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Debian Ubuntu Games Hardware

Valve Starts Publishing Packages For Its Own Linux Distribution 310

Posted by timothy
from the ready-for-the-console-at-least dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In preparation for the "Steam Box" game console that will make necessary their own Linux-based software platform, Valve developers have started publishing Debian packages for their platform which looks like their first-generation operating system will be derived from Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS. So far the packages being published include a new "Plymouth" boot splash screen as the operating system loads, a Steam desktop wallpaper, auto-updating system scripts, and experimental NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers."
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Valve Starts Publishing Packages For Its Own Linux Distribution

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  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:57AM (#43337289)

    It looks like this might finally be the year. With Windows 8 throwing a lot of users away with a bad interface and a marketplace lock-in, The timing is pretty good. A lot of people always claimed that games were the only reason they were still on Windows.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:07AM (#43337425) Homepage

      Maybe not the year of the Linux desktop, but instead the year of the Linux set-top-box.

      • by telchine (719345) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:21AM (#43337599)

        Maybe not the year of the Linux desktop, but instead the year of the Linux set-top-box.

        As long as Valve (and ideally other developers as well) make big-name games availale, then I think a lot of gamers would switch to Linux on their existing computer rather than buy a set-top box.

        Plenty of people only use their computers for basic web/email/word processing and games and the only thing that ties them to Windows is games. I'm sure plenty would welcome the opportunity to not have to pay for Windows (or have the hassle of pirating it) so long as the games they want to play are available on Linux.

        Unfortunately, right now, the choice is lacking. I see Counter-Strike:Source and Team Fortress 2 being the only big-name games. This is disappointing as they were allegedly beta testing with Left 4 Dead 2 which still isn't available on Linux.

        Once the other main Source games become available and new games are written with Linux in mind then I can see adoption of Linux for gaming picking up.

        • Yeah, my point was not about the desktop/set-top-box format itself, but about the roles people use computers for. If Valve can get a substantial portion of their games to run on their distribution, then they may very well succeed in bringing Linux to people who use their computers primarily for gaming. And that's no small accomplishment.

          However, when it comes to computers used for business/productivity, this probably won't have a big impact. If you could bring Outlook and Adobe CS to Linux, then you mig

          • A pirate (yar) version of Adobe CS. The underage no money types have to learn how to use your stuff. Investment in future users isn't a lost sale.
          • Outlook is garbage unless you're talking to an Exchange server. It barely supports IMAP.

            Not to say that TBird can't be improved (especially task/calendar stuff), but for large mailboxes over IMAP it's far better then Outlook. Plus better support for multiple email address scenarios where you need to either have multiple aliases for a mailbox or have multiple mailboxes.
            • Outlook is garbage unless you're talking to an Exchange server. It barely supports IMAP.

              True enough, but Exchange is hardly rare.

        • ...only thing that ties them to Windows is games.

          That, and the demands of employers. I'm a contractor so I need to keep a Windows machine around to work on their stuff. I do more Windows development than Linux, but its really starting to tip the other way.

          I'm sure plenty would welcome the opportunity to not have to pay for Windows (or have the hassle of pirating it)

          Its not much of a hassle. Er, so I'm told.

          • by Nadaka (224565)

            I do unix development (enterprise web applications for the DoD), but I am forced to suffer through the use of windows by my IT department because they can't take up 4.5 gigs of ram (on a machine that has only 4 gigs of ram) on their spyware and virus scans if I was using any other OS. On linux or unix, they wouldn't be able make my JVM fail to start due to not enough memory, or delete my JDK because they wanted to update java to a version later than the one required by the god damn government contract, and

          • Pretty much the only reason I don't virtualize windows and use another host OS is due to games not virtualizing well. However everything else can virtualize just fine.

        • Started Using Ubuntu when Steam rolled out - I can definitely assure the Linux developers the easiest way to proportionally reduce my use of windows is to increase the proportion of linux gaming.

          Please save me from Windows 8 and the trainwreck that follows!

          signed - ex microsoft shill

      • by Kardos (1348077)

        Well we've got linux on server and on mobile, if we get consoles this year, I'll settle for desktop in 2014.

        • By 2014 the desktop will be a special-purpose device only, with a market consisting mostly of development and server machines (which linux already has a health share of now). No victory there.

          • Except server machines are a class of their own, not desktops. Oops. Okay, I'm going to go have some more coffee.

      • by Richy_T (111409)

        Except 2007 was the year of the "set you could not put a box on top of".

    • by Krneki (1192201)

      Even bigger contributor to Linux gaming is Unity3D.

      A lot of new games are developed using this relatively cheap/easy tool to create games, where the community shares free or for a small charge scripts/pre build packages and the game can be compiled for almost every platform.

      • Which only just recently is getting a Linux port.
        • Unity3D has had a Linux engine for quite a while, and that is what the parent comment was talking about: games made using Unity3D get a Linux port "for free".
    • by doug141 (863552) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:26AM (#43337675)
      When XP was introduced, I switched to windows for the games. I have happily paid for newer versions of Windows since because they are very usable and I don't want to learn linux. Now, there's no good new version of windows to switch to, based on what I'm reading about windows 8. Apparently valve and steam are making gaming on linux easier than ever. I'm at risk of trying it and finding I like it. The real threat to Microsoft may be their own vision with Windows 8.
      • by TrancePhreak (576593) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:58AM (#43338113)

        based on what I'm reading about windows 8.

        Which is the real problem. Most people I've seen who say it's bad haven't even used it. In the future, it should become the de-facto Windows gaming iteration, as they cleaned up and refined the graphics systems.

        • by jxander (2605655) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @01:00PM (#43339017)

          I've used it. Fairly extensively over the past few months, much to my chagrin

          Both of my younger sisters were gifted with Windows 8 laptops last Christmas, and figuring out how to set them up has been harder than learning Linux. And I'm an MCSE. Not that the cert means all that much, but I've always leaned Windows-way for the majority of my computing needs, only delving into *nix for some back end stuff and my HTPC.

          Up until now, even the bad versions of windows (ME, Vista, etc) were at least functional and somewhat familiar. I could use them, even if they crapped their pants every hour or two. With windows 8, this is no longer the case. Maybe windows 9 will rectify this, but by then it might be too late.

        • by equex (747231)
          Did people forget that the whole reason people read about tech is to navigate away from stuff that seems like a problem, and go for the stuff that works ? Who the hell reads what they write about Win8 and then actually installs it after ? Nobody blames anyone from steering away from broken cpu architechtures and bad gfx cards that they read about. Who made it a sin to do the same with Win8 ?
        • Most people I've seen who say it's bad haven't even used it.

          Care to cite some evidence?

          I don't doubt that *many* of the people who say it's bad haven't used it, but I have already heard from many people who say it's bad and have used it. I've used it. It's bad.

          Not that it's all bad. There have been many improvements, both under the hood and in the visible feature set. If they hadn't forced the Metro UI (or whatever they're calling it) on desktop users, it would be a good upgrade to Windows 7. However, the new UI is terrible. I've even used it on tablets, and

        • Which is the real problem. Most people I've seen who say it's bad haven't even used it. In the future, it should become the de-facto Windows gaming iteration, as they cleaned up and refined the graphics systems.

          I use it. I have to, as that's what we use at work. There is nothing about it that's any good. If you install Classic Shell, it's tolerable, except for when you click on a file that ends up opening a metro app and then you have to fix the association so it won't ever do it again.

        • by Patch86 (1465427)

          I've used it, and I don't like it. It's an unpleasant mess of poorly thought out interface paradigms, hacked together without much thought. And I'm not saying that as some sort of desktop purist- I've used and like (to a point) Unity, Android on a large screen, KDE4, Mac...

          I'm a Linux user, but I've always purchased a gaming machine with Windows on it. I currently have a gaming desktop with a (legitimate and paid for) Win7 install (dual booting with Ubuntu) for playing games on. And I'm perfectly happy with

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:37AM (#43337813)

      It looks like this might finally be the year.

      That's almost comical because we've been asking ourselves that question for so many years. Valve has got a good thing going, but until we start seeing mainstream games on Steam being released with Linux binaries, all Valve is doing is prolonging another inevitable Fail.

      Don't get me wrong, I applaud Valve for what they are doing. It takes a lot of balls to take on the Console/Windows gaming behemoth and I think it takes keen insight to recognize the death of your product coming down the road because your main support platform went full-retard. BUT it doesn't feel good to sit at a Linux Steam console staring at all the cool games for Windows, and 90% of Linux selections are stuff repackaged from the Humble Bundles. When a new game comes out, the people on Linux Steam want to be able to play it too. When the industry gets to that point, the everyday Linux desktop headaches may offset the Windows ones enough to make make "YotLD" viable.

      • We'll actually get to see a bit in a year or so, as there are some bigger games coming to Linux. A few Kickstarter titles have pledged Linux support as there were some vocal calls for it from backers.

        I think though that Linux users are going to be a little disappointed with the results. The graphics driver situation with regards to hardware OpenGL support is pretty bad in Linux. The only driver that seems to support current features, in hardware, without blowing up is the binary nVidia driver.

        So the games m

    • I can't help but remain skeptical. So far, the frothing at the mouth against Windows 8 is pretty much just a computer-enthusiast thing and of that group not all are united.

      Throwing out ideals such as good and evil, open-source and closed, and good or bad design - it all comes down to: 1) Which OS comes with Average Joe's PC. 2) Which OS runs the apps Average Joe has already. 3)Which interface is less of a pain in the butt to learn for Average Joe.

      In that order.

      That said, if PC usage continues to decline,

      • by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:50AM (#43337993)

        Valve is heading towards Linux because they see where Microsoft is heading. Microsoft is pulling an Apple style lock - in with the new interface and will slowly remove support for the old one. They don't want to pay the cut of all sales that Microsoft will demand. I'm quite surprised more people haven't realised this ... But perhaps I'm just paranoid.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:41PM (#43338725)

          Actually, they've said this is the exact reason they're jumping ship. Microsoft doesn't want a cut of Steam's sales. Microsoft fully intends to replace Steam and other digital distribution channels with the Windows Store. Simple as that.

          • Yup, and this is likely the motivation behind UEFI Secure Boot. It sounds great - who would turn down "better security" - but it really does mean better security - for Microsoft, who can be sure that they can prevent a machine running anything they haven't cryptographically signed themselves. Not yet, but this is one of those things where you can easily see which way they want the wind to blow. They are setting up the same walled garden as Apple has in iOS.

    • by theurge14 (820596)

      This is a target-specific device (gaming console), not a traditional desktop. It doesn't bring Linux any closer to the desktop than the explosion of Android phones did.

      • Actually it does, because along the console, the same Steam is provided to all x86 Ubuntu desktop systems.
    • by Omestes (471991)

      marketplace lock-in

      Huh? What lock-in? Last I checked I could still install software from any source I wanted to, unless this has changed in the last half hour.

      . A lot of people always claimed that games were the only reason they were still on Windows.

      For me this is still part of the reason I stick with it (the other being some profession software, with no fully comparable Linux peers yet), but sadly even with Steam, Linux isn't there yet. Perhaps we're closer to the day when it is possible for a gamer to switch, which is progress, but we're still probably years off.

      What we need is the major publishers to jump on

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        I'm fairly sure that you can only install applications in the new Interface through the Microsoft market. I'm also fairly sure that the old interface will disappear. Valve is just a little quicker than most in picking of this up.

        • I think this is the difference between Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 Pro. Ultimately I think MS will make it so only applications bought through their app store will be installable on windows systems, but to my knowledge they've only done this on Windows 8 RT at the moment. I think they purposely made the naming of Win RT and Win Pro obscure to make it confusing about what people are complaining about when they say, "I couldn't install X on my new windows (RT/PRO) device". That way MS can always come back with
          • by Nerdfest (867930)

            I'm not talking about tablets here, I'm talking about the desktop. Even with 'Pro' you can't I don't think you can install applications that use the new interface other than through their market. Using the old interface yes, but as I said, I think you'll see that disappear. You think the timing of 'secure boot' was an accident? They know it'll scare off a lot of people and they want to make it as hard as possible to leave.

      • by Microlith (54737)

        Last I checked I could still install software from any source I wanted to, unless this has changed in the last half hour.

        The "Modern" environment, from day one, only allows installations of software signed by Microsoft. Ditto for anything using the WinRT APIs.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      It looks like this might finally be the year. With Windows 8 throwing a lot of users away with a bad interface and a marketplace lock-in, The timing is pretty good. A lot of people always claimed that games were the only reason they were still on Windows.

      Games and Office. As good as the linux alternatives are to MS Office, they fall short on the business desktop.

    • by smi.james.th (1706780) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:24PM (#43338457)
      I've been sort of forced to use Win8 for the last few weeks on my new laptop (yeah I guess I could probably get it to work with 7 instead, but I'm too lazy...) and to be honest it's really not bad. Once you get used to the different interface it's really no problem.

      Also, as far as marketplace lock-in, that's complete rubbish. I've installed all my own applications, haven't had to use a single one from the Windows / Metro thingy, most of the time I don't even realise I'm on a new OS. It's somewhat faster than Win7, though that difference isn't huge.

      All that being said, I still prefer Linux, I'm one of those who have specific applications packages for work reasons which have to use Windows. But Win8 isn't the big loss for M$ that you make it out to be.
      • by Microlith (54737)

        Also, as far as marketplace lock-in, that's complete rubbish.

        No, it's not. You just don't realize it because.

        [I] haven't had to use a single one from the Windows / Metro thingy

        Of course you don't have to. Yet. You also haven't used anything built on the WinRT APIs. You also aren't using Windows RT devices.

        But make no mistake: Microsoft wants that aspect of Windows gone. And they'll keep marginalizing it and pushing the APIs that give them more control.

    • A lot of people always claimed that games were the only reason they were still on Windows.

      I am one of those people and, well, this changes nothing. 99% of all my games are still Windows-only and I have no intention of ditching them just to move to Linux. And I am quite certain the same applies to a whole lot of other gamers.

  • by Ardeaem (625311) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:01AM (#43337351)
    Oh, right. Never mind.
  • by Soluzar (1957050) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:14AM (#43337523) Homepage

    1) The hardware is open so that you can (if you wish) put a different Linux distribution on it.

    2) If the Steam Box software works on any distribution you so install.

    3) The games are protected only by Steam's own DRM and not encumbered by anything more onerous.

    4) All games use the controller. The keyboard and mouse can be an option, but it should not be the only option.

    I know this makes it nothing more than a nice small form factor PC with a standard spec. I'm happy for it to be exactly that.

    • by gQuigs (913879)

      1/2) Install other distros
      I belive they have said they want to make it open enough to potentially run Windows, so I think other distros should run fine (well, except if the distro doesn't provide enough up-to-date bits).

      3) The games are protected only by Steam's own DRM and not encumbered by anything more onerous.
      That's all games made by Valve. Other companies can include worse DRM, but I don't think they will be able to get root. So they are stuck with always online DRM; which means I won't consider th

    • 2) If the Steam Box software works on any distribution you so install.

      I'm sure Steam will relish the job of maintaining their software on, and providing support to the users of, every distribution. Lucky there's not many of them, then!

    • by subanark (937286)

      1. I think this is required as part of the GPL. And Valve hasn't tried to stop running their games on other distros.
      2. Not possible. Some distributions will simply be incompatible by their design. It would be up to each distro to ensure compatibility.
      3. Their DRM is their DRM. As per #1 and #2, I don't think they will do any hardware DRM integration.
      4. I don't think they will include a keyboard and mouse, so a developer that requires one would face an uphill battle. I don't think Valve will completely ban t

      • by Microlith (54737)

        #1 is required only as a facet of the GPLv3.
        #2 is where obscure distros leverage their userbase. Thus Steam for Linux is already running on many distros other than just Ubuntu, even if Valve doesn't officially support them.

    • 1) The hardware is open so that you can (if you wish) put a different Linux distribution on it.

      2) If the Steam Box software works on any distribution you so install.

      3) The games are protected only by Steam's own DRM and not encumbered by anything more onerous.

      4) All games use the controller. The keyboard and mouse can be an option, but it should not be the only option.

      I know this makes it nothing more than a nice small form factor PC with a standard spec. I'm happy for it to be exactly that.

      1) Why? Most users will see the box as "yet another console", if you need a PC... well... Buy a PC?

      2) theoretically possible, but in practice impossible. Few developers have the resources to make the software compatible with the 2^n existing Linux distros, and would be enough one of them to change anything to throw out this work.

      3) Possible

      4) Well, is a "console" so I think that all games will use joystick by default as on any other console. And yes, it would be useful to have the option to use ke

  • This could, potentially, be a very big deal. But we need more info:
    Price point?
    Does it do media?
    Can we modify the OS?
    Will it come with a decent solution to the "Keyboards from the couch suck" problem?

    I have a lot of hope here for Valve, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

  • which looks like their first-generation operating system will be derived from Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS

    In theory, this means support for Radeon 2000 through 4000 GPU's if they stick with X.Org 1.12 (AMD refuses to support those GPU's - not all of which can be considered dated in the least - in 12.10/X.org 1.13).

  • Is there a distribution that has its own binary format? I ran Linux back in 2003 with Mandrake/KDE, and it seemed fine except it didn't have the ability to download executables off the Internet and run them. With the superior security of Linux, system files can't be modified without a root password typed in by the user. So while Windows can get hosed by running a binary, Linux is basically immune to viruses. I would constantly struggle compiling and installing software enough that it was a big headache.
    • by Microlith (54737)

      I ran Linux back in 2003 with Mandrake/KDE

      Well, ten years is a lot of time. Perhaps you should grab a distro and try it out?

      Is there a distribution that has its own binary format?

      No, all executable binaries and libraries are ELF.

      it seemed fine except it didn't have the ability to download executables off the Internet and run them

      Well, no. Linux doesn't behave like Windows.

      Linux is basically immune to viruses.

      Viruses are not what you should be concerned about. Trojans and other such packages are a problem a

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      The other post hit most of the points, but regarding software compatibility.

      As long as the game is static-compiled as one big binary then for the most part you can just download, chmod, and run it. It won't be able to modify /bin/bash, but it sure can read your firefox password store and upload it to who-knows-where. It will also eat gobs of RAM, and if glibc was statically linked then it will be sensitive to any system call changes.

      As soon as the game is dynamically linked, then it starts becoming distro

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