Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 12th May 2010 15:07 UTC
Games "Valve Corporation has today rolled out their Steam Mac OS X client to the general public and confirmed something we have been reporting for two years: the Steam content delivery platform and Source Engine are coming to Linux. This news is coming days after we discovered proof in Steam's Mac OS X Client of Linux support and subsequently found more Linux references and even the unreleased Steam Linux client. The day has finally come and Linux gamers around the world have a reason to rejoice, as this is the biggest news for the Linux gaming community that sees very few tier-one titles." This means Linux users can finally enjoy two of the best games in recent years: Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. BOOMER!
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Phoronix over the top
by elanthis on Wed 12th May 2010 19:12 UTC
elanthis
Member since:
2007-02-17

Phoronix has been pretty... lax in its reporting on Steam for Linux. It's nothing more than a big rumor mill at the moment.

Valve HAS NOT OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED JACK SHIT for Linux. Not a single word. Phoronix is blowing their load over a line in an article on an unrelated site, which could be nothing more than the result of a lazy journalist who read Phoronix and thought their past articles meant Valve announced Steam on Linux.

Valve hasn't announced anything. There is proof that someone at Valve is experimenting with Linux support for Steam, but there isn't even a remotely usable client beta yet, and they may very well decide to dump the entire project. It may even just be a side project of a single developer at Valve with no company support at all. Or it may even just be released for no reason other than to make it easy to install the already existing dedicated Linux server binaries Valve makes available, not to deliver the actual game clients. Even if it is coming, it could be many, many months before it's actually available.

The OS X port makes a Linux port a lot easier, certainly. It means they already have working OpenGL support. It means they already stripped any hard Windows dependencies. It means they already have the necessary abstractions and code cleanups necessary for cross-platform development. At the very least, it means that they have a clear path ahead when it comes to implementing a third platform, which should be a lot less work than adding a second.

What the OS X port does not mean is that they actually are adding the necessary glue code and platform bits for X11+POSIX support. The unofficial binaries people have gotten off of the Steam servers for Linux can't even render a few simple boxes and text properly, so it is probably safe to assume that there are a lot of platform-specific bits that need to be tweaked or rewritten to support the Linux stack. We have no official confirmation that Valve is actually going to put forth the time and money to code up all the missing Linux-specific bits that both Steam and Source likely need to get running. The OpenGL part is out of the way, sure, but there are quite a few more bits that are needed besides just the basic graphics. Steam might even be using platform-specific 2D rendering libraries for all we know, requiring a whole third rewrite of the entire UI library backend to get it working correctly on Linux (which would explain why the unofficial binaries are so broken looking). Text rendering APIs at the very least are still heavily platform specific, with Windows and OS X having their proprietary libraries and Linux having 34 of its own for each widget toolkit. I rather doubt they are using Cairo for their cross-platform toolkit, so they may need to go and get a backend for that working, too. Let's not even get into audio (including voice chat), where they're definitely going to have their work cut out for them unless they're already using OpenAL. And then there's the Valve DRM mechanism (yes, there is one, albeit a very tame and unobtrusive one compared to most of the others, and only some games use it) that may or may not require kernel modules as I do not know any details about how their DRM is implemented.

Until Valve says otherwise, zip your pants back up and calm down. We may still never see Steam or Source on Linux. Throw the party when Valve themselves actually says we will.

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