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Published on April 25th, 2012 | by seanbutnotheard


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.

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7 Responses to Native Steam Client Finally Coming to Linux

  1. BlackDeath3 says:


  2. CummySockz says:

    The idea of never having to buy an operating system ever again and fully customizing it makes me wet

  3. Grandmasterhacker says:

    *one of you guys run crunchbang?

    • seanbutnotheard Sean says:

      I use Arch primarily, and also Ubuntu. I’ve used playonlinux, winetricks, and crossover games. I know there are a lot of games that are on Wine’s platinum and gold lists, but so many more are buggy or don’t work at all. I hope Valve really goes through with this as their influence will likely bring many more developers into contact with Linux.

      • Grandmasterhacker says:

        how is arch for gaming? i hear so many complaints in desura forums for 64bit arch users, I havent really messed with arch much. i need another PC to dedicate to that :P

        • seanbutnotheard Sean says:

          Arch itself is actually good for gaming, because you can build a lean, mean system with very little bloat (no compositing window managers, no gnome or kde services running, etc). The main problem though is that being able to run 32-bit software on 64-bit systems requires you to install separate 32-bit versions of the shared libraries needed. When installing software via Arch’s package manager, that’s all taken care of for you. But since Desura doesn’t currently have a mechanism to integrate w/ any distro’s package manager, the end result is that a Desura game only works out of the “box” on 64-bit Arch if it was built for 64-bit by the game developers, which isn’t all that common. What usually works for me is running ldd on the game’s executable file, which spits out a list of libraries it requires… then I search google for each library’s package and install the 32-bit version of it. My guess is that Valve would run into similar issues distributing games via Steam.

  4. Grandmasterhacker says:

    wooooot. now i can’t agree with the whole “wine not working” if you used wine pre 2010 maybe you could say that but the certified gold games on linux ( meaning they run like normal games) are too high. including valve’s. you did miss playonlinux though. is sean a huge linux user? i know of u guys ran crunchbang? also this guy uploads lots of games working perfectly fine on linux: but there is truth to what you said about all games not working ( bf3, games attached to windows live i believe, a few others )



Dweller of forests, pubs, and Linux terminals. You can call me Grampappy.

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