Steam for Linux arrives

Steam for Linux arrives
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

February 15th 2013 at 7:19AM

Valve's digital distribution platform out of beta on open source OS

The Steam for Linux client is out of beta, and has arrived for download on the Ubuntu store.

Valve has been pushing a move to Linux as a potential answer to what it sees as an increasingly closed platform on Microsoft's Windows.

The highly-anticipated Steam Box will run on Linux, and the company has been working with hardware manufacturers and the people behind Linux's most popular distribution Ubuntu to make sure that age-old problems with drivers and audio won't get in the way of its open-source ambitions.

“The introduction of Steam to Ubuntu demonstrates growing demand for open systems from gamers and game developers,” said David Pitkin, Director of Consumer Applications at Ubuntu's parent company Canonical.

“We expect a growing number of game developers to include Ubuntu among their target platforms. We’re looking forward to seeing AAA games developed with Ubuntu in mind as part of a multi-platform day and date release on Steam.” 

Though there are some serious issues with Linux from a developer's perspective, it's hard to shrug off an opportunity for exposure to a massive new audience.

“We’re huge fans of Linux. It’s like the indie OS–a perfect home for our indie game,” said Alen Ladavac, CTO of Croteam, creator of the Serious Sam franchise of games.

“And who better to lead the charge into Linux gaming than Valve? With Steam distribution on Windows, Mac OS, and now Linux, plus the buy-once, play-anywhere promise of Steam Play, our games are available to everyone, regardless what type of computer they’re running. That’s huge.”

Though Steam is officially supported only by Ubuntu, the Linux community has been working over time to ensure the platform works on other distributions.

Develop has heard reports of Steam installations working on Linux Mint, Fedora, and even the highly customizeable build-from-source Gentoo.

Ubuntu alone has a user base of millions, which grew from 13 million in 2009 to 20 million in 2011.

Though Valve's decision to move to linux is certainly big news, it's not the only high-profile company to ebrace Linux gaming.

It's easy to forget that Android is a Linux based system, so millions of smartphone users are already Linux users and will soon be joined by adopters of the Ouya console.

Even so, this is a big day for fans of open-source operating systems, and to celebrate the entire catalogue of Linux games on Steam has had prices slashed by 50-75 percent.

Developers interested in getting a look at Linux can probably get Ubuntu running in under an hour. To download Steam, simply go to the Ubuntu Store or type "sudo apt-get install steam64" (for 64-bit users) in the terminal.