Happy Feat: Steam Linux Progressing Well

By Adam Smith on July 17th, 2012 at 10:00 am.

We heard that a Linux version of Steam was in the works back in April and now Valve have set up an official blog to share the details of their Linux team’s plans and progress.

The goal of the Steam client project is a fully-featured Steam client running on Ubuntu 12.04. We’ve made good progress this year and now have the Steam client running on Ubuntu with all major features available. We’re still giving attention and effort to minor features but it’s a good experience at the moment. In the near future, we will be setting up an internal beta focusing on the auto-update experience and compatibility testing.

Left 4 Dead 2 will be the first game ported and, indeed, there is already a working version. Before release, however, Valve aim “to have L4D2 performing under Linux as well as it performs under Windows”.

Exciting news for Linux advocates? I expect so. The eventual goal is to have a fully functional version of Steam running through Ubuntu 12.04, with Left 4 Dead 2 as its first, optimised title. Once that’s in place, more Valve games would be ported across.

There’s nothing quite as strong as the quote from Phoronix in April, in which this was said of Gabe Newell’s view of the situation – “His level of Linux interest and commitment was incredible while his negativity for Windows 8 and the future of Microsoft was stunning” – but there’s a commitment to the philosophy of open source software, with a rallying cry for communication and feedback.

We also encourage you to leave comments and ideas for future postings. We want this to be a community of game developers, communicating with each other and talking about current efforts and future efforts in a powerfully creative environment.

After all, isn’t that what open source is all about – the idea that collaboration and teamwork achieve amazing things?

Some mornings I expect to wake up and find proof all over the internet that Valve’s headquarters are a Willy Wonka-esque world of wall-licking wonder or, more believably, that they are relocating to the moon. The Linux blog is a direct line of communication with developers and gamers from a company that can often be mysterious and opaque in its workings, and that in itself may tell us a great deal about how Valve sees the move. That said, I’m not expecting to find a golden ticket providing complete access to the underground development suites in my copy of Linux 4 Dead.

For anyone already devoted to the cult of the penguin, or concerned that the Windows of 8 might be more firmly shut than previous portals of transparency, Valve’s moves should be of great interest. Keep an eye on them here.


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  1. Kaira- says:

    Finally a real confirmation. Also, happy to know that things seem to be going well.

    I’m mainly just curious as to why they didn’t choose TF2 instead of L4D2.

  2. SlappyBag says:

    I. Love. Valve.

    Simply Put.

  3. maweki says:

    I just hope there will be Fedora or at least generic binary packages as well. I will never go back to Ubuntu, no thank you.

    • DHP says:

      This. Everytime I have attempted ubuntu i end up RAGEFACEd. Wonder if it will work ok with mint, seeing as they are related.

    • mrwonko says:

      That’s covered in the original blog post. Ubuntu first, since supporting multiple distros makes things much more complicated, but once it’s working well there they’ll see about supporting other flavours as well.

    • Tom Walker says:

      As a general rule, if it runs on Ubuntu, it’ll run on Mint. Mint works.

      This is all very exciting. If Steam does for Linux gaming what it did for Mac gaming, Windows 7 will be the last MS OS I ever bought.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Which is good, because I really like Mint. It’s been the first Linux system I’ve actually used rather than played with.

    • uh20 says:

      yea, ive been running with ubuntu for a couple of years and its probably not the best, you can switch desktops with it though to something like lxde, and i also managed to make all the sound sliders work with plain alsa instead of pulseaudio

    • meklu says:

      It seems like it’ll be the only ‘officially’ supported distro instead of any lock-in stuff.

    • Zyzyx says:

      Fedora has an active development crowd, and for them repackaging a .deb (or whatever they provide) into an .rpm should not be an difficult task.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Before release, however, Valve aim “to have L4D2 performing under Linux as well as it performs under Windows”.

    So they’re going to cripple the Windows version?

    (echo 1 > /sys/joking)

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Jokes aside, they have gone so far as to identify kernel and driver-level bugs that have now been fixed, so they are quite serious about getting stuff working as well as it should.

    • varangian says:

      They don’t have to cripple the Windows version as, for some people at least, it’s already fubarred. L4D2 worked properly on my machine for a month or two (once the usual release glitches were sorted). Then they released a patch since when it’s never worked properly. Crashes at the intro movie, crashes out when loading the next map, and CTD’s at random points in game. Re-installing the game (the only advice Valve support ever gave) didn’t work. A while back I re-installed Windows 7 (as that fucks up on its own) and L4D2 still didn’t work so I deleted it. So I for one will welcome a Linux version, Valve lost a lot of my goodwill, they might get some back if they do this right and I can play games on the OS I currently use for everything except playing games.

      • DrGonzo says:

        Well, to be fair to Valve, there is something seriously wrong with your pc. Not Windows, as you reinstalled that, but the actual hardware it sounds like.

  5. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Love the idea of switching to linux/Hate the idea of using open gl.

    • simoroth says:

      “Hate the idea of using open gl.”

      Why? Driver support is now pretty great and the 4.2 standard is far ahead of DX in many ways.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I’m unsure about DX as I haven’t used it, but it can’t be as much of a gigantic mess as OpenGL, with its arcane web of ARB and EXT libraries with wildly varying levels of support between cards. I could be being unfair, of course, but then again, eh.

      • The Sombrero Kid says:

        As someone who uses Open GL because I have to and DirectX because I want to, In my opinion open gl needs nothing short of a ground up rewrite.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Yeah, I’d totally use DirectX if I worked under Windows exclusively. I think my problem is that a) OpenGL is a mess, particularly with the more recent stuff, and b) there’s such a shifting tapestry of compatability with various versions and ARB extensions that it’s difficult to know what and what not to use. And then you get to shaders, which are very powerful but often quite convoluted to get into (for example, learning that for some reason they don’t access blend operations).

    • uh20 says:

      opengl’s once again better than windows directx in performance and features
      there might be some better engines out there but for now, opengl, probably should be fighting the windows/linux war first before nitpicking some other things to complain about

    • Shivoa says:

      I wonder why they name dropped OpenGL at all. I mean it’s obvious that they would use OpenGL because DirectX is an MS technology but we know they already did the port work. Source using OpenGL is how Macs use it for all the Valve games that have worked on that platform for the last couple of years.

      Porting Steam and Source to Linux is great news (could have come sooner, but I guess the organic Valve machine cannot be turned in any one direction) so now we have this major store and engine on all three platforms (I wonder how many games on there will be SteamPlay the day they flip the switch – seems like the indie community has already been doing a lot of work to target all three platforms for many releases and using bundle sales to get ports done for existing titles).

      • nearly says:

        I assume they’d name drop this specifically to highlight exactly how far they’ve taken the porting and how serious they are about it. From the sounds of things, Newell wants very much to get away from Microsoft. That said, I also don’t really know much of anything about any of this or the significance of mentioning certain things.

  6. SuperMatt says:

    My hope is that this will encourage more and more people to switch to linux. If iTunes and Photoshop were to finally get a linux port, there would be no reason for anyone to stay with windows or mac other than personal preference (which is the most important thing, but right now personal preference counts for nothing without games/iTunes/Photoshop).

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      You know, I understand why many people love Unix OSs and I get the importance of open develoment environments and all that but then again so much Linux stuff is way behind in development/sophistication compared to Windows/Mac OSs and it takes ages to catch up. Which comes as no surprise, given that most development happens in people’s spare time.

      • ordteapot says:

        I’m not sure this is really true anymore. I use Linux (Kubuntu), OSX, and Windows for work and play (ok, not Linux for that so much), and, while there are things that irk me about all three’s interfaces and support, more often than not I’ll find myself rebooting from Windows into Linux if I’m not gaming, or ditching my Macbook Pro for my Asus laptop once I get over the fact that it weighs twice as much. Although I can’t really argue with you on the polish, Linux offers a lot more sophistication in terms of configurability and workspace management.

        I think that the OP is right though, that it’s the support for enterprise level software that keeps is keeping Linux from being a “single stop” solution for a lot of people. As soon as I see someone has sent me any form of MS Office document, I’m rebooting into Windows or grabbing the Macbook, because LibreOffice, try as it may, for me renders gibberish for anything besides word or excel documents that use only the most basic features.

      • uh20 says:

        ubuntu is a company AND free-people development
        and it is practically equal to that of windows7
        the only thing wearing down on it is 3rd party support, that nvidia card is going to be slower because they dont give a damn about their linux drivers, and etc.

      • Zyzyx says:

        I disagree that the majority of Linux development is in peoples’ spare time. The Linux Foundation does a study on kernel developers each year:


        Specifically they call out:
        The top 10 contributors, including the groups “unknown” and “none” make up over 60% of the total contributions to the kernel. It is worth noting that, even if one assumes that all of the “unknown” contributors were working on their own time, over 75% of all kernel development is demonstrably done by developers who are being paid for their work.

        Granted, the kernel is not the whole of the open source ecosystem, but it is big part of it. I’m not aware of a broader study though.

    • zeroskill says:

      Yes, while it is possible to get Photoshop running under some versions of Ubutu, it’s a lot of trouble, more then it’s worth for me. All I really need is Photoshop and Dota 2 to be able to run in a solid fashion and I’ll switch in an instant. Until then.

  7. Bungle says:

    I hope this is the future of gaming. I want to get away from controlling companies like Microsoft and Sony (fine, I’m nowhere near Sony). If we could all easily game on Linux, I think that would be the beginning of the end for Windows.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I think that would be the beginning of the end for Windows.

      That is not a good thing. Microsoft are bastards in many ways, but regressing to crappy UNIX derivatives is cutting off your nose to spite your face. Linux still can’t bloody defragment-in-place for its common filesystems, let alone the things Windows can pull off, like online consistency checking and repair, and block-level snapshotting.

      Deep under the horrible anticompetitive DRM-loving corporate flab of Microsoft lies some actual competent engineers solving really quite horrendously hard problems under constraints that would break the Linux/OS X crowds’ backs several times over. (And do—neither platform is big on backwards compatibility, for example.)

      The worst part about Windows 8 is probably that when the UI/tablet strategy lot point that loaded gun at their own temple, those guys risk getting shot too.

      • byteCrunch says:

        A more balanced market between Windows and *nix is hardly a bad thing though. No one denies that Microsoft is full of brilliant programmers and engineers, but with some of the decisions and directions Microsoft take you can’t help but want a viable alternative.

      • quintesse says:

        What? I agree with the fact that MS engineers aren’t bad and that Windows disappearing would be bad for the market, but saying that UNIX derivatives are crappy because their file system don’t do defragment-in-place?? Oh boy are you wrong. The EXT file system used by most of those “crappy UNIX derivatives” does continuous in-place defragmentaton! In fact it’s so good you don’t need to run an extra program that takes hours to run!

        And *all* of the interesting new files systems appear on UNIX only, think BTRFS and it’s older cousin ZFS.

        • LionsPhil says:

          It’s just one random example. Take the way Vista onwards Windows actually sandboxes the graphics driver such that graphics contexts are not lost when it restarts, while in the ‘nix world it bombing out will still take out X—even if the kernel survives, every running app is toast.

          (Don’t understate the block-level snapshotting either—Volume Shadow Copy is seriously powerful. It’s finally more-or-less a versioning filesystem that can handle large files with small changes. And means online backups work pretty well.)

          But. ext2 could do offline in-place defragmentation. ext3 has some random support, again offline, but the general answer you get is to not do it in-place, which is insane. ext4 has it on the to-do list. All they have is the “good allocator” excuse, but run a filesystem near capacity—any filesystem—and you’ll soon find how weak that excuse is. (I have absolutely butchered HPFS+ this way, despite Apple’s claims that you never need to defragment ever because their filesystem is so wonderful.)

          (The comment about long-running programs is pretty amusing, given your usual Linux setup has fsck doing disk checks every so often, while Windows is up to the point of not even needing to block on chkdsk after an unclean unmount because it can fix it mounted (also applies to 7).)

          • uh20 says:

            oh haha, i got that first example 3 times in my years using ubuntu linux (completely altered i hope you know), total restart, with nvidia’s bitchslap driver image before you get back to the login window

            i dont get your problem though, ext4 seems to have everything in place without me giving a damn about fragmentation, and the total x windows session fail usually only happens trying a bad application for the first time

            actually agree with x though, people try to make a flowchart and cant because x is just that confusing

            so, now that i went through that, basic linux problems being brought up, and the fact that you are arguing minor parts to something your getting free AND you can edit the hell you like is kinda silly
            classic better now vs. better later, linux will probably get tons of things solved with %50 percent of the users onboard, no?, and your saying linux is bad just now

      • safetydank says:

        Linux is far from a crappy Unix derivative, in terms of hardware support and userspace tools it’s been the best there is for a long time now.

        Defragging is mostly an issue on old crufty filesystems (like Microsoft’s VFAT) – high performance servers get by without defrag support using standard Linux filesystems with no issues, how can this be?

        Backwards compatibility, sure it’s a worthy goal. Microsoft bends over backwards tacking on stuff to maintain it (e.g. the SimCity hack), OS X and Linux drew a line and stuck to it.

        And I’m sure you won’t believe it, but there’s more than a few competent engineers working on Linux in its many forms.

        • LionsPhil says:

          See above. Having a good allocator is not “doesn’t need defragmenting”. There’s a reason e2fsck will report which fraction of the data is non-contiguous, and you can get it pretty high if you make use of your space.

        • Milky1985 says:

          So why if it doesn’t need defragging are they adding a online defragger for ext4? Oh wait, because after a while it DOES still slow down!

          (before you shout, yes i know currently its infinatly better than the ntfs way of doing things :P)

          Theres no denying that there are competent enginners working on linux in its many forms and its kernal.

          But Windows does (or maybe did looking at metro :/ ) have lots of ui enginerers and user interface and focus groups etc. Lots of the linux stuff is done by engineers for engineers.

          Remember by and large linux is still aimed at SERVERS, there are home distros but the core is not aimed at that.

          Again, user of all 3 linux,windows and osx (lot less of the osx tho)

          • safetydank says:

            All filesystems will degrade in performance as they reach capacity – intuitively, they run out of space to allocate contiguous blocks. Running a periodic defragmentation is a band-aid fix to the underlying problem – you need more disk space. Or an SSD, which manages fragmentation at the controller level.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Ah, the “all software problems can be resolved with more hardware” gambit.

            FWIW, SSDs do not “manage fragmentation” of filesystems, since they are just block devices, even if they have wear-levelling smarts underneath. The filesystem will still get just as fragmented as before (moreso, even, because it’s “too small”); it’s just that it matters a heck of a lot less. In theory you could get a pathological case where a file is fragmented across many separate pages, and performance would be dreadful, but in reality that seems unlikely unless you’ve taken your allocator from MS-DOS, and MS at least bet on it never being worth the time and wear of trying to defragment it.

          • DrGonzo says:

            That seems lazy. Windows 8 boots in around 10 seconds from hitting on, and that is on a crappy harddrive.

            If Linux is so great, can anyone explain why all my experiences of it have been a pain in the arse? It seems far less responsive than windows, didn’t run games of course. But worst of all it crashed! I haven’t had windows crash on me now since pre-Vista. I think it was mentioned earlier. But part of the system may crash but windows will recover itself. Linux didn’t seem to do this for me. And was unbearable to work with.

            I could see why someone may use it for moral reasons or something misguided like that. But Windows (and even OSX) is so far ahead in usability, that even all games being released on it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to my choice in OS

          • uh20 says:

            kai drgonzo, here you go
            you most likely tried to use the ubuntu version of linux, one of the silliest incomplete desktop projects so far, so yea, no wonder [the desktop] its not very responsive, try ldxe if you want a windows like one thats very lightweight and responsive

            the crashes are most likely because one of your drivers was made by a company that dont care about linux and so the driver was littered with bugs and crashed, hardly can be a unix fault.

            my first weeks using linux it crashed too, i stupidly installed some beta nvidia driver, and after that i dont think i ever saw a fatal crash before, just a few x recoveries (as in it goes back to login)

            also, (unless you count my bios check) ubuntu for me has booted in 8 seconds, and you can even install a program (i forgot the name) that will try and optimize your boot every time you start the computer so that it could literally get it in 3 seconds
            boot time, one of the most useless matters in operating systems so far, i need to do something 5 seconds quicker i guess

            so where you can draw the line is better system recoveries versus better customability, and well, the fact that your using something free and all, \o/

      • Milky1985 says:

        The end of windows would be bad for many reasons (no matter what any anti MS people say) but for gaming PC it would be even worse, especailly if everyone goes to linux, a OS that is already really framented in terms of what supports what (a hell of a lot better now than it used to be tho, at least there is a better core that they support now)

        Already PC gaming is seen as the techie thing becuase of the need for drivers and ini fiddling in places. Its worse in some linux distros where recompiling the kernal is normal (something a non techie person isn’t gonig to understand and lets be frank, because of how much you can balls up a system doing it, you don’t want them doing it), ini files are confusing and in places that make sense if you understand linux, but not to any normal person since for some reason linux is still using file naming conventions from yonks ago.

        This is coming from a person who uses all 3 for various work and home things.

        What MS do right is making things simple, people should not be looking for their demise, unless you want to be the person the entire family and friends calls on to set up game X on there PC because Y won’t work with Z :P

        Oh and to everyone saying that ext defrags in the background, i cannot see anywhere that is does this, it avoids fragmentation through its design and is more resistant to fragmentation sure, and some implementations may do this but from what I have read in teh wiki and other places it does not do this by default (again implementations of this might have ti in there maintence to defrag it behind the scenes). In factext4 is including an online defragger cause they admit after a while it still needs doing becauase you can’t leave sapce on teh disc for files to grow because you don’t know by how much they will need to grow, that fact that they are including it kinda shows that its a useful idea…

        • InternetBatman says:

          That assumes that one distribution wouldn’t become dominant with a mass shift. Fragmentation is less important when 75%+ customers are on one distribution, and if its people who just want to play games I doubt they’ll switch around that often. Hell, I wouldn’t have upgraded from XP if I had the option.

          I’m not a power user and I only use Mint on my Netbook, but it works and I see no reason to change to another version of Linux.

          • soldant says:

            But if the majority of us pick up a single distro, and that distro dominates, aren’t we swapping one monopoly for another? Granted, it’s a more open-source monopoly so it isn’t quite the same as Windows, but you’re still removing a significant element of user choice.

          • InternetBatman says:

            The difference is that if a Linux monopoly starts really messing up people can migrate much more easily than a closed system. So a distribution would have to stay good enough to keep its lead with most people.

      • Lemming says:

        It’s ok Windows 9 will be good. I’m sure the Mayans had a tablet explaining Windows versions somewhere..

    • Gap Gen says:

      Linux is awesome, but sometimes you get what you pay for and with Linux you’re paying nothing. There are some problems that have existed for years but no-one has shown any inclination towards fixing them (shout out to anyone who has had mount.ntfs blocking the system every time you write to the hard drive).

      I love Ubuntu for what it is, but I also know several programming languages and willingly use the command line, whereas if you don’t then I imagine that Linux is probably a no-go. Like people have said, Windows is a huge kludgy mess in many ways, but it’s more accessible for most people than typing hieroglyphs into the command line to fix an obscure part of the OS.

      • Ernesto says:

        Linux can be just as accessible as Windows or OSX. It just takes a little longer for Linux developers to achieve that because money is an issue. And for many command line tools there is also a GUI available.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Or, rather, there are half a dozen inconsistent and incomplete GUIs available, all written by people who think wrapping a CLI tool in pretty clicky-buttons constitutes UI design.

          Meanwhile, hibernate is broken and PulseAudio keeps randomly getting confused as to its mute state. But that’s OK, because there’s a GUI in your notification tray, a full-blown mixer GUI, and a quick display in the popup notifications! (They show different states.)

          • uh20 says:

            lxde and replace shitaudio with basic alsa
            that will be all

          • jamesgecko says:

            I’m not sure where you’re getting your shtick about GUIs. It was sort of true in some places a decade ago, I guess? But Gnome 3 and Ubuntu’s Unity are very nice desktop environments with a lot of thought put into them. Most of the popular applications people run on them are competently designed. There’s some applications in the repo that are obviously terminal commands with a GUI slapped on top (*glares at grsync*), but they’re not in the base install in popular distros, and there’s random apps with terrible UI design on Windows, too.

            Hibernate issues are mostly related to drivers. An absurd percentage of PulseAudio issues are due to driver bugs. Driver problems are going to continue to be an issue until there’s enough users for hardware vendors to justify supporting Linux. It’s a chicken and egg thing.

            Until that happens, you just have to be careful about what hardware you use. After a lot of research, I bought a laptop with well supported open source drivers for everything but the wifi card. I’ve subsequently had zero issues with everything but the wifi card (which must have the little hardware switch set to on when the machine boots or it won’t turn on later).

        • Gap Gen says:

          Also what happened to the awesome battery charge graph between 11.04 and 12.04? At least they fixed the battery indicator not working in the notification bar, but I liked seeing the charge history. I guess this goes back to a point that you (LionsPhil) made a while back, which is that Ubuntu tends to purge anything that gets too complicated, which is presumably to prevent bloat but has the drawback of removing neat functionality.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Sure, it *can* be (hell, OSX is a version of Unix), but it isn’t. Then again, every OS has its niggles (the Control Panel and Windows registry are things of horror).

        • InternetBatman says:

          I will say this for the accessibility of Linux. I’ve tried everything to get my damn Kodak printer working wirelessly on my partner’s PC. Eventually I gave up because the damn thing does not want to work. I was just playing around with my little Mint netbook and I tried just for the hell of it. It took three freaking clicks. That’s how computing is supposed to work.

  8. DuddBudda says:

    why is ubuntu good?

    I installed 12.something on my SSD’ed OC’ed 2500k machine and it ran like a legless penguin – some of the ‘oh cripes he’s moving a window’ slowdowns got dragged out longer than our windows 95 486

    and apart from crappy performance it was no different from Windows or Apple

    I don’t wanna be a douche, it’s just like why would anyone put themselves through that?

    • lijenstina says:

      The same reason why windows is “good” with and without the quotes.
      It’s popular.

    • Milky1985 says:

      I’m going to assume there was some driver issues, problems sound GFX related. You got a nvidia card? Linux people have been complaining for a long time about the nvidia drivers, not sure if its because they are actually bad or just because nvidia ain’t open sourcing them (lots of the linux complainers seem to assume that closed course = auto bad, luckily not everyone who uses/supports linux is like this, just the louder ones :P) but have heard of issues.

      • LionsPhil says:

        nVidia’s binary drivers basically work, in much the same way their Windows ones do: once in a blue moon they’ll explode without warning or provocation. (ATi’s are likewise just like as for Windows: they explode every five minutes.)

        A lot of the “problem” with them IIRC is that nVidia took one look at the X/Linux graphical stack, grimaced, and turned around and did their own thing instead.

        If you’ve got an older card (although currently I think the value of “older” is not too bad), you’re screwed too, since X changes its ABI compatability every so often, and nVidia give exactly as much of a crap about maintaining drivers for their less-than-new hardware as you’d expect a hardware company to.

        • byteCrunch says:

          Well with Wayland in development we may hopefully see that change, but it is still very early. Though NVidia did say they had no interest in supporting it, so currently Wayland is stuck with open-source drivers.

        • MrPyro says:

          Sometimes I think X is one of the main things holding Linux back; it can just be so fragging clunky at times. And if something goes wrong then it just dumps you to a terminal, shows you a huge error log and says “Fix it”.

          Relevant link

          • uh20 says:

            preach it
            x is the worst thing so far in basic linux distributions

      • DuddBudda says:

        my GPU is a 6950 (well two of them, but only in the box when linux went on)

        and no, I don’t have driver problems with them in windows, neither ‘every 5 minutes’ nor ever at all

    • Gap Gen says:

      I program a lot, and installing new packages (if you use the command line) is pretty good. Comparatively, OSX can make installing the same things a screaming pain. Once you’re set up and have ironed out the niggles, Ubuntu is pretty nice.

      I think the best way to put it is that Linux is written by programmers, for programmers. If you just want to open up the system and play a game, it’s not for you. This is probably why Linux is used on only around 1% of personal computers, I guess.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Yeah apt-get works great for most things, only annoyance i had was a package that wasn’t part of that repository being a pain (and tbh this package was a pain in all distros :P)

    • safetydank says:

      How to explain the appeal of Linux?

      Let’s say you’re a company looking to build a box to run your hugely profitable Windows and OS X games portal. Apple aren’t keen on letting you run OS X on it, so you’ll have to pay for a Windows license for each box you build. Which turns out to be significant relative to the hardware prices. And the pricing is out of your control. Even worse, it’s in the hands of a competitor who also builds a hugely profitable games box…future price outlook, not so good.

      Sure, you could roll your own OS but it’s a helluva lot of work. At this point, Linux is looking pretty sweet – free, open source, completely customizable.

      • DuddBudda says:

        so linux doesn’t appeal to the end user, just the guy looking to make a bigger profit?

      • LionsPhil says:

        completely customizable

        Is this before or after the FreeDesktop/GNOME crowd decide to systematically disassemble the UNIX philosophy of many small parts working together at doing individual tasks well by glomping everything into gconf (or .config, or that other gconf), tying the window manager to the desktop environment, insisting that everything talks via D-Bus rather than simple and universal pipes or process invocation…?

        Once upon a time you could actually have GNOME with XFWM working in harmony. These days you can install Xubuntu—supposedly XFCE all the way—and end up with your panel containing an atomic glob of “notifications” from the GNOME world which do not integrate as XFCE panel items at all. (For example, you cannot even re-order them.) Don’t want them? Good luck finding a replacement non-GNOMEified NetworkManager or volume control panel item, because last I tried the previous ones have been broken and nobody has bothered to update them. (No, I do not want to finish off the damn OS myself; I want to get things done with it.)

        I am sure someone is already revving up to advocate KDE instead. It’s kind of like queue-hopping in a supermarket: nothing works fully, but you can sure spend a lot of time desperately hoping that switching to that one over there might be broken slightly less!

        • rustybroomhandle says:

          Cranky codger aintcha?

        • caljohnston says:

          Linux/Ubuntu is as customizable as ever. Install Ubuntu from the alternative cd to get a minimal bootable system and build it up from there however you want to.

          I think that if you install xubuntu you can also choose “xfce” for your session in the login screen instead of “xubuntu desktop” and it should give you the vanilla XFCE experience with the default volume control and no notification bar, etc.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          Just go with Gentoo and OpenBox and never ever install the GNOME packages then ;)


      • Gap Gen says:

        Yeah, if you’re an admin then Linux is looking pretty nice. No coincidence that a lot of server-side stuff is in Linux. I have no idea about the Windows command line, and don’t know anyone who uses it (doesn’t mean that people don’t, granted).

      • InternetBatman says:

        For me the real appeal of Linux is Microsoft. They’re very clearly pursuing a closed system that’s connected to the internet strategy. Its probably the best thing they can do for themselves as a company, but that’s not what I want. All I want an operating system to do is make sure the hardware works as intended, provide a gui, a search function, and let me run applications.

        While linux doesn’t let me run the applications I want to run just yet, like games and image making software, it’s clearly getting better. That’s what makes it attractive to me. It’s also free, which is nice.

        • soldant says:

          Um, how does Windows stop you from doing any of that? Even Windows 8, with its Metro UI, still does all of that. Arguably it does all of that much better than most Linux distros out of the box.

          • InternetBatman says:

            It doesn’t stop me from doing any of that yet.

            But it’s clear that they want to be Apple on an even larger scale. I like where they are right now with 7, but they’re clearly edging towards cloud integration with an MS account, marginalizing third party stores, and a one-size fits all UI. I am very uncomfortable with them given what they’ve done with the X-box, what they tried to do with Games for Windows Live, the new UIs they keep pushing, etc.

            I firmly believe that they want one MS PC controlling all the computing in a house, and they want that PC to have a subscription fee, be inextricably tied to their servers, and show ads on the side. It’s just my belief, but I don’t think it’s outlandish, and it’s not a type of ecosystem I want to be a part of.

  9. oceanclub says:

    I take Linux advocates declaring the death of Windows with a very large pinch of salt. Plenty of reliable sanguine people I follow on Twitter seem to find the fuss about Windows 8 a bit baffling anyway. As someone said, Linux is written by programmers for programmers. Give that very clever people I know are sometimes baffled by things like folders, the idea that Linux could leapfrog over Windows is a pipedream. If for some reason Microsoft imploded or collapsed, Apple would take over that particular space.


    • lijenstina says:

      It’s all about critical mass. Linux has shown that companies are quite happy to embrace it if it helps their bottom line and gives them more flexibility (like Android, servers, various devices etc). So any move from a big player that allows others to follow later is welcomed. With better adoption comes better driver support and more bugfixes.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I love the idea that *Unix* (Linux, OSX, Android, etc) could dominate, though. Or at least find it interesting.

  10. ChainsawCharlie says:

    Great news, even if they aim this for Ubuntu.

  11. Hoaxfish says:

    I like Debian for my choice of linux flavour (mostly putting it on shitty old hardware, from around 2001)

    Windows 8 continues to show me new and horrible ways of how mismanagement/money-grubbing can ruin Windows 7.

    New version of Office got previewed yesterday (any good tech site should have detailed reviews of the pre-release)… one of the most amusing points is the complete failure for touch-ui, for something that is supposed to go on touch-friendly Win8, and outside gaming, Office is the “big deal” (when it comes to pushing MS in business).

    • iniudan says:

      Office the big deal ? That quite a small say, it one of two major deal holding back other OS from most enterprise desktop and laptop, cause it about the only mainstream production software where Microsoft itself has a real edge over the competition, rest of the major production software are from third party developer who will just go where the demand is.

      The other been formation cost, at least each time MS change the UI, it easier to put a foot in the door for a product switch, since UI change mean need for give out formation anyway.

  12. Brun says:

    Real programmers only use Vim and Emacs.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      That’s no way to start an argument. You must pick one of the two, and then wait for the opposing team to arrive.

      • Brun says:

        Ok. Vim and its relatives are my favorite because Emacs keeps telling me to worry about these nonsensical things called buffers.

        • spectone says:

          Why do I have switch between two different modes to just edit? Why can’t you just use a key combo to accomplish this?

          • Kaira- says:

            I am sorry, but Emacs is out of question, since my hands can’t reach simultaneously Escape+Meta+Alt+Control+Shift.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Real programmers will the bytecode into existence by channeling the ghost of Alan Turing through their beard.

  13. InternetBatman says:

    I’m really glad this is happening. If Valve offers a high profile storefront and Unity keeps on improving as a development engine, linux gaming is likely to have some real choice.

  14. rockman29 says:

    Wow, great news!

    One of my friends is a diehard Linux guy, I don’t think he ever boots into Windows unless he absolutely has to. This is great news for him :-)

  15. MythArcana says:

    VALVe + Linux = IBoinku

  16. PopeJamal says:

    Wow, there’s an epic level of professional assholery in this thread. And absolutely NONE of it has to do with the subject at hand: Steam on Linux.

    On topic: To understand why Steam on Linux is so good, you need to understand why Windows 8 is so bad:

    Windows 8, Windows 8 RT (ARM Processor Tablet Edition basically), WIndows 8 Phone. All these are designed for one reason: to coax you into their “ecosystem” and keep you there. It’s the same song they’ve been singing for years with Exchange and many of their other back end server technologies, and they’ve been worryingly effective at it.

    Now they seem to be kicking their efforts up a notch and that won’t be good for anyone. Especially because of their new laser sharp focus on Apple and Google: When Microsoft sees a lunch it wants to eat, it usually gets to eat it. For a prime example of this, look at how MS ate Sony’s videogame lunch. Sure, it cost them a ton of money, they “cheated”, but try telling that to a man “wot don’t have a lunch”.

    Secure Boot
    Certified Windows 8 hardware will require Secure Boot. Most hardware from places like Dell and HP are Microsoft certified. Most computers are purchased from OEM vendors like Dell and HP. Therefore, most computers in a few years will be required to support Secure Boot. What is Secure Boot?

    Secure Boot is basically a way to only allow a computer to boot “trusted” operating systems. It requires companies to get their software “signed” to “prove” that it’s “safe”. Who’s in charge of the big red marker for signing the software? Yep, Microsoft. As long as you pay their “reasonable” fee.

    Yes, Canonical (the company that makes Ubuntu) will have to pay Microsoft, so that YOUR computer can boot into Ubuntu. How much is that fee? Right now, $95 which isn’t a big deal, but what happens when it’s $2 million dollars? “They can’t do that!” you might say, and you’d be correct. But depending on how all these FRAND lawsuits play out in the US courts, the definition of “Fair and Reasonable” might change in the next 10 years.

    This is an easy one: take a look at the Xbox, Xbox games, and Xbox Live. Now look at Xbox games ported to the PC and GFWL. Now tell me whether or not Microsoft has a vested interest in you playing games on the PC. Or, look at it another way, from Microsoft’s point of view: Do I want any given gamer to:
    -Pay me $50 for a game
    -Pay me $60-70 for a game, $200 for the console, $60 a year for networking capability, $35 for a controller, and then a guaranteed set of eyeballs that I can advertise not only my crap, but other crap like chewing gum, cars, friggin deodorant, and candy bars?
    Hmmm…Tough choice.

    -App store
    Apple has shown Microsoft “the light”. They now see that it is fairly easy to get people to micro-trans their wallets to death with an app store. Not only do they have a controlled channel to sell all their crap, they have a new DRM scheme AND a way to get 30% of whatever anyone else sells in their store.
    Plus, the fact that it continues their march towards lock-in, continues to marginalize THE crown jewel of open computing: the PC, and it helps them shove the head of PC gaming into the toilet, hopefully killing it off further and driving more PC gamers towards their consoles.

    Apple isn’t our friend. They haven’t given a damn about gaming and they still don’t. They don’t care that people buy games on their iDevices, they only care that peole are spending money in their beloved app store. A game is just an app to them. All that retina nonsense isn’t for gamers, it so their e-readers and fancy 3D maps work better.

    Microsoft isn’t our friend. I’ve stated all the reasons above, but those aren’t the only plans they have for us.

    So, we really don’t have anywhere else to turn, other than Linux. If you don’t like Ubuntu, then don’t use it , but don’t be an asshole. Steam will run on just about any distro because that’s just how Linux works. It’s one of the benefits of open software. Is Valve our friend? I don’t know, but they seem pretty friendly so far, and we don’t really have anywhere else to turn, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    If anyone has the market inertia to help make Linux gaming a success, it’s Valve and Steam. And again, open software is a good thing. Any improvements Valve makes to SDL, or OpenGL, or the Linux kernel, or anything else basically belong to US. The people. Microsoft can take away Windows XP and Windows 7, but if we really like the changes that Valve makes, and the direction that Valve is headed, we can go along for the journey and keep the mementos.

    With Valve, and more specifically Linux, we are much more like partners than with Microsoft, which alternates between leading us by our noses with a carrot and driving us forward with a whip.

    PC gaming as we know it is dead. It’s time to evolve.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Oh god, Slashdot are here.

      • InternetBatman says:

        That’s flip, but doesn’t refute his points at all.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I know. (I’m saving the effort for the people who aren’t assholes. The conversations upthread are pretty pleasantly civil.)

          But for the hell of it, and since it’s a new point for this article: yes, Secure Boot is pretty horrendous. It’s not so horrendous on actual desktops, since it can be turned off if the firmware vendor allows it, and Microsoft are OK with that. IIRC this is not true of the ARM tablets, but then generally those are not considered general-purpose computers (which I think is also pretty horrendous, but that’s a whole separate topic).

          • Hardlylikely says:

            It’s unfortunate because he did have a point, being that so many of these comments are yet another discussion on “Why I Dislike Linux Today.” Which there is not enough of on the internet. No OS is perfect, and advocates on all sides engage in goalpost shifting, inconsistent application of criteria and partial arguments.

            Sure, the usual crowd of deluded activists think the world will switch en mass to desktop Linux (they won’t), but it can sure as hell keep the bastards honest and have room for modest growth. But a bunch of people have to come out and tell us how Linux has to be perfect and have uniquely innovative features, while also supporting arbitrary legacy workflows, applications and features (flawlessly), while almost never acknowledging that all systems suck in their own very special ways.

            Valve are already finding bugs, and no doubt driving much needed improvements at AMD and Nvidia. This project may benefit users of other platforms, since portability can increase code quality. With the extra eyes on the Steam code we might eventually get some additional features. Improved DRM labelling is a much requested item that would be desirable to Linux gamers. Though any GfWL titles are unlikely to be ported. Also, there is the discussion around whether there will be a Linux powered SteamBox, perhaps with wearable peripherals derived from the research Abrash kicked off a while back. That could give Linux access to cutting edge UI technologies that might not otherwise be supported. Will the Phoronix guy who originally broke this news a while ago ever work out why people thought he came across as a liar due to the way he handled the story?

            All more interesting than another holy war, IMO.

    • uh20 says:

      preach it
      oh pope
      and shutup you athiest lionsphil

    • Solidstate89 says:

      Jesus christ, Pope. Instead of reading through your entire worthless pontification, I’m just going to call bullshit on one of your pieces to show just how uninformed you are; SecureBoot. You are flat out fucking lying and I can’t not stand idly by and just watch you preach your bullshit.

      SecureBoot is not a new thing. I have a laptop from a year ago that has the option for it but until now it’s usually been reserved for TMP enabled devices. However, your assertion that it “locks down” the ability for the user to install other software or operating systems is so far off the mark you give Stormtroopers a good name in their ability to hit targets.

      SecureBoot is required for Windows 8 certified devices, that much is true. Now where you just spin off into FSF delusional territory is everything else. It is a Microsoft REQUIRED specification that you have to be able to turn the software off in the UEFI options. Not only that, but NONE OF THE MONEY. You read me? ***NONE*** of the money (all 95 dollars of it) that is required for companies who want to get a boot key goes to Microsoft. It goes to Verisign who is actually in charge of the boot keys that Microsoft creates. Microsoft doesn’t get a dime from Red Hat, or Canonical or anyone else that chooses to use SecureBoot (if they even want to – remember, you can turn it off).

      So basically there’s absolutely nothing bad about SecureBoot other than the fact it increases security from more advanced pieces of malware (that already exist as a matter of fact) that inject malicious code into the boot process. You can disable it entirely to run whatever the hell you want, or if whatever Distro you use forked over the 95 dollars to Verisign for a boot key, you can leave the security implementation in place and use your preferred distro. It’s up to you buddy.

      And if you want to get into an argument about having WinRT, Xbox and WP8/7 locked down, well why don’t we start with everyone else who already does that? If you want to bitch about Microsoft, you can do the same for every other phone and tablet manufacturer. While you have a legitimate point in that regard, to single out Microsoft for this lone infraction is utterly ridiculous.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        “So basically there’s absolutely nothing bad about SecureBoot other than the fact it increases security from more advanced pieces of malware (that already exist as a matter of fact) that inject malicious code into the boot process.”

        And this supposedly security has already been circumvented. It’s like DRM – regardless of the intentions, there’s no useful point to it.

      • PopeJamal says:

        Maybe I was wrong, so please angry internet man, explain to me how I’ll be able to run Steam on a linux distro that isn’t backed by a millionaire, or a large company, while having Secure Boot enabled. Please. I’d like to know.

        According to you, it’s supposed to be Jesus’ own security system, so why should my favorite distro (or ANYONE’S distro for that matter) be left out of the “secure” party because they don’t have the ability to pay the piper. Why can’t I be protected on my distro of choice, or hell, even my own personal distro?

        But that’s besides the point. That’s more general computing and less gaming specific, which is what I’m focusing on. My primary point is that we are being moved slowly in the direction of LESS CHOICE as a gamers and that’s never a good thing. And that’s pretty obvious.

        And also, this.

        • Solidstate89 says:

          Really now? Is it obvious? Because I’m running Windows 8, and I have Steam, Origin and Impulse all installed on the 99% unchanged desktop.

          And if you want to run your own personal distro, fork over the 95 dollars to Verisign and sign the boot-key yourself. If anyone were allowed to just run keys, where the hell would the security be? Any malware writer could just use one of the keys with their own malware package making the whole thing moot. There has always been a central authority when it comes to software signing, and having a signed bootloader is no different.

          Just think of it an SSL certificate, but for bootloaders. Also, stop with the fucking hyperbole already.

          • rustybroomhandle says:

            Making your arguments in a jerk-ass way does not really make for healthy debate.

          • Solidstate89 says:

            Just fighting Fire with Fire.

            By the way, I’m still waiting for a link on beating SecureBoot. I haven’t heard anything about it and I want to read it.

  17. dogsolitude_uk says:

    I dual boot Win 7 and Linux Mint (I’m an ex-Ubuntu user) on all my PCs/laptops, and very recently I found that Linux Mint was just a much more pleasant experience. Nowadays I only really boot into Windows if I’m at work, or if I want to play Skyrim or something.

    Even with games I’ve found that Linux is becoming increasingly well catered for. I bought the HumbleIndieBundle a while back primarily for the Linux versions of Amnesia, Psychonauts and Braid. If it weren’t for a few AAA titles, and Fritz Chess I’d be gaming quite happily full time on Linux.

    What I like about Linux is the way that it’s sort of the opposite of ‘Locked down’. Whereas Microsoft won’t give any kind of Start button option in Win 8, with Linux you can add one, remove it again, move it around and so forth. Hell you can gut and replace your entire desktop!

    I’ve become very fond of Linux Mint over the last month or so, and so I’m really looking forward to having Steam on it, especially if they start stocking native Linux versions of games like Amnesia and Darwinia.

  18. Devan says:

    This is great news. I fully support Valve’s efforts!

  19. spectone says:

    Someone else on a forum far far away opined that this may be the precursor to the Steam Box.

  20. particlese says:

    Wee! Glad to see they’re making so much progress!

    I feel I’m a fairly well-entrenched Linux nut (almost entirely in user form, unfortunately), so it’s good to see others getting…excited about this here, too.

  21. Kageru says:

    Nobody suffers from their being more alternatives in the market, especially if someone is doing the experiment for free. I do worry about the linux video driver situation being an issue but maybe Nvidia and Ati will play along if some volume builds up.

    It’s not that they plan on being only linux after all. I suspect they’re hoping that if they help connect all these disparate markets (maybe even including new hardware platforms) there might be enough mass to provide an alternative to Apple/Microsoft.

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