Published on April 25th, 2012 | by seanbutnotheard7
Native Steam Client Finally Coming to Linux
PC gaming has long implied the use of Microsoft Windows, but being KBMOD’s resident Linux zealot, I’m going to abuse my position of power here briefly and share some exciting Linux-related news. (And for the record, Applelol.)
Running Steam and many DirectX games on Linux has long been possible via the Wine project, and some games work very well this way. In my experience, however, many games are laggy, kludgy, and overall difficult to get working correctly through this method. So it got my various nerd-organs tingling when, a couple of years ago, Michael Larabel over at Phoronix announced that a native Steam client was in the works for Linux. But because information about it had been basically nonexistent since then, most onlookers (myself included) figured it was some sort of joke.
Well, Linux gamers can rejoice unreservedly today, because Gabe Newell of Valve has confirmed that they have not only a Steam client working for Linux, but also a port of the Source engine. Finally, a big name has come out and expressed the realization that there’s a significant overlap between Linux geeks and gaming geeks.
Of course, that’s not to downplay the Desura Linux client (which has the added benefit of being open-source), as well as the many games that have native Linux ports, such as the Humble Bundles. But Valve putting their weight behind Linux tells me that a shift in the direction of the gaming industry is coming, even if it’s only a slight one for now. Similar to the early 1990s, when PC components like CPUs and GPUs became interchangeable, low-cost commodities, today we see Linux and its derivatives like Android spearheading a shift away from proprietary software and vendor lock-in. We’re getting another choice, and more choice is good for any industry.
It turns out that Valve’s love for Linux runs deeper than we all might have guessed, as Larabel discovered when he got to hang out at their offices for a day (holy crap). He reports that Newell sounded more like the director of the Linux Foundation than the ex-Microsoft employee he is. In fact, Newell was down on Windows 8 and Microsoft’s future in general. While of course I don’t see (nor do I want to see) Microsoft disappearing or failing, this move by Valve could be a significant nudge that Microsoft needs to remind them that they need to play nicely with others to keep up with the changing market… something that the Linux world does very well, perhaps too well.
Even if you’d rather stick to Steam on Windows, there’s no doubt this is great news for gamers of all stripes. You can read Larabel’s full report over at Phoronix.