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Valve Software Launches Linux Blog, Confirms Work On Steam Client for Linux 236

Posted by Soulskill
from the steamy-tux dept.
New submitter oakgrove writes "Valve Software confirmed today in a new blog devoted specifically to Steam on Linux (called Steam'd Penguins) that for more than a year, a Steam client has been in the works for Ubuntu Linux 12.04. 'We've made good progress this year and now have the Steam client running on Ubuntu with all major features available. We're still giving attention and effort to minor features but it's a good experience at the moment. In the near future, we will be setting up an internal beta focusing on the auto-update experience and compatibility testing.' The blog post also says that a working port of Left 4 Dead 2 is currently playable, and that their goal is to bring performance in line with the Windows version."
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Valve Software Launches Linux Blog, Confirms Work On Steam Client for Linux

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  • whatever (Score:5, Funny)

    by danap611 (149840) on Monday July 16, 2012 @11:21PM (#40669083)
    Anything to get our minds off of HL3/HL2Ep3.
  • Great news! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skipkent (1510) on Monday July 16, 2012 @11:29PM (#40669129)

    Either we are a very vocal bunch, or they see a real trend here. Either way this is great for us.

  • by Riceballsan (816702) on Monday July 16, 2012 @11:41PM (#40669177)
    On one hand I do like the fact that this has potential to bring games out to the linux market that haven't been there, and to eliminate the viewpoint that there are no gamers on linux. On the other side of the coin, I'm not sure how useful this will actually be for current linux fans. Almost all valve games have gold or platnum wineHQ ratings, as do a huge portion of games on steam. Running steam on wine I can play left4dead, half life, portal 1+2, magika etc... As well as quite a few non-valve games, Skyrim etc... Now assuming valve fully devotes to the project and makes native linux versions of all of their games, it is unlikely that half of the games that can be played via wine, will be ported, making the official linux client, less useful than valves port. As a result many linux users will still be identified as windows users (since wine will identify as windows XP), the numbers for linux will still show as low, and linux support will stay very weak.
    • by skipkent (1510)

      Could see another rise of preloaded linux PCs and laptops. "Kid going to school? This here computer is 80$ cheaper, comes with a full office suite and runs steam!"

    • It doesn't really matter so long as their support for WINE isn't weak.
      I use two commercial geophysical programs on linux via WINE for which the developers specificly test against WINE. A third uses dotnet but tests against mono. I know two of the vendors actually have fixed compatibility problems in their software that showed up when they tested it the compatibility layer.
      • Re:A third side (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @12:13AM (#40669341)
        Seriously. Wine is just another abstraction layer. Complaining about Wine makes no more sense than complaining about OpenGL, or even Linux itself. Either you are hitting bare metal, or you are using abstraction layers. The only thing that matters is whether the software works or not.
        • Where was the complaining? If anything, the GP was praising devs who specifically test against Wine.
    • by makomk (752139) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:11AM (#40670821) Journal

      As a result many linux users will still be identified as windows users (since wine will identify as windows XP)

      The last Steam hardware survey I did detected the fact that I was running it under Wine, so they already know that users are doing that.

    • by quintesse (654840)

      Wine is really cool, but it's just no good for many demanding games. You'll probably have to turn down your graphics settings (and some settings won't even be available) and even then it'll run slower than the original game. And that makes it a no-go for many online games. I remember playing WoW on Wine, which was okay because it doesn't require optimal frame rates, but over the years I tried again and again to play Counter Strike Source (not really a game that requires much from your CPU/GPU these days) an

      • Well yeah obviously it will never outperform native, but the fact does remain that for many games it is good enough, also depends largely on your system, with most games, it gets about 70% of the framerate of running it natively in windows. Which if you are getting it up to 100 FPS in windows it is probably close to an invisible difference as many people can't differentiate 100 vs 70 FPS. Course quite a few factors still go into play, your wine setup etc... and of course as you mentioned, the games themsel
        • by quintesse (654840)

          > that's own developers have shown no interest in creating a linux port, as I imagine will be the case with many many of the games that are on steam currently.

          True, on the other hand many of the indie games have Linux versions, so if they all suddenly show up on Steam (hopefully they will finally apply a filter that won't show games you can't install, like Windows games showing up on OSX) other might start feeling the heat, especially when Valve can show the sales figures for those games to the ones that

  • It's about time, too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skaag (206358) on Monday July 16, 2012 @11:42PM (#40669181) Homepage Journal

    Valve have a golden opportunity here, in several ways:

    1. Ubuntu is a first stepping stone. Once they have the Linux experience, they can target all kinds of Linux based platforms & set top boxes, as they become popular. It's just like UbuntuTV in a sense - It takes a stable operating system and tailors it to a niche market, adds the back-office sauce into the soup, and you suddenly have a serious iTunes/Netflix contender (technologically anyway).

    2. I believe game producers are going to see this as a blessing: Valve becoming the major conduit through which serious games flow into the Linux world, paving the road for those producers into user's desktops, while providing billing, game discovery, content distribution, and community tools. Nobody else is doing this at the moment with Linux, except for Canonical who have created their own "App Store" application (which by the way is pretty good!). So imaging Canonical's "App store" on steroids, for games! Once enough games are built for Linux, why would anyone use Microsoft Windows for gaming?

    3. When you are first to capture a market, you become the dominant player. The longer you're the dominant player, the more difficult it becomes to unseat you from your throne.

    • by gslavik (1015381)

      Relating to your point #3. There have been two studios who have had a market on the three major OS (Windows, OS X, Linux) who have left. This is id Software (Rage is Windows only) and Epic (still no Linux client for Unreal Tournament 3). When Valve finishes porting the Source engine, they will have the engine with most reach and since they are also delivering the distribution network, they will probably be on the throne for a very long time.

      • The nice thing about Steam running on Linux means it will be straightforward to also port to the Linux that is getting *two million new installs per day*, namely Android. If Valve become gaming kings on Linux and then ooze over to Android they will have the ability to generate revenue off a substantial fraction of the games on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android - since they make it easy for to get games installed, verified and updated on those platforms (for for both developers and gamers). That will result in
    • by dbIII (701233)

      Ubuntu is a first stepping stone.

      And pretty close to the last - once it works there it's just a matter of grafting whichever bit of Ubuntu it works with onto whatever linux distro you want. DLL hell was an Microsoft only problem which has probably even vanished there now.

      • No, not the last. Once Steam has been ported to Ubuntu the next logical Linux to develop for is Android. With around two million new installs of Android each day I'm sure Steam would love to be able to clip the ticket for games on that platform. Clever crafty Valve, eh?
    • Gold and Lead... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @12:33AM (#40669479) Journal
      One could also view Valve's move as a somewhat defensive one.

      Apple hasn't exactly been shy about the fact that The App Store is exciting and mandatory on iDevices, and exciting-and-optional-for-now on OSX.

      Microsoft hasn't exactly been shy about copying Apple in these matters(and while their 'games for windows live' initiative is risible, their xbox work shows that they are to be treated with caution).

      Valve has a comparatively well regarded distribution mechanism; but they face the potential of being squeezed by platform vendors who want to own the store.

      Now, as long as Redmond wants their $20-$100 bucks a box to make sure that Win32 and device drivers are working, and Apple wants their somewhat larger slice to provide the full package, Valve has a pretty limited incentive to try to upset that arrangement. Neither business is easy, and only the dominant player stands to make any serious money.

      However, now the platform guys want to own both the platform and the store. That can't be good for the independent shopkeeper, now can it?
      • good point, it's an awesome hedge bet on the off chance MS manage to get a working store together and apple will be succeeding in totally replacing steam in the next 5 years in my opinion. Not to mention people keep throwing android at things plugging into TVs and one of those boxes might actually take off. not a bad idea to keep that card up your sleeve for the cost of 3 or 4 developers.
  • by westyvw (653833) on Monday July 16, 2012 @11:51PM (#40669215)

    With the most popular game TF2, and it being free, I would think they would have wanted that one out the door first. Then DOTA2 as the next most popular.
    TF2 brings in the numbers, new people can get in at no cost. Left 4 dead is a bit Niche (and a bit has been at this point).
    Either way, get some more games involved and I will no longer need to boot into windows, and that makes me very very happy. I would rather dual boot Linux/LinuxGaming if I want to keep a pure open environment.

    • by Telvin_3d (855514)

      They are the same engine, with the difference being that TF2 also has some extra complicated netcode bolted on to handle the large team games. In fact Valve tends to forward-port their previous games to the newest engine, which is currently represented by L4D2/Portal2. So get L4D2 working first. Then bolt on the extra bits the Portal games need. That gets you just about the entire Source Engine back catalog along with most of the 3rd party Source games. Then get the netcode (that has to interact with large

      • by Haymaker (1664103)
        Remember back when they had just Portal out for OSX, some people could play TF2 on OSX by moving some files around.

        Personally, I think they're playing with L4D2 because it's more stable. TF2 is getting content updates every few weeks, while L4D2 is still new but relatively stable. Maybe just for the sensitive stage where they want to make sure it works just fine (with an acceptable framerate, which is probably the hard part) they want a game that doesn't push new hats to the client every other week. On

    • Valve literally can't afford to do anything that might disrupt the TF2 and DOTA2 communities. If a bug in the Linux client caused x-number of games with Windows users to drop they would have a major problem. Not to mention the anti-cheet being by far their most important feature and is genuinely much harder on Linux.
      By using an old title with limited potential they are simply managing risk. If they can get it to work then TF2 and DOTA2 will be their highest priorities.

  • Thank you Valve (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mountaineer1024 (1024367) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @12:06AM (#40669289) Homepage
    I have 44 bought games on my steam list, all on a box that only runs windows so that I can play games. Thank you for giving me dream that one day I can get rid of all the windows installs in my house.
  • They've never been against people using Wine to launch steam and with there recent hiring of various big linux people they should be able to complete a gaming engine for linux and start releasing alot of linux content along with their windows offerings. In addition to getting more commercial games to the linux platform it will be interesting to see what (if anything) they are able to then contribute back to the linux community in the form of patchs and new libraries. Steam has always been pretty good at e
  • My prediction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @12:15AM (#40669353)

    I believe that Valve is thinking about what it would take to get into the console business and Linux could be the key. I think this is the proof of concept stage- get the Steam client and a couple of games running on Linux. Evaluate how much work it takes and evaluate the game performance on Linux.

    If they can come up with a way to port games cleanly and inexpensively, then suddenly Steam in the living room is a no-brainer. Commodity hardware in a nice case with bluetooth accessories. Rev the hardware every two years instead of every 7 or 8 years and make sure that new games are playable on older consoles by automatically reducing game settings.

    • Not only consoles. A port to Linux also means that Steam could run on Android. That's huge market for games and Steam has great expertise in delivering, licensing, and more importantly, (mostly) smooth of updating of games.
      • A port to Linux also means that Steam could run on Android.

        It does? If so, that's actually a much more likely prediction I think.

        Can you connect the dots though? I know Android is a VM typically running on top of a stripped down Linux, but that's about it as far as the two are connected, no?

    • by nschubach (922175)

      They do have a "10 foot" interface on the way as well... so I don't think it's too hard to imagine that Valve wants to be on your TV. If they can do it with Linux, they can avoid licensing costs from sticking with a Windows Kernel.

  • I occasionally consider building a gaming machine but never follow through because I would have to choose between running windows or having very few supported games. If this actually happens I will be a happy man.

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      Only reason I have an windows box is for games. Goodbye MS!.
      • by nschubach (922175)

        I just rebuilt my "game computer" and was trying to think of a name for it. Since Steam was the only application I'd be installing on Windows 7... "SteamBox" was all I could think of. ;)

  • Note to Valve Folks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WankersRevenge (452399) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @12:58AM (#40669621)

    If there are any Valve folks reading this -- just a couple of notes, questions, etc ...

    1) Please fix the site so that mac games will only recommend mac games. The same goes for the upcoming linux section. It kind of sucks to click on a recommended game only to find it's window's only.

    2) When are you guys going to answer Facebook Connect? Seriously, it'd be killer to integrate our mobile game apps into steam to either replace game center or to add to it.

    3) steam console ... Ouya sounds great but steam would be divine :) How about a steam branded android device?

    And hey, if you guys need to html++, give me a call ;) Or, maybe a discount :)

    Keep up the great work!
     

    • by westyvw (653833) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:07AM (#40669957)

      Go ahead and go over to the valve linux blog and email them from there. They really seem interested in getting input.
      http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/linux/steamd-penguins/ [valvesoftware.com]

      The mail address is in the text and on the sidebar on the right.

    • Also, the Mac steam client often crashes when Steam itself is updated. Then it won't die and you have to try and Force Quit it (I sound like a Jedi. don't I?). Would be better if the Steam client itself was more reliable and never got the pesky "Steam failed to load: *SteamStartEngine(0xbfffdf54) failed with error 1: A Steam Engine Instance already exists” error that often happens with Steam updates.
  • But is it seriously a wise move to target Linux for games? Considering the segment of the market that actually runs Linux, and in particular, the even smaller segment of the market that runs LInux on the desktop, is it worth any game studio's time to really support it?

    For what it's worth... I run Linux on my main computer at home, and I really like using it, but I also do have a separate computer that runs Windows which I use for games, and I'd imagine that pretty much anyone who is a gamer is probably

    • Perhaps Valve played with the Windows 8 Preview?
    • by westyvw (653833)

      I think you saw some of the answers already in the posts above yours:
      A steam console in the works, independent of OS.
      A get in early on the inevitable uptake of linux in embedded devices and home desktops
      The humble bundles have indicated that Linux users want games, and are willing to pay for them on thier platform of choice. 75,000 (roughly) people bought the last Linux humble bundle, getting your platform which delivers ads daily, in front of those users too?

    • It would never make sense for Steam to support Linux at the expense of Windows. The thing is, they are trying to support Linux *as well as* Windows and Mac. That means that the 20 million Linux desktops out there might be incremental profit for already-developed games (assuming the support costs of the Linux port are not too high - but Valve has a lot of cash so that is not really a concern. So they can use this opportunity to create their own space in the market, inexpensive Linux-based gaming consoles).

    • To start with the gamer/non-gamer distinction is something they want to 'fix'. We don't have filmer/non-filmer, or much tv/non-tv anymore why shouldn't Valve target everyone?

      Secondly Microsoft is a very significant competitor. Both as a game studio but much more importantly with XBox/Windows Live. You can dismiss it as emotional if you want, but few successful companies have left their entire fate in the hands of a competitor.

      Thirdly they they need to look to the future. They are already far behind on phone

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      If your windows box exists only to play games, then replacing it with a linux box thats also capable of playing games would save you money, you could buy a couple more games or a hardware upgrade with the cost of windows...

      There are quite a few people in a similar boat, they have windows solely for gaming and would happily get rid of it if they were able to play their games under linux... The fact that people are willing to make effort to get games running with wine shows that there is at least some demand

  • by humanrev (2606607) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:29AM (#40670041)

    I'm not trying to troll here, so don't take this the wrong way.

    From my experience, a lot of Linux users hate Microsoft because of their dominance in operating systems. It has resulted in a lot of software only being available for Windows and not Linux, hardware manufacturers only putting out drivers (decent or otherwise) for Windows and not Linux, and so on. People hate Microsoft due to their effective monopoly in the software industry (now getting less effective, but still)

    Once Steam is released for Linux, it's going to be the focal point for virtually all games on Linux just like Steam is on Windows. Sure there are exceptions (GOG, Origin, developers selling directly and so on), but by and large Valve will have an effective monopoly as the primary source of games for most PC gamers.

    Since Steam also uses account-based DRM, your games are linked to a single point of failure. A clerical error, a PayPal/credit card dispute, anything that may or may not be your fault occurs, and you may find yourself locked out of your account either temporarily or permanently. If this happens, you can't play your games.

    Linux users traditionally are geeks, and hence know the dangers of relying on a single vendor, a single point of failure. They'd know not to put all your eggs in one basket because otherwise, you don't have control. I'm no Richard Stallman but I'm honestly scared about the fact that everyone appears to be happy giving control out of their hands and to a third-party... EVEN LINUX USERS!

    Are people so desperate for games that they don't care about the fact that revocation of your purchases is technically possible due to Steam's DRM? I need someone to post something insightful because I'm going out of my fucking mind with worry that the traditionally anti-DRM crowd here is giving me mixed signals when it comes to Valve. At this point I'm almost ready to give up gaming and do something else if everyone's basically agreed that DRM cannot be stopped.

    • My understanding of Steam, which since I'm a Linux user comes from posts from earlier threads (e.g. [slashdot.org]), is that you don't have to launch Steam to play the games (though that's the easy way), and there's nothing stopping a game from having lan play. In fact, Valve's games usually include both lan play and the ability to host your own servers. So, yes, they can revoke your account and block you from their servers and stop you from buying new games, but they can never stop you from playing the ones you own. I

      • by humanrev (2606607)

        I've read gman003's posts before - he doesn't say anything bad about Steam, ever. He's very much the definition of a fanboy, so only take his words with a grain of salt.

        Virtually Steam game has their .exe modified so that they reference a file called steam_api.dll (located in the game's directory). This API provides a wrapper for the game to communicate with Steam, whether it's for achievements or supporting Steam cloud functionality, whatever. It also provides authentication through the Steam client. In ot

    • I can only speak for myself, so please take this with a grain of salt.

      From my experience, a lot of Linux users hate Microsoft because of their dominance in operating systems. It has resulted in a lot of software only being available for Windows and not Linux, hardware manufacturers only putting out drivers (decent or otherwise) for Windows and not Linux, and so on. People hate Microsoft due to their effective monopoly in the software industry (now getting less effective, but still)

      The problem with Microsoft is not their monopoly, it's how they defend that monopoly, they've been actively killing competition.

      Since Steam also uses account-based DRM, your games are linked to a single point of failure. A clerical error, a PayPal/credit card dispute, anything that may or may not be your fault occurs, and you may find yourself locked out of your account either temporarily or permanently. If this happens, you can't play your games.

      Yes and No. Not Valve decides if the games use DRM, the developers do (or publisher). Games which do not have DRM on them can be played without Steam with no problem, even games with DRM might be played without Steam with no problem. The assumption that you're only able to play the games if you're logged into Ste

      • by humanrev (2606607)

        Just want to address a few of your comments:

        Yes and No. Not Valve decides if the games use DRM, the developers do (or publisher). Games which do not have DRM on them can be played without Steam with no problem, even games with DRM might be played without Steam with no problem. The assumption that you're only able to play the games if you're logged into Steam is wrong, that depends on the game.

        As I told someone else, there are very few games I've tried which work without Steam. DOSBox games like the classic

        • I also just want to address a few parts of your reply, as I agree with you. :)

          Skyrim or Deus Ex: Human Revolution? Portal 1/2? Not a chance. Note I'm also not referring to any extra 3rd-party DRM, just the base Steam DRM.

          As far as I could figure out, those games are using Steamworks. Which is a DRM system delivered by Steam and Valve, but which is optional for the developers/publishers. So we're back at their mercy.

          I have read people's complains on the Steam forums whereby there was an issue when paying through PayPal, for whatever reason PayPal wouldn't transfer funds to Valve even though the transaction was completed in Steam (completely PP's fault mind you, but it happens), and so the account is locked for reasons of fraud or some such BS. If you're good with Steam support it might be a temporary lock while they try to ascertain what happened, but it's still a lock.

          I was not aware of such problems...though, now that I think about it, it sounds logical that accounts get suspended when such problems arouse. But I'm also very confident that you can resolve those situations with Support and PayPal. St

    • by humanrev (2606607)

      BTW - I read something interesting which I thought was worth sharing. Someone else made the point that they were concerned with Steam for the exact same reasons that I am, but decided to stick with it anyway.

      His view was that we have progressed to a state where you don't "own" anything anymore when it comes to software/media, it's all licensed. Now technically you've been buying a license for every piece of software, movie, music and whatnot anyway, it's just that the ability to revoke the license has never

  • by devent (1627873) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @02:58AM (#40670165) Homepage

    Just awesome. As the Humbe Linux Bundle have shown there is big potential in the Linux desktop market for games. Many games are already working just fine in Wine. As you can see in the WineHQ[1] there are 3333 Platinum, 2878 Gold and 2468 Silver rated applications and games (Platinum and Gold means they are working out-of-the-box with Wine).

    But I do hope you are going to contribute to the Wine project. What would be just beyond awesome if your client would be open source. There is no reason to not make your client open source anyway, since it will work only with your service. But to have your client open source would bring you many advantages.

    Like free bug fixing from the open source community; Free translations to different languages, like Chinese, Thai, German, Spanish. Free porting to different Linux distributions like Fedora, OpenSuse, Debian. You would have so many more potential customers if Linux users could just go to their package manager and install your client from the official repositories.

    Thank you for the port and for the courage to take the opportunity.

    [1] http://appdb.winehq.org/objectManager.php?sClass=application&sTitle=Browse%20Applications&sOrderBy=appName&bAscending=true [winehq.org]

  • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @07:23AM (#40671709)

    It'd be *awesome* if they officially supported Wine too for many games for which they won't bother making an actual Linux version.

  • When I read this and saw Ubuntu, a small warning flag started waving in my mind. Is this some sort of 'special arrangement' between Shuttleworth and Steam, resulting in this client not working in other Linux distributions without tons of command line fu? If so, it wouldn't suprise me much. Trust, but verify (on real Debian).

    This reminds me that the Amazon mp3 downloader still doesn't work in 64-bit Linux distributions. Given that running the amz file though clamz on the command line downloads the mp3 f

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