My Oculus Rift developer kit arrived earlier this week. It’s an impressive modern virtual reality stereo display headset. Less impressive is the fact that, as always happens, any talk of it being “Open Source” quickly evaporated once funding was secured.

The Oculus software development kit contains source code but users are not free to use that source code as they wish. Oculus VR, the company, claim ownership of all derivatives, demand that any modifications be sent to them, and forbid using the software with non-Oculus VR devices.

That’s harsh even by the standards of proprietary SDKs. Kickstarter backers of the project are rightly complaining about this (see comments on “Open Source” here):


Oculus VR are a hardware company. Making the software that interfaces to their hardware more freely usable will drive adoption and use of that hardware. Oculus have nothing to lose and everything to gain through the network effects of making their SDK free software.

They should switch the licence to the LGPL version 3, which would ensure the availability of modifications to them without being so one-sided and restrictive.

Come on Oculus VR, get back in the game!

Edit (2013-05-03) Greetings Redditors. My justification for the claim that there was ever anything “Open Source” about the Rift was indeed the original MTBS post about the Kickstarter, which I read prior to the campaign launching:


4 thoughts to “Oculus Rift Free Software

  • Steeve Morin (@steeve)

    The reason is because the barrier to entry isn’t hardware, it’s software. The Rift is “just” a 7” screen and a motion tracker packaged as a HMD.

  • Anon

    Why are you acting like it’s a morally repulsive thing for them to maintain ownership and control of something they created? Seriously? I love open source stuff, but failing to open source your product isn’t a moral failure and doesn’t make you an asshole. They’re letting you see the source instead of some API *as a courtesy*. Stop being entitled.

  • Jeffms

    First of all. You should have included the source where it says that the HMD would be “open source” – This was never mentioned in the Kickstarter itself

    The MTBS3D Topic: http://www.mtbs3d.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=140&t=14777

    And Palmer did respond to this:

  • Anthony garza

    Good old bate and switch

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