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back to article Valve to raise Steam for Ubuntu

Valve has confirmed that Steam will launch on Linux, with an Ubuntu port of the 'iTunes for PC games' download service set to roll out alongside zombie thriller Left 4 Dead 2. The company used the first post on its new Valve Linux blog to reveal that it is currently refining the software, optimising L4D2 to a suitably high frame …

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Happy

Will it work with Bumblebee? Will Portal{, 2} be available?

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Other distros

A RHEL/CentOS/SL 6 version would be nice. I really am getting extensively fed up with various software of late not providing a working package for the most popular, stable, enterprise grade Linux distribution while they are providing packages for poobuntu. Granted, generally a version for Fedora is provided, but it is insane to expect users to constantly be upgrading their distribution every 6-ish months to keep up with the latest bleeding edge distributions.

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Re: Other distros

I don't know where you got the idea that Centos/RedHate/SL was more popular than Ubuntu. I think wikipedia site stats are a pretty good idicator: http://stats.wikimedia.org/archive/squid_reports/2012-06/SquidReportOperatingSystems.htm

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Angel

Re: Other distros

RHEL and CentOS are primarily server oriented distros. Ubuntu is primarily a desktop distro and indeed the majority of desktop installations use Ubuntu.

So that's why they're releasing for Ubuntu first, though I'm sure that someone that uses an "enterprise" distro as their desktop will have no trouble getting an Ubuntu package to run on CentOS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Other distros

"it is insane to expect users to constantly be upgrading their distribution every 6-ish months to keep up with the latest bleeding edge distributions."

Expect Valve to pretty quickly also start thinking that it's insane.

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Re: Other distros

...it is insane to expect users to constantly be upgrading their distribution every 6-ish months to keep up with the latest bleeding edge distributions.

You don't pay much attention to the PC game market, do you? Developers expect gamers to be upgrading their hardware every six months to keep up.

PS. How can you "constantly" be doing something at a intermittent interval?

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Re: Other distros

Most popular _stable_ distribution. Fedora is a perpetual pre-alpha bleeding edge incubator for RHEL (just for an idea of how pre-alpha it is, look at the stabilization period between when a Fedora is released and when RHEL based on it is released (F6->RHEL5, F12->RHEL6). Poobuntu is not much better, due to it's unending pursuit of the bleeding edge.

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Re: Other distros

This is actually an extremely good point. If they choose to keep up with bleeding edge distributions, they are liable to learn about the lack of sense of following bleeding edge distributions the hard way reasonably quickly. :)

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Re: Other distros

"You don't pay much attention to the PC game market, do you? Developers expect gamers to be upgrading their hardware every six months to keep up."

This FUD again? Really? For the love of...

Look, I built my desktop 6 and a half years ago. Sure, it's a monster, but I haven't upgraded it since. It started out on XP64 and Half Life 2, and now it runs Win7 and Crysis. In Eyefinity.

I upgrade about as often as new console generations come out. What's the big deal?

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Re: Other distros

This is largely not true. Crysis dates back to 2007. That was when I built my last gaming rig. I still have it, unchanged (Intel C2Q, Nvidia G92). It runs Crysis lovely with everything except AA turned up to max on a 1920x1200 screen. I have played through a fair number of games since then and have never felt the frame rate drop below what my eyes can pick up. So your premise that we are expected to upgrade every 6 months or so is very wrong. The only vague reason to upgrade since then is OS related (there are some games, albeit very few, that require DX10), not hardware related.

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Re: Other distros

RHEL/CentOS tends to be quite a bit behind on the versions of software they are running - older, but very stable. RHEL6 is based on 3+ year old software, updated with security patches and bugfixes. (only a few packages are relatively new, such as firefox version 10). So getting it to run on RHEL would be alot harder than a distro that is based on recent versions of software.

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Re: Other distros

You clearly never tried such things.

The problem is that packages have library dependencies, and if the versions are too different, you end up with un-reconcileable dependency differences between the software you are trying to install and most of the software on your system.

This is why frequent release cycle distributions like Fedora and Ubuntu are not fit for purpose for people who are not prepared to reinstall their system every 6 months. Imagine MS rolling out a completely new version of Windows every 6 months and only supporting each version for 12. That is the level of longevity expected of Fedora. Ubuntu is a little better, but not much. It isn't a viable approach.

One possible workaround is shipping all dependencies with the package itself, or providing a monolithic statically linked standalone package which _should_ work for most people on most distributions. But even then it doesn't always work out due to developer competence (or lack thereof). For example, static Skype 4.0 for Linux still has an external dependency on libtiff.so.4, which it turns out, doesn't exist in any version of Fedora (F17 has libtiff.so.3, F18 has libtiff.so.5).

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Re: Other distros

Nowhere nearly as hard and labour intensive as having to re-base it on a newer version of software every 6 months.

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Re: Other distros

Yeah that would be awesome running Left 4 Dead 2 on your corporate Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktops :-)

Seriously though, according to the blog they'll look at supporting other distros in the future too but they want to get it stable on one distro first (and that's an Ubuntu distro with long term support for 5 years on the desktop, so the goal posts aren't likely to move). No doubt when it's officially released it'll support other mainstream distros, and who knows, maybe they'll supply a tar ball of binaries (even statically linked binaries) for the not so mainstream distros.

I'm not a fan of Ubuntu on the desktop since they introduced Unity, but I can understand why they've chosen Ubuntu due to it's popularity. Personally I use Mint 12 and Mint Debian Edition so who knows when they'll be officially (or unofficially) supported :-)

Rob

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Re: Other distros

Ubuntu 12.04 is a LONG TERM SUPPORT release. That is, it's supported for 5 YEARS on the desktop and server (used to be 3 years on the desktop for previous LTS releases) so it's good until April 2017.

The next release of Ubuntu (12.10 in October) will be supported until April 2014).

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases

RHEL6 is supported until November 30th 2020 (and by the looks of things general support seems to end around Q2 2017).

https://access.redhat.com/support/policy/updates/errata/

Surely most people would probably upgrade their hardware and distros every 4 or 5 years.

Rob

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Linux

Re: Other distros

> un-reconcileable dependency differences

Nonsense. I have had both new and ancient software co-existing on Linux for pretty much as long as it has existed. Some things are as trivial as tricking the old software into thinking your new library is the old library. Alternatively, you can just have the old libraries.

I find your lack of examples disturbing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Other distros

You're playing Crysis in Eyefinity on a graphics card that pre-dates the GTX200 series by 4 years?

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Boffin

Re: Other distros

> "it is insane to expect users to constantly be upgrading their distribution every 6-ish months

> to keep up with the latest bleeding edge distributions."

Not really. The simplest trick in the book would be to build every dependency into Steam and it's game as static. That way, the games would run regardless of your other libraries' version. Sure, each game would become bloated as heck compared to their windows counterparts, but then Valve is already doing that with their Mac releases anyway.

An alternative is to bundle the required libraries in steam's directory (Linux is usually smart enough to try to match the binary's call to the most compatible library) and have the games call those instead of the libraries that shipped with the distro. Unfortunately, this will only work well with Valve's own games. Third party games distributed through Steam will either need to build their games using the libraries Valve use, or ship with their own libraries as well.

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Re: Other distros

@fishman:

"RHEL6 is based on 3+ year old software, updated with security patches and bugfixes."

You haven't quantified why this is a bad thing. Stability is generally seen as having an advantage over frequently moving goal posts when it comes to development and support.

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Re: Other distros

@ Rob Beard:

You are missing the point. If you are targetting a frequent-release distribution, you are effectively setting yourself up for having to support every new release as it comes out. This can require a lot of work and is a waste of development effort that could be better spent elsewhere. Otherwise you're going to have to argue over what is supported and what isn't to a horde of poobuntu fans crying foul because they just upgraded to a new version of the OS and now their games no longer work.

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Re: Other distros

@JEDDIAH

If you are running statically linked binaries or you have built your own library-compat packages from scratch, I can believe that. But if you're going to do that, using a packaged distribution isn't really an advantage in terms of time-saving - you might as well roll your own Linux-from-scratch.

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Re: Other distros

@RAMChYLD:

Making the game static vs. bundling the shared libraries both suffer from the same degree of bloat. The only way you benefit from shared libraries is if you are linking against what already ships with the distro. Otherwise you might as well make the binary static as far as the memory footprint is concerned.

The middle way would be to auto-detect the library versions that exist on the distribution, use the locally available ones where possible, and only bring your own for the ones that are missing. For extra points, make a yum/apt repository for each of the distro releases and integrate the libraries the system libraries the games need by adding a repository to the distro. Which then means you have to support multiple distribution packaging methods in addition to Steam, instead of just Steam. Somehow I don't see a game distributing system developers to put in that much effort. The only viable options I can see are either fully-static binaries or only supporting distributions with an infrequent update cycle favouring stability over bleeding edge features (e.g. RHEL and Debian, rather than Fedora and Ubuntu).

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Re: Other distros

"Eyefinity" = modern shorthand for "SLI'd 7900GTXs through a ridiculously expensive Matrox external splitter.

Well....if I'm really honest, that's how it was when I first started playing Crysis, and then like an idiot I incinerated the cards, all £400 worth. Fortunately, the splitter box is so insanely expensive that flogging it easily covered the price of an actual mid-range Eyefinity card at about the same power level as my previous cards, so not really an upgrade so much as "idiot burns out expensive cards". I even made a little profit off the splitter box, so PC gaming really did turn out cheaper. ;-)

At least with the PC it was my own stupid fault. When my PS3's yellow light came on, that sure as hell wasn't my fault...

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JDX
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Platform meaningless without games

Any Steam games already available outside Steam on Linux will be available very fast... but any games designed for Steam will probably be heavily Windows-orientated so this could be a chicken & egg problem... developers wait to see if there is a Linux market to justify the time porting the game or developing new games for Linux, users wait until some games turn up to start suing the service.

Won't proper Linux fans complain the Steam platform uses DRM, demands a web connection and is closed-source?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Platform meaningless without games

Won't proper Linux fans complain the Steam platform uses DRM, demands a web connection and is closed-source?

No

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Linux

Re: Platform meaningless without games

They will probably be too busy relieving zombies of their brains to care about the DRM.

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Re: Platform meaningless without games

It's the Steam DRM that allows games developers to actually consider Linux worth their time.

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Re: Platform meaningless without games

I don't know about the whole "no games for Linux" thing. If you look at the Humble Bundles (which come with Steam codes), all the games I've seen on there have a Linux native version available. There's a *ton* of indie games which will work on it immediately, I would imagine.

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Re: Platform meaningless without games

Except that, other than, you know, online multi-player games, it doesn't demand a web connection. I don't play much single player anymore, usually when I do it's because the internet is out, Steam pops up a no connection notification, click OK, and carry on.

DRM, well, there's plenty of Steam versions of games available for download as torrents already if it really bothers them.

You have somewhat of a point about chicken/egg, but I think it will be moot.

Valve's entire catalog will move and they'll give it time to work, they're doing it because they want to do it.

They also have unique history among game companies selling other's products, especially indies. Combine that with them already having mobile phone apps and the possibilities for dealing with 3rd parties and new markets there.

Then there's also word they're moving into non-gaming software, which would not only give an immediate huge catalog of existing Linux products, but also let them move beyond the consumer gaming market on PC and Apple as well.

My sense of the timing of these things is Valve is making a much bigger play than just Linux games. More like going head to head with iTunes, NetFlix, Amazon et al.

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Re: Platform meaningless without games

Not to mention the stuff Loki ported to Linux many years ago, including Descent. Plus all the ID games (Dooms, Quakes) that ran on Linux practically since they were released.

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JDX
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@SoaG: Valve's entire catalog will move

And who exactly do you think is going to do that work? If you write a Windows-only game, it is man-months of work to make it properly cross-platform. That could cost $50-100k... of course then you can re-use the tech in new games but still it's a LOT of work if the code was not written cross-platform to start with (i.e. DirectX only).

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Linux

Re: Platform meaningless without games

Steam on Linux will very likely be very much like steam on MacOS.

To some degree this will just be a marketplace for games that already exist (mainly indies). That's not a bad thing. I am not sure that Canonical is up to running an app store. A 3rd party game oriented one is not a bad thing. It will probably hit most of the likely need for a commercial app store for desktop Linux.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Platform meaningless without games

"DRM, well, there's plenty of Steam versions of games available for download as torrents already if it really bothers them."

Isn't this missing the point? Even if you can just step over the bodies, they still stink.

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Re: @SoaG: Valve's entire catalog will move

No harder than a MacOSX version, and probably easier in many cases due to wider OpenGL support.

In some cases it's actually trivial, as if you picked a cross-platform SDK to build on then almost everything will work fine - games don't have to interact much with the window manager.

If you use OpenGL, then the hard parts are sound and joystick, both of which should be abstracted by your SDK.

That is why WINE works so well.

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Is GLaDOS going open source?

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Bit late to the game

Play on Linux handles Steam nicely for me. So far I've got Portal, the Myst trilogy and Bioshock running happily.

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Linux

Re: Bit late to the game

That's great, but, wouldn't a version sans the emulation layer be a better offering ?

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Re: Bit late to the game

Play on Linux is based on WINE :)

I suspect video drivers are going to more of an issue, although my rig copes despite having a pretty anemic graphics card. Mind you I've never played anything never than Bioshock on it.

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Anonymous Coward

This can only be a good thing. Having Steam officially supporting Linux (along with MacOS) and having games run natively in Linux (without the hassle that is Wine) will mean we can choose whichever OS we want. The only problem I see are the grumbling Linux "free software ONLY" ideologists. The Ideologists being a separate problem with Linux anyway.

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Linux

"without the hassle that is Wine" -- Try "Cedega" or as another poster mentioned "Play on Linux". Far less fiddling about for most PC games.

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> The only problem I see are the grumbling Linux "free software ONLY" ideologists.

No, the major problem is that most of the games aren't written by Valve and will still be Windows/OSX only.

I had Steam on my hackintosh but in the end a reverted to windows for gaming because dual-booting just isn't fun. Its easier to install windows natively and do all your proper work in a *nix vm.

However, perhaps this might pave the way for a *nix console.

Its an interesting move by Valve. It isn't going to bring in lots of cash in itself (it might actually cost Valve more as already-bought games are re-downloaded for *nix) but it might encourage devs to do more multiplatform work -use opengl rather than directx.

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Happy

Ensuring their future

Pretty sure Valve are seeing the writing on the wall so far as windows and the desktop is concerned. As apple only sell their OS with hardware, and the console markets are locked up tight, moving to linux gives them future proofing should MS go tits up , decide GFWL is the only allowed gaming platform on windows, or move their entire development effort to tablets.

I'm surprised they are using an existing linux distro actually. Might make more sense to provide a "ValveOS" cutdown linux with known drivers etc you can install in addition to your regular distro in a small partition, run off a USB stick etc. Game storage could be put on any drive after all.

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"Cedega" or "Play on Linux" are just Wine.

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FAIL

So

I still have to dual boot then?

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WTF!?

Hello!? Half Life 3!?? Stop playing with platforms. Release Half Life 3!

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Joke

Re: WTF!?

Don't worry, Steam for Linux will be along right after hl3...

Oh. Bother.

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Re: WTF!?

You know Valve can do more than one thing at once, right? I very much doubt that the "mass distribution client" development team and the "new game engine" development team overlap much...

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Re: WTF!?

Then why the huge delay?

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w00t

That is all

Maybe they could rename the zombies 'windows users'....

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