Day-Long Oculus Rift Outage ‘Due To Administrative Error’

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Facebook’s Oculus Rift VR headset was rendered unusable for more than 15 hours after the company forgot to renew a security certificate

Facebook’s Oculus VR has acknowledged that a lengthy outage that hit the subsidiary’s Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headsets earlier this week was due to an oversight in managing security certificates.

The expired certificate issue meant Rift headsets were unable to run the desktop PC software they depend on for more than 15 hours on Wednesday, until Oculus began distributing a patch early on Thursday morning.

VR headsets are widely used for gaming and to watch immersive videos, but are also being trialled for commercial applications.

The outage is an embarrassment for Oculus, which was
bought by Facebook for $2 billion (£1.5bn) in 2014 and released its first headset in 2016.


Lengthy outage

The company was criticised for being slow to respond and failing to give users enough information.

The incident also highlights the growing complexity of managing the thousands of security certificates the average organisation relies on. Such certificates need to be renewed regularly, and many programs will refuse to run if a certificate has expired.

On Reddit, some users said they were able to get the Oculus headset to work again by resetting the system’s clock to an earlier date. But others said the method caused problems with other programs.

Oculus initially acknowledged the problem on Wednesday, hours after it was initially reported by users.

Later in the day the company said the expired certificate meant it wasn’t able to distribute an automatic update to users, the usual method for updating the software.

Instead, Oculus was forced to publish a separate patch that users must manually download and install. The company has now published a guide to installing the patch.

Hugo Barra, Facebook’s vice president of VR, was one of those who apologised for the issue. The company said users will receive a $15 of store credit.

“Yesterday’s issue was our mistake,” Barra wrote on Twitter. “Thank you all for your patience.”

Facebook is planning to release a stand-alone Oculus headset this year that doesn’t require software running on a linked PC.

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