVR. We are further limited by Proton compatibility, but there's still a good long list of great VR games we can play.

I've heard of the Revive project, and have even visited their GitHub page, but I don't see any support for Linux. Their issues don't mention Linux either. I think that even if it did work for Linux, we would probably have issues running the actual games themselves. So you would have to use Revive and Wine both as compatibility layers - sounds tough, but it's probably possible.

kennethdodrill commented on 30 January 2020 at 3:48 pm UTC

EhvisNice summary. Have to check a few of the demos of the mentioned games I haven't tried.

Since you're on AMD, how is the reprojection stuff on that? I'm on NVIDIA and if it's on it's a disaster, the only way I can get smooth gameplay is to turn reprojection back to legacy and make sure I don't drop below the target FPS. I even put back my display rate to 80 Hz to give me the least amount of problems.

Reprojection works great on AMD hardware as far as I can tell. Whenever the framerate dips down, the head tracking is still really smooth. Most games I'm running usually stay well above the frames that reprojection targets though. Even on my 480 things were fine. The 5700 is still way better though and has made my experience much more crisp and smoother.

smantz0rZ commented on 30 January 2020 at 8:09 pm UTC

Great guide. Have been shy to make any VR games for Linux, so much effort required!

barotto commented on 30 January 2020 at 8:41 pm UTC

Thank you for this guide! I've been on the fence for the Valve Index lately and your guide dissipated my doubts: I decided to not buy one just yet. The Index is still stupid expensive and for that kind of money I want something full featured and well polished. I'll reevaluate in six months or so, also depending on the availability of Alyx for Linux.

kennethdodrill commented on 31 January 2020 at 2:17 pm UTC

barottoThank you for this guide! I've been on the fence for the Valve Index lately and your guide dissipated my doubts: I decided to not buy one just yet. The Index is still stupid expensive and for that kind of money I want something full featured and well polished. I'll reevaluate in six months or so, also depending on the availability of Alyx for Linux.

Totally understand. The Index definitely is expensive, but I had been wanting a VR system for a long while - the Index is really the only headset with official Linux support, so I picked it up last December. I've had a ton of fun with it, and it has definitely invigorated my love of gaming by providing a totally new and unique experience. I hope Alyx at least has Proton support, if it doesn't I'd be pretty upset

sub commented on 31 January 2020 at 3:02 pm UTC

I wouldn't hold my breath for HL:Alyx.

Valve, so far, clearly tried hard to avoid answering any questions about a Linux release.
My intuition says: Not good.

You need to Register and Login to comment, submit articles and more.


Or login with...

Livestreams & Videos
None currently, submit yours here!
Popular this week
View by Category
Contact
Latest Comments
Latest Forum Posts