Running Side-Loaded Builds on PC
Oculus Developer Blog
Posted by John Bartkiw
September 26, 2017

The standard build distribution system that Oculus uses for sending out bits scales to millions and provides a reliable way to get builds to users by leveraging the Facebook CDN that currently serves billions of users world wide. This system can also be used for sharing builds while in-development to your QA team, external partners, et cetera. With that said, there are times during development that you may want a bit more flexibility in how you distribute and run your build when the standard distribution system doesn’t fit, which is where side-loading is just the fix. The most common scenarios are:

  • Debugging a local build from your source tree.
  • Rapid iteration on intra-day builds.
  • Game builds where size causes long upload/download times impacting team efficiency.
  • Security/Privacy issues which limit bits from being uploaded while in development.

In these scenarios, it is helpful to be able to run a side-loaded build that hasn't been uploaded to the Oculus CDN and is in a local folder on your machine or directly from a debugger. To be able to successfully run a side-loaded build on PC you will need to take the following three steps:

1. Get an entitlement to the application

There are a few different ways you can be granted an entitlement for the application.

  • Have an account that is a member of the organization on the developer portal.
  • Have an account that has been added to a release channel for the application.
  • Applied a 5x5 key to the account for the desired application.

2. Install the application through the Oculus Client

The Oculus client requires that the local file structure for application be set up before you can run side-loaded builds. If you don't yet have a real build ready to upload to the Oculus back end, you can just use a placeholder build with a dummy exe. Once your build is uploaded you should see the application available to install in the Oculus application either in your Library under not installed apps:

or in the Store under My Preview Apps:

3. Enable side-loading on your machine

There are two different ways to enable side-loading on your machine:

Developer Access

The easiest way to allow side-loading of builds is to use an account that has been marked as a developer for your organization. Any of your organization's authorized admins should be able to add users with the click of a button.

The biggest downside of this approach is that it grants that user access to the developer dashboard and the ability to edit metadata, upload builds, et cetera.

Windows Registry Key

If you wish to allow users to side-load builds but not get access to the developer dashboard, they can create the following Windows registry key* and restart their Oculus client:

AllowDevSideloaded(REG_DWORD) = 1 in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Oculus VR, LLC\Oculus

*DISCLAIMER: Edit the Registry at your own risk. Inappropriate changes to the Windows Registry can lead to “Bad stuff”! To safeguard against such an accident, we recommend that you back up your existing registry before making any changes.