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Valve Announces Linux-Based SteamOS 510

Posted by Soulskill
from the inexorable-linux dept.
Today Valve Software announced SteamOS, a Linux-based gaming operating system designed for, as Valve puts it, "living room machines." They say, "In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we're now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level. Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases." One major feature they're touting is the ability to use the SteamOS machine to stream video games from other Windows and Mac computers in the house to your TV. They mention media streaming as well, but without much detail. "With SteamOS, 'openness' means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they've been able to. Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love. SteamOS will continue to evolve, but will remain an environment designed to foster these kinds of innovation."
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Valve Announces Linux-Based SteamOS

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  • Re:Compatibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MouseAT (945758) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:33PM (#44925787)
    What's to stop them integrating Wine into the appropriate game packages and certifying them to run on Linux? That way, not everything would need a re-write. They'd be able to port a significant library right from the start, Valve would be able to verify compatibility and it'd all be pre-configured out of the box.
  • Re:Amazing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:36PM (#44925819)

    And yet it could be so much more.

    Linux games that run well across multiple distributions have been out since when, the original Unreal Tournament? Perhaps even earlier? I'm talking about commercial games of course, if you go to the free software offerings the list gets larger.

    Now all of a sudden in 2013, it seems impossible to produce a binary of ANY of the games on Steam that run well across any other distribution than Ubuntu...in fact I tried it -on- Ubuntu and had problems with Amnesia starting, whereas it worked in:

    - Linux Mint (64 bit MATE edition)
    - Fedora 19 (GNOME and KDE)

    Steam on Linux was never consistent enough to be taken seriously, and the intended goal was always obvious -- pick a distribution that the community has made popular, then build their own, proprietary platform based on it and...hope that developers decide to release their titles for it. At least they do have a decent launch title library going for them, but it's obvious that Steam on Linux is just a stepping stone, one that may or may not exist in the future depending on Valve's success in the cnnsole world. Even if the "Steam Box" or whatever it will be called is released, there won't be much incentive for Valve to continue to try and offer a multi-platform version of Steam for the "other" Linux distro's out there. They want developers to target their own, for obvious reasons.

    If I wanted a closed platform and vendor lock-in I'd just install Steam for Windows and dual boot, isn't that what everyone else does?

  • by devman (1163205) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:38PM (#44925853)

    DRM will work fine, just as it does on Windows, and it won't be unbreakable, just like its not unbreakable on Windows. It just needs to work well enough to be more of a hassle than simply buying the legal copy on Steam.

    There will be cracks and patches for Steam games on Linux just as there are for Windows, and you'll get them from the same seedy corners of the internet with the same risks of getting pwned ("yes this crack absolutely needs root to work, trust us").

    So basically, no difference.

  • Re:Compatibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:39PM (#44925859)
    That's not playing your games on the Linux based SteamOS, that's running the equivalent of VNC server and client between Windows and Linux. I can do that to my phone as well, but I wont claim to be playing GTA on my phone.
  • by lordofthechia (598872) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:41PM (#44925885)

    The main purpose of the Steam OS currently will be to stream you games from your Windows or Mac desktop. The entire Steam game library doesn't suddenly work on Linux.

    Must have missed this part:

    Hundreds of great games are already running natively on SteamOS. Watch for announcements in the coming weeks about all the AAA titles coming natively to SteamOS in 2014.

    It's a *great* start! Sure it's not the *entire* Steam catalog, but as an install base of Steam Boxes builds up, more and more developers will be encouraged to include Linux on their ports.

    The other point of the Steam OS (instead of using and established distro) is Valve can streamline the user experience and optimize the kernel for gaming (which most default kernels are optimized for servers).

  • by tom229 (1640685) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:54PM (#44925991)
    I don't know. If i can install SteamOS on my gaming hardware (that currently runs windows), stream that to my TV, and sit on the couch with a wireless controller.. I think I'd be pretty happy. Steam is by far the largest repository for games in the world so they would potentially have the developer backing to move a lot of future titles to linux.

    What's more, if they release this OS in conjunction with a hardware release, that makes the entire process I described above easy for someone with little to no technical knowledge. Developing their own hardware also should alleviate a lot of the notorious driver issues with any *nix distribution.

    I think this could work. And more importantly I want this to work. The less money I'm forced to give Microsoft, the better.
  • by Dega704 (1454673) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:01PM (#44926087)
    It was also a wise move on Valve's part to call it SteamOS; following the rule that Linux is only successful with consumers when you don't call it Linux.
  • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:04PM (#44926107)

    You can't enforce DRM effectively until you lock down the device completely. So, of course Steam wants to control the OS.

    Except Steam DRM has always been pretty weak, and more there to keep honest people honest than stop pirates. Many Steam games don't even have DRM.

  • by devman (1163205) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:04PM (#44926111)

    You can see this same phenomenon at work on Android. There are lots of GPL apps that are sold on the Play store and earn the maintainer a couple of bucks an install for the work they did in the port. However, being GPL software you can download the source and build the .apk for free and sideload it.

    People still buy the Play store version even though there is a free and (unlike in the Steam case) legal alternative. Make it easy and they will come, and likely pay you.

  • Secondary effects. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jartan (219704) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:07PM (#44926127)

    This could have a lot of ripple effects.

    1) Improved Wine support.
    2) Better cross platform libraries/tools.
    3) Linux distro optimized for gaming.

    The interesting thing to consider is that Valve doesn't need to turn a profit right away. It's a private company and Gabe is looking at the long game here. He sees his reliance on Windows as a weakness and he intends to change that.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:10PM (#44926165)

    Actually Linux is not Ready for the Desktop. It made it in other areas.
    The desktop problem is a problem of too much hardware, in a Windows world. When Microsoft started to push the OS which required drivers, hardware manufactures dropped the idea of following standards and did whatever they felt like, just as long as they made a Windows driver they are OK. Linux, on the other hand, needs to back track and get those drivers made, with or without the hardware vendors support.
    Now some vendors are wary of making Linux Drivers, either because of Rabid GNU Fanatics, who will cause all sorts of problem if it is open source. Or they just cannot make their driver open source due to licencing concerns in their own development.

    Now with the other stuff where Linux has a strong hold, is where the Hardware Maker, also makes the full environment. A Linux based devices and control all the hardware and software.
    The irony is Linux works best on Closed systems.

  • Re:Compatibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zarr (724629) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:21PM (#44926277)
    Nah, that was 2011 or so. Right now i count 6 linux installations in my living room: two android phones, one tablet, this laptop, the tv and the pvr. Only one of those installations exist because i personally am a geek.
  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:22PM (#44926285) Homepage Journal

    Actually Linux is not Ready for the Desktop.

    Hey now! I'm a regular Linux desktop user and... and... and you're completely right.

    No operating system will enjoy mainstream adoption these days if mucking about in a CLI is ever a necessity. Sad but true.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:52PM (#44926657)

    This is hammer blow to MS. They didn't see this coming, unless they got leaked info (remember valve and MS only like 15 minutes from each other). They figured another console was what Valve was doing, and that would be easy to crush.

    This could wipe out Windows and Xbox and even PlayStation in 5 years.

    Mark my words, this is the biggest competitive threat MS ever faced. This hits them square on the nose, like nothing else even tried since OS2/Warp. And at the worst possible moment. They are all in on the child interfaces of tablets, ruining their main product beyond recognition.

    Well played, Gabe, well played. You turned a video game into an OS company, right under Bill's nose.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:53PM (#44926669) Journal

    Please, Linux has better driver support out of the box than any closed source OS.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday September 23, 2013 @03:06PM (#44926831) Journal

    It certainly supports older hardware a lot better. Scanners are my biggest beef in Windows. You buy a scanner, and almost guaranteed they won't work at all due to a lack of a new driver, or if you do manage to get an older version of the driver working it's an iffy affair. I can plug in a ten year old UMAX SCSI scanner into my Linux box and she still runs.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday September 23, 2013 @03:15PM (#44926939)

    Actually it is a great advance over hunting through some damn menu.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Monday September 23, 2013 @03:33PM (#44927141)

    Linux really is one of the great successes of the computer age.

    But there sure is an astonishing contrast between how much it has enriched Linus' personal fortunes vs., say, Steve Ballmer (never mind Bill Gates), or for that matter Stephen Elop [slate.com] or Carly Fiorina [cnn.com].

    Let us never confuse creating value with capturing value; somehow we have to get them better aligned.

  • by Burz (138833) on Monday September 23, 2013 @03:42PM (#44927203) Journal

    It was also a wise move on Valve's part to call it SteamOS; following the rule that Linux is only successful with consumers when you don't call it Linux.

    People laugh but this literally seems to be true: If you call it Linux, consumers will try to draw on "Linux" resources (packages, howtos, etc.) whereupon they discover everything having to do with the user interface is fragmented. Most of the times when they have to resolve problems, they'll have to hit the CLI.

    Linux is what's underneath. But the intellectually dishonest shortcut of lumping toolchain and userspace stuff under the kernel's moniker (as if Torvalds et al deserved direct credit for them) has garnered bad karma-- a social dynamic that prevents the formation of a readily identifiable, feature-stable OS design.

  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmk67 (971394) on Monday September 23, 2013 @05:57PM (#44928663)

    Let us never confuse creating value with capturing value; somehow we have to get them better aligned.

    Do we?

    Because you know, I was under the impression that not everybody measured value and success by the fatness of one's wallet.

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