For about as long as civilization has existed, there have been rumors of Valve’s Steam platform coming to Linux. Finally, the best hint of things came to fruition this past spring, when Phoronix paid a trip to Valve’s HQ in Washington to see first-hand the progress being made. This week, Valve took things just a step further, finally announcing that a Linux version of Steam is in the works.
This news was announced with the help of a brand-new blog Valve launched dedicated to all things Linux. Its first post starts off talking about steam’d penguins, but quickly gets into the nitty gritty. The team has been hard at work porting Left 4 Dead 2 to Linux (Ubuntu, to be exact), and its goals are to have the game run just as well as it does on Windows. I like that thinking.
Because DirectX APIs are unavailable outside of Windows officially, Valve and all other developers are forced to stick to OpenGL for 3D rendering. While we might miss out on some eye candy that the Windows variants of the games have, the end result should still be quite good. And with Valve’s support for both Mac OS X and Linux, perhaps the OpenGL group might begin to take gaming a lot more seriously and become a real competitor to Microsoft’s DirectX (hey, I can dream).
Valve is focusing on supporting Ubuntu at the moment, but at launch will likely support others. If I had to guess, Fedora and openSUSE will be in Valve’s crosshairs, and that’s where the support might end. I do believe, however, that the client will work on other distros, but it might be a matter of doing things just a little bit differently to get it to run.
Regardless of the caveats, which are minor overall, this is rather exciting. Valve is to be commended for being one of the biggest companies to support desktop OSes other than Windows, a position since given up by iD Software.