back to article Valve shows Linux love with SteamOS for gamers

Games publishing house Valve is making three announcements this week about plans to expand its gaming business, and the first piece of news is that it's launching a royalty-free flavor of Linux that can be used by hardware vendors for console systems. "As we've been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we’ve come to …

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  1. dogged

    orly

    SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience

    A gaming experience on linux. With all nine available games and WINE crashing all decent games every twenty-two minutes. Can't wait.

    1. DRendar
      Go

      Re: orly

      Obviously you've not used Steam on Linux. It works a treat, and there are a great number of games. Maybe not the ones you specifically want to play, but there's a tonne that I and many others do, and more and more studios are starting to release on Linux.

      Add to that, that if a company like Valve are behind it, others will follow suit.

      Also, the Wine comment is pure trolling. Valve aren't pushing windows VMing/emulation they're pushing native Linux gaming, and streaming from a local Windows/Mac machine - think OnLive for the LAN - Genius move! So now you can have one super powerful gaming rig in the den/office/ManCave and stream to the living room giant screen after the wife has gone to bed.

      I thoroughly look forward to taking this SteamOS for a spin.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @DRendar

        I imagine the only thumbs down you got was because you bought up WINE followed by saying Emulator.

        Wine Is Not and Emulator.

        Even though it kinda technically is, just not in the classic sense.

        More on topic however, I too look forward to SteamOS. I called it years back when Windows Vista came out, kept sayiing how it'd be great to have an OS which is dedicated to gaming, rather than having all this excess bloat floading it. Or heck even a 'gaming mode' for windows that lets you boot in with nothing bar the services and processes needed to run your games. Looks like Steam finally got there :P And I'm glad of it too.

        A lot of game publishers are afraid of steam, it's something they don't understand fully "It's a free OS? Free? But... money?" And they like many others are hung of of linux of the past "It's slow / buggy / hard to sue / people will never use it so why support it?"

        But Steam is a known name, a known name related to quality. And although we know it's built on Linux, I imagine steam is pushing it to publishers just as "SteamOS" making as few references to Linux as possible.

        I mean heck, the more people who get behind SteamOS the better in my mind. One of the only reasons I haven't gone full Linux is the lack of mainstream games (mostly my absurdly large steam library of which I've played maybe 10% of the games) so this to me might be what is needed to finally ditch the bloated beast for good. And if I can ditch it and get my OS knowledge up to scratch, to a similar level as my windows knowledge (enough understanding for basic tech support to family) I might actually start migrating my family away too.

        1. Moving Pictures

          Re: @DRendar

          "One of the only reasons I haven't gone full Linux is the lack of mainstream games (mostly my absurdly large steam library of which I've played maybe 10% of the games) so this to me might be what is needed to finally ditch the bloated beast for good."

          You are not alone...

    2. That Awful Puppy
      Go

      Re: orly

      As much as I enjoy taking the piss out of Linux on anything that isn't meant for sysadmins, if Valve port the games to Linux anywhere nearly as well as they do on Mac, it's going to be a very good experience.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: orly

        They do. Half Life 2 runs fucking perfectly, is rock solid with excellent frame rates.

        If they can make my machine upstairs (Ubuntu/Steam) run HL2 on my telly downstairs through a USB-esque dongle mit BT keyboard and mouse, I'd buy that for a dollar (or thirty, you know, a reasonable price).

        Steven R

        1. Mikel

          Re: orly

          @Steven Raith - "If they can make my machine upstairs (Ubuntu/Steam) run HL2 on my telly downstairs through a USB-esque dongle mit BT keyboard and mouse, I'd buy that for a dollar (or thirty, you know, a reasonable price)."

          They're aiming at $100 for that one. I'm in at that rate.

      2. Fibbles

        Re: orly

        "if Valve port the games to Linux"

        Where have you been for the past year?

        http://store.steampowered.com/browse/linux/

        1. yossarianuk

          Re: orly

          198 games according to Gabe

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Gzn6E2m3otg

          1. Pingviini

            Re: orly

            And if you dare use games outside Steam, you have more. Just type "linux games" to big G...

            Most are indie games, which makes them no worse or better than megabuck productions, chance is that you might find actually interesting games.

      3. Marcelo Rodrigues

        Re: orly

        They do port them allright. I play on Linux, and the games work flawlessly. Even Left 4 Dead 2 - still beta - is running very well.

        Natural Selection is, as far as I know, perfect. As Team Fortress 2 and many others.

    3. Pingviini

      Re: orly

      Yeah, I had similar experience when I tried to run tux racer on cygwin/x on my Windows. Can't wait for more...

      Or I just could have played with games *made for* windows (or linux, if you see the point)...

  2. Danny 14 Silver badge

    so you can either stream a game or play limited titles? Why not just use a long HDMI lead and wireless peripherals instead? Less clunky and will work better overall.

    Seems pointless really.

    1. EtonBears
      Pint

      If you mean that consoles are pointless, I'd probably agree with you. They are usually built on obsolescent hardware, and due to their cost+ model for games pricing, it is usually only the triple-A games that are ported.

      I'm quite happy with Steam on Linux as it has the X-Universe games, Paradox Interactive strategy games and the Valve catalog ( about 10% of all games available on Steam have been ported to Linux). I probably won't get all the games I might like, but certainly enough to fill all the time I have available; plus I no longer need a Windows partition just to play games.

      Consoles seem to be most favoured by younger players and casual gamers who are not really interested in PCs ( regardless of OS ), and just want something to work easily. Unfortunately, those same gamers also don't tend to care much for complex gameplay either, which has lead to most console-ported games getting simpler. I would hope that SteamOS consoles don't accentuate that trend.

      1. Moving Pictures

        Good old days.

        "Consoles seem to be most favoured by younger players and casual gamers who are not really interested in PCs ( regardless of OS ), and just want something to work easily. Unfortunately, those same gamers also don't tend to care much for complex gameplay either, which has lead to most console-ported games getting simpler. I would hope that SteamOS consoles don't accentuate that trend."

        Ah yes, the good old days when adventure games required you to remember a maze or create a map in a notebook next to your computer. Not like modern games where all dungeons are automapped and are only a straight line with no alternative route anyway. Also very basic puzzles confined to the room that you're currently in. (Looking at you Skyrim)

    2. Mikel

      In addition to Steam it's also Linux

      You know - the OS that runs all the supercomputers in the world? So of course it has 7 free Office suites, Blender, multitrack audio and video editing, bittorrent, all the popular browsers, virtual machines, fully supports more devices than any other device ever, has an app store with 30 years worth of free apps, can be used to build apps, games and new operating systems and so on.

      What it doesn't have? Antivirus 2012 and 3.2 billion other forms of malware. Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and all of the other $100B/yr parasitic "cleanup after Windows failed" industry. IE. Bing. 37 links to websites you don't want. Crud installed by the OEM for pay. The requirement to log into a Microsoft online account to even fracking install it. Patch Tuesday. Rollback Wednesday. An utter lack of backup tools. Metro. And much, much more.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

        *Cough*

        "fully supports more devices than any other device ever," - Really? Supports more than windows?

        "The requirement to log into a Microsoft online account to even fracking install it. " - Errr, show me one OS that you need to do that?

        "Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and all of the other $100B/yr parasitic " - I take it you haven't looked at Android store lately

        Ah rants, we love them, even when wildly inaccurate.

        1. Blane Bramble

          Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

          Depends on your definition of device I guess. If you mean peripheral, it's debatable (although Linux generally, in my experience, supports more hardware "out of the box" than Windows does - I have to dig around for device disks much more often with Windows, sometimes just to get the disk controller recognised). If you are talking about devices you can install the OS on, then, hell yes, Linux wipes the floor with Windows.

          1. breakfast

            Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

            Since XP I don't think I have had any significant driver problems for Windows, meanwhile I have never been able to get my laptop's built in card reader to work at all under Linux in spite of a few wasted evenings trying to figure out what it is and where to obtain drivers.

        2. Richard 22
          Stop

          Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

          > "The requirement to log into a Microsoft online account to even fracking install it. " - Errr, show me one OS that you need to do that?

          Wasn't it mentioned in the Windows 8.1 preview on the Register that this was going to be the case? Even if it's not the case I'd agree that they're going to try and make it more and more unavoidable.

          > "Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and all of the other $100B/yr parasitic " - I take it you haven't looked at Android store lately

          Android isn't Linux - it uses a (modified) Linux kernel, but the App layers are completely different. So I'm not sure of the relevance of that.

          > "fully supports more devices than any other device ever," - Really? Supports more than windows?

          I suspect that's it does - if you take into account the fact that it's been ported to many chip architectures, many SoCs etc. I'd agree that it's less likely to work with an arbitrary peripheral you buy at PC World which comes with a windows only driver disk. However, in my experience more stuff works "out of the box" without the need to install drivers (which is good, since the drivers may not exist). A bit of research before buying is always advised.

          > Ah rants, we love them, even when wildly inaccurate.

          I'd have said although the OP was a bit ranty, it wasn't that far from the truth.

          1. Peter H. Coffin

            Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

            >> "Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and all of the other $100B/yr parasitic " - I take it you haven't looked at Android store lately

            > Android isn't Linux - it uses a (modified) Linux kernel, but the App layers are completely different. So I'm not sure of the relevance of that.

            Android's linux, for most reasons that matter. But the issue is 100% not about "whether antivirus has been written" and IS 100% about whether it's actually needful. I could write antivir for OpenBSD or System i too, and probably find a few morons to buy it, but is it going to protect anything really vulnerable from anything common enough to be an appreciable hazard? No.

          2. MattEvansC3

            Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

            Windows 8.1 customer preview didn't require you to log onto a Microsoft account but the Technet subscribers using the 8.1 RTM say that one does, so it may be specific to Technet versions or they've changed it from the preview edition.

            On 8.1 preview I use a Microsoft, google and Yahoo (Sky) account as individual log on accounts, of course though with the non-Microsoft accounts it won't autoaccess Microsoft products such as Skydrive, they'd have to be setup manually.

        3. Miek
          Linux

          Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

          ""fully supports more devices than any other device ever," - Really? Supports more than windows?" -- Is that Windows out-of-the-box or after you have hunted down your drivers ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

        Oh jesus, Is that rabies are you just pleased to be talking about Linux?

        Linus - Yeah Linux was always a hack, BSD is what I should have used.

      3. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

        You know - the OS that runs all the supercomputers in the world? So of course it has 7 free Office suites, Blender, multitrack audio and video editing, bittorrent, all the popular browsers, virtual machines, fully supports more devices than any other device ever, has an app store with 30 years worth of free apps, can be used to build apps, games and new operating systems and so on.

        What it doesn't have? Antivirus 2012 and 3.2 billion other forms of malware. Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and all of the other $100B/yr parasitic "cleanup after Windows failed" industry. IE. Bing. 37 links to websites you don't want. Crud installed by the OEM for pay. The requirement to log into a Microsoft online account to even fracking install it. Patch Tuesday. Rollback Wednesday. An utter lack of backup tools. Metro. And much, much more.

        Why does this read like a used car salesmans rant....

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGvHNNOLnCk

      4. Irongut

        Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

        "37 links to websites you don't want."

        Ubuntu

        "Crud installed by the OEM for pay."

        Ubuntu

        "Metro."

        Ubuntu

        " And much, much more."

        Ubuntu.

        Between Unity, their replacement for X, the send all your local searches to Canonical, Amazon and god knows who else, etc I'd argue that Ubuntu is much worse than Windows these days. Also some of the claims you made against Windows are blatantly false.

        Personally I use Windows where appropriate and non-Ubuntu flavours of Linux where appropriate. No need for the raving extreme fanboism.

        1. Greg J Preece

          Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

          Personally I use Windows where appropriate and non-Ubuntu flavours of Linux where appropriate. No need for the raving extreme fanboism.

          I use non-Unity flavours of Ubuntu. All of the benefits, none of the crap.

        2. itzman

          Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

          Between Unity, their replacement for X, the send all your local searches to Canonical, Amazon and god knows who else, etc I'd argue that Ubuntu is much worse than Windows these days.

          Valid point, although the X replacement might just be something people eventually come round to. Most of the GFX libraries consist in turning all the marvellous things that X can do into the very few useful things people want it to do.

          But for us mere mortals, Mint is the answer. Stable boring menus and clickable icons organised in a rational way to interface a mouse and keyboard rather than a sweaty thumb to a workstation to generate content rather than absorb it.

      5. Lamont Cranston
        Thumb Down

        Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

        " fully supports more devices than any other device ever"? Pull the other one - finding appropriate drivers for some pretty mainstream hardware is what puts me off pushing my family on to Linux. Granted, the fault generally lies with the manufacturers, but the fact is that an off the shelf printer/scanner will work fine on Windows/Mac, but I'll be lucky if I can print a wonky test page from my Mint install. I can forgive my TV tuner not working, given that it's from an obscure manufacturer, that appears to no longer exist (even if the chipset is listed as supported in some list I found), but the software required to use the PC as a TV looked pretty crappy in comparison with Media Centre.

        Ranting aside, this SteamOS idea could well push Linux towards mainstream acceptance, which I would welcome (mainstream acceptance = recognition by device manufacturers).

        1. Pookietoo
          Stop

          Re: Pull the other one

          You're talking about PC peripherals, the device support he's talking about is all the routers, set-top-boxes and other embedded devices that run some version of Linux as an OS, workstations like SPARC, Alpha, PPC, supercomputers. A few of those were supported by NT4, and MSFT still does some embedded stuff (don't mention Surface RT) but it doesn't really compare.

        2. Obvious Robert

          Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

          You may have some bizarre printer make or possibly an older or broken Mint install. Every printer I've connected to computers running Mint 13 & 14 has been detected, configured and ready for use within about 10 seconds, including scanner functionality. That would be a couple of HP's, a Canon and an Epson.

          Same goes for other peripherals - I've recently had no issue setting up a Creative webcam and a Wacom tablet for my daughter on Mint 14. Both just literally plug and play and working with no fuss at all.

          1. Lamont Cranston

            Devices

            @Pookietoo: consider me informed.

            @Obvious Robert: my printer sits on a different router to my PC (don't ask!), so I don't expect Mint to detect it. Setting it up on Vista wasn't exactly smooth, but it works with full functionality, helped in no small part by the fact that Epson publish all the relevant drivers - if device manufacturers would pull their heads out of their arses and start publishing drivers, I think I'd be a lot happier!

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Devices

              @Lamont Cranston

              Did you try giving mint the address? (I know, noob question). I would be surprised if the drivers were missing from mint, it supports every printer I have tried. Its a point and shoot exercise normally. As long as it can reach the printer it sets and configures itself easy enough with no need to find drivers.

  3. Lars Silver badge
    Joke

    Surprise, surprise

    "Not only do games run faster on (rock-solid) Linux"

    1. BobChip
      Go

      Re: Surprise, surprise

      Actually, they do. And yes, it is rock solid. The only "surprise" is that Lars does not know this yet.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Surprise, surprise

        @BobChip I suppose you did not understand my icon. I am a Linux user since 97.

  4. Mikey
    Joke

    "SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience, as well as other oxymorons and contradictions. As soon as we find working drivers for proper hardware, it might actually become something people could possibly want, as soon as the Linux zealot community stop their fervant dribbling and putting off the normal people."

    1. Steven Raith

      Ah, hurrah, upvoting removes my accidental downvote because I didn't notice the JokeAlert icon at first!

      Also, oopsy!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Actually, this might bring about better Linux support for a lot of consumer gaming hardware faster than you realise.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Yes. I've seen people use pure determination to pull out Windows drivers themselves for obsolete or unique hardware if it's still popular.

        How much more so with drivers and support spring up when people see Linux as popular?

      2. dogged

        It might also bring about a thriving linux malware scene.

        linux is not secure by default. A great deal of its security is a factor of not existing on machines people do shopping and banking with. Every SteamOS install backed up by a credit card and Steam account will inevitably reduce the security of linux.

        Enjoy.

  5. goldcd

    From my position of ignorance - this seems a fine idea.

    I've been back in love with my gaming PC for the last few years (console exclusive of GTA V aside, whose purchase of which I'm still feeling a bit pissy over).

    Downstairs I have my big TV, my surround sound, my Cable box, my Western Digital streamer etc - and my 360 I once loved with a lapsed Gold account and (GTA aside) a pile of plastic instruments as its only purpose to exist.

    I look at the new consoles with a yawn and resolve I want a Steam box down there to replace them all.

    ...Just don't really want a Steam box as that's a pile of cash when I have my pride and joy sitting upstairs.

    I was tempted by the nVidia Shield, but then finally twigged I'd only every use it to play games spooled off my PC, whilst I sprawled on my sofa (with my perfectly good TV and 360 pad sat around doing nothing).

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: From my position of ignorance - this seems a fine idea.

      Again, a position of ignorance here...

      Am I reading this correctly that the Steam Box would be essentially a dumb terminal streaming the game to the TV with all the computing, rendering, whatnot done on the big, ugly, hot gaming PC elsewhere in the house?

      If so, I'm in.

      1. DarkWalker

        Re: From my position of ignorance - this seems a fine idea.

        I believe it's this, pulling games from the Steam accounts of a whole family if you so desire. Plus, it can also play locally anything that works natively on Linux and that the box connected to the TV is beefy enough to run.

    2. Boothy

      Re: From my position of ignorance - this seems a fine idea.

      @goldcd

      Very similar to myself. Was an avid PC player, then moved to console (360), got board of the console games (games being just clones of each other for the most part). So let Gold lapse and went back to the PC about 2 years back.

      Now playing mostly strategy games, so not sure the Steam Box (i.e. TV and controller) will be all that good for me, other than the occasional casual game. I can see this replacing the 360 though. (and I'm waiting for GTA V on PC).

      But I can see the Steam OS being used with the Linux ported games, as more get ported from Windows to Linux.

      I feel a potential dual boot option becoming viable. My existing Win 7 for the none ported (and legacy games) and Linux/Steam OS for the new releases.

      Anyone know if Steam OS will still function as a normal Linux install? i.e. can you still install 3rd party indy Linux games along side you're Steam games?

  6. MattEvansC3

    So how exactly does SteamOS bring me more value when it won't play 90% of my Steam collection ( my main PC is connected to the network via wall plugs, f&@k knows what the latency is going to be like) and 100% of my Origin, GoG, DRM free humble bundle and GfWL (they had a 7p sale) games?

    I don't care if its on Linux, having a OS built around a closed, proprietary DRM masquerading as a store means it's not open.

    1. Mikel

      When the Windows App store is the only way to get your apps and your legacy games aren't supported, you will come over anyway.

      1. Steven Roper

        @Mikel

        No. He won't. Neither will I. Neither will a host of others who refuse to hand over control of our machines to megalomaniac corporations who think they have the right to claim ownership of our lives.

        There are always alternatives. Always have been, always will be.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Mikel

          ...and when, as no doubt they will, Valve/Steam games become SteamOS only, what will you do ?

          1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

            Re: @Mikel

            I stop buying from Steam. So far, Steam has not gone Mac only, or Linux only. I doubt they will go Steam OS only. For example, people can use their system for delivery only (mods and games) with zero DRM or Steam exclusivity. I would assume, if Steam wanted to make their OS/gaming exclusive, they would have done it already (other delivery platforms have).

            No doubt, if they are chasing the money, and possibly also not getting their head screwed on, they may close down the OS. At the least I'd expect others to dual boot Linux/Windows in that case. At the most, people would leave it to fail (in the same way the PS4/Xbone fail, as in "make billions, but loose me/us as a customer". Failure is sometimes relative, not absolute. ;) ).

          2. frymaster

            Re: @Mikel

            It's worth mentioning that every single feature that the article says is an announced "steamOS" feature is actually an announced feature of the steam CLIENT, whether running on Windows, Mac, self-installed on a pre-existing Linux box, or bundled with steamOS.

            So no, I don't fear Valve games becoming steamOS only - and even if they did, the non-valve games outnumber them by a factor of 300 or so

    2. Hairy Spod

      only 10%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Ummmmm dont most new consoles only launch with a teeny weeny handful of decent titles?

      10% of Steams current collection equates to a pretty hefty number of decent launch titles in my eyes.

      More and more games are being added to the Linux section of Steam all of the time. I believe that Steam are helping by providing conversion tools to developers to help speed up the process too.

  7. Ripperroo

    "allows users to stream games running on Windows and Mac machines onto a TV-connected box running SteamOS" or, you could just connect the PC to the TV and not spend the money on a console you dont need...

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      True. If it does not have native support for games, I have little interest. Though the "playing games away from home" or "playing my PC in the other room without moving it about" might be interesting if I can get linux on a really cheap pc/notebook.

  8. Air Supply
    Trollface

    SteamOS vs Windows 8.

    3 years from now, the numbers of users running Windows 8 (a disaster OS, said Gaben) + Steam combination will vastly outnumber people who exclusively runs SteamOS.

    What Gaben needs to do now is to make Half Life 3 SteamOS-exclusive for 2 years or so, before letting Steam Windows users playing them.

    1. Z-Eden

      Re: SteamOS vs Windows 8.

      That will be a true Microsoft nightmare and it would be glorious to behold.

  9. poopypants

    Two more announcements to go

    I shall wait patiently as the big picture* emerges, and form an opinion then.

    *(sorry)

  10. Resound

    I wonder how many devs will get on board and port their games though. It might actually be a few given how huge Steam is these days. Not that I'm a target market, mind but I am curious.

    1. Steven Raith

      In the video linked earlier in the comments ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Gzn6E2m3otg ), Gabe said that a few other industry members/partners did a double take when Valve actually released the Linux Steam client - previously, they didn't think Valve were serious about it. Croteam made a stonking version of Serious Sam 3 which was bug free and had perfectly respectable performance compared to it's windows counterpart. Blizzard are also said to be messing with Linux, dependant on demand. Other developers are well aware of gaming on Linux, but the financial side doesn't add up - it costs time to target for Linux, and in the ultra-tight world of game development, time is the currency of all. If what Valve have been doing cuts development/target time, then there is less of an excuse to not develop for Linux - if it can be shown to be a viable platform. The current ports of HL2/the source engine in general, and SS3, mixed in with the recent GPU driver updates from AMD and nVidia show that it's perfectly possible to run rock solid games on Ubuntu at least - other platforms may vary, but I believe that they are also generally pretty stable and run well.

      I'd assume that when Valve says jumps, to a degree, a lot of those who like to have Steam as a delivery platform (which is much of the industry), ask Valve if it'd be in their interests asking for a height. Not immediately, like. They're just curious.

      SteamOS, however, may make them ask that question a bit quicker and more pointedly. Valve are no longer dicking about and making little homebrew tech projects for the kudos of the community (which is how some people I know interpreted it - "look at us, we made Source run on Linux!").

      They're deadly serious about this whole ethos of user control in terms of content creation for games, platform updates, etc, without waiting for a 'big daddy' like MS or Apple to approve it for their App Stores - so if they wanted to make fundamental changes to the way Steam works, it might take upwards of six months for Apple to approve and release it (referenced in the video).

      So screw it, roll your own distro, make it easier to target games for (Valve have been working hard on debug tools, graphics driver testing, LLVM updates etc) and make it free to the end user as a platform. Valve just happen to have the clout and someone at the top who wants to make it happen.

      Anyway, the latest announcement is of proposed reference platforms ( http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/SteamMachines/ ) and a closed (but public) beta for the hardware - so people who qualify within the Steam community can put themselves forward for beta testing, get drawn, get the hardware, and then can be as public about what they think about it as they want.

      It's all getting very interesting. It's a pretty damned grand scheme which, if it works, will benefit everyone, especially the open source community through better driver support for audio, video and input devices, more development on the platform, etc.

      If it fails, well, it's a worthy attempt to push Linux forwards. Already it's totally revolutionised the way the proprietary graphics perform in 3D gaming - they could drop everything at this stage, and still gaming on Linux would be in a far better position - pretty much unrecognisable from what it was even two years ago.

      All power to 'em, I say.

  11. asdf Silver badge

    wtf is my cs go

    Great Steam but first how about releasing some of your own titles on Linux first like frigging CS GO. Its not like its graphics are exactly cutting edge (good enough though and oh man the game play rules). It runs great if I boot into Mac OS but I would prefer not to have to do that very often.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: wtf is my cs go

      Great Steam but first how about releasing some of your own titles on Linux first like frigging CS GO.

      Come on now, that "some of" is unfair and you know it. So far, on my Steam Linux client, I have:

      Counterstrike

      Counterstrike: Source

      Day of Defeat

      Half Life

      Half Life: Blue Shift

      Half Life: Opposing Force

      Half Life 2

      Half Life 2: Deathmatch

      Half Life 2: Lost Coast

      Half Life 2: Episode 1

      Half Life 2: Episode 2

      Left 4 Dead 2 (The latest port/current beta project)

      Ricochet

      Team Fortress Classic

      Team Fortress 2

      Are you really going to sit there and tell me they're not putting the effort in?

      1. Fibbles

        Re: wtf is my cs go

        Don't forget Portal and Dota2. Here's hoping they manage to get their Portal2 port out the door before the end of the year.

  12. chuckufarley

    It may be based on /usr/redhat/systemd/fail/* so I will wait for time to tell.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks but no thanks

    GPLv3 + Steam's DRM. How much worse could it get?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thanks yes thanks

      Another choice in the high performance games market is good. Also more time and money is being spent optimizing and improving Linux code that benefits other uses of Linux. This is good news for most.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thanks yes thanks

        An alternative lock-in is not good.

        1. breakfast

          Re: Thanks yes thanks

          If you don't like lock-in then write some truly open games that require no kind of lock in at all, distribute them freely across all platforms and change the world. But if you happen to have a massive runaway success and find yourself supporting everyone and their granny installing it on every platform you can imagine and then blaming you because they have a broken hard drive, no video drivers, forgot to plug the computer in or it simply won't run on their Nokia 8210, you might start to like the idea of locking it to a slightly more limited range of platforms too.

    2. localzuk

      Re: Thanks but no thanks

      The beauty of it is this - if games are built for it, they are then known to work on Linux. So, potentially the companies that made them should potentially be able to release them as linux games elsewhere too, not just on Steam.

      Anything which encourages more Linux games is a good thing.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OpenGL is now reportedly faster than DirectX

    I read that they optimised OpenGL late last year and ended up with it being faster than DirectX.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: OpenGL is now reportedly faster than DirectX

      @11was1rh

      "I read that they optimised OpenGL late last year and ended up with it being faster than DirectX."

      After the reg reported that I hear MS released updates to improve the speed of DX. I am hoping this leads to a new contest in the games world which would benefit both windows and linux users.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: OpenGL is now reportedly faster than DirectX

        As long as they are not fake improvements. Seen companies "manage" and "massage" figures and systems to give the desired, though not practical, results.

        1. Greg J Preece

          Re: OpenGL is now reportedly faster than DirectX

          As long as they are not fake improvements. Seen companies "manage" and "massage" figures and systems to give the desired, though not practical, results.

          Valve have no interest in doing that, far as I can see. Why piss off your majority Windows base? They did the port of L4D2, optimised it, and it turned out to be 15% faster on Linux.

    2. Fibbles

      Re: OpenGL is now reportedly faster than DirectX

      "I read that they optimised OpenGL late last year and ended up with it being faster than DirectX."

      This was the claim they made when they first ported L4D2. The odd thing is that their Linux ports of current Source games use a baked in D3D to OpenGL layer* and they still turned out faster than D3D on Windows. IMO it speaks wonders about the underlying OS.

      *Valve are planning for their next games engine, Source 2, to be written natively in OpenGL but a translation layer seems like a good compromise for older games. Everything else in the binary is native but the DirectX calls are translated.

      There's a video about it here. (The camera man stops pretending he's in an earthquake after a couple of minutes.)

  15. Mikel

    I'm already in

    Got my games on Steam/Linux. Trying to move the kids over to Linux (their mom is dragging her heels), so we only buy games that play on Linux to stay flexible. I'm down for a Steambox if it looks good and the acoustics are good. Otherwise I'll build my own and load their special Linux distro. If they do the "least" $99 thin client box I could use one of those for every TV, and just stream the Steam to wherever the player happens to be, because I wired the whole house for gigabit Ethernet.

    We will not be buying any Windows games, nor an XBox. Ever.

    /Now if only I could get my head around DOTA2. I just don't get it.

  16. Khaptain Silver badge

    Who is ready to pay

    Steam is not FOSS, have market studies shown that Linux users will actually be willing to pay for the games.

    Steam is not a charity and unnecassary for many games, so why bother with it in the first place.. I don't remember many conversations where the OS was the major hurdle.

    Personally I don't see this as changing very much at all other than the fact that Steam are trying to capitalise in a niche market.

    1. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

      Re: Who is ready to pay

      I guess you missed all the humble bundles where the linux part of the buyers consistently pay more than their windows and mac counterparts. Believe it or not we don't use Linux because it's free... we use it because it's better for what we need it for.

      As for changing things yeah. Will see what will come of it. I'd certainly buy a steambox if they offered one. But I'm not in the mood(and haven't been in the mood for years) to manage any decently speced box for gaming.

      Most of my hardware is based around needing the minimal to get the job done.

    2. John Bailey

      Re: Who is ready to pay

      "Steam is not FOSS, have market studies shown that Linux users will actually be willing to pay for the games."

      Have market studies shown Windows users will? Seem to remember quite a high level of piracy among Windows users.

      "Steam is not a charity and unnecassary for many games, so why bother with it in the first place.. I don't remember many conversations where the OS was the major hurdle."

      Then you have not been having the right conversations.

      "Personally I don't see this as changing very much at all other than the fact that Steam are trying to capitalise in a niche market."

      And the grapes are probably sour anyway..

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Who is ready to pay

        "Have market studies shown Windows users will? Seem to remember quite a high level of piracy among Windows users."

        I think you will find that Windows users have been paying, over the top, for quite a few years already. There's not much need to do market research on an already very successfull market. Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Microsoft ring a bell...

        "Then you have not been having the right conversations."

        Can you actually cite any real world examples of where the OS has been a hurdle in game development....DirectX is actually on par with OpenGL, the APIs are well documented and a lot of the larger companies don't have a problem using it.

        "And the grapes are probably sour anyway.."

        Why sour grapes, I have both systems, I have never felt the need or requirement to use Linux as a gaming platform and I personally do not see any future in it. And yes I have a steam account, so I am well aware of what is available on Linux...

        The developers are not interested in Linux for the simple reason that they need to be sure about earning real dollars before they will take the risk. For the moment that market sector is still very, very unsure..

        1. Fibbles

          Re: Who is ready to pay

          You all seem to be missing the point a bit. This isn't really about Valve trying to shift everybody to Linux. It's about Valve encouraging games developers to shift from DirectX to OpenGL. OpenGL can run on all of the major operating systems. The OS specific code is a small fraction of a game's total codebase. If developers use an open graphics API then releasing for multiple platforms requires a lot less effort which in turn makes exploiting smaller markets more attractive.

          If you're a staunch Windows gamer you might be wondering why you should give a damn but consider this: The version of DirectX you are running dictates the graphical quality of your games. DirectX versions are tied to specific versions of Windows. You could have the newest, most cutting-edge graphics card on the market with DirectX 11 support but if you're using Windows XP your games will only ever be rendered using the features of DirectX 9. However, if your game is written using OpenGL then the graphic features available to the game are dictated by what your card can support, not what Microsoft says your version of Windows can use. OpenGL 4 is comparable in features to DirextX 11 if not more advanced and will run on any version of Windows.

          If you think about it like that it makes a great deal of sense for game developers to use OpenGL even on Windows. If they start doing that then ports to Mac and Linux become much more cost effective which is good news for Valve (and incidentally everyone else,) because it wants to expand its Steam store on these platforms.

          1. Khaptain Silver badge

            Re: Who is ready to pay

            @Fibbles

            I completely understand your point of view but ultimately the decisions are not really based upon the programming language DirectX and OpenGL are both free.

            Decision as to platform selection are made at a much higher level and it has nothing to do with IT or programmers or chief architects.

            I believe that the decisions are made purely on a financial basis, where can we make money, who are our market, how much are they willing to spend, where do we have the largest market.

            It can easilly take 10 of millions to produce the major games, the beancounters want to ensure that there is a solid ROI so they only play into the markets for which they are almost garaunteed to find paying customers. They know that the windows users have the money and will spend it.

            Linux is free and therefore suffers from the stigma that linux users = freetards. The typical stigmatique Neckbeards who expect software for "free", that they can use and abuse as they see fit. It's not so easy to remove that stigma.

            Steam also have a major setback in that they are not sponsored by the major software houses, if and when they do then the game will change ( pun intended). Up until then I do not possibly see how it will remain anything other than a niche market.

  17. Mr. Peterson

    Steam DRM luv?

    "Zoos are full, prisons are overflowing... oh my, how the world still dearly loves a cage."

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: Steam DRM luv?

      Steam doesn't require DRM, genius.

      1. Mr. Peterson

        Re: Steam DRM luv?

        Steam IS DRM

        1. Boothy

          Re: Steam DRM luv?

          Nope, it's a distribution system. DRM is optional and up to the people releasing the game, not Valve.

          Some games under Windows Steam, if you install a desktop icon, and launch the game via the icon without Steam running first, Steam doesn't even launch, so not used at all.

          Granted not many games are DRM free, but it's not Valve/Steam deciding this. If a publisher wants DRM, then they'll use DRM, irrespective of it being via Steam or not.

          At least Steams DRM is unobtrusive. Unlike other major DRMs, that for example force you to be online etc.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:Lan streaming

    What's wrong with using long HDMi cables and wireless controllers?

  19. A Twig

    Hmm, I haven't really done much gaming since the PSU on my old PC died, I couldn't afford to replace it at the time and by the time I could afford it, I found I didn't really miss it enough to justify the expense. I get my old N64 for some retro goldeneye/mario kart occasionally when mates come over for some beers, but that's about it.

    I've been debating whether to get a console, but having grown up primarily with PC games, was never very good at controlling things with thumbs...

    However, something like this could be pretty fun for some occasional game play type stuff, especially if it does media as well. I'd happily stick it under the TV, primarily used for streaming etc, but then on the odd evening I get to myself every couple of weeks or so, could fire up some decent games. I reckon some of the RTS games on a huge screen could be awesome, or even CS. Obviously such an application for me will be hugely price sensitive, so I shall wait and see, but I'm cautiously hopeful.

  20. grammarpolice

    cooperating system?

    More like co-opting system when Valve are involved. These guys are going to make Canonical look like champions of user freedom.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Steam on Linux

    I've been a Unix/Linux user all my life. When Steam was released for Linux I jumped for joy - no more MS for games - and therefore no more MS for me!

    Unfortunately, after many many attempts, I've given up on it. Trying to get the beta Nvidia graphic drivers to work on my computer- 32 bit dual core, 8600 GT, Ubuntu 12.04 (PAE), dual monitor. So many different and varied failures after so many different install attempts. So many hours wasted googling.

    I may despise MS with a passion, but the exact same setup works out of the box for Steam and every other game I have played on XP, an OS older than my computer.

    I know there is an ongoing war with Linus and Nvidia - but it only serves to alienate those users, like me, who only hold on to their MS machine for gaming.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Steam on Linux

      @AC

      Why are you using beta drivers and why do you expect beta drivers to have no problems? Surely there is a stable release which is likely in your driver options once you install for the first time. I recommend running the ubuntu (maybe try mint) live disk and see what driver options it gives you by default. They usually work fine.

      I doubt you would run windows with beta nVidia drivers and blame the OS. Stick to the stable release and you will have more chance of success.

    2. NinjasFTW

      Re: Steam on Linux

      I have the exact same setup as you (Mint 13 instead of Ubuntu) and it worked as soon as I installed the Nvidia drivers through the proprietary repository.

      It was a single click process so I'm a little dubious as to whether i'm feeding a troll.

      I don't play a lot of games these days but every now and then one comes along that I *have* to have. The last one was XCOM: Bureau. If that had of come out for Steam Linux I think I would have finally blown away my windows partition and freed up my SSD to move my linux partition on there.

      A couple of big brand exclusives would probably be enough to build up a critical mass.

      1. wowfood

        Re: Steam on Linux

        The issue is probably the dual monitors. I've read plenty of random issues with the dual monitor setups on Linux. Dropping the 2nd monitor while under linux would probably solve the problems (and using normal drivers rather than the beta)

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Steam on Linux

          @wowfood

          "The issue is probably the dual monitors. I've read plenty of random issues with the dual monitor setups on Linux."

          I hear a lot about these but I have never had the displeasure. At work I use mint yet my co-worker (long time linux user) was concerned this problem might occur. I use duel monitors at home too (mint again) with steam and nVidia drivers and see no issues.

          Either I have been insanely lucky or these are issues from some years ago.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Steam on Linux

            I use duel monitors at home too (mint again) with steam and nVidia drivers and see no issues.

            Duel monitors eh? So your monitors constantly fight each-other then?

            I could see mine doing that, sadly I think the Sun GDM-5410 would win.

            1. Down not across

              Re: Steam on Linux

              "I could see mine doing that, sadly I think the Sun GDM-5410 would win."

              Undoubtedly. Regardless what it was fighting. Had couple of those and after getting rid, I realised the room needed some extra heating.

  22. TheFiddler

    Problem with consoles

    The problem I have with consoles is that in the living room they are then fighting against the other members of the house desire to watch TV. There's also that the joypad is a poor control method compared to keyboard and mouse. My PS3, once replaced by a shiny new blu-ray player, actually got more gaming use hooked into the monitor that my gaming rig uses. Granted that still wasn't a huge amount of use, but it was mostly bought for it's blu-ray playback.

    Leading from this I can't see the draw for a Steam console as it faces the other console drawbacks and the majority of people already in the Steam ecosystem have gaming PCs already set up for it which will no doubt run better hardware than a low cost SteamOS box would cost. The only vaguely good side to this I see is the chance that they may use this to push Linux porting to more developers, which as a Linux gamer would be nice to see.

  23. codejunky Silver badge

    Lock in

    A lot of people are commenting on the DRM and lock in and at first it bothered me too. However now they are porting games to linux it makes a lot of sense. The tighter controls allow steam to port the games over as they please and the DRM locking in is no different to consoles. If you buy a PS or XBox where can you play those games? On the single system!

    I really hated the steam thing until I heard about this. Think about it. You can buy a console if that is your preference, or dont. You could build your own computer or re-purpose one. You can play steam games on windows, linux or even a console. That is less locked in than the current various consoles and some games have exclusive releases which make them more locked in!

    it is a shame to see the trolls out in force with their anti linux comments and the ones who aint trolling can only be uninformed. With any luck this move by valve will force the game industry to transform and improve the gaming experience again. Maybe making games more available for all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lock in

      What do you think Stallman is going to say? Will he also agree that lock-in is great.

      I doubt it.

  24. Miek
    Linux

    Open Source: We can have nice things

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Miek 08:35

      Meh. So can closed source. Do try to provide an even-handed viewpoint if you want to have credibility ...

      1. LaeMing
        Trollface

        @AC

        But you don't have them, you only have a licence to use them.

        Until their owner deems otherwise.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd hardly call Steam open source.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ahh, but you're forgetting that for their closed-source games to work, they'll need better drivers.

        The best way to get a driver supported in Linux is not the lone-ranger that Broadcom, Nvidia, ATI, etc have been doing, but the collaborative open approach that the likes of Intel have been doing.

        Consequently, we'll get better drivers in the kernel, and all applications/games on Linux will benefit.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          I frankly don't know if nVidia or AMD will EVER fully open-source their cutting-edge stuff since that stuff's probably loaded with trade secrets each wouldn't want the other to know about. Intel doesn't care because they're the third fiddle, primarily intended for low-end performance.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too little too late maybe?

    I consider it was the FPS gamer who drove the home PC upgrade industry from the mid 1990s. A time when spending £1000+ on a pre-built with 14" CRT screen, didn't always guarantee custom sound or graphics chips.

    PCs have evolved towards becoming games consoles as much as consoles have PCs. Dedicated controllers, big screens, custom graphics and sound chips are something consoles enjoyed from year dot. Console's still ruled well into the 2000's for platformer, fighting games and arcade racers.

    If Valve could release their own games exclusive to steam OS, it i would be a fair enough risk It surprises me Microsoft have had it all their way almost all this time. A fresh start is what is needed IMO. There is a lot wrong with gaming today.Can't put my finger on it. A mishmash,no real direction. Nintendo's model about to die, they may as well get on board with Valve.

    IMO SteamOS should have happened just as PCs gained the upper hand against the current gen consoles.

  26. BigAndos

    Consoles become commodity hardware?

    I've always been frustrated with the grass is always greener problem when choosing a console. Two generations, I bought an Xbox. Then I decided the PS2 had better games so bought one of those. Then I bought a Wii! I'm better at not wasting all my money these days so I've resolved the problem by not buying consoles anymore.

    If Steam play this right and get the major studios on board then consoles may become commodity hardware. That would remove the dilemma for indecisive types like me. Nintendo, for example, would be well advised to refocus on developing games rather than hardware given disappointing Wii U sales. Sure it is a massive leap from where we are today, but I for one would be very excited about a well supported hardware neutral console gaming platform.

  27. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

    XBMC support?

    Will SteamOS support XBMC, d'yreckon? Or will Valve be locking you in to their media provision ecosystem and try to make it as difficult as they can for you to run 3rd party media software. Well, I suppose we can always dual-boot, ne?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: XBMC support?

      d'yreckon?

      Whatanovelwaytowritewords,Ihavenotafrickingcluewhatyouareonabout.

  28. Wattsy
    Go

    I honestly think most gamers do not really care what platform games are on as long as they can be played. What gamers really want is new IP's, new ideas and cheaper prices.

    Steambox will be great, for the small number of people that understand what it is, for the masses it will be thought of as PC and will be an instant turn off for them. I welcome it with an open mind but I very much doubt it will take over my Windows gaming Rig that just works.

    In my case if I see a game that I want to play I will play it on anything, even if it is on a <spit> MAC!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "The Nintendo Problem" in other words.

      Perhaps that's why Valve is taking this approach. It wouldn't be too surprising if Valve releases a SteamBox to act as a template machine for others in future. The idea is to make a PC that doesn't look like a PC, much as Nintendo had to make a game console that didn't draw the stigma consoles got in North America after the Crash of '83.

  29. Truth4u

    streaming games

    Why would anyone do that when an HDMI cable to connect the PC to the TV is cheaper and faster to set up with lower latency.

  30. Kaltern Silver badge

    Terminal

    Unless SteamOS is 100% terminal-free, it is never going to replace Windows.

    I like the IDEA of Linux, but it's still hidden under a myriad of terminal commands, config files and obscure folders that non-Linus users have no clue on using.

    You may argue that Linux is just to be learned, but they need to convert Windows users to their way of thinking. And you can use Windows with nay a terminal window in sight.

    It doesn't matter how GOOD a system is; if it has a less user-friendly interface than it's competitor... it's not going to work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Terminal

      You can use Linux and never open the terminal emulator. The difference between Windows and Linux is that on Windows you can pretend you're a computer expert because you know where the control panel is whereas on Linux you have to actually learn stuff.

    2. Pookietoo
      Stop

      Re: it's still hidden under a myriad of terminal commands

      The hardware detection in most modern distributions of Linux works so well you don't usually have to worry about using command line tools or editing files to get everything working properly, drivers for most hardware are included and work fine. Wireless networking has sometimes been tricky in the past but lately it seems to just work. Software installation and update is slickly handled by package management systems with graphical front ends.

    3. Truth4u

      Re: Terminal

      Obviously they're not going to present end users with a terminal prompt. It's going to look (I imagine) like Windows Media Centre and its equivalents. Nothing special these days, could be knocked up quickly and relatively cheaply.

      But the terminal will still be available even so. It's not like it's a part of the OS you can remove even if you wanted to.

  31. gothictwist

    Ive never gotten around to trying out linux but my current train of thought is that Assuming any issue's with driver's/device support are taken care of you could conceivably move all game deveopment to a linux system with minimal disruption to the average windows user.

    Just means a return to the days of using a boot disc for gaming.

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