After well over four years worth of uneasy, yet patient speculation concerning the possible development of a Steam client (alongside Valve’s own game library, as well as a heaping helping of third-party Steam games) built natively for the Linux operating system, Valve have finally announced that a limited-access public beta for the “Steam for Linux” client has launched. The beta currently supports Ubuntu 12.04, but additional support for other Linux-based distros is on the way.
Access to the beta is granted by filling out this public beta survey, which was released by Valve just last week, via the official Steam for Linux Community Group. If you’ve already signed up for that survey, then you might just be a part of the initial wave of beta participants – be sure to check your e-mail!
The beta’s launch comes alongside the release of a new series of NVIDIA GeForce graphics drivers built especially for Linux systems, earlier today. These new drivers have been in development by NVIDIA for nearly a year, and apparently, Valve played a huge part in testing and developing these drivers. They are said to have doubled performance on a beta build of Left 4 Dead 2 for Linux… which is pretty damn impressive. Ironically, NVIDIA’s press release accidentally outed the Steam for Linux beta’s launch, hours before it was even announced!
Valve have also just debuted a new section of the Steam Support website, created especially to aid Steam users with Linux-related issues. As you can tell, they’re definitely rolling out the red carpet for Linux, and it’s not hard to see why!
Keep in mind that Valve have already issued several warnings regarding the possibility of a “walled garden” for all forms of Windows-based third-party development, within Windows 8 – first, when Gabe Newell called Windows 8 a “catastrophe for everyone in the PC space“, this past July, at the Casual Connect conference in Seattle; and most recently, when Valve’s Drew Bliss touched upon the dangers of closed-development platforms being established all throughout the computing space, just a week ago, at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Copenhagen.
And Valve aren’t the only ones speaking out on this issue. Other important figures in PC games development, like Croteam’s CTO and co-founder, Alen Ladavac and Mojang’s founder, Markus “Notch” Persson have also expressed their concern for the future of Windows as an open development platform. Let’s not forget that Windows 8 literally came out only a week ago – we might be experiencing the calm before the storm here.
And so, believe it or not, I think Linux (as a completely open platform for all forms of digital development) will play a very huge part in the way many developers view the overall computing space, and the way they work within that space; over the course of this decade.
Let’s take a look at Valve’s official press release on the matter:
Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Counter-Strike and Team Fortress) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced the launch of a limited access beta for its new Steam for Linux client.
The Steam for Linux Beta client supports the free-to-play game Team Fortress 2. Approximately two dozen additional Steam titles are now also available for play on Linux systems. Additionally, the Steam for Linux Beta client includes Big Picture, the mode of Steam designed for use with a TV and controller, also currently in beta.
“This is a huge milestone in the development of PC gaming,” according to Gabe Newell, Valve President and Co-founder. “Steam users have been asking us to support gaming on Linux. We’re happy to bring rich forms of entertainment and our community of users to this open, customer-friendly platform.”
The Steam for Linux Beta client is currently available for installation on Ubuntu 12.04. “An overwhelming majority of beta applicants have reported they’re running the Ubuntu distro of Linux,” according to Frank Crockett, a member of the Steam for Linux team, “We intend to support additional popular distros in the future; we’ll prioritize development for these based on user feedback.”
Within its first week, Valve received over 60,000 responses to its request for participants in the Steam for Linux Beta. The first round of beta participants has been selected from this group of respondents.
The Steam for Linux Beta client will become available to a widening group of users over the course of the beta. Subsequent participants will be chosen among survey respondents, and once the team has seen a solid level of stability and performance across a variety of systems, the Steam for Linux client will become available to all users of Steam.
Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC and Mac games with over 50 million accounts around the world and over 2,000 titles offered. More details regarding Steam for Linux, including community discussion, beta participants’ feedback, official announcements and syndicated news can all be tracked on the new Steam for Linux Community Hub at http://steamcommunity.com/linux.
And there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. Though I don’t use Linux, I’ll definitely be looking at this with great interest, and as always, I’ll be sure to let you guys know of any interesting developments on this front. Who knows; maybe in the future, we’re all Linux users!