Setting up a Steam Controller on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

As a belated Christmas present, I asked Santa for a Steam Controller, since it was on sale during the holidays.

A few days of nail-biting shipping days later, the package dropped in the mail while I was at work.

Like a kid in a candy store, I unwrapped the Steam Controller and gave the packaging to the cat to make sure he was amused for a few hours as well.

I popped in the batteries, plugged in the dongle and was never more ready to game.

…However, my Steam Controller seemed to have other plans.

The haptic feedback of the trackpad worked, the Steam logo lit up, but no response on the PC.

Slightly annoyed, I started going through the manual, fiddled around with batteries and unplugging and plugging the dongle.

Then I decided to use the cable that was supplied with it to make a direct connection to the controller.

It worked!

I was swooshing my cursor over my desktop with a smile from ear to ear.

Almost ready to turn up my victory tune, I started up steam and expected it to work like that.

Linux being the DIY OS that it is, it didn’t.

Fortunately, I found a solution pretty fast with the help of my close friend Mr. Google and some common sense.

First of all, make sure you’re not running any custom drivers for controllers that might intervene with your new Steam Controller, like I had.

In my case, there was a driver running that I had installed for my Xbox360 controller, called “xboxdrv”

A quick “sudo apt-get purge xboxdrv” made sure this driver was uninstalled, and its configurations removed.

Secondly, I found out that a recent update did not copy some of the udev rules in my Linux distro for my brand new Steam Contoller.

Although, it could by easily fixed by doing the following: (source: Steam Forums)

Close the Steam client completely.

Open your terminal and enter:

sudo nano /lib/udev/rules.d/99-steam-controller-perms.rules

If this file does not exist (yet), be sure to create it!

Copy paste the following into the controller-perms file and be sure to edit the “GROUP=” to the username of the user that is running steam:

# This rule is needed for basic functionality of the controller in Steam and keyboard/mouse emulation

SUBSYSTEM==”usb”, ATTRS{idVendor}==”28de”, MODE=”0666″

# This rule is necessary for gamepad emulation; make sure you replace ‘pgriffais’ with a group that the user that runs Steam belongs to

KERNEL==”uinput”, MODE=”0660″, GROUP=”YOURUNIXUSERNAME”, OPTIONS+=”static_node=uinput”

# Valve HID devices over USB hidraw

KERNEL==”hidraw*”, ATTRS{idVendor}==”28de”, MODE=”0666″

# Valve HID devices over bluetooth hidraw

KERNEL==”hidraw*”, KERNELS==”*28DE:*”, MODE=”0666″

# DualShock 4 over USB hidraw

KERNEL==”hidraw*”, ATTRS{idVendor}==”054c”, ATTRS{idProduct}==”05c4″, MODE=”0666″

# DualShock 4 wireless adapter over USB hidraw

KERNEL==”hidraw*”, ATTRS{idVendor}==”054c”, ATTRS{idProduct}==”0ba0″, MODE=”0666″

# DualShock 4 Slim over USB hidraw

KERNEL==”hidraw*”, ATTRS{idVendor}==”054c”, ATTRS{idProduct}==”09cc”, MODE=”0666″

# DualShock 4 over bluetooth hidraw

KERNEL==”hidraw*”, KERNELS==”*054C:05C4*”, MODE=”0666″

# DualShock 4 Slim over bluetooth hidraw

KERNEL==”hidraw*”, KERNELS==”*054C:09CC*”, MODE=”0666″

For the paranoid amongst us, what this configuration file does is the following; it gives permissions to your Steam Controller to some udev rules, allowing your Steam controller to function.
Every action is properly documented in the above “copy paste”, so not to worry.

After you’ve done this, unplug your Steam Controller dongle and plug it back in again, since this reloads the udev rules.

Now, this should work like this, since you’re editing a configuration file manually that devices running SteamOS get through a closed repository owned by Steam.

You can go ahead and start your Steam client again and you will see that you will be getting a notification in Steam, asking you to go into Big Picture Mode in order for your Steam Controller to update to the latest version.

Once this has been downloaded and installed (Approx. ~2 mins.), you’re ready to go!

I’m hoping my little guide on getting the Steam Controller to work will help all you Linux Steam gamers out there who are struggling to get their Steam Controller working.

Feel free to read my review on my experience with the Steam Controller while gaming as well.

Gaming as an adult

We’ll all get there one day.
Gaming is your passion, and you enjoy doing it, but you can not afford to have gaming sessions spanning over multiple hours, due to a multitude of reasons; maintaining a house, having a demanding job and/or a significant other who you love spending time with.
This doesn’t mean you can’t play video games anymore, but you will have to come to the realisation that there have to be some alterations to your gaming behaviour.

Time management

As everyone who is no longer living with mum and dad knows, once you start living on your own, chores will need to get done.
This will take up a considerable amount of your free time, resulting in less game time.
When sitting behind a PC or any form of console “for a quick session of [insert game name here]” at a given time, you will most likely lose track of time and you will (potentially unwillingly) procrastinate.
It will also be harder to motivate yourself and go back to your chores after “rewarding” yourself prematurely.
My advice is to plan gaming sessions after you’re done with your daily work, making it feel like a reward.
Also, set yourself an alarm to prevent yourself from gaming too many hours in case of a weekday.
We’ve all been in that state of “One more level…”.
But you really don’t want to chug 5 coffees in the span of an hour the next day at work, in order to be productive.

A matter of mindset

It is a good idea to change your mindset regarding gaming.
Consider this example; Person A sees gaming as an activity that he or she needs to partake in on a daily basis to not miss out on loot, activities or events (take the reward system in MMOs).
And then there’s person B, who treats gaming as a hobby that in no way will or should have an impact on daily life, and will only spend time on it when possible.
Person B will have no issues when life “gets in the way” of gaming, whilst person A will be upset in one way or another because the events did not live up to his or her expectations.
Simply because the pattern is broken that this person has grown accustomed to.
As you might’ve guessed, the mindset of person B is a lot healthier than person A’s.
If you’re used to person A’s mindset yourself, it will get some time getting used to person B’s mindset, but I can promise you that you will be much happier once you do.
This is because you don’t judge a day’s success by the ability whether you’ve played your favourite game or not.

The choice of games

I have had this dilemma at first because I am a huge RPG fan and an avid MMO player.
The downside of MMOs specifically is that they really don’t match with a busy lifestyle.
First of all, they are not finite, there is always something to do at any given time.
Combining this with the built-in reward system in MMOs that rewards you for logging in, a player can lose himself in the game quite quickly.
Furthermore, you generally don’t play these games alone, but in some form of group, like a guild.
These groups have the tendency to put group pressure on their members because of harder, instanced content, who need organised groups of players.
I was a very avid Guild Wars 2 player.
However, the shift towards time locked, instanced events or content slowly pushed me away.
These events were planned beforehand and required attendance, needing me to clear up my evening for these events.
I started shifting towards single player RPGs that had a strong storyline and were also finite.
This was because these could be played in chunks of 1 to 1,5; maybe 2 hours.
The fact that these games were finite made me treat them like a good book, slowly working towards a satisfying ending.
After finishing one of the games, I would move on to the next game.
And as one of the oldest shouts towards parents since video games, these games could be paused; allowing time to do some ad-hoc activities in between gaming.
Think about putting on a wash, stop the cat from attacking the couch, etcetera.

Choosing player two

In the previous paragraph, I mentioned that I advocate playing single player games.
Does that mean you can’t ever play multiplayer games again? No.
It just means you will have to pick your co-op gamers in a more careful manner.
People who are in the same situation, with jobs and responsibilities, are more capable of understanding your situation also.
In my case, this is an old classmate, whom I frequently tag up with in some multiplayer games.
Furthermore, if your significant other is into gaming, there are plenty of co-op games that can be played together.
Portal 2, Let’s Starve, Guacamelee, and so forth are a great example of games for couples.
If you have a Wii U, I can very strongly recommend Yoshi’s Woolly World.
My girlfriend and I been having a blast playing this.

Creating realistic expectations

What I’m trying to say here is the following; there’s no need to give up gaming when you reach a certain point in life, albeit you will have to find a balance.
Giving up something you like is a bad thing, even if it’s for all the right reasons.
However, prioritising gaming in a sense that you value your progress in a game more than to spend quality time with the people you love, is even worse.
What it all comes down to realistically adjusting your expectations when it comes to gaming as a hobby.
To get a better grasp of this concept, imagine that instead of gaming, your passion would be a sport, like running.
Imagine leaving all your chores unfinished, drop everything, leave your family and/or partner behind to go running for 8 hours.
Your house/apartment will become a mess and you’ll neglect your loved ones on the long run.
Solutions to this, as mentioned before, could be to see your hobby as a reward for a job well done around the house.
Also, try to show your significant other why you like gaming so much, and maybe they’ll join you!
This shows your partner that you want them to join you in your enthusiasm when it comes to gaming.
Potentially, this could lead to a shared hobby!

I hope that I’ve entertained you with my ramblings when it comes to gaming as an adult.
Furthermore, I hope that you can use my experiences in your own life, in the case that you’re struggling combining gaming with an independent life.
Closing, I hope you’ll enjoy my writing as much as I do writing it.