Image: Sony

Sony’s Director of Hardware & Systems Engineering Roderick Colenbrander has released a new Linux driver that adds support for the PlayStation 5’s wireless DualSense controller. The driver opens up most of the controller’s core features, such as its motion sensors, motors (rumble), touchpad, and LEDs. Users can also connect the controller via Bluetooth or USB modes.

“DualSense supported is implemented in a new ‘hid-playstation’ driver, which will be used for peripherals by ‘Sony Interactive Entertainment’ (PlayStation),” wrote Colenbrander. “Hid-sony will be used for devices for the larger Sony Group. We intend to migrate existing devices over time gradually to hid-playstation. We do not want to cause any regressions and maintain quality. As such moving forward, unit tests are important and we started by providing these through ‘hid-tools’ including DualSense.”

“The Linux driver exposes DualSense functionality as a ‘compositive device’ similar to DualShock 4 in hid-sony, spanning multiple frameworks. First, it exposes 3 evdev nodes for respectively the ‘gamepad’, ‘touchpad’ and ‘motion sensors’. The FF framework is used to provide basic rumble features. The leds-class is used to implement the Player indicator LEDs below the DualSense’s touchpad, while the new ‘leds-class-multicolor’ is used for the lightbars next to the touchpad.”

Colenbrander noted that the Linux driver does not include support for the DualSense’s more advanced functions, such as Adaptive Triggers and VCM-based Haptics. Unfortunately, it isn’t clear when (or even if) these features will be added, as they require “a large amount of data and complex data structures” that developers haven’t figured out how to expose via current frameworks.

Phoronix pointed out in its coverage that the new driver comprises just over 1,400 lines of the code. According to a previous report, Sony began officially maintaining the Linux input driver for PlayStation devices at the beginning of the year.

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  1. Can’t say I’m surprised. Playstation has used FreeBSD as a back end on the console for a while, so seeing a Linux driver port probably was easy to throw out there. I can’t confirm that’s the case for the PS5, but given the similarities in hardware architectures and backwards compatibility, I would be surprised if they strayed too far from that.
  2. Playstation has used FreeBSD as a back end on the console for a while

    I can’t say that I’m terribly enthused with FreeBSD for personal use; driver issues and OS quirks versus Linux stop the show far too often.

    However, BSD does make an excellent appliance OS when there’s an enterprise building around out it, like Apple and Sony do, and the driver infrastructure remains extremely close to that of Linux despite a few decades of parallel but not necessarily coordinated development.

    All that to agree that throwing a Linux driver out there for their controllers is a welcome bone to the Linux gaming community, though for some it might also be a bit of an insult after Sony removed support for booting a Linux desktop distro on Playstation hardware ;)

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