Software Removes The Facebook From Facebook’s VR Headset (Mostly)

It’s not a jailbreak, but [basti564]’s Oculess software nevertheless allows one the option to remove telemetry and account dependencies from Facebook’s Oculus Quest VR headsets. It is not normally possible to use these devices without a valid Facebook account (or a legacy Oculus account in the case of the original Quest), so the ability to flip any kind of disconnect switch without bricking the hardware is a step forward, even if there are a few caveats to the process.

To be clear, the Quest devices still require normal activation and setup via a Facebook account. But once that initial activation is complete, Oculess allows one the option of disabling telemetry or completely disconnecting the headset from its Facebook account. Removing telemetry means that details about what apps are launched, how the device is used, and all other usage-related data is no longer sent to Facebook. Disconnecting will log the headset out of its account, but doing so means apps purchased from the store will no longer work and neither will factory-installed apps like Oculus TV or the Oculus web browser.

What will still work is the ability to sideload unsigned software, which are applications that are neither controlled nor distributed by Facebook. Sideloading isn’t on by default; it’s enabled by putting the headset into Developer Mode (a necessary step to installing Oculess in the first place, by the way.) There’s a fairly active scene around unsigned software for the Quest headsets, as evidenced by the existence of the alternate app store SideQuest.

Facebook’s control over their hardware and its walled-garden ecosystem continues to increase, but clearly there are people interested in putting the brakes on where they can. It’s possible the devices might see a full jailbreak someday, but even if so, what happens then?

17 thoughts on “Software Removes The Facebook From Facebook’s VR Headset (Mostly)

  1. I was able to try a Quest once and it’s a great piece of hardware. Also with some really nice games on it, but being forced to interact with Facebook is a big no for me. Even though it’s hackable I don’t want to support Facebook by buying it.

    1. Same. Won’t do it. Excited for VR, and with OLED phone screens, and more and more powerful phones, I think we’ll see a convergence of headsets and phone-holder-headsets-with-bluetooth controllers.

  2. +1
    I have the old Quest (1), connected to an Occulus account only, which was possible until end of 2020 afair. Apparently there’s a way to use the new Quest 2 with an existing Occulus account if you have one. That said, I’d much prefer a “free” Quest without the need for a Facebook and Occulus account, without the telemetry and working on Linux… The Valve kit and the HP Reverb G2 are nice, but quite expensive and I don’t like the idea of installing those “lighthouses” in my flat. The Quests inside-out tracking works just fine for me.

  3. Super cool hack and I love to see hacks like this come out, but yeah I choose to support a more open headset from the start, namely the index… Now I know there’s a huge price difference there, but the reason it’s there is that with oculus, like with all of facebooks services, you are the product, they make their money off if your data instead of the hardware they sell you.

  4. So, seriously, please, if you want to “put the brakes” on this sort of thing, then DON’T BUY THE PRODUCTS… and don’t do things that might encourage other people to buy them. The answer isn’t to hack it. The answer is to use something else.

    VR headsets are not (yet) a case where you have no other meaningful choice.

        1. That’s a thing like “buy Spiderman with a ps4”, it’s a reseller thing, not a consumer thing.
          You own the Lynx as a consumer and you can do whatever with it, it’s a company thing that one.

    1. I like your idea but I don’t think it can work.

      The problem is we are a small part of the overall population. FB et al are perfectly happy marketing to the tech-illiterate masses. Those people aren’t thinking about things like running their own code. They actually prefer to never leave the flashy marketplace app and the big corps are happy not selling to us.

      Our best bet is to keep trying to come up with a build-it-yourself open source design that is affordable and doesn’t make one look like they are dressing up to cosplay as the Borg. Then we can start building our own software around it. (no offense meant if Borg cosplay is your thing, you be you and have fun)

      Nevermind trying to take over the world with this platform. We can do that the year after the year of the Linux desktop. We just need to make it be what we want it to be and do what we want it to do. If it turns out well then maybe the usual China shops will turn out a few compatible units and we can welcome a few of our less-technical friends to the party. Just don’t make world domination the test for success.

  5. The thing is, you won’t support FB if you buy a Quest and use Oculess, because FB sells them at a loss, and relies to get the money from their share of the shop sales. FB loses money if you never buy anything from their shop.

    1. i agree that is the case for most game consoles, which are sold at (or below) cost hoping to make back their money in licensing/app store fees. but the spectre of Facebook’s data harvesting over the headset makes that obvious profit scheme far more creepy than, say, Sony’s.

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