A couple of months ago, Valve released a UI update for its Steam platform in a beta state, and as it stands today, its beta status still remains. When the beta first hit the scene, though, some sleuthers immediately found traces of a Mac OS X client hidden away, and mere weeks later, Valve verified that yes, Mac OS X was soon to be the proud recipient of its own Steam client.
Being a Linux user, I was amped up to see if Valve had any intentions of developing a Steam client there as well, because for the most part, if something is developed for Mac OS X, it shouldn’t be too hard to also develop it for Linux, as both share similar bases and use OpenGL as the primary graphics engine. There had been many rumors floating around that a Linux client was in store, but Valve was mum about it.
Our friends at Phoronix have some interesting bits of information to share, though, and we can pretty much settle on the fact that a Linux Steam client is en route, or is at least planned. In the Mac OS X beta version, the bash script contains this useful bit of information:
elif [ "$UNAME" == "Linux" ]; then
# prepend our lib path to LD_LIBRARY_PATH
For the non-scripters/coders out there, this is part of a script that detects whether or not it’s Mac OS X or Linux that’s being run. While the script doesn’t actually do anything under Linux yet, it’s clear that Valve has intentions of being truly cross-platform, and I couldn’t get much more excited about the prospect of playing all of Valve’s hits under my favorite OS, natively.
I’m getting ahead of myself, but if and when Valve does release a Linux version for certain, it could be the start of some great things to come. If Valve takes all three common OSes seriously, then other game developers may as well. And because Mac OS X is especially seeing a rise in adoption, game developers are going to feel much more inclined to port their games over to alternative OSes as well, and since Linux isn’t far different from OS X, we may very well see far better gaming support in the future. The next couple of years are looking to be quite interesting.
This afternoon we have more proof of the existence of a Linux client of Steam, which would mean the Source Engine on Linux too. Right now, the Mac OS X version is in closed beta testing, but a new source independent from our Valve information in the past has supplied us with the launcher that is used to launch Steam on Mac OS X. Since it is a bash script, the source is cleanly visible and Linux is explicitly mentioned.