Tuesday, July 17

Steam for Ubuntu Officially Announced by Valve

Steam for Ubuntu has been finally announced by Valve on its official blog, giving rest to all the rumors that have been circulating in past few months.

In the blog post titled 'Steam'd Penguins', lots of details on their Linux plans were revealed. Valve is looking to strengthen the gaming scene on Linux, both for players and developers. This includes Linux ports of Steam and Valve games, as well as partner games. They are also investigating open source initiatives that could benefit the community and game developers.

About the Valve Linux team

Initially formed in 2011, the Valve Linux team is currently 11 people and growing. This team will investigate open source development with a specific focus on supporting Steam and other Valve products on the Linux platform. The Linux background of their team varies from those who have a deep knowledge of Linux development to those who have just scratched the surface. 


For some time, Gabe Newell has been interested in the possibility of moving Steam and the Source game engine to Linux. At that time, the company was already using Linux by supporting Linux-based servers for Source-based games and also by maintaining several internal servers (running a 64-bit version of Ubuntu server) for various projects. In 2011, based on the success of those efforts and conversations in the hallway, they decided to take the next step and form a new team. At that time, the team only consisted of a few people whose main purpose was investigating the possibility of moving the Steam client and Left 4 Dead 2 over to Ubuntu.

Ubuntu only for now

They are just starting development and working with a single distribution makes more sense as they are experimenting with lots of stuff. It reduces the variability of the testing space and makes early iteration easier and faster. Also, Ubuntu is a popular distribution and has recognition with the general gaming and developer communities. 

It doesn’t however mean that Ubuntu will be the only distribution they will support. In future they will consider supporting other distributions after success of their efforts around Ubuntu.

Current Status

They have made good progress this year and now the Steam client is running on Ubuntu with all major features available. They are still giving attention and effort to minor features but it’s a good experience at the moment. In the near future, they will be setting up an internal beta focusing on the auto-update experience and compatibility testing.

Since the Steam client isn’t much without a game, they are also porting L4D2 to Ubuntu. This tests the game-related features of the Steam client, in addition to L4D2 gameplay on Ubuntu. Over the last few months, excellent progress has been made on several fronts and it now runs natively on Ubuntu 12.04. They are working hard to improve the performance and have made good progress. Their goal is to have L4D2 performing under Linux as well as it performs under Windows.

Action Plan

After successfully porting L4D2 to Ubuntu, Valve Linux team is focusing on the following projects:
  • Getting the Steam client onto Linux with full functionality
  • Optimizing a version of L4D2 running at a high frame rate with OpenGL
  • Porting additional Valve titles


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