From: John Stone (
Date: Thu Jun 10 2021 - 16:10:23 CDT

  Sorry for the delay, I'm currently swamped with the VMD survey and
a funding proposal.

At present, VR on linux is in a generally immature state of development.

I was able to use early versions of OpenHMD to do research with the
early Oculus DK1 and DK2 hardware when the HMD hardware and protocols
were much more open than they are now (post-Facebook acquisition):

Later generation hardware including both Oculus and HTC Vive HMDs,
and many of the Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) hardware have become nearly
entirely closed source/proprietary. As a result, Linux libraries like
OpenHMD have had to make progress through reverse engineering methods, and
this has left most of the HMDs with only partial support (orientation
only, no 3-D position tracking, no support hand controllers, etc).
You can see the current state of the hardware support matrix in OpenHMD here:

One item of good news is that Khronos has ratified the OpenXR specification
for cross-platform VR, and there are some working group members that
care about Linux there, and through some very very complicated tricks,
I'm told that people have managed to get an OpenXR build to work to
some degree on Linux. The "tricks" involve doing things like running
closed source Windows tracking daemons on a linux machine via emulation
or VMs, and similar. The complexity of the steps involved is currently
high enough that I only know that two people have managed to get something
limping along, and both of them work full-time on VR.

At present, this situation with closed source drivers/protocols/etc
is (harshly) limiting the viability of Linux as a VR platform.
There is hope that this will change in the coming year, but it'll
likely be a slow evolution.

Once there are enough pieces working that I can begin taking reasonable
steps with OpenXR on Linux, I will pursue this more vigorously.
If too much time passes while we wait for Linux HMD support improve,
then I may end up being forced to do VMD VR development on Windows instead,
but that's far less convenient for me so I'm hoping that things don't
go that way. ;-)

If I see any significant evidence that things are starting to move forward
with Linux HMD drivers I'll be happy to make some noise here on VMD-L.
I've got a bunch of colleagues that work in different sci-viz subdomains
that are also keenly interested and watching for this too...

  John Stone

On Tue, Jun 01, 2021 at 07:46:01PM +0100, Paulo E. Abreu wrote:
> Hello,
> I am planning on buying a set of VR glasses to use for demonstration
> purposes (for students with 16-18 years) and I would love to use it under
> linux if possible.
> Does anyone have access to VR glasses and have been using them with VMD ?
> I have been looking into Steam Index and HTC Vive Pro as they seem to have
> some kind of support under linux. Any suggestions/experiences from people
> who have been doing it would be¬ greatly appreciated.
> Thanks a lot,
> Paulo
> --
> Paulo E. Abreu
> Professor Auxiliar
> Departamento de Qu√mica
> Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra

NIH Center for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
University of Illinois, 405 N. Mathews Ave, Urbana, IL 61801           Phone: 217-244-3349