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back to article Linux Left 4 Dead port fuels Steam for Ubuntu talk

Valve appears to be launching Steam on the Linux platform, with prototypes in the works and a native version of Left 4 Dead set to accompany the client's release. Steam for Linux was more or less confirmed after a meeting with Valve top dog, Gabe Newell, at the company HQ in Bellevue, Washington, Phoronix says. According to the …

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Linux

Did you guys actually read the Phoronix article?

"Everything else seems pure speculation."

Most of what he said was given to him (according to him, admittedly) by Newell himself and he (again by his own description) spent a significant time there talking to Newell and advising them on OpenGL problems that they were having.

This is indeed a significant development though.

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Holmes

Re: Did you guys actually read the Phoronix article?

An interesting Development, but not sure of significance. How many games run on OpenGL now?

Until its a significant portion of the game market, DirectX will continue to dominate and help keep MS in the OS monopoly business.

Great move in the right direction, but gamers need to keep at and step up efforts to not only reward games build on OpenGL by buying them, but also actively reaching out to gaming developers and expressing their desire to see cross platform capable games that run on OpenGL. Surprised that Apple doesn't have their wicked little fingers in pushing this along, as they would benefit from more games available to MAC if more games were based on OpenGL instead of DirectX

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Re: Did you guys actually read the Phoronix article?

Rob - a DirectX to OpenGL port is not the most difficult thing in the world.

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Re: Did you guys actually read the Phoronix article?

No, but with Steam you're not just talking about Valve's games. They'd have to convince every developer (or at least a significant portion of them) to support OpenGL too. I can't see that happening.

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Linux

Re: Did you guys actually read the Phoronix article? (@Ben 42)

I think you're getting it backwards. If they are developing a Linux based console, making Linux ports of all of their games makes lots of sense. Other developers will have to follow suit or become irrelevant. A Linux based console would be a lot cheaper than one built from scratch, and probably use lots of standard PC parts. With a good amount of compatible games -i.e. the Steam catalog- it'd probably become a big hit.

It could well be the wedge needed to put Linux in every home.

Yep, I'll keep on dreaming...

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Holmes

Re: Did you guys actually read the Phoronix article?

Well, they already have Linux Dedicated Servers available. And many Steam games were already available on Mac since 2010 (this means, of course, that most of the graphics code is already ported, save for some initialization differences given that they'll need to cooperate with X on Linux but QE on Mac). So they already have two thirds of the code worked out. All they need to do is to port the remainder of the code to Linux and they're good to go.

I'll be looking for the day this happens tho. Team Fortress 2 is barely playable with Wine- the frame rates are just smooth enough on SLIed pair of GTX260s and there's font rendering errors left and right.

Holmes. Because, Nice Hat.

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Re: Did you guys actually read the Phoronix article?

I would imagine every game on Steam that runs on both OS X and Windows already has DirectX->OpenGL compatibility magic going on, so I don't think it will be particularly tricky.

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MJI
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Open GL

The PS3 graphics system is Open GL based.

Id use Open GL as well

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Re: Did you guys actually read the Phoronix article? (@Ben 42)

Well, it's the usual chicken and the egg argument. If more gamers used Linux, more games would get ported to Linux. If more games get ported to Linux, more gamers would use Linux. The Steambox being Linux-based would certainly change the equation, but I stand by my post below that it's unlikely that would happen. It's just not as simple as a lot of people seem to think to get dozens of developers to port their game to Linux. These people barely have time to finish the work they have to do, much less extra work for a platform that represents a tiny percentage of their audience.

Keep in mind, this is coming from a Linux gamer who has been burned for years by lack of gaming support for Linux. I would like nothing better than for Valve to put their full weight behind Linux and make it a platform on par with Windows (and even Mac gets better support these days). History suggests my pessimism is well-founded, unfortunately.

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Re: Did you guys actually read the Phoronix article?

@Tom38, re "I would imagine every game on Steam that runs on both OS X and Windows already has DirectX->OpenGL compatibility magic going on, so I don't think it will be particularly tricky."

Directx->OpenGL conversion is actually somewhat complicated. But, wined3d takes care of it pretty modularly. (It's part of wine, but it can actually be installed in a real copy of windows, replace the Direct3D libraries with WineD3D's, and your Direct3D app is using OpenGL instead.)

I think it will be possible to have a Linux Steam where a lot of games work.. I can tell you, I found the biggest obstalce to some games working under wine was DRM interfering, I ended up having to run cracks on several paid-for games so the rights restrictions were neutered enough to not kill the game under wine. Well, Steam games have Steam instead, so that's no problem. A Linux steam client could call specific games with specific wine settings if needed (this can change reported Windows version plus other possibly useful settings.)

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Anonymous Coward

Eugh..

The same shit being peddled by phoronix about steam on linux. It isn't happening, and phoronix just post the stories to get a few extra clicks now and then..

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Happy

To like or not to like?

(Disclaimer: if Tux Racer sets your loins afire, I am obviously talking out of my nethers from your viewpoint).

On one hand having Steam in the picture would allow porting of real, big-money, games. It would solve the distribution problem (no one carried Linux games in the early 2000s, when there was, briefly, an interest in Linux as a gaming platform).

It would solve piracy problems - the tight leash Steam puts on a game would probably not be crackable by most and a well-designed system would allow for occasional cracks and disabling some functionality games that are running on exploits. Then the usual patch-crack cycles would happen, but many people would just... pay.

Which is... good. If you are deluded enough to believe that a game studio who spent millions of dollars developing a game may deserve payment from its players. I am that kind of delusional person.

On the other hand, I have a licensed Shogun 2 running under Bootcamp on my Mac. After working for 3 months, Steam stopped working. The troubleshooting instructions for lost Steam connectivity looks like they were written up by a dyslexic C++ coder after a Red Bull binge on his personal blog.

"Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

Nothing remotely user-friendly to allow me to use my $60 game.

And... Steam _always_ wants a call home. Even on a single-user game. How about allowing for non-connected solo play? Steam complaints are usually front and center of many game reviews.

On balance, I'll go with a cautious happy icon.

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Happy

Re: To like or not to like?

And... Steam _always_ wants a call home. Even on a single-user game. How about allowing for non-connected solo play?

Well, from my own experience, I've had Steam try to call home, fail (PC was not connected to the internet), and then allow me to play Skyrim with no issue. So I think the option is there -- question is whether developer/publisher allows it, perhaps?

Other than that, I agree. Cautious optimism for all!

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Re: To like or not to like?

+1 because I agree with most of your points.

But the call home thing - I have played L4D solo and Civ4 with the computer disconnected from any network. I seem to recall doing that with Civ5 also.

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Re: To like or not to like?

And... Steam _always_ wants a call home. Even on a single-user game. How about allowing for non-connected solo play?

... not really, if there's no connection it'll generally launch in offline mode - you normally only need the connection the first time you launch/register the game.

Now - compare that to say ME3 with Origin where it dials home (twice) every time you visit the "home" screen to verify your DLC... or Ubisoft's UPlay.

Steam at least offers you some carrots to go along with the DRM-stick.

I'm sure Valve have done *nix dedicated server versions for a lot of their titles? So the hurdle to cross must be the graphical/GUI/legal one when it comes to creating *nix ports?

Considering how bloody annoying it is to encounter "Host has left the game, restarting wave" in ME3s peered multiplayer; it really makes you appreciate *normal* online PC gaming with server/client architecture (TF2 et al) :\

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Linux

I sincerely hope this is true because I have been considering ditching Windows almost entirely on my main PC with the exception of a dual-boot set up primarily for Steam and a VM for app development. Such news does excite me, but I also remember getting my hopes up after Phoronix had previously announced Steam was coming to Linux years ago, when the Chromium-based client was released. This time the original author apparently witnessed more than just a few excerpts from launcher scripts and a half-baked Steam client that made its way onto their website, so hopefully he's right about this.

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Linux

For me it would mean that I could start using steam again.

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Wasn't code referring to a Linux port found in the beta of the Mac client or something? Seem to remember that. Anyway, with regard to Steam on Linux, three words:

About.

Fucking.

Time.

OK, it's a smaller portion of the market, but percentage-wise Mac isn't exactly the majority, and Steam for Android appeared first! And while the major publishers might see all PC gamers, and especially Linux nerds, as freeloaders, the Humble Bundles have proven every single time that Linux nerds pay for quality software, and pay more. That, coupled with the huge increase in the size of the PC indie market (thanks in large part to AAA publisher hate and Steam love) makes me more optimistic that this time it'll actually happen.

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FAIL

Goddamit! Stop messing with Linux and get a move on with Half Life 3!!!!!!

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Trollface

didn't you hear?

HL3 will be a linux exclusive...

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Linux

1 - I'll believe it when I see it.

2 - If true, it'll be the first time I think of Steam positively. It actually will do some good and bring mass gaming to Linux, though with the DRM lockdown.

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Anonymous Coward

@Z Eden - Games should stay on Windows

where DRM is already entrenched. I don't want that dirt in Linux. If someone has money to spend on games then he should have some more left to buy Windows and don't bring DRM on us just because he wants an OS for free.

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Re: @Z Eden - Games should stay on Windows

In theory, DRM is not against the Linux way of doing things. If you are careful to make sure that you only use LGPL (not GPL) code in your DRM system, then you do not 'pollute' Linux by adding a DRM API above the OS, and you don't have to publish the details of your DRM. The rest of Linux works just swell.

The main reason why this has not been done to date is that the content providers do not trust that the OS cannot be hacked below the DRM API to gain access to their content, whether it is a game, music or a film.

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Re: Games should stay on Windows where DRM is already entrenched.

Ah, I could almost think your post was in jest. You know, as in showing how much Linux users appreciate choice and making a sarcastic post.

But, no, on balance I think you are just a troll.

Luckily, most of the other Penguin icons are appreciative.

In my mind, choice means that if you don't want DRM on your Linux boxen, you don't install DRM stuff. That's you and that is an entirely valid position to have.

And if someone else likes Linux _and_ games and want to stop subsidizing M$ by having to buy Windows to run games they would pay for anyway, then they buy games from vendors that support Linux. If they want to. Which does not infringe on your principles, because, like... those are not your boxen.

To me, that is choice.

But not in your version of free will, apparently. Where your principles are so valuable that they need to be imposed onto others.

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Anonymous Coward

I've always really hoping Linux would get a native Linux client, so I had more choice in gaming platforms, and with a bit of luck crack the DirectX dominance of gaming.

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Happy

Finally-

You don't need Windows to start posts with "As a gamer..."

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Re: Finally-

There are also console, TCG, tabletop and LARP gamers. And DOS/Mac/Amiga/C64/MSX/ZX/etc aren't dead yet.

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JDX
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Newell ... advocate of Linux ... dislike for Microsoft's Windows 8

Isn't it a pretty bad move to design a product based on your personal taste, ignoring what the market says?

Anyway I have no reason not to want it on Linux but how would this work? Doesn't Steam act essentially as a download tool for the game application which could be a C++ or .NET or other application? If so you'd have to have Linux and Windows versions of every single game, and that relies on the developers bothering to do so... Steam could let you submit Linux versions of your game but would most developers bother putting in the extra work? Even putting aside the small market share of Linux, Linux users are stereotyped as not being overly fond of paying for software - whether this is accurate I'll let the Linux users answer, and would be interested to hear.

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Don't know much about Steam but

won't this be a beta for the SteamMachine (or whatever) which will be based on Ubuntu? In that case manufacturers will want to prepare for its launch.

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Re: Don't know much about Steam but

It will probably work like Steam on Mac. The game selection would have to accommodate. Still, it has to start somewhere.

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JDX
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Facepalm

Re: Don't know much about Steam but

They could always get everyone to write their games in Java!

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Re: Newell ... advocate of Linux ... dislike for Microsoft's Windows 8

"If so you'd have to have Linux and Windows versions of every single game, and that relies on the developers bothering to do so"

The Mac gaming market isn't a patch on the PC one, but they have support for it, and more games are being made dual-platform (or being ported to Mac if they prove to be successful). I'm in Windows at the minute so I can't check, but I seem to remember at least 30 of my approx 200 games working on Mac. It'll just take time to develop, and I think the Linux market are hungry for it to be honest, whether the purists whine about DRM or not.

"Linux users are stereotyped as not being overly fond of paying for software - whether this is accurate I'll let the Linux users answer, and would be interested to hear."

I believe that this is the exact opposite of the truth, to be honest. Linux users don't just pay for software - they willingly donate to it. Using my Humble Bundle example from further up the thread, they release all their games on all three platforms, with pay-what-you-like donations to charity, and Linux users have topped the donation scales every single time, followed by Mac users and lastly by Windows users. We'll definitely pay, but only for quality.

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Re: Don't know much about Steam but

They could always get everyone to write their games in Java!

http://www.minecraft.net/ ;)

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Linux

Could NaCl do this?

Code for x86 with web interface for text (never used).

Would that make it OS agnostic?

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JDX
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Re: Could NaCl do this?

In theory yes - the Ogre3D C++ engine was ported to NaCl with minimal work - but betting any commercial decision on a non-standard technology which could be withdrawn at any point would be crazy. Remember Google Gears?

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Steambox? Can't see it happening

Although Phoronix has been claiming a Steam client for Linux was "confirmed" for years, I find that less difficult to swallow than the idea that the Steambox would be based on it. So much of the Steam library would be incompatible that it would just kill the platform. Nobody's going to buy something that can't play the 90% or more of Steam games without a Linux port. Unless HL3 is exclusively released on it... ;-)

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Go

Re: Steambox? Can't see it happening

"Nobody's going to buy something that can't play the 90% or more of Steam games without a Linux port. Unless HL3 is exclusively released on it... ;-)"

If it comes with Half Life 3, Left 4 Dead 2/3 and Counter Strike:GO then the uptake by Valve fanbois (like me) would cause a fair few games to get a linux port.

Im all for it, they just need to make sure that it's hardware is at least on par with the next reincarnations of the Xbox and Playstation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Steambox? Can't see it happening

Just a thought but Valve could throw a spanner in the works of "next gen <consoles>", unless all those next gen consoles are 100% backward compatible they will all need new content and new ports of software just like a new SteamConsole/SteamGamesEngine/...

If Valve build a locked down "SteamConsole" linux distrubution, and specify a minimum/standard spec for the hardware, and base it on easy to source and reltively cheap PC components. They could then allow any harware supplier licenses to build boxes (think Samsung, LG, Toshiba, etc,... creating a modern eqivalent of the 8bit MX home computers of the 80's).

For PC users with sufficiently spec'ed PC they could also provide a downloadable version for dual boot or bootable flash/CD drives.

The games developers like standards to work against as it makes testing and distribution easier and cheaper. This is the reason most PC games for the past few years are just ports of console games with all their limitations imposed. If they just have to make certain a game works on the basic spec for an approved "Steam Console", they would as long as there are enough devices sold/available to make it worthwhile.

That's also the reason why almost any PC that has something other than Intel graphics can play almost any game available today. The last game to actually push PC gaming hardware was Crysis that was released in Nov 2007, you could play that on some netbooks today.

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Re: Steambox? Can't see it happening

I'm not convinced. Why would a Valve fanboi go out and spend hundreds on a Steambox when they (by definition) already have a gaming PC that can play more games than a Linux Steambox would be able to (at least initially)? Maybe a few would, but I can't see that being a valid business model.

To be clear, I would love, LOVE to see this happen, but I've been gaming on Linux for years and seen pretty much every AAA title abandon the platform (even id hasn't ported Rage yet, to my knowledge) during that time. I would be dumbfounded if a Linux Steambox actually happened. If I'm wrong I will happily eat crow while enjoying a gaming renaissance on Linux. :-)

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JDX
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uptake by Valve fanbois

"If it comes with Half Life 3, Left 4 Dead 2/3 and Counter Strike:GO then the uptake by Valve fanbois (like me) would cause a fair few games to get a linux port."

Except all the people who really want those games - fans of the prequels - have Windows already in order to play them. So I don't know it would mean extra sales, which is really all it boils down to unless the owner _really_ wants to go off on a personal mission. Which he might, if he's allowed to.

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Trollface

This could finally mean 'the year of linux' ! Ok a bit to go from the 0.74% recorded here but getting there http://www.statowl.com/operating_system_market_share.php

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Sad

The bias here is astounding, you can;t give away Linux and yet rave about it and knock Windows....................pathetic

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Anonymous Coward

Eeek! The last OpenGL game I played was Daikatana on NT.4!

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Linux

YAY

Big thumbs up for valve if they do bring out a Steam linux client, but I expect it to be OpenGL games only... which would be fine since the last OpenGL game I had was Doom3 and it ran way better on linux than it did in windows

But the best thing is... when I spend a shedload of cash on a new pc, I'll be able to afford to spend 100 quid more on the GFX/CPU/Memory/HDD because I wont have to pay the *$%£ing windows tax.

But I'll believe it when I see the client on the steampowered website.

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Windows

Re: YAY

With prices for GTX590 or 2xGTX680 exceeding $1200, this 100 quid more on WinSomething isn't really relevant IMO.

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WTF?

Does not compute

Steam on Linux? Huh? Why would I go to the trouble of setting up an open source OS and then deliberately infect it with DRM?

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Price of Admission

Because it's either pony up to the publishers or don't play. Commercial software that actually costs money DOES exist on Linux, though it tends to be limited to the professional sectors. If this is what it takes to start a move towards a critical mass of Linux games (and this removing probably the biggest stumbling block to mainstream adoption), then there are far worse things people can endure.

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