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Valve Software Announces SteamVR Support For Developers On Linux

By Victor Thomson , Feb 23, 2017 02:08 AM EST
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Valve Software opens the door for more SteamVR hardware by launching support for SteamVR for Linux. (Photo : Garrett's Tube / YouTube)

Valve Software is making SteamVR more accessible to hardware. The company also released a development build of SteamVR for Linux.

Developent Build Of SteamVR For Linux

According to PCWorld, Valve released SteamVR alongside HTC's Vive nearly a year ago. However, the initial release was lacking MaxOS X and Linux support, as originally planned. Now, the company just rolled out a SteamVR for Linux release targeted at developers.

The developer build of SteamVR for Linux is offered in the beta branch only. The download is available now on GitHub. By using the SteamVR for Linux build, developers can begin creating Linux-based content that will be distributed through Steam.

The release notes indicated that limited hardware support is also provided. Developers will need first to install some pre-release drivers in order to run the beta. SteamVR for Linux is based on the Vulkan graphics API, an open-source alternative to Microsoft's DirectX.

These APIs are used for various software and games to interact specifically with a graphics card. Vulkan is offering more access to the graphics chip than its predecessors.

Developers will be able to use the SteamVR for Linux software in order to create VR experiences for Linux and SteamOS. In order to get started, developers need a Vulkan-friendly beta driver from AMD or Nvidia and the latest Steam Beta Client.

Developers will also need to install Unity 5.6 or later. Because SteamVR on Linux only supports the Vulkan driver, it is necessary to add "Vulkan (Experimental)" to the Graphics APIs for Linux option into the game engine. The "Auto Graphics API for Linux" option should be unchecked.

According to Digital Trends, this move to add SteamVR support to Linux helps Valve Software to get one step closer to its goal of infiltration into the living room. The company's move aims to make Linux a gaming platform. With its Steam Machine initiative, the company set out to overthrow the console market consisting of console-like gaming PCs. These PCs are usually powered by Valve's Linux-based open-source SteamOS operating system.

More Games Expected To Come To Linux Platform

Thanks to Valve's Steam client for Linux, more games are coming to the platform. This also could lead to a growing interest in the Vulkan graphics API. It is still unclear how long it will take before SteamVR will be ready for a 1.0 release on Linux, but adding VR support to Linux is the next logical step for Valve.

By adding Linux support, Valve aims to provide an open-VR solution across multiple markets, including MacOS. During the Steam Dev Days event in October, Valve's Joe Ludwig promised that SteamVR would come to Linux in a matter of months. Valve honored that promise and the next step is expected to be MacOS.

Valve also announced recently that later in 2017, SteamVR Tracking base stations will start selling separately from the Vive headset. This could be seen as part of a larger goal to make SteamVR available on more virtual reality gadgets than just HTC's Vive. Valve is also making free of charge the training course materials for the hardware makers of the SteamVR tracking technology.

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