Here’s A Thought: What If Valve Were Making SteamOS?

By John Walker on August 16th, 2012 at 7:02 pm.

Penguins make everyone happy.

Things are moving apace at Valve. With the announcement of their first internal non-gaming project coming tonight (although it might be a documentary film), and the news that Steam will soon start selling software alongside games, you get the impression that they’re attempting a significant repositioning. So, based entirely in speculation, here’s what I’m wondering: Could this eventually lead to the release of SteamOS?

There are a three good reasons to see things heading this way.

And it begins with Gabe’s very deliberate public discrediting of Windows 8. Now, he’s not exactly being a maverick with such an opinion – Windows 8 is looking likely to be awful for desktop PCs, forcing a tablet interface onto a system that doesn’t want or need it in any way. Worse, it’s seen by some as an attempt to close down the openness of the PC, with games bought through the operating system. (If the EU fined them billions for forcing their own web browser on customers, I’m bemused at their thinking it will be okay to force their own online store.) None of it bodes well, and it’s hard to imagine why any PC gamer would opt to upgrade from the pretty functional Windows 7.

But despite all this, you can also see how it could be to Valve’s advantage to position themselves in an anti-Windows 8 stance if they were creating an alternative.

Then there’s the recent announcement that Steam will soon sell non-gaming software. That makes a lot of sense however you approach it. If you want a copy of Photoshop, and you’ve paid the insane home-user price for it, you want it to stay up to date without that being a battle, and ideally without it constantly trying to sell you a new version of itself. Something like Steam could actively encourage software producers to stop being such epic arseholes, and provide a decent level of after-sales support for their products. Or, it might not. But it’s a nice thought. Either way, it makes sense to me to be able to browse through a few different video editing tools from rival manufacturers all in one place, and then download the one I’m after on the spot.

Clearly that comes with issues too. Steam certainly can’t be left in the state it’s in, with its offline mode only functioning if you turn it on while there’s a connection. If it’s going to be the place where our work-based essentials are also bought, there’s no room for nonsense. I cannot have Word refuse to run because my ISP is having a wobble.

There’s also the inherent DRM that Steam is (as opposed to offers). If I purchase a copy of a piece of software, I might not want to obey the utterly pernicious EULAs that say I’m not allowed to install it on my wife’s computer too. I have principles. With Steam, that choice is taken away from me, as it is with games. That’s a fairly serious inhibition we’ve already sucked down for gaming, and it doesn’t seem a great idea to accept it elsewhere. On the other hand, of course, it will ask some interesting questions of how software providers will fight their equally spiteful limitations of how many of your own machines on which you can install it. If it’s your login, it’s yours to install, surely?

And this takes us back to a SteamOS. If this is a piece of software that allows us to buy and install both games and software, and then run them from within… it’s getting close, right. Clearly right now Steam does that through Windows’ architecture. It’s not exactly a small matter to become the foundations, rather than sit on them. But with Valve’s final recent move, that also becomes an awful lot easier too.

The last big repositioning of late is the embracing of GNU/Linux. With the discovery that Steam will soon be released for yak and penguin lovers, it’s going to be a seismic change in how the open source OS is recognised by gamers, and indeed how games will be recognised by the users of the open source OS. Valve have already reported real success with getting their games running on Linux, finding it more efficient for gaming than Windows. That’s a big deal. And with the Humble Bundles and their copycats also pushing hard for Linux releases, there’s clearly a big movement about to happen.

That’s going to be interesting for the world of GNU/Linux. A large but extremely difficult to enter community that seems to be entirely constructed peculiar contrasts. Everybody’s in-fighting, arguing about everything, from distros, to licenses, to even what to call the bloody operating system – most people involved would be prepared to go to war over which text editor is better. But they exist within a global community of sharing, where free-as-in-speech is at the very core – code is free, and any who try to change that unite them against a common enemy. They are so often driven by passion, and that’s probably at the core of both aspects.

The one thing the GNU/Linux community is perhaps worst at – and mostly because they’ll be furious and aghast at my saying it – is welcoming in new people. So in-depth is the language and the culture, that anyone who’s ever tried to follow a step-by-step guide for anything will know it’s often impossible. So much is assumed, leaving you in a bottomless fractal of user-guides, as you start another to find out what “go to root” in this one actually means, before realising that one is talking about “grepping”, and as you’re looking that up you’re asked to “apt-get” a piece of software, the guide for which informs you that you must be logged in as root. And unfortunately, because one’s ignorance of such basic fundamentals is born of having spent your life in the closed-source evil arms of Windows, attempts to untangle it further often result in contempt. It’s messy.

The possibility of the arrival of a bunch of gamers, perhaps looking to escape the desktop horror of Win8, will likely be a mixed blessing. GNU’s creator and shaman, Richard Stallman, has already described his conflicting feelings about the move. That’s likely to echo throughout.

But what has this to do with a Steam-based operating system? Well, one of the most crucial aspects of a Linux-based operating system is that they’re Free. The source code is open and available to anyone, and comes with a licence that ensures that anyone can come along, take it, change a line or two here and there, and then call it their own. So long as they offer the same rights with their creation, they’re free to use it as they wish. So if Valve were interested in an operating system, but not in going through the 30 or so years it takes to get something refined enough for today’s machines, there’s one waiting for them right there. A copy of Ubuntu, a few key changes to hardwire Steam into it, a new loading logo and desktop background, and they’ve got themselves SteamOS. It’s not that enormous a deal.

Of course, that comes with some issues. Not least the one Stallman raises, about Steam’s not being free software. Valve are going to hit that hurdle hard once the Linux version launches, because people are going to bristle and start asking questions. Of course various aspects of GNU/Linux are already massively infiltrated by closed-source software, with some distros containing it in their code. Again, the in-fighting. Were they to hardwire Steam into, say, a version of Ubuntu, they’d likely catch some flak for making something closed-source integral to an operating system.

However, that wouldn’t violate the rules of the GPL (GNU Public License) which is designed to ensure the rights of the code are passed on. So long as Valve kept every other aspect of the code free, and indeed didn’t use any GPL-licensed code within that version of Steam, they would be perfectly within their rights to do so.

And while that may annoy some, there are ways they could actually win favour with others. Right now a real issue for the Linux community is Nvidia (amongst many others, obviously), whom the usually calm and gentle Linus Torvalds (creator of the Linux kernel) recently addressed with a raised middle finger and the declaration “FUCK YOU!“. They are, according to Torvalds, enormously uncooperative, and that of course is problematic when it comes to getting drivers working with Linux games. A force like Valve coming into that world could carry with it a lot of weight in finally seeing some movement there, because Valve would want stuff to just work, and drivers have to be good enough if that’s going to happen. Do that, and they could win a lot of fans.

Of course, this is all nothing but speculation. I’m triangulating a possible destination based on three rather loose references. It might be pure fantasy. But you’ve got to assume they’ve at least considered it. (Or maybe I’m inadvertently convincing them.)

And it doesn’t have to be a big deal for the home user, either. It doesn’t have to be a case of swapping Windows for SteamOS, or MacOS or Ubuntu or whatever for SteamOS. Just as with most Linux distros, it could be installed on a USB stick, stuck in your PC, laptop or netbook, and become a boot option when you switch on, the games themselves stored on another hard drive.

In the end, it’s something that just kind of makes sense. But it would be a massive move. It would be one particular developer/publisher saying, “We’re directly competing with you, Microsoft,” and lead to all manner of interesting turf battles. It could bring forth enormous issues of competition rules, with companies like GamersGate, Desura, GOG and so on going completely loony. Who knows! Certainly not me. I’m just some guy.

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270 Comments »

  1. lionheart says:

    Windows 8 on desktop is pure ass so a steamOS would be amazing.

    At least Valve isn’t letting Microsoft cut them off at the knees like they’re clearly planning to.

    Perhaps most promising would be Valve playing to their strengths with an OS aimed at pro artists, programmers and other creatives. The people who find Macs too status obsessed, linux too anti-capitalist and windows too business (and now with windows 8 low end too dumbed down low end consumer).

    If Nvidia, Adobe, Dell and co were clever, they’d be uniting with Valve against a Microsoft that is essentially trying to throw the rest of the traditional pc eco-system under the bus to save itself.

    Basically a simple, efficient, imaginative and well put together OS not obsessed with gouging customers. Dare to dream I suppose, but if anybody can do it it’s Valve.

    • gshauger says:

      Pure ass? I can already tell Windows 8 is going to be like Vista in the sense that we’re gonna have to listen to tons of people hating on something simply because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do.

      Pure ass? Could you sound any more ridiculous?

      • Spengbab says:

        Don’t encourage him, he might still be running XP, “because it works just fine”

        • MD says:

          I am, and it does. Explain to me why I’m an idiot!

        • Emeraude says:

          All right, I’ll bite: how/why is a consumer being perfectly satisfied with the product s/he is currently using, and for that very reason refusing to upgrade it, ridiculous ?.

        • Satanic Beaver says:

          While i am running 7, XP does work fine, and actually better than 7, i just like the taskbar and the look.

          • vandinz says:

            lol no. Xp is NOT better than 7. Apart from DX11 it’s faster and more stable. I’ve not had ONE blue screen from windows 7 and the speed increase on games when I upgraded from XP was amazing.

      • smg77 says:

        Have you actually used Windows 8? It’s designed for tablets and phones…not desktop computing.

        • vandinz says:

          Have YOU actually used it? There’s a big tile on the UI that says DESKTOP. Press that and guess what? It’s just like Windows 7! I use it on my bedroom PC and it’s now as native as 7 once you find out where some things are (took me 5 minutes).

          • DarkGoeie says:

            Nice try, microsoft representative. You got me to upgrade to Windows Me, AND Vista. Not this time!

          • zaphod42 says:

            Okay, I’ll bite. How do you open up two applications at the same time, and have each take up half the screen?

            I’ll wait……

            Whoops! Windows 8 can’t do things that windows XP, much less 7, can do.

            THATS why we hate on it.

            Have you tried using Windows 8 with dual-monitor setup? Atrocious.

            Its only good for tablets, and anybody with a tablet is running iOS or Android. Its the dumbest thing possible. Microsoft is ruining the experience on the desktop to chase some tablets they don’t have.

            Why not just make it an option? “Boot into metro on startup?”

            Nope, there’s no option. You’re forced to boot into it and click “Desktop” every. single. time.

          • scy1192 says:

            @zaphod42

            What are you talking about? It’s the exact same as in Windows 7. Even metro apps allow you to do this. I’ve been using Windows 8 since the Release Preview, and the amount of bullshit spread about it is ridiculous. Come on guys.

      • Mctittles says:

        I’ve ran Vista/7 quite a long time now. When I first started there was many things I hated about them. The security issue pop-ups for every little thing, the HUGE start menu, HUGE alt-tab, the slap in your face Aero animations, the overall resource hogging. Moving stuff around and renaming everything to make me learn to navigate all over again.

        I eventually got used to all this and I decided it was an ok OS after all. I like the search and the extra clicks to do most things like change display settings I got used to.

        Then recently I needed to test programs I was developing on Windows XP. I set up a machine with spare parts and installed the old OS. After years of Vista/7 this was an amazing change. The speed at which it ran (my god this is fast). The ease of getting around, all the little things like not having a HUGE status area in folders, the customization options, etc, etc. I can’t go back to Vista, really. My brother runs it and comes into problems that waste hours of his time all the time.

        So anyway, I thought I liked Vista/7 after I got used to it, but XP really is the best of the worst.

        • Satanic Beaver says:

          Oh yeah, and XP was waaaaaayy more customizable. I hate not being able to have the zelda chest sound as my startup noise :(

          • Harlander says:

            Come now, all you have to do is edit the dll the sound’s baked into to replace it. What could be simpler?

            An option in a configuration menu? You speak madness!

      • cassus says:

        Unless you got into Vista within the first year of release, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Vista was indeed pure ass for the first 12ish months. It was a fricken nightmare to use, and I had to switch to my mac for absolutely all creative tasks (music and audio related) because the audio system in Vista was so broken it just constantly crashed the drivers, the software and bluescreened the pc. Absolute ass. The fact that it’s the common consensus doesn’t mean everyone hated on it just cause it was the thing to do at the time, it’s genuinely one of the worst OS releases ever, and we’re still feeling its devastating results even today, with pc games being released for dx9 because so many people got burned by vista and are without access to anything above dx9. Its release was up there with Windows ME. I’ve yet to try windows 8, and judging by what I’ve seen it’s just a newer version of win7 with a horrible touch UI on top. Horrible for desktop pc’s, seemingly nice for touch devices. Just like Win7 was a working re-release of Vista, win 8 is a re-release of win7 with tablet bits tacked onto it.

    • lionheart says:

      Really, the “I’m more mature than you” card is the best you have to play? No substantive arguments at all?

      Vista was completely different, its flaws were technical ones; lack of driver support, half finished features etc, they were eventually fixed.

      There’s no fixing Windows 8, it was flawed from its inception, even if its technical implementation has been good. The entire paradigm Microsoft is working from is one that simply does not work. Metro will lose on desktops and if Microsoft have any sense they will cut their losses and split windows into desktop and tablet versions, as they should have from the start.

      So yes, pure ass is indeed the most apt way of describing it.

      • Mhyre says:

        I’m with you on this one, everyone said it was bad (even those ignoring why) because it was indeed bad. I’m not gonna pick W8 because someone said it was good or why it wasn’t bad, I’m simply not looking for what it has to offer at all.

      • Raziel_Alex says:

        I’m glad for you or something, but there are those of us who enjoy minimalist interfaces and actually look forward to Win8.

      • skittles says:

        Have you actually tried Win8 and actually done a legitimate attempt at trying to understand it? Because I am finding too often that people are either not trying it and harping other peoples words, or they spend two minutes with it and then call it crap without trying to figure things out.

        The fact of the matter I am finding it FAR easier to navigate and use Win8 than any other Windows version. As in I operate 3-4 times faster with Win8 program switching than the clunky former methods, and it is also so much easier to arrange and see what your dealing with. On former windows you either had to make your desktop look like a cluttered garbage dump, or jump through a couple of menus to launch anything.

        There are also some excellent features that make things so much better and faster. Windows updates does not make itself a pain is the ass. Programs stay in memory so the run much faster. Programs remember their state when you shutdown, so starting up again things will be just where you left them. And legacy programs work perfectly through the desktop interface, I see no hint of this ‘closed’ system that people are railing against. Anti-competitive marketplace? huh? Both of Microsofts competitors have their own marketplaces ALREADY you realise, Linux and Apple both have been running them for some time. If you don’t like the marketplace, don’t use it, nothing is stopping you from installing things as per usual in Win8.

        If your basing your opinion off the initial dev release of Win8, that was literally pure ass I would agree. But the RC is vastly improved, you just have to spend some time to see how it works. There are certainly some major issues with it, particularly with their silly 1/3 screen only for split app work, why is it not 1/2? But these are entirely resolvable.

        • Naum says:

          Linux does not have a marketplace. There are a few things to put into perspective here:

          Firstly, Linux is not an operating system like Windows, but a kernel. Fully-fledged operating systems are called distributions and basically consist of a bunch of programmes bundled with a Linux kernel. Some of these distributions, most notably Ubuntu, have marketplaces.

          Secondly, almost every Linux distribution comes with a so-called package manager. They set up repositories with software packages that essentially correspond to the installers you’d download for Windows software. These repositories are controlled by the creators of the distribution, allowing software to be tested with each other and dependencies between programmes to be specified. However, all package managers permit the use of other repositories and packages, and you can opt to bypass the package management and install software by any other means you like.

          Thirdly, Ubuntu has recently begun to sell a few programmes through their “Software Center”, making it a marketplace instead of a simple frontend for the package manager. This has no effect whatsoever on the rest of your system — indeed I could very well uninstall the Software Center and my Ubuntu installation would still be fully functional.

          • skittles says:

            Well I was specifically referring to Ubuntu. As it is at least in my experience the most commonly used distribution by normal users. I certainly should of said Ubuntu, not Linux.

            Sure the store is removable, but installing things in Linux without the software centre I have always found to be a royal pain in the bum, so for the average user it will stay there. And certainly for Win8 you can unpin marketplace from the start page and never have to see it again, not precisely uninstalling but similar effect. Apple is just as bad as uninstalling appstore is not officially supported. Not to condone it or anything. I just find it highly surprising that Apple put in appstore without any huge fuss, but Microsoft do it and people treat it as the end of the world.

            People make use of appstores, as proven by the runaway success of Apple and Steam. It would of been stupid for Microsoft not to do one. So why people appear surprised/shocked/angry bemuses me.

          • Naum says:

            While I don’t exactly like the increasing tendency to consider Ubuntu “the” reference Linux (that’d be Gentoo :P), it certainly is the one that is least painful to set up and run, so that point is very valid. However, I always found Synaptic to be much more powerful and similarly easy to use as the Software Center, and I think it’s even preinstalled. If you haven’t already, you might want to check it out. (Or just stick with apt-get, which requires the memorisation of like 5 commands to be equally useful and faster than any GUI.)

            Apart from that, I’m also O.K. with people putting app stores into their OSes, as long as it’s not mandatory or a royal pain to bypass. I didn’t ever open either the Windows or the Ubuntu one, so apart from wasted disk space I lose nothing. But in the hands of Microsoft the danger is quite obvious — quasi-monopoly makes it easy to set up conditions nobody would otherwise agree to, for both users and developers –, so I can see why people are very concerned.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I’ve found that Linux Mint is pretty much what I want an operating system to be. Their motto is from simplicity came style (I think) and it really shows through. I’m not so sure a Steam OS has anything to add.

    • Bungled says:

      What i don’t understand is why microsoft would bother with forcing this OS on the pc. Why not give tablets and phones their own thing while upgrading an already good thing that is already tried, true, and reasonable? Why totally redesign something that already works when you could just apply updates based on the same architecture to add the features you want? Windows 7 could last a long time if they actually gave a shit about improving on an already decent OS instead of trying to make more money by pushing out new software for a ridiculous price(for today’s standards anyways, i mean, Linux is free, iOS updates are free, android updates are free, etc.).

  2. LionsPhil says:

    Dual-booting is a miserable experience.
    Running desktop Linux on real hardware is a miserable experience.
    Running games under a VM is an inefficient and klunky experience.

    Which is not to say that Valve won’t do it, but is to say that they shouldn’t. Huge waste of time and effort.

    Also, seriously RPS?

    (If the EU fined them billions for forcing their own web browser on customers, I’m bemused at their thinking it will be okay to force their own online store.)

    Either way, it makes sense to me to be able to browse through a few different video editing tools from rival manufacturers all in one place, and then download the one I’m after on the spot.

    Steam. Is. A. Walled. Garden. Too. It is already a locked-down DRM’d App Store.

    (Bonus points for “GPL (GNU Product License)”, which I assume you did on purpose given you linked it to a page with the correct expansion. “Usually calm and gentle Linus Torvalds” is pretty entertaining if you’ve ever seen him on LKML, too…)

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Steam is a walled garden, but only within the context of Steam, competition with Origin, GoG, etc all exist within Windows. Windows 8, with the double-team of (not-)Metro and Marketplace, approaches the walled gardens of iOS, XBox, etc….there is no choice to visit someone else’s garden, without opting out of the entire platform (for Win8, this is the entire (not-)Metro part of the OS).

      Granted Win8 hasn’t completed that step yet, “allowing” the desktop legacy to still exist, but it certainly seems that it is the way MS wants to go.

      A lot of this argument would be pushed under the carpet if Win8 was simply a continuation of the Win7 desktop, and a separate Win Tablet 8 version existed (much like Win Phone 8).

      It’s a good thing to remember, that people still don’t like iOS’ walled garden, so arguably this is all two wrongs not making a right.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      “Running desktop Linux on real hardware is a miserable experience.”

      Bollocks. My PC is very much “real hardware” and it’s far from miserable. You had to be miserable to start with.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Suspend to RAM working for you? Suspend to disk as well? PulseAudio actually controlling the right volume level when you use the panel widget for it? The keyboard volume keys? Gone more than a month without X bombing out and taking your session with it?

        • Kaira- says:

          All working as intended here.

        • byteCrunch says:

          Yep, my laptop which has only ever run various distros of Linux, not a single issue.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Welp. All I can say is that you guys are outliers in my experience. Maybe I’m one in yours.

        • jrodman says:

          Phil has an irrational hatred of Linux, there’s no reason to engage.

          Yeah, I had a crash once in 2005. Turned out to be a failing hard drive.

          • LionsPhil says:

            So you engage anyway?

            Anyway, your problem here is the word “irrational”. This is the hatred of having to put up with the bloody system, watch it stumble around from cock-up to cock-up, failing to ever sit down and straighten itself out. Crap (PulseAudio) piled upon crap (NetworkManager) piled upon crap (dbus) as it strangles away the UNIX philosophy, the desktop world chase half-arsed after whatever fad they sniffed from Microsoft or, now, Apple, and every six months everything is thrown away half-incomplete and reimplemented “lightweight”.

            It will be interesting to see what becomes of Wayland.

            A good dose of it is fury that goddamnit, with this much effort, it could have been so much better by now. (Meanwhile Microsoft sit on a horrendous Win32 API—since neither .NET/WPF nor not-called-Metro adoption have blown it away—but quietly fix-fix-fix their codebase, solving hard problems like “how do I stop awful graphics drivers killing the whole damn desktop?”, and Apple take BSD, slap NeXTStep on top, and start nibbling aggressively on everyone’s lunch while getting free handjobs from journalists in half the time—although they’re kind of irrelevant for hardware gruntles since shipping your own is easy street.)

          • jrodman says:

            As I said.

        • Valvarexart says:

          Yes, yes it has all been working fine. What did you install, Arch?

          • LionsPhil says:

            Oh hey, a distro war. Cute. Let’s play “the plural of anecdote is not data” too, then.

            Mandrake (does that date it enough?), Deadrat, Gentoo (yes, yes, I know, -funroll-loops), Ubuntu, Xubuntu if we want to pretend that that’s meaningfully different. I’m counting a decade of those around me through Linux-heavy environments into this experience—that pulls in plain old Debian and Fedora if you want, and I think even Slackware at one point.

            Go on, tell me which one I should be reinstalling with right now to solve all my woes.

            Been there. Done that. The average level of hardware support is about 80%-90%. Which 80%-90% will vary every time you dist-upgrade; maybe you’ll trade a working webcam for the ability to not lock the system solid when you go to shutdown having used sound that session. It’s like a fun game.

        • Abbykins says:

          No problems here either. Sounds like a PEBKAC issue to me…

          • CrookedLittleVein says:

            I hope one day people on here will be able to discuss something as impersonal as operating systems without turning into aggressive asses or slinging veiled insults at each other.

            Dare to dream.

        • Naum says:

          As an absolute Linux lover, I’m actually with you as far as PulseAudio (and ALSA for that matter) goes. That thing is crap, supposedly meant to work ‘out of the box’, which is to say ‘unfixable if it happens not to’. The whole Linux sound architecture seems to need a massive overhaul, but that’s obviously easier said than done. Same goes for Gnome and KDE, but at least there exist good alternatives in that area.

          However, no Linux I have used has ever managed to be as much fun to work with as Windows. Recently, the Win8 installer decided that this partition with an unreadable file system (which just so happened to be my ext4 Linux root fs) could well be used as a FAT32 EFI system partition, of course without asking me or even just indicating what it was about to do. Then there’s the crude graphical sudo equivalent, the unusable default command line, the totally intransparent registry, the directory structure that makes no sense, the default editor that is a joke, the use of strange file formats where plaintext would work just as well, the lack of a package manager (and therefore of dependency management) and so on and so forth. I’m not saying that everyone should use Linux, because if you don’t care about those things then Windows usually works just fine. But I’ve found that whenever it doesn’t, finding the problem and fixing it is very hard and occasionally impossible.

          • jamesgecko says:

            I’ve read that a lot of the problems PulseAudio is blamed for are actually issues with sound drivers. PA exposes more advanced functionality than Alsa does (which honestly isn’t saying much), and the shoddy driver quality suddenly surfaces.

        • tormeh says:

          Desktop Windows is definitely more stable than desktop Linux. This is mostly for the same reason XP was more stable than Vista: Drivers. Get drivers ironed out, and almost everything will be OK. As for the rest, let’s just say X11 can’t be replaced by Wayland soon enough.

        • jamesgecko says:

          You can forgo all planning and install Linux on any random hardware, but (as you’ve discovered) it’ll probably be bullocks.

          Almost every one of your issues is directly related to poor drivers. Run Linux on hardware that has decent, well supported drivers and you won’t have those problems. Complain to the hardware manufacturers.

        • Chuckaluphagus says:

          Suspend, hibernate, PulseAudio, keyboard volume and media control keys, all of those things worked for me out of the box with Ubuntu. Not sure what’s so odd about your hardware setup (also, are you rolling your own distro or something?), but I don’t have any of the issues you describe.

    • Smashbox says:

      The difference being that the OPTION to buy from Steam does not preclude the OPTION to buy in a retail store, on Amazon, etc. Whereas, the Windows 8 store precludes all others, disallowing you from using your computer to COMPUTE any ‘unsigned’ code in Metro™.

      And before you argue Steam exclusives, there’s a difference between some optional software being available from only one retailer, and Steam is not unique in that respect, and ALL software (which is why you have a computer, right?) exclusively tied to a store.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Metro apps and Steamworks games are both entirely optional. You can run some other similar program that someone wrote to avoid depending on Metro/Steamworks. Since Windows is an open platform, you can download dev tools and write the something else yourself if you have to.

        You can argue the slippery slop to a Metro-only Windows, but 8 isn’t it yet.

        • bwion says:

          “slippery slop”

          I hope this wasn’t a typo, because it is my new favorite phrase.

        • Docslapper says:

          umm, no. I went to a Microsoft talk on Win8 yesterday, and the only way to get a metro app onto a win8 machine is through the Windows store.
          You can sideload, but it’s a complicated procedure basically designed to allow corporate IT departments to distribute in-house apps, not for normal users to load random software with.
          You can install non-metro apps, but obviously they’re second-class citizens in Microsoft’s new World of Ass.

          So, yeah, I’m now firing up Linux in a VM (on Win7, which I like) to start the long painful process of learning a new platform. By the time Win7 goes out of support I should be OK to switch off the dual-boot.

          • LionsPhil says:

            You seem to think I’m arguing something other than what I wrote.

          • Docslapper says:

            nope, you wrote that you can fire up an IDE and write your own program because Metro is optional. It isn’t really. Any program you write is going to be a second-class citizen in the windows ecosystem, and the only way to make it a first-class citizen is through the Windows App Store. That’s not optional, it’s not open, and it sucks.

    • lionheart says:

      You’re slightly missing the point about competition law here.

      Microsoft has a virtual desktop monopoly, it uses that to force its browser on people > antitrust

      Steam has a monopoly (kind of) of download stores, it can’t use that monopoly to take control of the OS market > not antitrust. And once the OS is established, it will only be a few % of the market. There’s no legal problems with having a walled garden store when you’re not the dominant player, that’s why Apple can get away with it on the desktop. Microsoft however if it did the same would be exploiting its monopoly position.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Sure, but it’s the language and tone RPS couch these things in. Valve’s system good, Microsoft’s bad. They’re largely the same thing: an “optional” walled garden with some exclusives. Every valid complaint against one (and believe me, I do think the “App Store” is another horrible blow on the personal control of the person computer) is valid against the other.

        Steam’s better because Valve coat their bitter pill in more sugar, like the community features. That’s about it.

        • skinlo says:

          Then its better.

          If the pro’s outweigh the con’s due to things like the community etc, then its fine.

        • Jim Rossignol says:

          “Valve’s system good, Microsoft’s bad.”

          Only that’s not what it says, at all. Yes, Steam has issues, and oh look, those get talked about in this same article. Take a step back and actually read.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Come on Jim, it’s a five-word distillation (in a discussion thread comment, no less). It’s going to lose precision in the process.

            When John is talking about the very concept of an app store, there is a notable difference in the light in which he casts each. That he goes on to count Steam’s failings doesn’t really change that.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Yeah a SteamOS would be just as restrictive as Win8, since they would both feature exclusive app stores. Making a Steam variant of Linux would probably be even MORE restrictive, since Valve would have to provide a super simplified overlay so as not to make the experience too intimidating for newbies.

      Competition is good, I guess, but I’d rather neither of the two existed.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I’m not really a Linux user or power user, but Mint works pretty well for me on my Netbook. No crashes, shorter pauses (dual-booting is just a single choice at startup), and I’ve had a much, much, much easier time getting it to do networking stuff (connecting to a network printer is three clicks). It can even play some indie games.

      The only problem I had is not knowing which package to download when installing things for it (deb 64 I think), but once I had the right one it did everything else for me.

    • Xerian says:

      The DRM-bit (besides offline being somewhat broken) is all on the developers side, NOT Steams. :3

  3. elefunk says:

    I’ve used Windows 8 for all the preview releases. Metro (or whatever they call it) is simply a replacement for the start menu. Works great for me – including all my Steam games.

    RPS – why don’t you just install it? There have been free releases out there for almost a year now. I love Valve, but they do have a vested business interest against the Windows 8 app store, so it’s not like blindly following their words without trying it for yourself is the most unbiased way to do journalism here.

    • dirtrobot says:

      Thumbs up. I’m starting to feel a little weirded out by RPS’ unjournalistic approach to the win8 issue.

      “Windows 8 is looking likely to be awful for desktop PCs, forcing a tablet interface onto a system that doesn’t want or need it in any way. Worse, it’s seen by some as an attempt to close down the openness of the PC, with games bought through the operating system.”

      This quote is pure wtf.

      • Smashbox says:

        It’s not irresponsible journalism, this is a real concern. It is indisputably a step toward a less-open platform.

        • HexagonalBolts says:

          why is it?

          • marach says:

            because Gabe said so!

            If you ignore that the EU would never allow it and that the DOJ in the US would have a field day suing the pants off MS and it all makes perfect sense!

          • Smashbox says:

            Short answer: You cannot run any unsigned, un-Microsoft-approved, un-Microsoft-handles-updates software on the Metro interface. You can’t side-load software to Metro. Microsoft gets a cut of all these software sales. The OS defaults to Metro (Mom goes through Microsoft for everything, etc.)

          • liquidsoap89 says:

            Okay, but isn’t Metro 1 of 2 pieces of Win 8? Can’t you just change it to be similar to Win 7? If that’s the case, do those restrictions still exist?

            I’m not overly familiar with how Win 8 works, so I could just be making stuff up.

          • jrodman says:

            liquidsoap: You’re correct. That’s why it’s only a step.

          • liquidsoap89 says:

            I see. Now if Metro turns out to be complete balls, could we just switch it to the Win 7 variant, and reap the remaining rewards that Win 8 provides, free from the restrictions of metro?

          • LionsPhil says:

            As far as I know, so far, in the preview releases, you cannot get the Win 7 UI back.

            Maybe someone will find a registry key tucked away somewhere that resurrects it. Maybe it’ll be there in the final release. But for now, while you can “ignore Metro” and live on your desktop, you still have to put up with it as a Start Menu replacement.

            Which is kind of annoying, really. XP was daring enough to let you stick with the classic 95 start menu if you wanted.

          • DrSlek says:

            There is a registry hack to enable the classic start button and menu, but as far as I know it does not actually disable the metro interface.

      • lionheart says:

        It’s not awful, but it is certainly not good.

        I wish apologists, for want of a better word, would stop deluding themselves.

        Tablet and desktop are very different, Microsoft has focused almost completely on tablets, ergo the experience on desktop will have been compromised. This statement isn’t a fallacy, two ways of interacting physically with a computer can never be served as well by one unified interface as they can by two.

        If an auto company replaced its motorbike and its van ranges with a single hybridised vehicle everyone would laugh their asses off, yet Microsoft does the same with computing and people try to claim it’s an improvement?

        Every complaint people have about Windows 8 is met with a “you’re doing it wrong” response, or “it’s not that difficult”, or “it’s only 4 extra clicks to shut down, why are you making such a big deal” or “now you can pause downloads, that proves Microsoft is focusing on desktop users!”

        I think what all these complaints people make have in common is that they don’t like paying for an OS in which they, the customers who made Microsoft, and who still pay their wages, are being treated like second class citizens, used to subsidise Microsoft’s doomed play for the Ipad market.

        • marach says:

          I think a better name for them would be users. My wife has been on it since the first public beta and my parents since the last, in that time my daily number of “what did I do wrong the computers not working right!” calls have slowly dropped as they’ve got used to metro… I haven’t had a call in a month… I’m all for windows 8 and it’s interface changes.

        • LimEJET says:

          The experience on the desktop is certainly not compromised. People saying Win8 isn’t worth the upgrade do not know what they are talking about. It is smaller than Windows 7, and also a lot faster and tidier. All my games run better on 8 than on 7 (and this is on a fairly high-tier rig).
          The only thing Microsoft have done with the ex-Metro interface is bring the Windows experience closer to Linux.

          Basically, the Windows 8 interface is a faster version of Gnome 3.

          • LionsPhil says:

            What happened to the search box in the Start Menu, or pinning programs there and the most-commonly-wanted files of them to their side?

            W7′s Start Menu is actually pretty capable. A big screen of tiles, well, isn’t.

          • marach says:

            It’s all still there! Start typing and it searches, to pin stuff to the start screen you click it in on the all programs page and choose pin to start…

          • LionsPhil says:

            …but…what does it pin it to? Where’s my textbox for typing the search query into? Going to have to give that a try later.

          • marach says:

            The text box appears as you type :P And it pins it to the main start screen so you can drag it around like any other tile.

          • nuronv says:

            Marach is correct, you can still pin to the desktop taskbar or the new start menu
            If you want to search you just start typing, exactly the same as Windows 7.

            There is so much fear about Windows 8 it is ridiculous.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Having used Win8 (consumer release, preview release, etc) on a work laptop, I stand with RPS’ “this is horrible” viewpoint. What is added, compared to Win7, is not worth the “upgrade”.

      I have heard that it is better on tablets (I’ve also heard it is not as good as other Tablet OSes).

      But my experience, via mouse, or laptop touchpad, large smartboard/projector combo (try hot corners on a screen 2 meters wide)… it is not an evolution.

      It is certainly not “simply a replacement for the start menu”.

      Even with Win7, the Windows OS still holds legacy from XP and earlier. Win8, adds a 3rd UI design to the mix leading to more inconsistency in the user experience.

      2 different versions of IE (the Metro version, and the desktop version) are an obvious sign of that. A 50:50 side-by-side on Desktop, but 75:25 sidebar on Metro. Charms settings that opens up the Win7 Control Panel in some circumstances, while in others you get the Tablety settings.

      An invisible start button (hot corners, and the whole Start screen/Metro, hit problems for multi-screen setups) is a clear sign of the poor discoverability.

      There are some new reviews of the “completed” Win8 RTM (as opposed to the “still Beta” versions) on a number of tech sites, and most of them report that a lot of the UI issues for Desktop (Keyboard+Mouse) persist.

      Even MS are clearly struggling to adapt the next version of Office to their “On tablet & on desktop” approach.

      • FredFredrickson says:

        I don’t understand why everyone gets in a huff over hot corners. I use them on my Mac at work for Expose, on a 24″ screen, and it’s not bad at all – a mere flick of the wrist.

        • Hoaxfish says:

          well, for me, Win7 is a nudge of my thumb, or pinky finger, to hit the start menu…and from that same corner I have everything (start programs, shutdown, settings, etc).

          Win8, makes use of the top left (app switching), bottom left(start screen), and right edge/corner(s) (depending on context, “charms”, settings, clock, shutdown, etc) to bring up different things. For me, that’s a flick of the wrist (i.e. a larger motion because my hand’s “rest position” keeps landing nearer to different spots) in multiple different directions, and the occasional zorro-esque waggle across multiple corners.

          On multiple screens, you can “fall off” the screen effectively over-shooting the “hot” bit (there have been some attempts to fix this by making it corner “zones” rather than the very corner pixel).

          In the case of large screens like interactive whiteboards, the Win8 hot corners can have you constantly walking across everyone’s line-of-sight, rather than staying on the same side of the screen.

          In terms of usability, especially for “non-computer” people, a hidden “zone” of functionality is much more confusing than a clearly visible button on a persistently visible taskbar.

        • jamesgecko says:

          Discoverability. You can use OS X without hot corners; there’s not really basic must-have functionality lurking invisibly there. (You can get by without Expose. Really!) With Windows 8, on the other hand…

    • kazriko says:

      I installed Windows 8, and then I tried to run the Steam games I wanted to play at the time. Breath of Death 7 and Cthulhu Saves the World. Both of them failed. Microsoft’s broken part of their old system to get the new interfarce and new runtime working…

    • nutterguy says:

      This is such bullshit. There is no walled garden outside of metro apps on ARM devices, this does not effect the traditional PC gamer AT ALL.

      No mention at all of how Gabe might have a bit of a vested interest in his new competition?
      No mention of how Windows 8 is actually faster in almost all benchmarks compared to windows 7? (http://www.zdnet.com/windows-8-vs-windows-7-benchmarked-7000002671/)

      RPS guys I love what you write about games but just stay away from this as your just parroting what other journalists who have also not done any real journalism have said.

      (Subscriber since 2010, not any longer)

      • Vorphalack says:

        ”No mention of how Windows 8 is actually faster in almost all benchmarks compared to windows 7?”

        Windows 7 is not slow. Making it slightly faster is pretty redundant as an excuse for an expensive upgrade that prevents me from running over half my games.

        • LimEJET says:

          Windows 8 is quite a lot faster than Windows 7, and since it basically is an optimized version of its older sibling, almost everything runs without a hitch. Games included. I consistently get about 10 more frames in Just cause 2 on Windows 8 than on Windows 7.

          Besides, Microsoft publicly said a while ago that you’d be able to upgrade from 7 to 8 for $40.

          • Vorphalack says:

            I think you missed the bit where Windows 7 is not slow. I don’t need any more performance from the OS, and like hell I need more hassle getting my older (and best) games to run. If it breaks compatibility the speed gain is irrelevant.

          • Tasloi says:

            Depends on your definition of “quite a lot”. Boot & shut down times only vary a couple seconds (that’s if you still have a non-SSD drive). Some early benchmarks i’ve seen for games indicate the fps difference is within margin of error in favor of Windows 7 pretty much every time.

        • dirtrobot says:

          MAKE IT STOP! RUNS TOO FAST! DO NOT LIKE!

          Seriously, expensive? It’s going to be cheaper than the new WoW expansion.

          • Vorphalack says:

            Marginal (and frankly even that’s not proven) performance upgrades do not justify any price point considering the amount of baggage this new OS is bringing to the party. Or did you just conveniently forget all the criticism being hurled at this aberration, and the consistent fact that every new version of Windows tries its damn hardest to break compatibility with older games?

            I mean what the fuck do you want the (potential) extra performance for anyway? Windows 7 bottlenecks exactly no games, and boots so fast I barely have time to sit down before its loaded. If you want to sell the damn thing you are gonna have to do better than typing some sarcastic crap with caps lock on.

    • FredFredrickson says:

      Registered here just to say this. The “Metro” portion of Win 8 is really just a full-screen start menu. Seriously. And it runs Steam just like Win 7 does, of course.

      This article is ludicrous anyway, because it ignores the fact that 90% of the stuff on Steam requires Windows to run. The rest requires OS X. You can’t just make a new OS that will magically run all of that software, and then be king of the OS market. That doesn’t make any sense.

      And then, supposing you COULD actually do something like that, you’d have to convince game developers, who are just now coming around to even considering supporting Linux, to support another OS, right out of the gate? And possibly abandon Windows, the largest gaming platform of all, in the process?

      Really, this is an all-around awful article, with pointless Windows 8 hate in it to boot. You guys can do better.

      • ScubaMonster says:

        As long as a SteamOS could run DirectX, it really wouldn’t take any work at all to have something up and running.

      • Abbykins says:

        I’m sure the SteamOS would integrate WINE so that you could run (with a few exceptions) all the windows games.

        One thing that puzzles me is that people keep moaning about how terrible Windows8 is, and I agree — SO DON’T BUY IT! No one is forcing you to “upgrade”, and plenty of people are still running XP and fine with it. Win7 will be a viable platform for gaming for quite a while.

      • PopeJamal says:

        It’s really NOT an all around bad article and I think you really don’t grasp the gravity of the “End Game” for Microsoft and Apple. Here, let me lay it out for everyone plain and simple:

        If all goes as planed, Microsoft/Apple will be able to dictate what hardware you buy, what you can do with that hardware, what you can run on that hardware, and who you buy all the software that runs on said hardware.

        GabeN and the folks at Valve see what’s happening and they are trying to leverage themselves onto what will soon be, literally, the only remaining “mainstream” open desktop computing platform left.

        Apple is practically at the finish line in that race, but Microsoft has decided that they want in on the “App Store Ecosystem” gimmick. Forcing everyone to but software through their store means they get a cut of LITERALLY EVERYTHING sold. Having control of the hardware means that they can keep you from using “Insecure and Non approved” software stores. Hell, you won’t be able to write your own software without throwing money at their faces.

        So no, this article isn’t completely baseless, it’s just looking much further ahead than the average gamer. People in the tech nerd sphere have seen this coming for a long time now. It’s only recently gotten close enough to the Surface (see what I did there!?) for non techies to take notice.

        • smg77 says:

          I wish this comment was appended to the article so everybody would read it.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I completely agree that this will be a problem, but would Steam OS really be any better? Steam is an App store.

          • kemryl says:

            Assuming that steamOS only provided the option to use the steam store to buy games (which would likely be the best option since the linux community tends not to have the resources or organization to take on a task like porting thousands of games to a new operating system), then it would already alleviate the main problem forseen with the direction apple and microsoft seem to be taking with their software: little to no consumer choice/control.

            The GPL would prove a huge barrier to doing anything that would lock out other software or means of distribution and it would probably be in valve’s best interest to make sure their operating system provides something different from the established choices if they hope to gain any market share.

          • vagabond says:

            Because of the open nature of Linux and the GPL that any SteamOS would be built on, it would be impossible for Valve to close off the OS to alternative stores and stop you from installing whatever else you wanted.

            Edit: What he said.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        And then, supposing you COULD actually do something like that, you’d have to convince game developers, who are just now coming around to even considering supporting Linux, to support another OS, right out of the gate?

        Uh, the Valve OS proposed here would be Linux. Just a different flavor of Linux. It’s a lot simpler to support multiple Linuxes than it is to support, say, Linux and Windows.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Supporting different OS’ is becoming less of an issue every generation. Unity for Linux is coming, and supposedly that lets you port your games pretty easily over everything. The Unreal Engine already has OpenGL support, so while the work would certainly be nontrivial, they could be convinced to complete it given enough market share.

        If HTML5 ever happens some games could pretty much be written once and hit everything.

  4. dirtrobot says:

    Right, because the first versions of any OS are always amazing and bug-free.

    I seem to recall that most games on Steam are available outside of Steam…oh but I forgot MS is evil and Steam is good.

    Valve can’t even make a game engine that wasn’t modded from quake. What makes you think they can make an OS?

  5. Hug_dealer says:

    i would not be interested in a steamos at all. As much as i am not interested in windows 8.

  6. Lemming says:

    According to the Valve Linux blog, Nvidia are one of the companies actually lending their time to help out with some of the issues running L4D2, and it’s a two-way street.

    Ati, however are nowhere to be seen.

    • Kaira- says:

      ATi actually has a history of giving a hand to the open source community by releasing more specifications than nVidia. But on the other hand ATi’s binary drivers are pretty bad compared to nVidia’s binary blobs.

      [E] though to expand on this a bit, I have to say I haven’t had problems with recent ATi binary drivers on Linux on my laptop nowadays.

    • marach says:

      Well I wouldn’t expect them to talk about ATI since it no longer exists… But if you mean AMD then no they aren’t going to be mentioned by a TWIMTBP partner it’s in the contract.

  7. Trithne says:

    That Stallman post about ‘oh no, the evil nonfree software on GNU/Linux! It’s horrible and takes away your freedoms! Just pretend it doesn’t exist’ gets my goat. He really does live in a dream utopia where everything is free and people don’t need to eat.

    • Kaira- says:

      Gratis != libre.

    • DuddBudda says:

      he produces his own food

    • PopeJamal says:

      i don’t completely agree with his politics, but I agree with the principal of what he talks about. To sum it up, once you sell me a “computer thing”, it belongs to me and there fore you shouldn’t have the right to keep me from using it if I still think it’s useful. I know that seems foreign to most people, but that’s because we’ve been trained to bend over the barrel and take it from corporations on demand.

      Here’s an example of the type of thing that he thinks is unfair and I agree with him:

      Farmer: “Hey, my electric tractor stopped working because there is apparently a bug that won’t allow it to start now that the radio frequencies of the GPS satellites have been changed to version two.”

      Company: “…”

      F: “Uh, can you fix it for me?”

      C: “Sorry sir, we no longer service that old model.”

      F: “But I just bought it a year ago!”

      C: “Sorry!”

      F: “Well, can you sell me the software so I can fix it myself?”

      C: “No we don’t sell the software anymore.”

      F: “Well, you sold a copy to my neighbor down the road, so I will just use his copy.”

      C: “That’s against the terms of our licensing and if you do that, we’ll take both of you to court.”

      F: “Well then how am I supposed to fix my perfectly fine tractor?”

      C: “You aren’t, you are supposed to buy a new one.”

      F: “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!”

      Open source software was designed specifically to combat this. He was bitten in the butt my this problem at MIT back in the day, and he decided that it was a bogus situation and that it shouldn’t happen to people any more. And I can’t disagree with him on that broad principle.

    • elderman says:

      That’s right, RMS is an absolutist. You have to take him for who he is. By seizing one superb idea — that software shouldn’t constrain people, but empower them — and insisting on it he has done measurable good.

      In that post, he’s talking to his constituency not to the general public. He’s thinking in clear and logical terms about how to reconcile commercial gaming on GNU/Linux with his principles. The advice he gives those who think like he does isn’t polemical or deliberately provocative. He concludes by recommending others promote games written in a way that accords with the ideal of software freedom. That’s a fairly inoffensive approach.

      • jalf says:

        Huh, you’ve clearly only come across a select few of the consequences of his “superb idea”.

        It is just as much about constraining people as commercial software is. He just places different constraints.

        If you want an example, he has *actively* worked to *prevent* the GCC compiler from being usable as a library for tools like IDEs or static analysis, because he fears that “it might be used in non-free software”.

        In other words, he’s willing to sacrifice its usability for other *free software* projects, just in order to make life harder for non-free projects. That has nothing to do with “empowerment”, and quite a lot to do with constraining. And not even just constraining the people he identifies as “the bad guys”. He’s perfectly willing to constrain the “good guys” as long as it enables him to *also* constrain the “good guys”.

        The man is insane.

        • elderman says:

          Huh, you’ve clearly only come across a select few of the consequences of his “superb idea”.

          The idea that a person has done good isn’t mutually exclusive with the idea they’ve done harm. In my experience everyone does both.

          [Edited by me, the poster, to remove snarkiness.]

        • LionsPhil says:

          “We are not here to give users what they want. We are here to spread Freedom.” — RMS

          See also: gNewSense, the only “free” distro in the FSF’s eyes, because it contains no mention of or easy ability to choose to install proprietary software (for example, hardware drivers, or Flash).

  8. nasenbluten says:

    It needs to do 2 quite difficult things: Transparent binary compatibility with windows executables and working DirectX 11.

    ReactOS is a start, I don’t see a Linux distro for this if they want to sell software too.

  9. Kaira- says:

    GPL is Gnu Public License, not GNU Product License.

    As to Steam OS… I don’t see it happening. Not really, unless they just throw some flavor of Ubuntu/Debian/other distro with some new skins and call it a day.

  10. disperse says:

    “most people involved would be prepared to go to war over which text editor is better…”

    Well, Vim, obviously.

    • faillord_adam says:

      No no no, it’s obviously Nano

    • iniudan says:

      Yup vim is the best, perfect to scare away any newcomer. =p

      For a console text editor it indeed very good, but before you learn to use it (vimtutor is your best friend in that situation), it feel like someone was on an acid trip when he wrote the code.

      • Naum says:

        I sometimes wish that people who work with their computer every day for at least 30 years would take a couple of hours to learn a good editor, be done with the Office crap and boost their writing speed significantly. But alas, such complexity is beyond the grasp of mere man.

        Besides, vim is clearly the best. Never tried Emacs because it could only be worse… ;)

        • LionsPhil says:

          Vim isn’t exactly a Word replacement, unless you’re going to learn LaTeX at the same time. And while it’s far-and-away superior for Proper Serious Documents, it’s terrible for just getting something quick and dirty done. WYSIWYG is popular because it’s useful.

          • Naum says:

            Needn’t be full-blown LaTeX for simple things; a bit of Markdown or Textile has all the important features Word offers for quick documents and is, for me anyway, equally readable. The benefit is that there’s no compatibility or platform issues, next to no disk space overhead and no need to install a large office suite (which is not exactly cheap when we’re speaking of Microsoft Office and not exactly great otherwise).

            Of course the text processors do have their place in the middle between the two, when you want something that is a little more graphically pleasing and/or has elements that plaintext doesn’t represent well.

      • Aninhumer says:

        It’s like that because it is a collection of hotkeys and expressions borrowed from a variety of different unix programs over the course of a few decades, each of which were in common use at the time they were added, but are mostly now replaced by other tools (not least vim itself).
        It would be nice if there was an editor with the ideas of vim but which built the interface from the ground up to feel consistent, Sublime is looking like it could be a good replacement but last time I tried there were still some things missing for me.

    • MajorManiac says:

      Paper and Pen!!!

  11. thegooseking says:

    Good grief, it has been a long time since I used Linux. When I was using it, Nvidia drivers were pretty solid, and ATI (this was post-AMD-buyout but pre-rebranding, which I guess dates it) drivers were crap. And to think, the whole reason I bought an Nvidia card for my new computer (well, it was new two years ago) was because I thought I might want to use Linux at some point. Well, shit.

  12. faillord_adam says:

    I know what apt-get is, but what’s “grepping”?

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      It’s something you don’t do at the office, else you get in trouble for harassment.

    • Kaira- says:

      Grep is a tool to parse files (and streams) for words or statements. Very useful tool for finding some information from the hardware data, for example.

      • Batolemaeus says:

        To expand:

        It’s the philosophy of chaining little programs together to do tasks. grep takes input and filters it, so you can take input (say, from a file or output from another program), run it through grep to filter everything out that doesn’t interest you, and then process the output further.

        A command like “cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep MHz” reads the file /proc/cpuinfo and filter out any line that doesn’t contain “MHz”. The end result shows your processor’s clock.

        Oh, and of course there’s grep for windows. Even powergrep and other incarnations..

  13. rustybroomhandle says:

    Valve is fun to speculate about. I wrote a speculatey piece on my own bloggy thing at http://warpgate9.com/whats-valve-really-up-to/ (RPS: feel free to delete this post if this is spammy).

    Not too sure about the SteamOS thing. They’d probably get more leverage if they built Steam for Linux to be a sort of pseudo-platform that can be installed on top other Linux distributions (and their own if they want). If they incentivise it properly, it might even encourage hardware manufacturers to build Steam devices ranging from settops to just PCs that are tagged “Steam Certified”.

  14. Xaromir says:

    We already have a OS for Games and MultiMedia, it’s called Windows, though for some reason, people insist to use MacOS and Linux on their home-computers though these clearly belong in the workplace, that’s why Macs aren’t doing that well in benchmarks despite comparable hardware, they aren’t bad computers, it’s just not what they where meant and optimized for. Well yes, MS is cocking up Win8, no big deal just wait for the next one they usually get it right the 2. time round. In addition: “Old” games for Win will not run on it, and i don’t want to imagine having to emulate Crysis.

    • PopeJamal says:

      Go back 20 years:

      “We already have a OS for Games and MultiMedia, it’s called DOS…”

      • LionsPhil says:

        Even at the time, DOS was evidently crap, because Workbench/GEM were still in recent memory.

      • Xaromir says:

        Keep in mind that Windows played DOS games without any issues or any real need for emulation for a VERY long time.

        • LionsPhil says:

          That’s not really true; dig up a manual for a DOS/Win-era game (you still have all the boxes, right?) and read the technical section. Excellent chance that it says “don’t run it under Windows”. In practice, you stood a reasonable chance of graphical corruption or complaints of not having enough memory, although, sure, some worked fine.

          Microsoft implemented that “shortcut to DOS program reboots into DOS mode and then back to Windows when it exits” functionality in 95 because it was useful, after all.

  15. kinglog says:

    I would buy an Apple-PC sooner than giving steam any control of my OS/Apps (assuming windows 8 etc are that bad) – my young nephew once gifted me a copy of some game for my birthday (using his mother’s credit card against her will) – when his mother (understandably) reversed the charges steam decided to treat it as a fraud case (despite pages and pages of conversation between my nephew’s account and mine and much gifting of games from my account to his). Ultimately I ‘only’ lost access to a substantial game library for a week or so – if I had lost access to Photoshop and Finale or the OS itself I would have been out of two jobs at the time. I still buy games on steam when heavily discounted but have zero trust as far as anything important goes.

    • LionsPhil says:

      OS X is already doing the App Store thing, without so much as the “oh but it’s only for this weird tablet UI you don’t want”. Their “normal” development environment (XCode) is now distributed over it, along with OS upgrades.

      (And, like Win8, you can otherwise ignore it for now.)

    • Urthman says:

      Exactly. If every bit of software on my PC were as tightly-restricted as my Steam Games, that would be far worse than anything Microsoft has ever done or talked about doing with Windows.

    • PopeJamal says:

      “I would buy an Apple-PC sooner than giving steam any control of my OS/Apps (assuming windows 8 etc are that bad) ”

      That’s fine, but Apple already has control of all of your iphone/pod/pad apps (just like Steam) and they are moving to do the very same thing with their app store on OSX (just like Steam). What do you think happens if they decide to kill your Apple ID?

      I understand that people don’t like Steam and their DRM, but Apple is just as bad on the DRM front, if not worse.

  16. Satanic Beaver says:

    I would be very interested in a steam os if done right, something that focused completely on games might work performance wonders, and Windows 8 does look terrible.

    • BintyMadman says:

      Absolutely, this is something I’ve wanted for a long time, not necessarily from Valve though. I’m not against the idea of them making one, it just seems a bit of a leap from their usual business.

      Microsoft have for years missed an opportunity here in not producing a bare bones variant of Windows solely for gaming. Instead they release increasingly bloated versions aimed at everyone at the expense of some of their core customer bases, PC gamers & Businesses spring to mind.

      With Windows 8, however it seems they want to push people towards Apple as well. Why choose Windows if it’s become a walled garden like OSX?

        • BintyMadman says:

          Congratulations, you managed to read a single word & completely miss the rest.

          Look at it this way, I like Windows, I really do. So far as that in an ideal world I would have bought Win 7 twice, one home premium & one hypothetical gamers edition.

          • Kaira- says:

            What would be that you would cut from the “gamers’ edition”? Because let me tell you, using Windows 7 Starter Edition is not fun by any stretch of margin.

          • BintyMadman says:

            Nearly everything, if it’s not needed for graphics, input, some network capability, sound & storage. I’d even do away with WIMP (well maybe :s). It’s as much about simplicity as performance for me, I miss the dedication to a task of the 16bit console era but love using a PC.

      • InternetBatman says:

        They did produce a barebones version of Windows solely for gaming. It’s the X-box.

        • Satanic Beaver says:

          Except that the xbox basically has no OS at all, and you can’t change the hardware, and it’s not a computer. And you have the xbox and the xbox 360 just to play games that date back 10 years, whereas on a pc you buy one, and play everything from the first pc game ever in 81, to now.

          • InternetBatman says:

            I’m not saying that Xbox is better, but it does have an operating system, the much maligned dashboard. And it’s function is pretty much just to play games with a few extras built in. It’s definitely a computer, just not a PC. And the lack of compatibility, while irksome, does not disqualify it from these categories.

  17. baziz says:

    Why would Valve need to create their own Linux based OS? It’s far too much work to handle packages, security updates, and other sundry operating systems issues. Instead, they could just support Steam on one or more existing Linux distributions and focus primarily on improving the parts of Linux needed for more adoption by gamers and game programmers.

    Drivers are already been worked on, but development tools also need work if we expect Windows developers to jump ship. The largest hurdle is that development is much more difficult on a Linux system then Windows. Windows developers will struggle to handle different windowing systems as well as porting from DirectX to OpenGL. Not to mention the sub-par development IDEs available for Linux. Things will get better, but it is a hurdle for adoption.

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      If their goal is to produce some kind of Steam appliance, then having their own distribution would allow them to make sure that the ideal drivers for the hardware of that appliance are all installed and set at whatever version matches the ones Valve test with.

    • PopeJamal says:

      If Valve decided to base their custom distro on Ubuntu, they wouldn’t have to worry about package and security updates outside of the special packages they provide. In fact, go to distrowatch.com and look at how many small groups of people have decided to remix Ubuntu into their own custom “OS”. It’s fairly ridiculous. It must be pretty easy.

      For anyone that doesn’t know how Linux/Open Source/Ubuntu works, here’s a short explanation:

      Open Source – “Hey, we wrote this awesome software, you can totally take it and use it to do whatever you want, but you have to share your changes and you can’t use the name I already chose for the software, so make up your own. Otherwise, have at it!”

      “Linux” is the name of the core, techy bit of the operating system called the “kernel”. Windows has a kernel too. So does OSX, android, and IOS. The kernel is basically responsible for being in teh center of all the pieces of your computer and helping them to work together. It is the one piece of software in your computer that can talk to the CPU, memory, mouse, video, sound, everything.

      So a group of people got together and took the Linux kernel and a bunch of other free software like mp3 players, file managers, word processors, web browsers, and all kids of other stuff found on a useful computer and jammed them together into a “box” (or a website as it were) and called their box “Ubuntu”. Other groups of people have arranged their parts in slightly different ways and called their boxes “Red Hat” or “Fedora” or “Slackware”. This complete “box” is usually what people are talking about when they say “Linux”. Another name is “Linux Distribution” of “Distro” for short.

      So now, here’s where it gets interesting, and it’s all because of the nature of Open Source software. There’s like a cascading or “waterfall effect” with Open Source that allows people to take anothers work and build upon it. So for example:

      -The people making the kernel do the really heavy, low level lifting that even most “regular” programmers wouldn’t be bothered with. Really important, but very detail oriented.

      -The Ubuntu people are then able to take their hard work, and build upon it to create their own Linux Distribution. They do much the bug testing and marketing. They shake babies and kiss hands telling people how much more awesome (and cheap) their Ubuntu OS is. That’s their job.

      -A group of people who aren’t quite satisfied with how Ubuntu runs things can basically take Ubuntu and tweak it a bit here and there and come up with their own distribution. Examples of these are Linux Mint, Peppermint OS, Bodhi Linux, and TONS more. They get all the benefits of a nice secure Linux distribution by basing their work on Ubuntu, but without all the bug testing and management headaches for creating an entire operating system. The only things the need to worry about are the things they add and whether or not they broke anything by removing the stuff they didn’t like.

      Phew. OK, I know that was a bit long, but I can tell that quite a few people weren’t entirely familiar with Linux. So I wanted to share some info and add soem background to say this:

      It would be trivially easy for Valve to “roll their own Ubuntu distro” and create “Valve Linux”. It would essentially be a three step process:
      1) Take the newest official Ubuntu release which will be supported with updates for the next 5 years

      2)”Fix” the things in Ubuntu that makes it hard to easily run games. Things like better drivers tailored for games, tweaks to the sound system, things like that.

      3)Find a wheelbarrow to carry around all their money/hats.

      That’s basically it. Considering the large number of famous/awesome Linux people they have hired, this wouldn’t be hard for them to pull off at all. Again, they don’t have to worry about updates for anything other than the stuff they change. All the rest of it will be handled by the Ubuntu people. And as a plus, depending on their changes, the package for installing Steam is 99% assured to also work on any other Linux distribution in the “Ubuntu Family” and it should be possible to fiddle with it and get it running on any other Linux distribution as well.

  18. rustybroomhandle says:

    By the way RPS – if you feel like writing more about this topic, try and get an interview with Sam Lantinga. I bet he has many a fun tale about the early days of trying to get Linux gaming to be a thing, some time at Blizzard, and now at Valve.

  19. RaveTurned says:

    Worth noting there are already some big-name operating systems out there running on a mixture of closed- and open-source components: most notably OS X and iOS. Alternatively Valve could take a route similar to the one Google has taken with Android and Google Play – spearhead the development of an open-source OS and have their closed-source app store run on that foundation and integrate with it seamlessly.

    • PopeJamal says:

      Yes. I’m typing on a Mac right now, and large portions of the “guts” of this OS are based on software from a unix clone in the “BSD” family. It’s all terribly complicated with the types of technical details that men with large beards like to argue about, but much of the guts of the Apple operating systems were basically free for anyone to use and actually very good, which is why they used it instead of writing their own stuff from scratch.

  20. Vinraith says:

    That’s pretty much the nightmare, and I suspect it’s inevitable. Sooner or later, Valve is going to make its own personal walled garden, and PC gaming as we know it (with the abundance of choices and intrinsic openness) is going to be deeply, possibly mortally, wounded. Here’s hoping it doesn’t happen for a long, long time.

  21. MrPo0py says:

    To be honest, your being a bit harsh on the ease of entry to the world of Linux. It’s really not that hard to get a basic understanding of the command line and working your way around a Linux OS. And furthermore, with distro’s like Ubuntu and their software manager you probably don’t need hardly any command line knowledge any more. I’ve found the various communities pretty easy going as well

    As for Steam OS. It’s a long long way off if it ever happens. I’d say Valve would make further in-roads with Steam on Linux before we see a full blown OS. I hope the Linux for gaming thing takes off but Valve need to get behind it in a much biger way. If Valve get on it then Nvidia will follow suit and start paying a bit more respect to the Linux world. There could well be a tipping point that we could aim for. Anything is better than what Microsoft currently seems to be aiming for.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Coming from a student who got a an Ubuntu desktop as a replacement for a broken laptop….

      Yes the barrier to entry is quite high. Sure there are a lot of resources, and the community was helpful, but it was simply too much information. The community seems to eschew instructional information, instead focusing on thorough articles about how stuff works. Which is all neat and interesting, but sometimes you just want to print an article and watch a powerpoint presentation after a full work day. Getting a thorough grounding in how an open-source OS works takes time.

      • Naum says:

        That is very true. There’s a certain tradition of comprehensive documentation in the Linux world, which can certainly be too much and often too technical for newcomers.

        In principle, however, I find this approach very appealing. On Windows, if you encounter a problem you will usually search the internet, find a bunch of possible fixes, try them out one by one, stick with the one that happens to work. It’s very much trial and error, and usually it doesn’t tell you why something didn’t work. The Linux community, on the other hand, will give you all the details (and then some) so that you can subsequently see where the issue lay and why precisely the fix you applied actually fixed the problem. I find that reassuring because I want to know how my OS works and why it doesn’t work, but if you’re not interested in that stuff (and you have every right not to be; time is short) the information is largely irrelevant.

  22. goldrunout says:

    So.. Win 8 is a problem because you guy games from the system’s store, whereas using an OS called SteamOS you buy games from….?

    However, Windows 8 has some serious problems with UI and possible closeness but it’s fast, desktop UI is as great as always, and it comes, being windows, with more software and drivers than any Linux Distro. I’ve recently tried Ubuntu (again) and its GUI is nowhere as good as Windows’ one. I know there’s terminal, but that’s not how a UI should work in 2012. Then Windows, not only has more 3rd party software, but also Microsoft software, that is often better than open alternatives (Firefox excluded). Please don’t tell me that LibreOffice works better than MSOffice 15 because you know it’s false.

    • lijenstina says:

      The terminal excuse.
      I installed the lxde desktop on ubuntu 12.04 today.
      I could do it through software center which is type lxde in the search bar and choose to install and type the password or i could do it through terminal.
      The install through termninal was – google search for the command – open the terminal – copy it -paste it in the teminal – enter password for the account.
      press y to continue the installation.

      How do you install games ? Or login in on rps.
      BTW -now on login i can choose the dekstop enviorment – Unity, Unity 2D, LXDE, Gnome classic, Cairo Dock, Cinnamon. You probably tried them all to see what works the best.

      Unity is slick looking but the styling and the only left placement of the bar can be annoying. Plus it is hardware intensive. Lxde doesn’t look that great but it can be customised and it’s fast.

      The main problem with linux are drivers. If your hardware is supported it is hustle free. Works out of the box – Changed the whole system and kept the old install of 12.04 on the HDD – the mobo, CPU, and GPU and it worked – had to just enable the binary drivers for the graphic card and set the resolution.

  23. rightuhhuh says:

    Right, because when Gabe called out the PS3 it was a veiled hint to the Steam console. Oh, wait. Steam has no reason to go to that extravagant an end for what will most likely be incredibly small margins. And who would want them to? The Steam app is barely functional, let alone an entire OS built by them.

  24. Radiant says:

    If valve made a free os that worked with everything I plugged into it, where all of my games worked on it and had adobe products I’d uninstall windows in a frenzy of ejaculate.

  25. raidsoft says:

    Well the biggest limitation for a full move like this to linux is still the dominance of DirectX which can’t run natively on Linux because it’s controlled by Microsoft. As long as that is the case I don’t see how Linux can be seen as a real competitor?

    I haven’t really looked into this much lately but at least that’s what I’ve seen on the matter though so I could be wrong…

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Someone with the muscle of Valve could get around that. If there were incentive to make OpenGL competitive again, it would happen.

      Granted, I highly doubt Valve wants to make their own OS. Making Steam for Linux seems like a pretty direct way of saying “we want out of Windows” not “we want to BE Windows.”

      • kazriko says:

        Actually, Phones and Consoles have pretty much already revived OpenGL for game development. Wii U, Vita, PS3, iPhone, and Android all use OpenGL variants, and the only two things using DirectX are Xbox and Windows (including windows phone, since they’re unifying that.)

      • Kaira- says:

        There’s incentive to make OpenGL competive again. What little I’ve seen in the news about the new OpenGL standard, it looks rather good. Which is a good thing, considering that the DirectX API is way ahead of the OpenGL API currently.

  26. Skabooga says:

    I just want to keep using Windows 7 forever, but alas, this cannot be. I’ll hold on for as long as I am able.

  27. AmateurScience says:

    Maybe just for an under the tv HTPC style thing. Dare I say it: the steam box?

  28. Shooop says:

    Would it feature an offline mode option that’s always greyed out?

  29. ResonanceCascade says:

    I’m not opposed to new operating systems in the PC space, but I’d definitely give this a wait before jumping over. I figure Windows 7 will be still be functional for gaming for at least four more years, so I can switch over to something else then if I have an alternative.

    If I don’t, that will be a real downer because Win 8 kind of blows.

  30. Shakermaker says:

    I got downvoted to hell when I suggested this on reddit a while ago. It makes perfect sense.

  31. Smashbox says:

    I dislike the penguin illustration and wish it was better.

  32. HexagonalBolts says:

    I feel like alternative operating systems are extremely insular communities, I never hear about something incredible I could do on such an operating system that I couldn’t do on Windows… in fact I rarely here anything other than a supremacist snarl or a derisive snort.

    It’d be great for steam to change those communities into something much more open and large enough to demand more attention and development.

    • Tuor says:

      The problem isn’t today’s Windows, it’s tomorrow’s Windows. If they start doing the whole Walled Garden thing, then there *will* be things that you cannot do on Windows, namely use programs that Microsoft does not approve.

      I’ve used Windows from back in the Win 3.0 days until now, but I’m not upgrading to Win 8.

      • Jac says:

        So the solution to this scary windows of the future is for valve to come along and create an os where you can only buy stuff from valve??

        This windows 8 hysteria is nonsensical. Too many big businesses rely on the openness of windows for their software. I’ll eat my own face the day my company has to download SAP from the Microsoft app store.

        Valve are scared people will buy games from Microsoft. End of story really.

  33. Kadayi says:

    Q: Could this eventually lead to the release of SteamOS?

    A: No.

    Linux market penetration is barely 5% which is around half that of OSX and it’s hard enough getting certain applications on OSX let alone anything with less market space. Valve might have the money and time to spend making their own games run under Linux and assorted indies might view it as a viable market place because they’re vying for peanuts , but to most software developers it’s a complete non starter in terms of associated costs plus support.

    • robjwells says:

      I think this is the key point. SteamOS is unlikely to ever happen because most of the software sold on the Steam store wouldn’t run on it.

      You could argue that the size of Steam and Valve’s clout would force software developers to support it, but they’re only a big fish in a small pond. Why would, say, Adobe support a platform used by a fraction of Steam’s users, who are in turn a fraction of all Windows users.

      And then there’s the fact that it would essentially be just another Linux distro. If developers don’t even want to support one of the bigger distros, why would they support SteamOS? There’s no point building SteamOS if most of the software on the store won’t run on it.

      As for the wider point about Windows 8, I’m not really qualified to comment. But many of the things Microsoft are doing — particularly the software store — are very similar to what Apple has been doing with OS X. Microsoft are a much more conservative company than Apple and can still install whatever software I like on Mac. The chances of Microsoft saying “you buy all your applications from us now” are nil.

      I think the best way to think about Windows 8 is to consider it a release where Microsoft are trying desperately to force their way onto tablets, but ordinary PC users can ignore or turn off the big changes.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      How about a Steam ConsoleBox, running a proprietary OS with a built-in app store?

    • Tasloi says:

      I agree a Steam OS isn’t very likely. I don’t think market penetration is an important reason for that though. If Valve went by that sort of thinking Steam probably wouldn’t have existed in the first place.

  34. kazriko says:

    I’m beginning to think the authors of this article haven’t been around the linux or its users lately. The Text editor wars are pretty much ignored at this point, I rarely see someone upset about someone else’s choice in editors anymore.

    Also, there’s a whole lot you can do in the system without going to the command line in most linux distros now. The only reason that guides tend to use command lines still is that they’re easier to paste in than to type out a long series of instructions and screenshots for getting there in the GUI, and they’re slightly more universal than the GUI is.

    • jrodman says:

      In favor topics:

      – systemd, we hates it, because it’s harder to inspect than our traditional shell scripts
      – Gnome3: you’re too arrogant for your users
      – KDE: What is a semantic desktop, and how do I erase it from the minds of the developers?

  35. Hoaxfish says:

    The biggest competition to every version of Windows, is the previous version.

    Windows Vista wasn’t killed off because everyone moved to Linux, it’s because everyone stayed on Windows XP.

    Windows has a huge legacy of programs, which is why people stick with it. It’s a similar thing to why people with iOS, who have bought stuff from the iOS app store, stay with iOS hardware… if you change to something else, you find you’ve lost access to all that stuff.

    Wine, and to DosBox, even console emulators, are the things which appear when people have to work around the legacy problem.

    SteamOS would fail, for similar issues that Win8 will suffer, people can just stick with Windows 7.

    IF Valve really push Linux forward as a gaming platform, it might become viable in a decade or two… and then they can contemplate a SteamOS. “The year of the Linux Desktop” still hasn’t happened.

  36. Trelow says:

    As long as I’d still be able to buy games from others, and be able to run them, I don’t care. My home PC is simply for Chrome & Games. Heck I use Steam as my game manager as it is, except for my DOS box games not from Steam, she don’t handle them well.

  37. affront says:

    I don’t see the big deal with Win8.
    Completely skipping a particular unlikable Win OS has been par for the course for me – and created exactly zero problems, as I’ve been running 98 and 2k just fine as alternatives to ME/Vista back then. I don’t see why everyone couldn’t just wait for Win9 and see if that’s gonna be shit, too. That’s soon enough to freak out.

    Also: if I can’t run everything I want to on a theoretical SteamOS (and I won’t) it’ll be way too much effort (I’m lazy) to switch to it or dual boot it before Win7 is completely unsupported. I’d also expect a SteamOS to turn my PC into a “console”, from a usability perspective (how else would they “sell” Linux to the general Steam public? It’s gotta be uncomplicated/streamlined/easy, all those “next-gen” hateful buzzwords, to use), as long as I don’t boot into a proper distro and run my Steam games from there – if I’ll even be able to, considering Steam being DRM and if they’ll even bother to keep developing a non-OS client.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      The possible difference between Win8, and earlier “skippable” versions, is the approach with Win8 is somewhat different. It’s not just fucking about with the look & feel of the window UI (small w) that has existed since Windows version 1, or the hidden file-structure, or security model, but chopping it in half and replacing it with a Tablet face.

      It’s more akin to the jump from Dos to Windows (though not 100%), than say Windows XP to Vista.

      So there’s every likelihood that Wins9 will still have Metro, and still have a Marketplace, and still have XBox, still have issues with mouse+keyboard (though I’d really hope a solution would’ve arrived by then)

      In fact, there’s some vague talk about Windows 8 turning into a similar system to Mac OS X… every year is a new iteration of the base experience, more like a service pack, than a totally new OS release.

      So, no Win9, but Win 8.1 then 8.2, etc.

  38. asshibbitty says:

    This is silly.

  39. Ashen says:

    They can’t even write a decent Windows client with proper multithreading so that the entire application doesn’t hang whenever there’s a network latency issue and now you want them to write an OS?

    Well no, thanks.

  40. SCdF says:

    As fun as this idea, Steam doesn’t hold the magic juice that makes all the games you buy on Steam actually run, Windows Does.

    Getting Steam to run on linux just means the Steam app boots, it doesn’t mean any of the games actually work.

    And the reality is some devs make linux builds and so there will be *some* games that support Steam on Linux, nearly all won’t. Especially new releases, and especially AAA titles, and especially console ports. No Skyrim, no Sleeping Dogs, no COD.

    There are hacks on linux (wine, cedega) to try to get Windows games running on Linux, but it often doesn’t work, and is a reactive process.

    So anyway, as fun as it would be to dump windows for linux (an OS I prefer above all others I’ve used) the quality and delay of console ports is a pretty good indication game companies find it hard enough to port from console to Windows, let alone console to Linux, so I really don’t see it happening.

    • InternetBatman says:

      This is true, but I have to wonder how much competition AAA is getting from indie games, where most of the best of them have linux support because of the humble bundle. I can only speak for myself, but right now I’m seeing a 75:25, indie:AAA split.

      I also think there’s the long run to look at. I (and again this is just me) believe we’re reaching the end of gaming uses for computing power. It’s getting too expensive to keep going up and keep building new engines, so a lot of the innovations we’re seeing are tools to help make games. As these improve, there’s a good chance that porting tools will improve, making the costs of said port far smaller.

  41. frightlever says:

    Hmm. This isn’t exactly a new idea – it’s been discussed to death ever since the idea of a Steambox cropped up. Obviously people can have the same idea independently, but it would be kinda hard not to have noticed this one.

    It would never work. People want their PCs to be multi-function and ubiquitous. They don’t want glorified consoles, or they’d be playing on one already. Which is not to say I have anything against consoles, but I wouldn’t want to write a novel, watch cam girls or do my taxes on one. What? Oh. You need two hands to use a controller.

  42. Sardaukar says:

    Valve is Half-Life 3.

    Also jesus what is it with Linux and creepy logos.

  43. rockman29 says:

    Oh, my god…

    I have Optimus… I can’t believe they are actually talking about it. The Optimus support on Linux sucks so damn hard!

  44. ScubaMonster says:

    I think the bigger issue is Windows 7 works just fine. Why should I upgrade? There’s really no reason at all. Any benchmarks you site are so minuscule in difference it won’t really matter. Oh wow, I shaved a couple of seconds off my boot time!

  45. MythArcana says:

    Daily Gleam News. Well, if they did make this OS, it would end up on the same crap pile as Windows 8 I reckon.

  46. LintMan says:

    Why should Steam need to make its own linux-powered “SteamOS”? Valve doesn’t have its own special hooks into Microsoft Windows, so why would it need to design them into linux? Couldn’t Steam run as an app on top of linux just like it does on top of Windows?

    Seriously, all I see Valve truly needing to do is speccing out a list of required packages and drivers, and minimum version numbers for assorted things, to be fully “Steam-compatible”. Then they could bless any distros that match that spec. At MOST, I could see them taking one of these “blessed distros”, reskinning it, and adding in their Steam stuff as an automatic part of the package install, for convenience to gamers who didn’t want to worry about which distro, etc..

    This would go over with the linux community far better than creating their own distro with special kernel hooks in it for Steam. That would raise a lot more suspicion, distrust, and scrutiny.

  47. vecordae says:

    Valve making an OS is a bad move at this point. They may be planning on it anyway, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. The wonderful thing about running Steam is that one is only responsible for the application. Valve isn’t responsible for coding the games that Steam runs (with some obvious, Valve-produced exceptions), nor is Valve responsible for the OS environment. Make the move to forging your own OS and now we’ve got some serious problems to manage.

    A well-done OS requires a massive amount of resources to produce and support. It requires getting hardware manufacturers on board. It means testing thousands of potential combinations of hardware and software to make sure things run. Even coopting Linux isn’t a good answer as much of what makes it tick is the product of a great many people working on their own. Either way will require a great investment in time and money and the likelihood of a return on that investment isn’t what it could be.

  48. Naum says:

    The root of almost all the usability issues people have with Linux is imho that hardware manufacturers just can’t be bothered to port their damn drivers, and the community basically has to do their work for free (see Optimus). The kernel has all the architecture, but you just need a lot of manpower to support those hundreds of sound cards and whatnot.

    If Steam, together with the lock-down approach of all other operating system developers today, could make the platform so popular that people would blame the manufacturers (and not the OS) for missing/broken/barely functional drivers, a lot would be gained for all flavours of Linux. On the other hand, I fear that the Windows approach could infect the popular desktop systems even more than it already has, dismissing the flexibility, independence, interoperability and clean specification of command line programmes in favour of bloated GUI stuff that doesn’t support anything but the most basic use cases. The beauty of Linux-based distros is that you can opt out of the messy parts if you so desire, but this advantage isn’t set in stone either.

  49. horseflesh says:

    They’re not making an OS. I’m (just about) certain, for a couple of reasons.

    1-They’d be better off making a console. If they were to write their own supported OS they’d suddenly be competing with existing Operating systems for other types of software. The idea of a game environment that doesn’t use other kinds of software is…a console. Developers of software have limited time/budgets, the idea that they’d want to try to get into developing and supporting software on a new OS seems unlikely since it would be a gamble with their assets as to whether or not a version for the Steam OS was worth it, and most actuaries will shoot that down as not very profitable.

    1.5 Writing their own version of Linux would be more hassle than it’s worth. Writing and supporting an entire version of the Linux isn’t worth it because as a for-profit company, their work would simply be co-opted into the existing Linux. The way the GNU Public license works is that if you rewrite any part of Linux, that code has to be available to everyone in the Linux community. Any personalizations would just be taken up by the community and probably implemented on any given flavor of Linux in order to bolster support of their favorite version of Linux as a viable steam platform. (Unless they actively wanted to keep people out, which I agree with you, based on some of the people I’ve met in the Linux community may be the case)

    2. They’d need to garner the support of Hardware makers to get them to write drivers. Pretty much the same reasons as 1 & 1.5.

    What’s more likely is that they come up with a proprietary controller, decide upon a supported platform (currently Ubuntu), release to game companies a set of hardware specs that they can rely upon as something that people own (hardware survey), and get their big multiplayer games on those platforms as to exorcise the xenophobia felt in the community. This way they can stay true to their roots “You can still build your own system, just make sure it meets these requirements for ‘the 2014 requirements’” (I have no idea how they’ll do it, but annual or x-annual makes a lot of sense, they can update the specs in a “limber” way, rather than being tied to a specific piece of hardware that needs to be redesigned every iteration, this gives the developers something closer to a fixed set of specifications, and Prevents them from having to create an OS, a hardware system, all they need is a controller and a set of minimum specs)

    You’re certainly not the first person to suggest they write their own OS, but I think what’s more likely is that they put their effort into getting better drivers on Linux and (which they’ll likely get if your average system builder doesn’t need to pay for an OS anymore) and making sure other software and services are more available on Linux.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      I hinted at the console thing on my blog, so agree on that one. The biggest piece of circumstantial evidence is the patent Valve filed for a controller. Not just any controller, but one with interchangeable parts that include mouse + keyboard.

  50. Freud says:

    Steam have robbed us Europeans with their prices for too long for me to believe they are good guys.

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