Valve Sponsored xrdesktop Lets you View Linux Desktop Environments in VR

There are a number of ways you can view your desktop PC in virtual reality (VR), with apps like Bigscreen Beta or Virtual Desktop. But what if you run Linux software? Today, global consultancy Collabora which specialises in delivering the benefits of Open Source software for commercial use has announced xrdesktop, a project enabling interaction with popular Linux desktop environments, such as GNOME and KDE, in VR. 

Sponsored by Valve, the virtual desktop project integrates into existing Linux desktop environments, so that window managers are aware of VR connectivity, able to use VR runtimes to render desktop windows in 3D space. This gives users the ability to manipulate them with motion controllers like the Valve Index units shown as well as generating mouse and keyboard input.

Several interaction methods have been created to aid window manipulation, from simple grab mechanics by holding the trigger where they can also be rotated freely in 3D space to altering scale by using the analogue sticks. These techniques can be used singularly or with both controllers at the same time. If the windows get a little too muddled the option to reset is always available.

“For our initial release, we focused on integration in the most popular Linux desktops, GNOME and KDE, but xrdesktop is designed to be integrated into any desktop. This can be done with Compiz-like plugins as for KWin or patches on the compositor in the case of GNOME Shell,” said Collabora’s Lubosz Sarnecki in a blog posting. “This integration of xrdesktop into the window managers enables mirroring existing windows into XR and to synthesize desktop input through XR actions. xrdesktop can be run as a dedicated scene application, but it also features an overlay mode, where desktop windows are overlaid over any other running VR application.”

The launch today is just the start of a long list of updates in xrdesktop’s roadmap. Further improvements include OpenXR support, improved Scene app performance and UX when running as overlays, plus a 3D widget library. For further info including downloading xrdesktop head to the gitlab page here. VRFocus will keep you updated on further improvements.

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