Steam - It's Not Just for Windows and Macs Anymore

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Steam is officially coming to Linux in native form.

It won't be in a Wine wrapper or use any other sort of compatibility layer, but rather a true blue native port.

Along with it is a port of the Source engine to Linux.

Interestingly, the sudden interest Valve has in porting to Linux seems to be related to Gabe Newell's negative reception of Windows 8.

Color me intrigued!

It's long past time for Windows and DirectX to be unseated as the gaming haven it has been. I would love to run a Linux-based gaming rig. Nothing would more quickly force a viable user-friendly Linux distro.

NSMike wrote:
It's long past time for Windows and DirectX to be unseated as the gaming haven it has been. I would love to run a Linux-based gaming rig. Nothing would more quickly force a viable user-friendly Linux distro.

I totally agree. PC gamers are notoriously unwilling to tinker with crap like config files in order to play their games. They would be exactly the driving force the Linux community needs to make a true blue slick, user-friendly experience.

*Sigh*

You know, you can make an argument without scathing sarcasm sometimes, Adam.

Aw, but what's the fun in that?

In all seriousness, I suspect this is driven less by anyone's negative reaction to Windows 8 than it is by all those people forking over above-average donations for Linux versions of the Humble Bundles. I have no doubt Valve wants in one some of that.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Aw, but what's the fun in that?

In all seriousness, I suspect this is driven less by anyone's negative reaction to Windows 8 than it is by all those people forking over above-average donations for Linux versions of the Humble Bundles. I have no doubt Valve wants in one some of that.

Actually, since we know how Valve works it's possibly driven simply by some employees really wanting to do it.

NSMike wrote:
*Sigh*

You know, you can make an argument without scathing sarcasm sometimes, Adam.

Edit: Damn it, Clock.

I can see both sides of it, though. Having solid gaming on Ubuntu without the arcane f*ckery it has been is one of the last frontiers in usability. It's less painful to install modern drivers and software on linux than it is on windows, if your hardware is supported. (Which is 90% of what I've run into)

The timing for this is great, as the Linux graphical stack is being heavily modernized with the new Wayland display protocol replacement of X.

Probably worth linking in the bit in the steambox thread where this came up.

As I said there, I'll believe it when I see it as Phoronix has cried wolf over linux-steam far too many times, and Valve would surprise me more by not experimenting with such things.

The other thing I see is that this won't cause a sudden turn of the tide in PC gaming, and if it has an effect it'll take years for it to be felt. I'm thinking something like 5-10 years if MS screw the pooch really really badly and cut off older versions. What wouldn't be a bad thing is more pressure on MS, if the home OS was their game to lose rather than being the de-facto "choice". The prospect of home computing devices being a wider spectrum (think Raspberry Pi) instead of mostly x86/windows boxes and broader software support is interesting.

What I think has the possibility to be bad and a "careful what you wish for" proviso, is splintering the PC platform into lots of sub-platforms. Just as some developers love working on one or two consoles and having it be a known quantity, targeting more platforms and configurations won't be for many.

It would definitely be disruptive.

I can't see the developer community supporting this in any meaningful shape or form.. I still can't get a Linux distro to reliably detect monitor resolutions and god forbid I try and switch my video card out.. yikes.

TheGameguru wrote:
I can't see the developer community supporting this in any meaningful shape or form.. I still can't get a Linux distro to reliably detect monitor resolutions and god forbid I try and switch my video card out.. yikes.

I'm curious what it is about your setups that cause this problem because I know, personally, I haven't had any problems like this in Linux in the last 10 years.

Linux is often times really easy to use but there are definitely some holes. I wonder what this hole is for you.

Interesting. The Mac version of Steam only ever worked with the default (case insensitive) filesystem, presumably because Valve didn't want to expect that game designers were being consistent with their capitalization. Since the default Linux filesystem is case sensitive, this will have to change. I wonder how that will impact game availability on Linux.

Scratched wrote:
As I said there, I'll believe it when I see it as Phoronix has cried wolf over linux-steam far too many times, and Valve would surprise me more by not experimenting with such things.

This time, there's a bit more to the story than mention of Linux in a bash script.

Flying the guy out to Valve headquarters to show off Steam running on Linux is either showing off something that's intended to come out, or an enormous dick move by Gabe. I'm not inclined to believe the latter.

Argh, this is happening just when every Linux desktop has decided to shove its head up its ass to be great on tablets. It's soooooo frustrating. Better than Metro, still, but all the Linux desktops now bite. I don't like using ANY of them anymore.

I've been a big Linux and free software supporter for almost two decades now, but the entire desktop community seems to have lost their minds.

GNOME 2.X was just about perfect. And they sh*tcanned that, and deliberately made it impossible to run both 2.X and any later version on the same computer. Dickheads.

Malor wrote:
Argh, this is happening just when every Linux desktop has decided to shove its head up its ass to be great on tablets. It's soooooo frustrating. Better than Metro, still, but all the Linux desktops now bite. I don't like using ANY of them anymore.

Default desktops are for noobs. Noobs like Unity now, it actually functions.

I'm running Xfce on Arch and it's fine, just fine. Basic toolbars and windows, and multi-monitor aware for my 3 screen setup. All I really need. And Xfce 4.10, which launches very soon, adds some tiling window support, excited for that.

I guess i'm a noob.

Duoae wrote:
I guess i'm a noob.

Well, what I mean is, advanced Linux users are going to tinker and configure their desktop environments the way they want, or install some of the lesser known ones themselves. Given that, it makes sense for default environments to cater to the less experienced users, the ones that will just use the system as it comes "out of the box".

And of course, that's part of the reasoning behind Unity being the default desktop for Ubuntu. But it was not ready for prime time when it released. It seems to now be at the point where the "noobs" find it pleasing to use, and not the wreck it was before.

Any thoughts on this being on the Valve's back burner since forever, and only now to be triggered because of Origin as a serious contender in the PC aggregation / delivery platform?

I know nothing about Linux, tried (miserably) to install it back in college, failed (miserably) about 10 times and gave up.
As a gamer with a job, where time is my most precious resource, I can't say I'm interested enough to go back to looking through forums and testing a new OS on my rig. From what little I've heard about Ubuntu and other modern distros, it seems dabbling into Linux is not the headache it was 10 years ago.

Most linux distros are actually very easy to install now, and with the software packaging that most use I'd say are quicker to get going with after install. The thing I think will be interesting if anyone ever threatens mass adoption is that linux isn't just a drop-in replacement for windows, so it'll be worth watching what changes there are in which people end up using linux long term due to steam.

I would anticipate a very great deal of pain with gaming on Linux. The drivers for most hardware are not very good, and the X Window System is ancient and crufty. Wayland may make this better, but it's far from proven. As far as I know, the only truly good drivers available are the official NVidia ones, and I don't know if they even work with Wayland. They might be X only. The Intel chips are pretty well supported with free drivers now, but as most of us know, Intel graphics aren't exactly cutting-edge, even the new stuff. And the official ATI drivers have always been terrible, and even though they released a bunch of documentation, I don't think the open source driver ever developed well. So you pretty much need an NVidia card to do any 3D gaming on Linux, period.

I dunno what's going on, but it sure doesn't seem like the open source community is working very well anymore, at least for desktop-type stuff. The server stuff seems as strong as ever, but the whole desktop movement seems to have derailed. All the teams are fundamentally working on stupid useless sh*t, instead of the stuff that makes it good for the people that actually use the system.

Malor wrote:
but the whole desktop movement seems to have derailed. All the teams are fundamentally working on stupid useless sh*t, instead of the stuff that makes it good for the people that actually use the system.

I think that's true for many platforms. Many companies and developers seem to be all over the place, and their attention drawn by many platforms, so I'd expect some things to suck. We're going through a period of experimentation as people to throw as much as possible against the wall to see what sticks, unfortunately the consumers are that wall. I'm not sure how it's all going to shake out, are webapps the future, can you make an singular UI for multiple forms of hardware, can you make an adaptable UI that doesn't suck.

The few things I am certain of is that we're headed to a broader computing future, no longer can you say "Ah, you want a computer... Here's a PC" as the only possible solution. In some ways that'll mean a wider range of diverse hardware, but I think the big challenge is cutting down options in the things that don't matter. That challenge is making platform irrelevant, and 'platform' is going to refer to more and more aspects - processor, input, size, operating environment, storage/memory (and local/online storage). Just as in yesteryear you could make a form based UI and be pretty sure it was acceptable, developers now need to make something that can work across that spectrum, and also the development environment to support that spectrum just as the old form based UI was.

If it's on the desktop it has to feel great, just as the same app has to feel great on a smartphone browser, and with minimal specialist coding for each. I'm halfway thinking of all the moaning that happens over quick and dirty PC-console ports, now multiply that by every app you commonly use in a day on every platform.

I wonder if, sometime in the next few months, Valve are going to drop the other shoe in the form of an official optimized-for-Steam Linux distro?

CaptainCrowbar wrote:
I wonder if, sometime in the next few months, Valve are going to drop the other shoe in the form of an official optimized-for-Steam Linux distro?

Similar to the 'steambox', why bother? I don't think supporting a distro is (currently) an area of strength for them. Who knows what the future holds, but thinking 'what about the future' can lead to all sorts of (often baseless) speculation that I'm not sure is useful - what if $big_company buys valve, what if Gabe goes mad and shuts off steam, what if...

Just release steam on linux and support it, and leave the distro open for someone else to do, just as the steambox could have been a spec level for PC gaming in a certain year range. That seems to be one element of their success, not producing something and locking it away, but to let others thrive off that and let that feed back into valve/steam.

Great news! The difficulty is getting developers to get on board and code their games for Linux.

My only experience with Linux gaming is playing Savage 2 and I have nothing but good things to say.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Aw, but what's the fun in that?

In all seriousness, I suspect this is driven less by anyone's negative reaction to Windows 8 than it is by all those people forking over above-average donations for Linux versions of the Humble Bundles. I have no doubt Valve wants in one some of that.

Maybe, but Microsoft is clearly angling for Apple-style platform lock-in (GFWL, Windows 8, etc.). That is a major threat to Steam, and I'm pretty sure that Valve knows that. They need an open platform to exist or their business model goes away.

FSeven wrote:
Great news! The difficulty is getting developers to get on board and code their games for Linux.

My only experience with Linux gaming is playing Savage 2 and I have nothing but good things to say.

Porting Source will be a good start for that. And maybe my OpenGL card will actually get some gaming use.

Malor wrote:
I don't know if they even work with Wayland.

Neither NVIDIA nor ATI's binary drivers work with Wayland yet. But with Ubuntu and other major distros moving to Wayland, that will change. They won't bother until Wayland's actually released and appearing in distros.

Gremlin wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:
Aw, but what's the fun in that?

In all seriousness, I suspect this is driven less by anyone's negative reaction to Windows 8 than it is by all those people forking over above-average donations for Linux versions of the Humble Bundles. I have no doubt Valve wants in one some of that.

Maybe, but Microsoft is clearly angling for Apple-style platform lock-in (GFWL, Windows 8, etc.). That is a major threat to Steam, and I'm pretty sure that Valve knows that. They need an open platform to exist or their business model goes away.

FSeven wrote:
Great news! The difficulty is getting developers to get on board and code their games for Linux.

My only experience with Linux gaming is playing Savage 2 and I have nothing but good things to say.

Porting Source will be a good start for that. And maybe my OpenGL card will actually get some gaming use.

Valve is in the digital distribution biz..having Steam on every single Linux desktop won't entice that many more developers to produce big name titles for Linux.. But with Steam handling distro and a better than Windows "driver and install" experience. I could see some Indie love on Linux.

I always felt that Valve was always on borrowed time...but they have lasted far longer than I expected and thus have tons of cash to bide their time and keep on R&D strategy

TheGameguru wrote:

Valve is in the digital distribution biz..having Steam on every single Linux desktop won't entice that many more developers to produce big name titles for Linux.. But with Steam handling distro and a better than Windows "driver and install" experience. I could see some Indie love on Linux.

I always felt that Valve was always on borrowed time...but they have lasted far longer than I expected and thus have tons of cash to bide their time and keep on R&D strategy

It also gives them leverage against Microsoft. Announcing it now makes it that much harder for Microsoft to lock things down, even if most gamers don't switch. And if Windows 8 is a disaster on the desktop, it gives Valve somewhere to retreat to.

Probably more important, it gives game developers somewhere to retreat to. That's their leverage.

The mac version was by-the-by, because it was only for apple computers, and maybe hackintoshes, but linux is a very broad platform that encompasses x86 and almost every other architecture. Having alternatives means MS can't hold PC games hostage.

If they do something stupid, I could cut my losses on windows in the future, go linux and use some method of emulation/virtualisation/wrapper for the back catalogue.

Just because Valve wants to support Linux does not mean other publishers will follow.

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