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Valve In-Home Game Streaming Supports Windows, OS X & Linux 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the runs-on-anything dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Valve has today pushed out a new update to its Steam client on all three of the major OSes that finally takes In-home Game-Streaming out of beta. Similar to NVIDIA's GameStream, which streams native gameplay from a GeForce-equipped PC to the NVIDIA SHIELD, Valve's solution lets you stream from one PC to another, regardless of which OS it's running. What this means is you could have a SteamOS-based PC in your living-room, which is of course Linux-based, and stream games from your Windows PC in another room which ordinarily would never run under Linux. Likewise, you could stream a game from a Windows PC to an OS X machine, or vice versa."
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Valve In-Home Game Streaming Supports Windows, OS X & Linux

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  • Is there any degradation in video quality?
    • by MatthiasF (1853064) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @08:35PM (#47062125)
      Most likely TurboVNC, which has OpenGL support.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @09:50PM (#47062503)
      Hardly. I tried using VNC and it's ilk to stream a simple game of Hearthstone and it was terrible. Then one day, I started playing a Steam game on my laptop. I thought the graphics were above average but didn't think much of it, and then I finally realized that I was playing a game hosted on my desktop PC when I remembered that I had never downloaded that particular game to my laptop. That's how transparent Valve made it. I didn't even know it was enabled and I was using it.
      • by Brulath (2765381) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @11:00PM (#47062767)

        But it prompts you to alert you that you're about to stream a game with a picture and all?

        I just tried it out on my macbook, streaming over 1gbps ethernet from a computer sitting next to it. At 2560x1440 on Beautiful on both ends it was pretty laggy - lot of frames dropped, input wasn't super great with the mouse. With Borderlands 2 I enabled performance overlay, which reported it was running at 19.9fps with "slow encode, decode" written above at 2560x1440 Beautiful. At 1080p Beautiful and Balanced it gave me 60fps when there was little change on the screen and 30fps when I spun the camera around my character constantly. Moving the mouse around on the host computer gave fairly fluid panning on the menu screen, whilst using the mac's mouse involved a lot of jerking around (more jerkiness at lower fps, but even at 60 neither game seemed to interpolate the movements at all).

        That's with mouse usage though, with a controller it might work pretty well - less precise movement. Overall pretty neat though, kinda wondering how it'd go through hamachi or similar (have aussie nbn, so 40mbit up might work if the latency isn't too bad). Tested on a Core i7 3770K with nVidia 680 SLi -> Macbook Pro 2012ish (whatever was the last iteration before the new slim model).

      • by doccus (2020662)
        Does this allow you to stream a PC based pinball to OSX? If so then I'm going to get another PC and set this up.. my Windows Boot Camp partition seems to be compromised by (possibly) that encryption virus (I got an "RCMP" notice that all my files were locked because of pxxn in my PC.. I know it's fake because I have absolutely none of that, due to my faith) , and I've lost my installs of every pinball game ever made. I have the original installation discs for many, but the tweaks to make them, compatible wi
        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          (I got an "RCMP" notice that all my files were locked because of pxxn in my PC.. I know it's fake because I have absolutely none of that, due to my faith)

          Faith as a guarantee of the absence of porn on your PC? Oh, I understand - as a typical person who relies on faith as an argument for anything, you keep your porn on your Mac. In the dungeon with your sex slaves.

          • by doccus (2020662)
            It's not a guarantee to someone else. It's a certainty. If I had any on my computer I could possibly have been fooled, but because I do not, I KNOW it's false. My faith does not allow for any. Pehaps yours does, but I am dealing specifically with mine, and not trying to convince or prove this to anyone else, nor do I need to.
            • by RockDoctor (15477)
              Yeah, faith without proof. Crap in other words.

              Come back touting your faith when you've got some evidence.

              • by doccus (2020662)
                Don't think you understand. I don't need more evidence than I have. I'm not proving it to *anyone but myself*. And it's not my faith I'm, fp[toving, but the consequencses of it. If , say, you don't drink, you can be sure there's none in your mug. Maybe nobody else is sure, but that's their problem...
    • I just tried it between my desktop and laptop and I didn't notice any degradation at all, it looked really pretty. I was only getting around 25FPS, though, so it looks like H/W encoding of the stream wasn't working for some reason. Steam is supposed to be capable of using H/W encoding and decoding, but something didn't work right with my rig. On the other hand, if it did work properly I would assume that playing games like that would totally be feasible and enjoyable, and since both of my rigs are pretty mu

    • by fa2k (881632)

      Principle is the same as VNC, but the leap in technical sophistication is huge

      There will probably be degradation of quality. From bandwidth concerns alone, there's no way they could stream uncompressed 1080p@60Hz, that would require 3 Gbit. By using something like 50Mbps they could get better quality than the ~8Mbps we se on high-quality TV streams, and could spare some CPU power by encoding less efficiently (also: decoding video requires power on the client).

      In principle I'd think the clients would have pr

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        Principle is the same as VNC, but the leap in technical sophistication is huge

        now if we could only get the same technical details into Wayland, the X diehards would stop whining about how slow it might be when running their remote displays!

        Note to Value: open source whatever it is you do and tell the Wayland guys.

  • by Winckle (870180) <mark@@@winckle...co...uk> on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @08:31PM (#47062095) Homepage

    "Likewise, you could stream a game from a Windows PC to an OS X machine, or vice versa."

    Unfortunately, the vice versa part isn't quite there yet, only Windows PCs can be the host OS at the moment. Valve do intend to patch in host functionality on Linux and OS X eventually though.

    • by jxander (2605655)

      Is there any reason for reverse compatibility at the moment?

      Are there Steam games for Mac that don't have a Windows version?

      • Not sure, it's possible. On the other hand, there are people who want to run Linux games on Mac, or vice versa...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If you have a high spec Mac/Linux PC and a low spec Windows PC, I could see the reverse being viable.

      • The common platform combinations for games on steam seem to be

        windows
        windows+mac
        windows+mac+linux

        I've never heard of a game on steam that didn't have a windows version. Apparently there is the occasional indie title that is windows+linux but not mac but they are a tiny minority. Once you put in the effort to do windows+linux doing mac as well is not a massive jump.

        So streaming mac to linux could be handy for platform compatibility in windows-free households. Streaming could also be useful to stream from a b

    • Summary not entirely accurate.

      That's because the president (Gabe) needs plausible deniability [youtu.be].

    • by svanheulen (901014) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @11:33PM (#47062903)
      I was able to stream Starbound from Linux to Windows without issue. That was during the beta though, maybe that has changed.
    • So the real functionality is only there if you have any access to Windows hosts, otherwise, it's just a matter of wating.
      It's a nice trick to be able to claim "supports linux" without actually making it all work on linux.

      • What are you talking about?

        The streaming functionality is obviously more interesting when a windows-host is involved, so one can stream a Windows-game to a Linux box (for example running SteamOS on a NUC), but Steam itself works perfectly fine on Linux as does a number of games.

        What "trick" are you talking about?

        • The streaming functionality is obviously more interesting when a windows-host is involved, so one can stream a Windows-game to a Linux box (for example running SteamOS on a NUC), but Steam itself works perfectly fine on Linux as does a number of games.

          More interesting for windows users maybe, but not for people who don't have any windows boxes at home. But for linux users, it's pretty useless.

          In truth, they offered a windows-centric feature, but managed to label it as available for all platforms. If it's not available for non-windows users, then it's doesn't really "support linux".

          • Fine. The streaming client is available for Linux, and is officially supported on their own Linux distro. The streaming server is "planned" for non-windows platforms but is not available yet.

            Be negative about it if you must. But from a business-perspective it makes perfect sense to make things in the order they did. And you know it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @08:33PM (#47062109)

    No AmigaOS support!?
    They're shooting themselves in the foot!

  • by GreatDrok (684119) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @08:34PM (#47062111) Journal

    With this I can grab a little steambox for my TV in the living room and play all my steam games on that from the comfort of the sofa. No worries about having to only buy Linux compatible games as I already have a Windows PC purely for games anyway. I'll see how well this works tonight when I can stream a PC game to my Mac laptop but if it works well then I'm sold.

    This is what Sony should have done with the PS4 - let users stream from their old PS3 to the PS4 rather than rely on the PSNow solution they're pushing but I guess they don't have the flexibility of a PC to do that sadly.

    • Since the PS4 can't stream media from a PC...

      Maybe Sony could allow users to stream media to their PS4 from a PS3... from a PC

    • by Comen (321331)

      They have been talking about this for awhile now actually, nothing new here other than it is now available.
      Sure beats the hell out of buying games for the PC and again on my consoles, that I really only use when I travel.
      Some games that you play on the PC do not play well with a controller for console like gaming, but I guess that is where the Steam controller comes in.

    • by exomondo (1725132)
      It's pretty neat feature but ultimately it isn't going to help the grow the Linux and OS X game library, if anything it will be detrimental to it as people will build a decent Windows-based games server and then just stream Windows games (since that's what the vast majority of the library supports) to low-end Linux, OS X or Windows clients.
      • by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @09:21PM (#47062367)

        It's pretty neat feature but ultimately it isn't going to help the grow the Linux and OS X game library

        Not in the short term no. But it theoretically makes the linux based steambox a viable gaming platform, since windows gamers can add one next to the TV and play windows games on it.

        If all goes according to valves plan, a few years down the road AAA windows game developers look up and realize there's millions of these linux steam boxes around, installed, hooked up to TVs with controllers... and suddenly realeasing a linux port doesn't seem all that risky.

        Espeically if the steambox installed base is growing, while the dedicated windows gaming rigs are stagnating or declining... at some point releasing directly for steambox becomes a nobrainer.

        that's the valve dream anyway. No idea if it will take off, but they've definitely put a lot of the right pieces out there to make it succeed.

        • by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @09:58PM (#47062543)

          Also: There's a degradation in video quality when you stream, according to the notes. Not major, and would still allow the game to play, but it would mean that people would notice if a game is available natively for the steambox.

          So it's a two-part system: Valve gets to let people play their games on their TV without having them have to buy new high-end computers, and the manufacturers will get some pushback to make it so the games run natively on the TV game-boxes.

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            Yup - I spent all of a few minutes messing with this streaming from Windows to a Linux box. This linux box has decent RAM/CPU, but the video card probably cost me all of $20 (or maybe it is integrated - I forget offhand but you get the picture). It struggles just to play 1080p video.

            I found the streaming reasonably decent. It would be fine for turn-based games like Civilization, or even RTS. It might be a bit more wanting for FPS, but it probably would be usable.

            Having this feature would definitely be a

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Not in the short term no. But it theoretically makes the linux based steambox a viable gaming platform, since windows gamers can add one next to the TV and play windows games on it.

          I wouldn't agree with that, if you're going to stream games from your gaming PC then the client doesn't have to be powerful enough to run those games so you spend your money on one decent game server and cheap low-end client(s). If your living room PC is powerful enough to play those games then most people would probably just run Windows (or even dual boot) and do away with a multi-system streaming solution in the first place.

          • Since a lot of games are cross platforms with consoles, in a year or two a cheap low-end client will probably be sufficient to run most of what's coming out.

          • by vux984 (928602)

            if you're going to stream games from your gaming PC then the client doesn't have to be powerful enough to run those games so you spend your money on one decent game server and cheap low-end client(s).

            Except nobody really WANTS to use a 'game server'; its merely a means to an end. That being able to play windows games on linux/steamboxes.

            The target market will definitely prefer direct support for linux/steamboxes over having to use a gaming server.

            However, the capability of using windows as a game server en

            • by exomondo (1725132)

              Except nobody really WANTS to use a 'game server'; its merely a means to an end. That being able to play windows games on linux/steamboxes.

              By the same token nobody WANTS to run Windows or Linux or OS X, they are merely a means to an end which - in this case - is to play games.

              The target market will definitely prefer direct support for linux/steamboxes over having to use a gaming server.

              So just install Windows on your steambox and you have can eliminate the game server completely AND get the full game library.

              Meanwhile we don't really know where microsoft is heading.

              You don't know where Valve is heading with their proprietary Steam platform either.

              • by vux984 (928602)

                By the same token nobody WANTS to run Windows or Linux or OS X, they are merely a means to an end which - in this case - is to play games.

                Missing the point. Nobody wants 2 devices to do the job of one.

                So just install Windows on your steambox and you have can eliminate the game server completely AND get the full game library.

                Those that want to go that route will just buy / build windows PCs.

                Meanwhile, the fact that they ship with linux and will have valves marketing/sales muscle behind them mean that there w

                • by exomondo (1725132)

                  Missing the point. Nobody wants 2 devices to do the job of one.

                  Which is why they can just use 1 Windows PC.

                  Meanwhile, the fact that they ship with linux and will have valves marketing/sales muscle behind them mean that there will likely be a huge pile of installed Linux boxes in the nearish future.

                  You really think people are going to pay hundreds of dollars for a steambox just to stream content from their PC to their TV? This concept is just a value-add, Valve needs to make the steambox a compelling standalone product for people to buy it.

                  Its silly to pretend that won't entice some development for the platofrm.

                  That's what people said about Ouya too. Just because it exists doesn't mean people are going to use it.

                  • by vux984 (928602)

                    Which is why they can just use 1 Windows PC.

                    Except I need a PC in my office; and I still want to play games in the living room. I still need a total of 2 devices; but I don't want to have to involve both of them to play a game if I can avoid it.

                    You really think people are going to pay hundreds of dollars for a steambox just to stream content from their PC to their TV? This concept is just a value-add,

                    Agreed.

                    Valve needs to make the steambox a compelling standalone product for people to buy it.

                    Agreed.

                    That's

                    • by exomondo (1725132)

                      I take your point but I still think the biggest problem in getting them into homes is going to be price.

                      As you say the value proposition is being able to stream your existing library to your loungeroom which may be enticing for the average gamer who isn't too interested in anything requiring a keyboard & mouse (a control system that isn't really suited to couch play) but at the cost of a few hundred dollars that may not be particularly attractive or justifiable.

                      Then there is the hardcore gamer market bu

      • Who gives a shit about OS X and Linux? I want a slim mini-itx box in my living room that I can use to play my games. This does that.

        • by JonJ (907502)

          Who gives a shit about OS X and Linux?

          You're on slashdot, so I'm going to guess quite a lot of people.

    • This is what Sony should have done with the PS4 - let users stream from their old PS3 to the PS4 rather than rely on the PSNow solution they're pushing but I guess they don't have the flexibility of a PC to do that sadly.

      The PS3 is not well suited for the task. The PS4 has a dedicated H.264 hardware encoder - AMD's Video Codec Engine - which is what allows it to so easily stream to the Vita and Vita TV and with such low latency. The PS3 doesn't have a dedicated encoder, and heck it doesn't even have a dedic

    • Where it gets even more interesting is when you have things like GPU passthrough to a VM. That's something I'm working on right now, virtualizing Windows and passing it a GPU. I have the VM bridged to the network so it has a native IP address and assign it whatever resources I think it needs to play games. This lets me have a pretty beefy server that's running Windows in a VM as well as doing all the other server tasks I ask of it like file serving, Plex, a VM for web development. All in one machine. T
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Valve is the best thing to happen to gaming since slided bread.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I struggle to see myself playing on the couch with a keyboard and mouse which I use for most PC games. The exception might be car racing games or arcade fighting games where a controller might come in handy. Make that a couple of controllers so a mate can join in. Game makers would need to add support back in for split screen.

    • by Harlequin80 (1671040) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @10:04PM (#47062565)

      I actually approached this differently. I built an over the top gaming rig which had loads of noisy fans in it, was a power pig, and was physically large. Previously that would have sat under my desk in the main family living area and made it sound like a vacuum was running all the time. I used to use that for everything from games through the surfing the web. Now I stuck it in a rack I keep in my garage and I have a low power pc sat on my desk that is passively cooled 90% of the time. Wake on lan is configured and when I want to play games - click - wait 2 mins and I'm off.

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Bunch of games have controller support and the steam controller should take care of many of the rest.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    and fires every mother fucking one of them with the absolute minimum severance required by law

    and the executives die of cancer

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Minimum severance is zero. Severance is a "how much do we have to pay you so you promise you don't sue?" arrangement.

  • Tried it! (Score:5, Informative)

    by duke_cheetah2003 (862933) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @10:17PM (#47062611) Homepage

    This is a pretty nice feature they added. It's much better than VNC or any other remote desktop software I've tried. About my only complaint was the mouse was a bit laggy running Skyrim.

    But seeing Skyrim stream pretty much flawlessly to computer than can BARELY play 1080p videos without some chop was pretty amazing.

    +1 Steam ^.^

    • I saw the steam update, but didn't realise what it did. This sounds great! Often my wife wants to use my computer for TV and stuff, because her laptop isn't that great. Unfortunately, I can't split the sound so that she can watch netflix on the TV, while I am playing too, but this might work out well, if she can watch TV while I stream the game to the lappy.

      For some reason the lappy doesn't do a great job of connecting up to the TV screen, but I'm happy playing games on it.

  • I tested it in beta (Score:5, Informative)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @10:31PM (#47062663)
    I tested from win 7 to win 7. I have my semi-big gaming/office rig, and streamed to a late model P4 with no GPU of note (chipset intel), that I used as a storage box/htpc in my bedroom. I could stream skyrim pretty much full blast well, however I did notice a reduction in quality. It varied, but there was sometimes lag (quite possibly poor wifi and the woeful nature of an old p4 struggling with windows 7) and obvious compression artifacts, but for the most part it was well playable. One side note is that when it launched on my other PC, I could hear the audio from it, so at least at that point in the beta it wasn't muting the source machine audio. If you left big speakers on 11 that could be an issues, but hopefully it is fixed now. I did not test it long as I rebuilt my main rig, and the old one became my bedroom htpc, and had plenty of horsepower to play without streaming. All in all I think a good feature with many use cases.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Playing via a WiFi connection is definitely a no-no. Through a cable you can get a latency of way under a millisecond, whereas on WiFi you typically get on average anywhere between 5 to 35 milliseconds. This would mean that even on in a best case scenario you would still get a mouse lag five times the lag compared to a cable connection.

      • Well, on my wireless I get 2ms latency, that's usable. Depends on your wifi equipment, how many other signals are around you and such, I think.

        PING braveheart (10.0.0.5) 56(84) bytes of data.
        64 bytes from braveheart (10.0.0.5): icmp_req=1 ttl=128 time=2.27 ms
        64 bytes from braveheart (10.0.0.5): icmp_req=2 ttl=128 time=1.92 ms
        64 bytes from braveheart (10.0.0.5): icmp_req=3 ttl=128 time=1.86 ms
        64 bytes from braveheart (10.0.0.5): icmp_req=4 ttl=128 time=1.89 ms
        64 bytes from braveheart (10.0.0.5): icmp_req=5

    • by hidden (135234)

      Valve actually SPECIFICALLY recommends against using wifi. Good old copper wires are very much the way to go in a low latency/high bandwidth application like this.

      • by wbr1 (2538558)
        They may recommend, but I do not own my place and cannot run copper through the walls. Ergo... wifi. The source machine was wired direct to the router though.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          They may recommend, but I do not own my place and cannot run copper through the walls.

          One doesn't necessarily mean the other.

        • by dj245 (732906)
          I also don't own my own place, but I have found clever solutions over the years. When I lived in places with hot water heating, I would drill small holes under the radiators. These are unnoticeable if they are drilled within the safety shroud / housing of the radiator. Be extremely careful not to nick a water pipe.

          Currently the place I rent has forced hot air. My router is in the basement but I have a PC on the main level. Forced air registers are fitted into appropriately-sized rectangular holes cut
  • by DrXym (126579) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @04:23AM (#47063813)
    It should be pretty obvious this is what Valve is aiming with all this stuff. I'm sure some of the twitchiest games are unsuitable for streaming but the vast bulk would play just fine. If SteamOS survives at all as a platform it'll probably be as a stick like device which streams games from somewhere else.
  • The streaming part works perfectly fine, even over slower Wifi. Gamepads aren't recognized on the remote side, though - tried Sonic Generations and my gamepad didn't show up in the config.

    Sooo, Valve... could we have controller support for streaming, too? Pretty please? :-)

    • The streaming part works perfectly fine, even over slower Wifi. Gamepads aren't recognized on the remote side, though - tried Sonic Generations and my gamepad didn't show up in the config.

      Sooo, Valve... could we have controller support for streaming, too? Pretty please? :-)

      FWIW - Haven't had an ounce of grief using either a wired or wireless (with dongle) 360 pad on the client machine since back in Feb. with the beta (Win7 serv. --> Win8 client). Mind you, I do have the controller drivers installed on both machines (and in the case of the wireless pad, have a dongle attached to each -- they're $8 on amazon) -- maybe that's the trick?

    • by dpidcoe (2606549)
      It's because you don't have the controller setup properly on the host PC. I have a little logitech PS3 controller clone that requires the x360ce program in order for most games to recognize it. During the beta I noticed that a game that worked on my htpc didn't work when streaming it from my desktop. I added the x360ce stuff to my desktop (which has never had a controller plugged into it) and installed the controller drivers there and that fixed it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    i would be really nice if there was an ARM build of the program that way you can use raspberry pi as a viewer.

    The Raspberry pi supports H.264 decoding so hardware wise it should be able to do it. Now its just waiting for the software

  • Can I play competitive FPSs well on this?

    Even if not this is still great, I can now play civ5 on my old laptop on my bed. Any information if this works well over wifi or do we need ethernet?

    • WiFi at N600 speeds or better should be fine for something like civ. Latency gets annoying over WiFi anything (even AC) if you're playing a twitch shooter, but yeah, it's doable.
      • by mjwx (966435)

        WiFi at N600 speeds or better should be fine for something like civ.

        Given how slow Civ is on a modern gaming rig, dial up should be fine for streaming Civ in real time.

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