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At Long Last, Steam Is Actually Coming To Linux

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In early 2010, Valve released Steam on the Mac OS. Over the course of that year, they re-released all of their games with Mac support, and while certain execution errors remain, Steam for Mac was a pretty big success. But since then, we’ve been hearing reports and implications that Steam might also be on its way to the Linux OS. But every time we do… nothing really happens afterwards. Well, the speculation has come to an end, as it would appear that Steam on Linux is finally coming. Linux gamers – rejoice!

At Long Last, Steam Is Actually Coming To Linux

Michael Larabel, founder of Phoronix (a website dedicated entirely to Linux coverage, which has been sensationally, and more or less continuously covering the slightest possibility of Steam for Linux for nearly two years) was very recently invited to Valve. He, of course, accepted the offer, and flew over to Bellevue from Seattle (I’d have paddled across the river). He got a 5-minute tour… and a 6-hour presentation of Steam and Source operating on the Linux OS. As he initially teased on his Twitter and later revealed in a lengthy article on Phoronix, this includes not just Steam and Source itself, but Valve’s game library as well.

According to the article, the Steam for Linux project has been in the works more or less since 2010, but it’s only been going slowly because of Valve’s flat, horizontal management structure. Now, it’s starting to pick up steam (no pun intended… fine, it was intended), and Gabe himself has now placed his wheel-desk in the Linux Steam development cabal (presumably the Ricochet 2 camp was so densely populated that he had to move elsewhere).

Michael says the potential here is enormous, and that Valve and Gabe’s embracement, interest, and plans for Linux are beyond anything you’d expect from the average game company, and overall, “nothing short of greatness“. Hell, apparently Gabe only had negative things to say regarding Windows 8 and the future of Microsoft – Michael now plans to try Windows 8 out solely to see if it’s as bad as Gabe says. And you know that when your product has ticked off someone like Gabe, you’re in trouble… unless you’re Sony.

While he saw a lot of stuff (and he saw more than just the Linux stuff, apparently) Michael was only allowed to take pictures of Left 4 Dead 2 running on Linux. That is… running natively. No use of the Wine library, no emulation, no smoke and mirrors – which is pretty impressive. He tells us that Left 4 Dead 2 is the game they’ve been working on the most, as it serves as a more stable codebase for “initial porting“. He says that the first release will probably be some sort of beta, and that it may be limited to just L4D2 for starters. He also says it’s not too far off, and implies that it may be out by October. Without further ado, here is L4D2 on Linux, running on Ubuntu 11.10, AMD Catalyst driver:

As you can see, apart from the wacky font, this looks more or less just like the L4D2 we’ve got. Still, I’d be more interested in seeing Half-Life 2, Dota 2 or CS:GO running on Linux – hell, maybe HL2 on Linux will be an opportunity for Valve to fix all those horrendous issues that were introduced in the May 2010 Mac port update. Until then, we’ve always got the nearly finished HL2: Update mod.

So, what can I say? Steam for Linux looks, and sounds like it’s going to be pretty impressive. The idea itself is incredible, but the thing is: getting Source, Steam, and, possibly, Steamworks on Linux means that Valve is overcoming Mac-specific and Windows-specific problems in a way that will function on a system that’s as unstandardized as Linux. On the Mac and on the Windows, you’ve got plenty of more or less standard, juicy API’s to handle most things – but on Linux, it’s way trickier, especially since each flavor of the Linux OS might have its own little variance, and not all systems will have the same features. So they’d need to ensure a consistent, standardized experience, not just across Windows, Mac, and Linux – but across all possible variations of the Linux model, and I’m really interested in finding out exactly how they’re going to do that. But the possibility that they’ve found a way to essentially bypass all the stuff that may or may not be in the way, and get their stuff to operate directly with what’s under the hood, is enticing as all hell, and considering how excited Mike Larabel is… who knows?

That said, I’m not an expert – not by a long shot, so do take my words with a shipload of salt. Either way, this is pretty exciting stuff. Let’s hope we get to hear more from Valve quite soon.

Sources are NeoGAF and Phoronix.


  1. I only use Windows because of Steam, so if this news are to happen, they are awsome news 🙂

  2. Commenter AvatarValid Accounts Looks Very EmpoweringMay 3rd 2012 at 12:55am

    This will be triumph.
    I’m making note here, HUGE SUCCESS.
    It’s hard to overestimate my satisfaction.
    It’s Linux Gamer
    I play HIB games
    because I must
    If there would be commercial ones
    I would play them instead

    But there’s no sense in crying over this thing
    Steam for Linux is coming to ring.
    And the players are happy
    And you make neat game
    For the people who play on Linux

    I’m not even angry
    I’m being so sincere right now
    Even though you ignored me now
    And didn’t make games
    And force me to use WINE

    Since I knew you will change your mind!
    Now Steam for Linux is coming soon enough.
    Soon it’s out of beta
    Will release on time!
    So I’m GLaD it’s over
    Think of all the things we learned
    About people who play on Linux

    Go ahead download it.
    I think I’ll see how it works
    Maybe you’ll find some new games?
    Maybe HL Ep. 3?
    Anyway Steam is great.
    It has neat games son for you
    when Steam is released
    When I use Linux, it makes me GLaD it won’t get ill
    Because of some virus
    Or another trojan horse
    That don’t happen on Linux
    And believe me I play on Linux
    I am porting Portal for Linux
    I work FANTASTIC and play on Linux
    While you’re waiting I’ll play on Linux
    And when it’s done I will play on Linux
    On Linux
    On Linux

  3. Wait, people use Linux?

  4. All it has to do is work on x86. The package management teams for each distro will take care of the rest, and as for LFS, it might just have to come in a single archive. It’s quite likely that it will have to go in /opt for simplicity, though.
    Here’s hoping it also uses permissions sensibly – finally there’ll be a real use for the ‘games’ group!

  5. Really excited about these news,another great step for Linux Gaming!

  6. I don’t think they will get that shiny. There are just to many linux distros, not to mention the self made linuxes(talking LFS here..) – if they were only for 2 years on that project, they can’t possibly know, what will happen after the release.. It will be a bloody mess (of bits)..


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