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Podcast: FLOSS Weekly Interviews OpenHMD Developers

Posted by Norbert, 4 months agoTue, 10 Jan 2017, 22:58 (1 comment)
FLOSS Weekly has just published episode 417, about OpenHMD. FLOSS Weekly, that debuted in April 2006, is a netcast from the TWiT podcast network. The episode is hosted by Aaron Newcomb and Guillermo Amaral. Guests are OpenHMD's Fredrik Hultin (co-founder OpenHMD) and Joey Ferwerda (recently mentioned). The episode is about 52 minutes and is CC-BY-NC-ND licensed. Contains sponsor messages in the first minutes; the interview starts at the 6:00.

From the video: OpenHMD integrated in Blender should release in March this year, with Blender 2.79.

Report: Help OpenHMD Test Their CMake Scripts

Posted by Norbert, 4 months agoTue, 3 Jan 2017, 20:30 (0 comments)
Everyone, Happy New Year! Let's hope SteamVR for Linux arrives soon.

OpenHMD has been making progress. In a recent Tweet, the developers ask Linux users to try our their CMake scripts:

OpenHMDAll #CMake fans, we just updated our CMakeLists on git to the same level as our Autotools. Should be fine on Linux but please feedback!

OpenHMD is available at GitHub (up-to-date).
It was also added to Debian unstable ("sid"; less up-to-date).

OpenHMD's Joey Ferwerda, one of the top 30 Blender developers of 2016, "worked in 2016 on adding real-time VR viewing in Blender's viewport". According to the Blender page this already works for the Rift, with Vive support coming soon. Ferwerda attended the Blender Conference 2016, where OpenHMD was also mentioned. Also, last November, basic rotational functionality for PlayStation VR was added to OpenHMD, and pushed to branch.

Report: Valve Dev Posts RFC to Improve VR with AMDGPU

Posted by Norbert, 4 months and 1 week agoSat, 17 Dec 2016, 13:58 (0 comments)
Phoronix reports that a Valve developer, Andres Rodriguez, has "issued a request for comments on a proposal to implement high priority scheduling in the AMDGPU kernel driver in order to benefit their Linux VR efforts".

Rodriguez' request was posted to the amd-gfx mailing list.

PhoronixValve is planning for this work to be predictable from submission to fence signaling and also work for compute workloads, support low-submission latencies, and other wish-list items. The main concept is to provide a "high priority compute queue" that is exposed to user-space. Once work is going, Valve is also willing to work on it to see it implemented within the RADV Vulkan driver, since Vulkan is playing a big role with Valve's VR initiative.

I think this is related to the Radeon 400 series, seeing Rodriguez specifically mentions Polaris 10.

Speculation: YouTube Video Shows 'VLC VR Experiment' on Vive

Posted by Norbert, 4 months and 2 weeks agoWed, 14 Dec 2016, 21:29 (0 comments)
I'll keep this short. YouTube user "Visualink" (website?) has posted a video titled "VLC VR experiment running on a HTC Vive" to YouTube. The laptop appears to be running Linux. This may or may not be a libVLC application that uses OpenHMD.

Report: FreeSync and Radeon Pro Software to Improve VR on Linux

Posted by Norbert, 5 months agoThu, 8 Dec 2016, 20:52 (0 comments)
It's not often that one of the bigger publishers talks specifically about VR on Linux. Today, IDG's Computerworld brings us news that "AMD strengthens gaming and VR on Linux with graphics improvements". Quoting Computerworld's Agam Shah:

Agam ShahWindows is the indisputable platform of choice for gaming and VR, but Linux is catching up fast as graphics companies ramp up driver and hardware support for the OS. AMD is showing more love for Linux than ever before. The company on Thursday announced some hardware and driver updates that will strengthen gaming and VR on the OS.

First of all, Linux is getting FreeSync support, an adaptive synchronization technology that reduces screen tearing.


Secondly, there's the Radeon Pro Software driver for Linux. According to Shah, this will make it easier to create VR content on Linux:

Agam Shah[It] will allow the use of powerful Radeon Pro GPUs based on Polaris architecture to create VR content. [...] The software driver works with Ubuntu, CentOS, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It also supports the cross-platform Vulkan API, commonly used to develop games and graphics-related programs.


Quoting from AMD's press release:

AMDExpanding Linux® support: AMD’s ongoing commitment and support for open-source technologies and tools means Radeon Pro Software Crimson ReLive Edition now supports the AMD GPU-PRO hybrid Linux driver. This new Linux driver combines the best of both worlds — an open-source core and Radeon™ Pro technologies and performance

Now all we need is more VR on Linux. Face-smile

Report: The Khronos Group Announces VR Standards Initiative

Posted by Norbert, 5 months agoTue, 6 Dec 2016, 16:45 (2 comments)
Less than a week after The Khronos Group announced that Razer had joined them, they've now announced a VR standards initiative that aims to "define a cross-vendor, royalty-free, open standard for access to modern virtual reality devices":

The Khronos GroupThe rapid growth of the virtual reality market has led to platform fragmentation, forcing VR applications and engines to be ported and customized to run on multiple VR runtimes, and requiring VR sensors and displays to be integrated with multiple driver interfaces. This fragmentation slows the widespread availability of compelling VR experiences, creating added expense for developers wishing to support multiple VR devices, and hindering the adoption of innovative user interface technologies.

Components of the new standard will include APIs for tracking objects and for easily integrating devices into a VR runtime, to improve portability. The announcement of The Khronos Group includes statements of support from various parties, namely AMD, ARM, Epic Games, Google, ITA, Intel, LunarG, NVIDIA, Oculus, OGA, Razer, Sensics, Tobii, Valve and VeriSilicon. The initiative has its own section on the website of The Khronos Group, and includes the following diagram:


Opinion: Vivecraft on Linux

Posted by Seegras, 5 months agoMon, 5 Dec 2016, 12:50 (0 comments)
There is a Minecraft mod for using the Vive, called Vivecraft. You can get it at GitHub, but I haven't been able to build it myself yet. So, I used this installer ZIP. There are some other versions flying around, but they may lack the native Linux libraries. Also, you need Minecraft, of course.

Now, in order to get this working, I needed the 64-bit versions of the SteamVR libraries driver_lighthouse.so and libaitcamlib.so. The main problem were dependencies, since my system does not usually have such outdated libraries as libudev.so.0. The first attempt was to use the Steam environment, but that includes dozens of outdated libraries, which in turn resulted in Java not working. So, I symlinked only the necessary libraries to where they were needed:

cd ~/.steam/SteamApps/common/SteamVR/bin/linux64
ln -sf ~/.steam/ubuntu12_32/steam-runtime/amd64/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libudev.so.0.13.0 libudev.so.0

And I wrote a little startup script:



cd ~/.minecraft
/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-openjdk-amd64/bin/java -Xms2048M -Xmx2048M  -jar Minecraft.jar

You might need to change the "DFP-5" there; that's the HDMI port your Vive sits on.

With that, it starts, and as long as the Vive can not see the base stations it displays the main menu. However, when I put it on, the menu is only visible up to the far right. There's a "Reset Origin" menu item, and if you place your mouse on that before putting on the Vive, and click on it afterwards, Vivecraft somewhat works. You can walk around, destroy and place blocks, and so on. All with your mouse and keyboard. What's not working for me are the menus and inventories, as I suspect they pop-up somewhere where I can't see them.

See also issue 241 on GitHub.

How-To: Engineer Live-Streams Vive USB Reverse Engineering

Posted by Norbert, 5 months agoSun, 4 Dec 2016, 18:40 (1 comment)
Electrical engineer and FOSS developer Charles Lohr (@CNLohr) has been reverse engineering raw Vive data. In a recent live-stream, of which a recording is available at YouTube, he explains and demonstrates basic reverse engineering (decoding) of USB light data reported by the Vive controllers. Not only was CNLohr able to make some discoveries, Ben Jackson, engineer at Valve Corporation, also dropped in as a viewer of the live-stream and was able to provide some direct information.

CNLohr has a goal to use the Vive on Linux with his older, non-gamer laptop with a room-scale VR environment. Though other GPL FOSS projects are geared for running the Vive on Linux and other operating systems, CNLohr is specifically looking to have a C library that minimizes size and dependencies as well as being licensed under the more permissive MIT license.

Charles LohrOne of the biggest driving forces for me was to get away from this world of huge dependencies, because I actually ran out of data on my cell phone plan trying to get all of the dependencies needed to build and use OSVR-Vive-Libre. The second is that I am a C programmer, through and through. All of the current implementations are very heavily object oriented with all sorts of elaborate architectures. I just want a simple library I can include, and use the Vive.

Report: Razer Joins The Khronos Group

Posted by Norbert, 5 months agoThu, 1 Dec 2016, 20:17 (0 comments)
Razer Inc., the American manufacturer of the OSVR hardware and co-founder of the OSVR platform, has joined The Khronos Group as a Contributing Member:

The Khronos GroupThe Khronos Group is proud to announce that Razer has joined as a Contributor Member. Razer is a world leader in connected devices and software for gamers. Its award-winning design and technology span systems, peripherals, audio and wearable technologies. Razer co-founded OSVR, an open-source platform that integrates VR, AR and mixed reality hardware and software APIs that support a universal VR ecosystem.

Phoronix reports:

PhoronixRazer joining The Khronos Group looks to be a VR/AR play, but will hopefully help further push Vulkan and other Khronos standards to gamers. [...] It will be interesting to see how Khronos further pushes open standards in the VR/AR space in 2017 and Vulkan powering Linux VR experiences.

The Khronos Group has four kinds of members: Promoter Members, Contributor Members, Associate Members and Academic Members. As a Contributor Member, Razer has "full working group participation and voting rights".

Opinion: Core VLC Developer: 'Noone Cares About Linux; OpenHMD Is a Joke'

Posted by Norbert, 5 months agoSun, 27 Nov 2016, 20:43 (9 comments)
Recently, VLC media player, cross-platform media player and streaming media server, unveiled a preview that supports playback of 360-degree videos. This VLC 360° Technical Preview is available for Windows and OS X. As reported by Engadget:

EngadgetVideoLan says it will make these features available on its mobile apps as well, and let users navigate the clips by moving their accelerometer-carrying devices around. It also said it will support VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift, Google's Daydream and the HTC Vive in 2017.

Curious about future Linux support, in particular for VR, I contacted Jean-Baptiste Kempf (j-b, jbkempf). Kempf has been leading the VLC community for more than a decade, is president of the non-profit VideoLAN organization, is VLC's second biggest contributor, and developed everything related to 360-video and 3D audio in VLC. His response:

Jean-Baptiste KempfFor Linux, nothing is planned.

In a follow-up question, I asked Kempf if this is related to lack of man power or current driver support. His answer:

Jean-Baptiste KempfDriver, mostly. Or also, that noone really cares about Linux. And, also, that we might need direct access to get powerful perf. Also http://openhmd.net/doxygen/0.1.0/openhmd_8h.html is a joke, right? News flash: users are not on Linux, notably people who have huge GPUs and care about Games and VR.

Jaw-dropping remarks. I asked him for clarification.

Jean-Baptiste KempfThere are 2 things: playback of VR/360 video files, and playback inside headsets. For the first, we do it on a cross-platform way. For the second part, it depends on the HMD SDKs. And all those SDKs are different, and behave differently. [...] So far, the Linux SDK situation is abysmal.

I mentioned OpenHMD.

Jean-Baptiste KempfOpenHMD is a joke, sorry. OpenHMD does not even give you an OpenGL context. Did you read the documentation?

After this, our conversation spiralled out of control. Here is one more interesting tidbit you may not know:

Jean-Baptiste KempfOn Steam, 99.9% of games do not run on Linux.

By the way, I'm not making any of this up. The icing on the cake: Kempf claims he may decide not to merge OpenHMD related code in the future because of me, despite my repeated reminders that I have nothing to do with the OpenHMD project and that he should not punish OpenHMD for his dislike of me.

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