Valve's working on HDR for Linux gaming, paving the way for an eventual OLED Steam Deck

Mcirosoft Auto HDR
If you know, you know. (Image credit: Microsoft)

A Valve designer has revealed that at least one developer associated with the company is working on spinning up HDR for Linux gaming.

Joshua Ashton, who works on key bits of tech like DXVK and VKD3D-Proton, has apparently gotten HDR properly going. The development was noted by Steam Deck developer Pierre-Loup Griffais via Twitter, where he showed off both Halo Infinite and Deep Rock Galactic.

I find it specifically very spicy to play Microsoft's flagship series on a Linux machine. There's something deliciously heretical about that.

For avid Steam Deck watchers eager to read the tea leaves on new hardware developments at valve, this milestone seems significant. This announcement could lend some hope to the idea that the next Steam Deck will ship with a powerfully bright OLED screen supports HDR.

At this point that's purely wishful thinking—and an OLED Deck wouldn't have to support HDR, of course—but at least the possibility exists. And if developers do get HDR working smoothly on Linux, it seems like a feature Valve would be enthusiastic about supporting on a future Deck.

Valve hinted just last month that it'd want a revised Steam Deck to have better battery life and a better screen. (Not that a screen pushing out HDR-level brightness would do anything but make the battery life worse.) Either way, it's a cool development.

Joshua Ashton, the developer behind the HDR on Linux, is one of the many independent contractors doing open source development for Valve, much of which feeds back into the open source ecosystem and goes on to support the greater Linux environment. Ashton posted a tweet showing off a heatmap that displayed the difference in brightness HDR makes.

I am an HDR-liker, myself, and the gain in graphics depth and fidelity is an exciting prospect if your gaming rig is running on Linux. Might be worth watching the last generation of OLED monitors go on sale following CES 2023 this coming weekend.

Either way, it's great to see Valve isn't sitting on its laurels, instead developing the software underlying its hardware division's big success. The Steam Deck was, after all, easily the most innovative piece of hardware we saw last year.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.