Half Life Alyx: How Good is The Linux Client?

Since we do not have access to VR equipment at BoilingSteam’s, we have reached Matt(@SciencePhysicist@fosstodon.org on Mastodon) who happens to be a VR Linux gamer. He could give us his honest opinion on how good the native client is vs the game working through Proton, along with a video footage of the game captured on his configuration.

“If Valve had let Half-life Alyx simply be a Proton title, it would have confirmed everything that a lot of hardcore Windows gamers think of gaming on Linux, being that Linux simply is not a gaming platform. It would have confirmed the notion that VR gaming on Linux is dead of arrival. Under Proton the game was sluggish and unstable. [For it to be] sluggish is understandable given that a VR title is rendered once for each eye, effectively doubling the DXVK conversion from DirectX 11.

What we have with the Vulkan and by extension Linux build of Alyx is in my opinion a realization of so much of what Valve has been trying to achieve with their Linux initiative. I’ve been running the game on maximum settings with a 5700XT, RADV (mesa-git) on Fedora 32, using the Original HTC Vive. Using the SteamVR frame time graph I have gone from inconsistent Proton frame times that varied from 15ms to over 100ms – to a mostly consistent sub 12ms. Even without watching the graph the game is like night and day. I actively regret playing the game through under Proton, if I knew at the time a Linux build [was going to be readily available so soon] I’d have waited to play native.

So what of the potential I said earlier. This port shows what our platform is capable of and how far we’ve come, it is another title like Doom that really cements Vulkan as the future of gaming graphics apis.

If you haven’t got into VR gaming yet, this is the title to do it, and it proves that Linux is just as good a platform to do it with.”

Many thanks again to Matt for his report – hopefully this will encourage some of us to invest on VR on Linux, even if it’s mostly only for a single title right now.

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Michael Nischt

FYI, sadly the latest version has a bug which crashes the Linux native HL: Alyx at a specific location: https://github.com/ValveSoftware/SteamVR-for-Linux/issues/356
Currently, there’s no way to make it past that point on Linux unless you have a save game.

Michael Nischt

It’s seems to be happening on all platforms, various distributions and even Windows if using Vulkan and not Directy3D. Also there are confirmations AMD and nVidia.
Appears to have work at some point for the Linux native version but likely broke in the last update a few weeks ago.