Wizards Of OS: Steam Linux Beta For All

By Adam Smith on December 20th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

The Valve shudders as gears lock into position, a thin jet of Steam erupts from the machine, scalding a penguin’s bum. My latest collection of poetry inspired by climate change, the guffaw-inducingly titled Global Warning, is out in February. In other news, Valve have made the Steam For Linux beta available for everyone. Development news is found on the community site and the beta now supports 39 games, listed here. Even though I don’t use Linux myself, I have now decided that I’m giving it to everyone for Christmas.

Valve have been tracking feedback primarily through their forums but with the beta now open to all, they have this to say:

…we will now track Steam for Linux client bugs using GitHub. This provides a better interface for tracking bugs than the forums used in the closed beta. The Steam for Linux repository (currently empty) is public, allowing anyone with a free GitHub account to create a new issue and edit or track it and search the existing bug database. The repository contains a readme file (README.md) detailing how to create a new issue (it describes the same format used in the closed beta).

Like Alec, I intend to investigate Linux next year. Have you converted to or rediscovered Linux this year, or have you been using it all along?

Via Eurogamer.

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103 Comments »

  1. baby snot says:

    Hmm. Well, I can install it in Sabayon but I’m being told I’m not part of the beta program. So I guess I’ll wait for a different package.
    Update: Terminal > $ steam steam://store downloaded necessary update. Oh FTL, I’m sorry for ignoring you.

  2. Premium User Badge

    wyrmsine says:

    Awesome, I just reinstalled Linux a few weeks ago, with this in mind. I’m using Ubuntu 12.10, though I’m told 12.04 LTS is a much better idea, and will run faster. Are there any informed Linux users with an idea how true this is?

    • byteCrunch says:

      It is more stable, since it will be patched for the next 3-4 years, or however long the LTS versions now are, whilst 12.10 will be more prone to instability.

    • Premium User Badge

      elderman says:

      A quick internet search indicates that it depends on your hardware and your setup. The version of the kernel in 12.10 may be faster on Intel architectures (which is to say nothing about the kernel on other architectures). Meanwhile the open source driver for nVidia graphics cards may be faster in 12.04.

      That’s only to make the point that benchmarking is technical and hardware dependent (and test and use dependent) and the speed you’ll get will vary according to how you set yourself up. If you’re eager to squeeze every cycle out of your computer, you’ll find your own mini-game in configuring your installation to run as quickly as it can, at which point you’ll actually have made your own, personal distribution. Enjoy!

    • iniudan says:

      No idea if it still currently true, but 12.10 was release in a state it shouldn’t had been, so had lot of issue, which I have no idea if been resolved, has I am not a regular Ubuntu user.

      Steam also developing with the 12.04 version anyway has it is an LTS (Long Term Service) version, which have a support for 5 years (thus until April 2017 for 12.04), instead of normal version (12.10 is one) which have 1,5 year support.

      • Bios Element says:

        People complain about every release bug which sadly do exist when changing ‘anything’. That said, I haven’t had any issues with it on 5 systems.

    • 00000 says:

      I haven’t been able to run bumblebee-nvidia on 12.10 without breaking everything.
      So if you have an optimus laptop I’d recommend sticking to Ubuntu 12.04 for now.

    • zain3000 says:

      After I installed 12.10 I officially gave up on vanilla Ubuntu. It was released in an incredibly shoddy state, so poor that I had to compile a generic linux kernel just to get my nvidia drivers working. I have since switched to elementary OS Luna which is based on Ubuntu 12.04. It’s still in beta but you wouldn’t realize it as the OS is rock-solid.

      On another note, I currently have access to the following games in my steam library in Linux:
      Amnesia, Braid, FTL, Limbo, Psychonauts, Space Pirates and Zombies, and Superbrothers of S’n'S.

      Haven’t actually tried them through steam but I know that all these games run natively under linux (I got them through the Humble Bundles).

      *Sigh* if only GoG started supporting linux… it would make this little penguin awful happy.

      • Bios Element says:

        File your complaints to Nvidia and their closed source drivers.

  3. GallonOfAlan says:

    Been using Linux for ages. First Ubuntu, then Mint, now Debian. And a Sheevaplug running Debian Squeeze.

    In general – fantastic when it works, when it stops working you had better be a technically-minded person. Luckily, I am.

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      Genuine question, what are the major differences between the various distros?

      • Aaarrrggghhh says:

        Ubuntu is a more or less “cutting edge” OS which includes a lot of a new feature, the latest drivers etc (not as cutting edge as Fedora, but still). Mint is based on Ubuntu and has another design philosophy. They use their own desktop environment and just do some stuff under the hood differently.
        Debian is a more conservative distribution which does not always jump on the latest versions, but uses the most stable ones. It’s one of if not the most stable Linux distribution around.
        So in the end, between the various distributions, you have to have a look at their philosophies and pick the one you like.
        For starters I would say Ubuntu or Mint. If you want a more “bling bling windows 8″ OS then Ubuntu, if you are aiming for a more “traditional windows 7 like” experience, then Mint.

        • Hairball says:

          I wouldn’t say Ubuntu is windows 8-like, more OS X-like if anything and even that’s a stretch.

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          BubuIIC says:

          For a much cleaner and in my experience faster desktop I can recommend Xubuntu. Also supported by Canonical (the Ubuntu people) it shares the same base system but uses XFCE as a desktop environment. I like it a lot more than Ubuntu or all Mint flavours.

          • LionsPhil says:

            FWIW, this is where I currently park my flag. If you liked the GNOME 2 days where a desktop environment was a set of panels with launchers and gubbins in, it fits that role well. And XFWM’s a nice window manager with the usual old-fashioned niceties like nine-corners resizing and a focus-follows-mouse model without raising on interaction.

          • RogB says:

            same here, Xubuntu is rather nice. ive been using exclusively on my laptop for the past few months and while I have had to delve into the terminal more than i did with Ubuntu (which was never), its going well.

            regarding steam, i found it identical apart from a slightly out of place looking font when it was updating itsself.

            I was hoping they’d do a sale on linux supported games like they did with the ‘Big Picture’ release but i guess its too close to the xmas one.

          • kataras says:

            One more vote for XFCE. Been using it for over a year now and I really like it, especially over Unity etc. With the easy of switching desktop managers in Ubuntu, there is no reason not to try a couple of alternatives.

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            elderman says:

            Lubuntu, based on LXDE has many of the same virtues as Xubuntu, but in my eyes is even more like Gnome 2. I prefer the Lubuntu window manager (tabs!) and the panel app for example.

        • ribobura osserotto says:

          Debian isn’t necessarily a “conservative” distro. It’s named as “the universal OS” for a reason: it can be whatever the fuck you want it to be. You got the stable and testing versions, if you want stabler, but older packages, and then you have Sid and Experimental if you want bleeding edge.

      • Premium User Badge

        elderman says:

        It may be a genuine question, but it’s also an invitation to every enthusiast to shill for their favourite flavour of Gnu/Linux. There are hundreds of distros (if not more) and it’s impossible to compare every one.

        For a decent summary of the major distros, check out DistoWatch’s page on the top ten distributions. But there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…

      • LionsPhil says:

        Politics.

        • Premium User Badge

          elderman says:

          …and people.

          One good reason to choose a distro is because you like to hang out (online or in real life) with the users and makers of that distro.

      • b0rsuk says:

        Ubuntu is a Linux distro which “just works!”. It has two distinct castes: shamans and regular users. Regular users pride themselves for not knowing how their computer works. They have an aversion to command line, they don’t like to learn anything. When they can’t make something work, they post on a forum.
        They get a response from the shaman caste. Shamans, power-users, post cryptic commands to paste into terminal, without explaining them (typical Ubuntu user doesn’t care). They also often post magical GUI configuration tools and scripts for others to run (such as automatix). These are also executed without questioning. Also, Ubuntu frequently changes the (GUI) ways of doing things. New interfaces are introduced, and you have to re-learn. But you’re learning to use an Ubuntu-specific GUI, so when you switch distros you can’t apply your knowledge to something else.
        When you ask on Ubuntu Forums how to enable token OpenGL support on Geforce2 MX 400 with Mesa drivers, don’t be surprised if all you get is a tip to buy a new gfx card. They’re so cheap these days.
        Ubuntu is infamous for breaking major release upgrades (such as a move from 12.04 to 12.10). No wonder many websites listing multiple ways to upgrade put “install from CD” on top of the page. Ubuntu is OK if you don’t want to know how your system works and/or have Windows mentality. In fact, it’s the most popular landing zone for Windows refugees.

        Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. Its main feature is including all proprietary software, codecs, flash, drivers and other stuff by default. If you prefer to install a new distribution from scratch instead of selecting and installing a couple packages in a graphical package manager, Linux Mint is for you. Linux mint doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Free or Open software. The recommended way to upgrade to a new release is installing it from a CD.

        Debian is a bit conservative. Once in a while you’re stuck with an older version of some important library… or at least a library you need to run a recent game. For this price, you get a system that can be easily upgraded to a new release. The most serious (the only, in fact) I had during such an upgrade was running out of hdd space on system partition. I temporarily removed some non-critical packages like OpenOffice and continued. And while Ubuntu LTS (Long Time Support) is based on Testing edition of Debian, Debian Testing feels more stable. It’s okay for desktop.
        When you install Debian, you may notice it tries to inform you. Rather than limiting your options to but a few, it gives you a bit more but explains things. After installation, when you’re upgrading packages, you may see a dialog popping up saying such and such configuration file has been moved elsewhere, or from now on you do certain actions in a different way. Neither of them affected me so far, but whenever something changes, Debian informs you.
        Debian users also have a different attitude. When you ask someone for help, if you don’t make yourself look lazy or stupid, you will get help AND usually an explanation why this particular solution should be used.
        Debian assumes you can learn and don’t mind some technicalities from time to time. It’s also one of distributions who care about Open Source and Free Software the most. Some Debian users are a bit grumpy or blunt, but I find these flaws more tolerable.

        I started with Ubuntu, then moved to Debian. The reasons for choosing Debian were stability, general robustness of the system and different culture.

        • Bios Element says:

          Please don’t spread FUD. Every community has their ‘elite’ jackasses, but most Ubuntu users are not nearly as bad as you make them out to be.

      • Premium User Badge

        Naum says:

        As far as I’m concerned, important differences between distributions include:

        1. Location on the bleeding edge — rock-solid continuum. This concerns the question of how often software on your computer is updated. As mentioned before, Debian (ignoring testing/unstable) is probably the closest to rock-solid, which means that for a given version of the distribution, all the software you can install through the package manager is more or less guaranteed to work together very well. On the downside, you’re behind the curve big time when it comes to additional features introduced with new versions of a software. Gentoo resides on the other end of the spectrum and has no versions at all, meaning that new software is rolled out pretty much as soon as it’s made available by the authors of that software. In my experience that doesn’t lead to rampant instability either, but your mileage may vary. In general, a look at how often new versions of the distribution are released should give you a good idea of what the philosophy is.

        2. Graphical environment. For Linux, there are various collections of software that each make up a ‘desktop environment’, providing basic functionality like a file manager, task bar, utility programs etc. They also determine what your desktop and certain UI elements look like. The term is a bit fuzzy because different environments have different feature sets, but in general it means that choosing another environment will alter your experience as a user fairly drastically. All distributions allow you to choose from any of the popular cross-distro ones — Gnome, KDE, Xfce and LXDE — but come with a default choice or include a custom desktop. For Ubuntu (defaults to the custom Unity), the derived distributions Xubuntu (Xfce), Kubuntu (KDE), Lubuntu (LXDE) and Mint (custom) basically only alter the default desktop.

        3. Package manager and graphical administration tools. A package manager is the software that manages all the other stuff installed on your PC, so it’s a fairly important part of the distribution. As far as I’m aware, the big distros’ graphical interfaces to those package managers are all usable, but some may look more intimidating than others. Same goes for graphical administration tools, which basically determine how often you have to open the terminal in order to get your system configured. Unfortunately I can’t really give at lot of advice on those since I don’t use them myself.

        4. Availability of proprietary software. Sadly, some closed programs (notably graphics drivers, Flash and audio codecs such as MP3) are still more or less mandatory for an enjoyable experience. All distributions have some way of installing these, but the amount of effort you have to put into it varies. Before choosing a distribution, it may be advisable to search the internet for “distro install flash” or something along those lines and see if it’s a complete pain in the arse or not.

        5. Hardware compatibility. Some distributions are not compatible with certain hardware. Usually this is because the component in question is fairly new and the distro has not yet updated the kernel and drivers to include support for it. Be advised, however, that some peripherals (notably printers, scanners and more obscure hardware) may not be Linux-compatible at all, so before installing any distribution it is highly recommended to try it out via a Live CD/Live USB first.

        Of course, there’s a large amount of differences beyond those that I’ve mentioned, and they all fuel the holy distro war that will undoubtedly wage until Linux ceases to exist (because The Internet).

    • ribobura osserotto says:

      Since when Debian stops working? Squeeze is stable as a rock, and testing is right up close. Unless you fuck shit up by yourself, there’s very little chance of it just breaking.

      • GallonOfAlan says:

        If you’re a regular user and install tested packages through the package manager then you would indeed have to try really hard to break a Debian-based distro.

    • iniudan says:

      If a Debian stop working you did something wrong or use unstable/testing version (Squeeze is stable, so not the issue), has Debian aim is stability and compatibility at all cost.

      • LionsPhil says:

        This claim is hilarious. Debian is run by people. People are fallible (OpenSSL, anyone?).

        This kind of “if you had a problem, it’s your fault” arrogance is one of the Big Problems with the Linux culture.

        • iniudan says:

          And Lion jumping at my throat yet again.

          Never said it was not easy to break or secure.

          I also find their documentation suck for a product that is tested for so long.

        • b0rsuk says:

          Your point being ? It’s called priority. Debian assigns higher priority to stability and compatibility. Maintainers hesitate when faced with an imperfect version of a library. For example rather than ship with libc6 2.14, Debian sticks to older 2.13 . Other distributions have jumped over to 2.15. No distro uses 2.14.
          Another example are legacy Nvidia drivers. Simply impossible to install in current Ubuntu.

          Ubuntu spends more time doing things like integrating newer releases of software and libraries, but they don’t test it very well. I claim so because I use Debian and Ubuntu in parallel on two different machines.

          • LionsPhil says:

            You seem to have read some other post, because “Debian is always behind” is not a point I was making.

            OpenSSL was not vulnerable and generating vulnerable keys in Debian for years because Debian took years to update it. OpenSSL was vulnerable and generating vulnerable keys in Debian for years because Debian modified their version, and did so incorrectly. When the mistake was finally noticed, they actually reacted pretty quickly IIRC.

  4. meepmeep says:

    The only reason I have any interaction with Windows at all is because I need DirectX, which has always struck me as anti-competitive. This is great news, and the potential for better desktop gaming performance is huge.

    • Sakkura says:

      Well, that and decent graphics driver support.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The funny thing is, DirectX’s history lies in trying to cut a fast path through Windows 95′s abstraction layers, to try to convince game developers to let go of DOS and writing everything to more-or-less bare metal. It was created to compete with Microsoft’s past, not anyone else’s.

      I don’t doubt for a second that MS don’t or haven’t considered it a “unique competitive advantage” to keep games tied to their platform, but that it exists is just a problem being identified and solved. Where making that a documented and promoted tool to use moves from doing your job properly to trying to “trick” developers into getting locked to their platform is a grey area at best. Is the Linux world anticompetitive because nobody’s ported ALSA (or the PulseAudio subset thereof) to Windows? If the existence of yet further abstractions like PortAudio is the excuse, whose responsibility is it to make it easier for people to write programs for your competitors, and why?

      (All said, though, D3D pretty much was used to smother OpenGL on Windows after they bought it in.)

      • Bios Element says:

        No one likes Alsa to begin with. Wasn’t Pulseaudio ported for use with some shit on windows?

        And if it was, Why the hell bother?

        • LionsPhil says:

          ALSA works fine. The evidence of this is that PulseAudio still backs on to ALSA.

          Which is a somewhat massive tangent, but there you go.

      • Premium User Badge

        Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

        Well, Microsoft had a nice little campaign a few years ago claiming that Direct3D was so ahead of OpenGL that it didn’t make sense for developers to use OpenGL and have generally been rather good at spreading FUD about open technologies.

        Also, the comparison to ALSA is a bit off. ALSA is the kernel sound driver layer, which is to audio as the X11 driver interface is to graphics. To match these to Windows terms: ALSA = UAA, X11 Drivers = WDDM.
        A better comparison would indeed be to PulseAudio, which does have a working Windows, Mac – and even an Android – version and is more like the Windows WASAPI interface.

        Concerning the need for DirectX, I haven’t personally run Windows for 10 years, using only Linux and I’ve still been able to play basically anything I’ve wanted to through Wine (disregarding the Batman games that refuse to save locally because of GFWL but otherwise work fine *SADANGRYFACE*).

    • Sic says:

      If there was a way I could use OSX and Linux exclusively, I would do it in a heartbeat.

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    AmateurScience says:

    I’ve been meaning to set up a partition for a while now. Here is the perfect excuse!

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    inkreis says:

    Swell. Now we can go from not playing Amnesia on Windows to not playing Amnesia on Linux.

    • gwathdring says:

      I feel you.

    • baby snot says:

      Oh you really should play Amnesia. In the dark. That’s it, I’m installing it again.

      • Sic says:

        Even playing with a friend we weren’t able to finish it.

        Fuck that game.

        In the arse.

    • f1x says:

      Same, I’m scared to even press the play button, I have the fear that something will pop that very same moment

      but thats just me being an hyperbolic coward

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      The moment you begin to play Amnesia, you realise that it was behind you the whole time.

      (I’m scared of it too)

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        Your comment is temporally contradictory my good man. If you’ve only just started, what “whole time” do you have to realise it was behind you for?

        /temporalitynazi

        • Premium User Badge

          Bluerps says:

          No no no – I meant that it is behind you before you start playing.
          (so the “whole time” starts with the time when you first bought Amnesia)

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      Simplisto says:

      I stopped playing because I got stuck. I have to to find bits for a chemistry set for some reason and the guides I’ve looked at don’t help. That was almost a year ago, and I haven’t bothered to go back.

  7. gwathdring says:

    I’ve been using Linux for quite some time now, alongside Windows 7–for games and my music editing software. Xubuntu 12.04 was my primary OS until I tried 12.10 … issues with driver support (curse you AMD!) and general bugs forced me to wipe 12.10 and now I’m back to 12.04.

    I’ve been in the closed beta and it mostly works fine. I’m unable to play TF2 due to driver issues, but all the other games I own that are available as part of Steam for Linux run just fine.

  8. D3xter says:

    In other Steam News:

    http://www.abload.de/img/a-i9gyiciaa6yyfqbjbu.jpg

    Regarding Linux, I’m probably going to install it later next year when this has mellowed out a bit and I’m able to get a cheap-ish 256-512MB SSD I can put two partitions on.
    Without games holding me back I might’ve made the jump a lot sooner, probably years ago.
    That and possibly Photoshop and a few other of the Adobe Tools and some Text-Wizardry programs.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I’m using Linux at work, but I have never used it at home. When working at home, Windows and a SSH connection to my work machine are usually sufficient, and I everything else I do at home with my computer is easier to do under Windows, or does not work at all under Linux (meaning most games). I’ve always been too lazy to install Linux at home just for the hell of it.

    • Rapzid says:

      I’m right there with you. As System Engineer/Developer dealing primarily with Debian, Ubuntu, and Xen, I use Linux all day at the office. When I’m done at work I power down my laptop, cram it in my bag, then drive home and boot into Windows 7 for some R&R:) Laptop comes out of the bag if there’s a problem or development work to be done, then goes right back in.

  10. nasenbluten says:

    I think Linux is great for servers and for minor browser and desktop day to day use. For gaming I don’t see it as a viable alternative yet. When decent drivers and maybe some kind of DirectX emulation comes out then why not.

    For me there is nothing interesting Microsoft offers me other than DirectX, backwards binary compatibility and the fact that there is an ample 3rd party catalog of programs out there. Hell, I still run Windows XP x64 most of the time and boot Windows 7 for the occasional DX11 game.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      For Steam’s custom hardware, Linux is pretty much the only option they have, so they’ll be making pretty damn sure it’s a viable option.

      As for DirectX emulation. There already is – it’s called WINE. However, this is not what it needs. It needs developers to develop for OpenGL, or using retargetable APIs that can use both DirectX and OpenGL. In general, developers need to build portable code from the beginning.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Given the reddit Q&A from a porter from the other day, DirectX isn’t the biggest hurdle anyway.

        A claim that seems increasingly plausible as everything moves more and more into “write it all yourself in shaders”, which have their own little microlanguages away from either 3D API AIUI.

      • soldant says:

        Wine is not an emulator ;)

        Thing is that whether or not this works will depend on how many developers Valve can get on board, and that might amount to some of the indies and maybe a few AAA studios. Trying to implement a compatibility layer is a poor substitute for a native build, and I don’t think Valve would take that path.

        Also while a SteamBox would help remove a lot of the faffing about with setting up a Linux install (since there’s only (presumably) a few hardware profiles so support can be built in) there’s still the hurdle of people uprooting themselves from their comfortable Windows OS and learning everything from a new filesystem to using the console. And then when things go wrong because your distro doesn’t like your sound card or something you’ll need to trawl forums looking for help. It’s a good start, but there’s a very long way to go.

      • nasenbluten says:

        Yeah, I know Wine, it runs… sometimes. It would be nice if developers would focus on OpenGL from now on but I meant emulation for the already existing catalog of DirectX games on Steam.

        Sadly it all depends on the next generation of consoles, particularly the new Xbox. Maybe if Steam pushes for Linux and people actually uses it some devs may make OpenGL versions if they see a market.

        • Bios Element says:

          DirectX is taught in schools so it makes a ton of sense to use what you already know, esp if you’re out to make money.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      “For me there is nothing interesting Microsoft offers me other than DirectX, backwards binary compatibility and the fact that there is an ample 3rd party catalog of programs out there.”

      Really, that’s not interesting to you? That’s practically the entire reason most people use Windows is because of its sheer ubiquity.

      “Yeah, I don’t find Microsoft every interesting, except for you know – literally everything that sets them apart.

      • nasenbluten says:

        I meant to say “nothing new”, I skipped Vista, 7 for the most part (played 6 games on it) and going to skip 8. I find each new OS more dumb and inconsistent than the last.

        In the future if Linux can run my DirectX games, I have no doubt that I will start using it and forget about Windows entirely.

  11. Richie Shoemaker says:

    Pi for Christmas, hence I shall be investigating Linux next year.

    • Premium User Badge

      wyrmsine says:

      Head to Shea Silverman’s blog if you want to get Quake 2/3, Descent, or MAME running on the pi – best, easiest instructions I’ve found. I’m currently trying to get Ur-Quan Masters and Heroes of Might and Magic II running on mine. Have fun!

  12. SuicideKing says:

    Tried Linux for dad’s office rig (built from my old mainboard and ram, a few new parts, etc). Frustrated the hell out of me, gave up.

    Anyway, I didn’t like Fedora or Ubuntu, Kubuntu looks like Linux with a Windows interface, so might give it a try, also intend to explore BackTrack…

    • InternetBatman says:

      Mint is very similar to Windows.

    • aadi says:

      BackTrack is not for the faint of heart and certainly not something you’d want to run as an everyday desktop OS.

      As for your bad experiences with Linux desktops, I’ll say there are many mainstream desktop environments to choose from and only two are really poor choices: GNOME 3 (Fedora default) and Unity (Ubuntu default). These are the Windows 8s of Linux and are sometimes even less useable. I’ve been quite happy with Mint, Xfce and Lxde.

  13. Tei says:

    First impression: Impressed.

    It runs, opens and works perfectly. Seems that I already have 12 games with native version. The new fullscreen mode works (somewhat slow). I am surprised that is a complete, full, and well looking and well behaving linux app. The implementation seems perfect. I even browsed the configuration menus to the sound menu (settings->voice) and it list all the sound daemon/devices on the system. I am impressed.

    If this 12 games that I already have in this steam list behave as good as Steam itself, I think you can do gaming in linux perfectly with a as smooth experience as in windows. But probably only a very limited number of games are going to have linux version.

    *fantastic port*

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Bear in mind that they have been working with the NVIDIA 310 experimental driver,. If you happen to be using an NV card, then it’s definitely advisable to use that if you don’t already.

    • Teovald says:

      If it works well enough, it could encourage more publishers/devs to make linux ports of their games.
      Since their is are way less games on Linux, any new arrival generates a lot of sales.

  14. Ajh says:

    Can someone explain why this is happening, other than a developer disliking windows 8? Is there some sudden surge in Linux users to justify developing for yet another pc market? I’m baffled as to why this is a thing at all. I mean, it’s nice that Linux users can game too easier, but …why?

    • baby snot says:

      I don’t think it’s a matter of not liking Windows 8. More a case of Microsoft giving a lot of people the impression that they’re moving away from the conventional desktop OS market. Windows 8 is only a transitional part of that move. So for a company like Valve, it’s in their interests to explore other options.

    • soldant says:

      Why not? Shouldn’t they be able to play games too?
      Or to provide a more plausible explanation – if Valve could successfully port Steam to Linux and get major support from devs, they’d be the biggest fish in the pond with no challengers. They’d own a large chunk of the Linux gaming market by default, simply because the alternatives are either terrible or non-existent. GabeN clearly wants Steam to be the number one store ahead of all overs with a massive slice of the pie, which makes me chuckle whenever someone goes to criticise Microsoft for having a store in Windows 8 while they simultaneously pine for a SteamOS, which would be fairly similar.

      • meklu says:

        But here’s the catch: “Steam OS” wouldn’t be targeted at the desktop, but rather, a more closed up form factor, like the console space. Doesn’t mean your chuckles aren’t justified though.

        • soldant says:

          I doubt Valve would lock it down that tight, it’d upset too many people. If that did happen though… well, the consoles win in the end, and the future is dark.

    • Radwulf says:

      I think there are a number of factors driving linux on PC. Linux is very similar to Mac in terms of architecture and dependencies and both of them have a growing market share. They also dominate the mobile market through iOS and Android so adding support increases cross platform compatibility and reduces costs.

      The potential Apple-ification of Microsoft is not a factor that should be ignored particularly for the likes of Valve.

      Linux OS are now sufficiently advanced that they are as good in most respects to those of Apple and Microsoft but much cheaper, more accessible and more customisable.

      But the biggest single reason in my opinion is the developing world. These countries tend to not have as much money to spend on OSes so pirate and some also feel uncomfortable by being so dependent on foreign US controlled systems. With Linux they can get a decent OS both cheaply and legitimately that they have full control over, which could soon be an explosion of Linux market share worldwide if not in Europe and the US.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      Two main reasons I can think of. From a business perspective, diversification is always good, both because it opens up new markets (Linux-only users can now buy from Steam) and because it reduces dependency on existing markets/products (ie. if Windows were to become unfavorable to consumers for some reason, Valve doesn’t get screwed over when everyone switches to Linux and Mac). It’s basically the same reason why they did Steam for Mac.

      And, from a more technical standpoint, they’ve already said they’re developing a Steam-based pseudo-console, which is likely to be Linux-based (politics aside, a lot of dedicated solutions are Linux-based already). That means that they’re going to need to port the Steam infrastructure to Linux anyway, and at that point you might as well port the whole thing.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think more than just Windows 8, the problems of the desktop are pretty much solved problems and have been since XP. Barring the search bar, there haven’t been a ton of UI improvements in the past few years. I think that if it wasn’t Valve it’d be the humble bundle, or others increasing the focus on Linux.

      This means that Linux actually has time to catch up to MS. It’s now on the lower end of offering a comparable experience, but for free and with some things actually working better. I put it on my couchputer, and my partner doesn’t notice the difference. The market is bound to take notice when something is an increasingly close substitution and much cheaper.

  15. mbp says:

    For a painless introduction to Linux I recommend trying out Puppy Linux. It is intended to be downloaded and run from a memory stick or CD so you don’t have to install anything or risk your Windows operating system. It runs in memory and is surprisingly fast and light weight. It isn’t really intended for permanent installation so if you like it you can try something more substantial like Ubuntu.

    • aadi says:

      Have to disagree here–Puppy is a poor introduction to Linux if only because its desktop environment isn’t what an ordinary user would use after switching to Linux. Smoother transitions can be had via Xfce, Lxde or Mint MATE/Cinnamon, all of which resemble modern Windows more closely and are sufficiently full-featured for everyday use.

      Further, painless introductions to any Linux distro can be had via VirtualBox, though you can’t game with it (also a limitation of Puppy).

  16. Premium User Badge

    BubuIIC says:

    This runs really well, a lot more fluent than on my windows desktop actually, impressive. And I already own a good selection of linux games also. This is a very good move indeed. One of the reasons to buy through desura rather than steam was getting a linux version if available.

    But now I have two parallel steam installations here, one through wine and one native. And you relally need both, because a lot of games aren’t available on linux natively, yet run perfetcly fine when installed in the wine steam. I guess I have to live with that…

    Oh install advice: I had to download the install package through wget, because firefox always aborted the connection after a while. (Might just be my crappy internet right now). The correct installer size is 5.2M.
    Then I had to install libcurl3-gnutls:i386 (That is the x86 version, I’m on a 64bit system, there doesn’t seem to be a 64 bit version of steam). After that steam worked flawlessly.

    Edit: There seem to be a lot of games visible for linux but not actually containing any game files right now. You can “download” and verify these empty hulls, but it doesn’t download anything… maybe they will get uploaded soon.

  17. Xaxxon says:

    I’ve been using linux since the mid-90s. These days I primarily use it in a VM because its less rebooting to manage my gaming addiction. Now with Steam for Linux and Linux seeing much greater support I’m looking and building another desktop in 2013 specifically for dual-booting with Linux.

    Please keep up the coverage, I love getting your point-of-view of it all.

  18. Radwulf says:

    I’ve been using Linux continually in a dual boot set-up with Win7 for 2-3 years. Mostly Ubuntu with Gnome and the odd tinkering with Arch.

    Although I really like Linux, gaming on it has been and probably will continue to be a pain for a good few more years. The number of problems with Xorg, graphics drivers and Optimus has been very frustrating.

    Perhaps unusually I think I’m going to be significantly more dependent on Steam in Linux than in Windows due to a combination of default /home install, automatic updates and dependency resolution.

    • iniudan says:

      Hopefully the Xorg trouble should be resolved sooner or later, has Wayland saw first stable release in October.

      • LionsPhil says:

        In all honestly, I suspect we’ll be a few distro releases of Wayland-by-default before it’s really actually a reasonably dependable and complete replacement. (See: PulseAudio, NetworkManager, etc.; even then, I still find myself cursing Pulse’s name)

  19. InternetBatman says:

    I’m interested to try this on my couchputer. For weird and budget reasons non-pirated windows wasn’t an option for it, so I put Mint on it. It works like a befuddled old man when it comes to playing games, even native ones. The resolution won’t go up to the 720p of my TV, and honestly I’m not even sure what the shitty 3 to 5 year old integrated graphics card even supports. So that means that some native games play beautifully, like Bit Trip Runner. Other, disappointingly don’t run or crash it, like Waking Mars and Aquaria. I’ve noticed the newer the humble bundle a game is from, the more likely it is to play.

    I hope Steam can fix some of this. I’d love my partner to be able to enjoy the games that I’ve been playing, and she absolutely devours platformers.

  20. TechnicalBen says:

    I was going to dive into this to give it a try. I think I must have been accepted in the last part of the closed beta a couple of weeks ago. But been so busy, not had a chance to fire up the spare PC to test it. :P

  21. dogsolitude_uk says:

    I’ve been happily Linuxing for a couple of years now, settling on Linux Mint, which I dual boot with Windows 7 on my desktop and laptop. I usually use Linux if I want to do something quickly, such as hop online and check my email, or mess about with a bit of code.
    Regarding games, I was pleasantly surprised to find Amnesia, Psychonauts, Darwinia and Braid all waiting for me in the land of the penguins, and the Humble Bundles have been great. There’s a sort of Steam-a-like called ‘Desura’ available for Linux.
    The biggest bits of the learning curve for me were getting to grips with the file system, which at first was a bit like wandering round a hall of mirrors, and also getting used to package managers. Oh, and the ‘sudo’ thing, where you have to enter a password before doing anything that could potentially wreck the system. And using the command line. That sort of stuff.
    Not had any issues with drivers or sound, although as someone who tinkers with music I have had trouble installing PureData extended.

  22. Solidstate89 says:

    I’ve dabbled with a couple of distros here and there on multiple occassions; in both VM and bare-to-metal.

    Still can’t find a single reason why I would ever use it over Windows.

  23. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    So if Valve can make TF2 run on Linux just fine, what’s stopping them from making HL2, Cs:s, and all their source engine games run smoothly on Linux? I don’t see them listed on the page of Linux games listed there.

    • varangian says:

      Well if I recall one of the first games they tried out was L4D2 so they’ve obviously made decent progress in making Source games compatible. At a guess they released TF2 first as it’s a good one to draw in Linux users to try out, now being F2P, and they’ll release the rest of the Source games once they’re happy they are up to scratch.

  24. varangian says:

    >Have you converted to or rediscovered Linux this year, or have you been using it all along?

    Been using it for several years as my main OS so I’m chuffed that Valve is obviously happy enough with progress to date to open the doors to all. I’ve only had one problem with the beta, tried to install Defcon and although Steam did the initial file config bit it downloaded 0 bytes and then, not surprisingly, reported it couldn’t run the game as there was no executable. Shame, ideal game for a bit of casual play but probably more a problem with Steam than Linux.

  25. Kageru says:

    I’ve been awed at Linux for close to 20 years, and seeing steam sitting there running on the desktop was one more “wow” moment.

    The idea that a student experiment, owned by the community and prey to a thousand different opinions on how things should be has come to this level blows my mind. But people sometimes forget what that means. Linux is a bit more complex because nothing is locked away from you. Linux is a bit more chaotic because there’s room for diversity (but that also makes it interesting). Linux problems can be a bit more acute because there’s not some massive corporation spending billions making it nanny-safe (though windows, under the surface, is still pretty ugly itself even with that).

    But the advantage is freedom. If you don’t like one approach try another. If you run into a problem you, or some other member of the community, have the tools to fix it and the improvement makes things better for everyone. If someone says every desktop must have a UI better suited for a tablet you can laugh and ignore them. The fact that you can run a community owned, immensely powerful and feature packed system for free and it’s actually pretty competitive with Windows is an amazing deal.

    Of course there’s a huge market for “idiot proof” computing. Just want to check mail, buy stuff on e-bay and hammer out a simple document. Play some cute little games. That’s the tablet market and good for them. But I have a PC because I want more than that.

    Still, it’s a big jump for valve even if it is a good long term strategic move. Everyone got hopeful when Loki games launched and that didn’t work, but it was probably too early. Console ports and Mac means games have been becoming more portable for a while, and steam has a decent pull. Will be very fun to watch.

  26. uh20 says:

    ops, late for discussion
    the beta works. Well. Like. A beta, its smooth and does not have any problems, I only encountered 2 small bugs since, and everything runs great

    like I said last time, the linux version is great for playing multiple games of tf2 on the same computer, I also found it nice for squeezing out the unnecessary desktop-lag when using big picture

    there’s still some problems though, general simplicity and Intel/AMD driver support are the lacking things from windows