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With Valve pushing Linux, the company joins The Linux Foundation
With Valve pushing Linux, the company joins The Linux Foundation
December 4, 2013 | By Mike Rose

December 4, 2013 | By Mike Rose
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"Joining the Linux Foundation is one of many ways Valve is investing in the advancement of Linux gaming."
- Mike Sartain of Valve explains the company's next step in supporting the future of video games in Linux.

Valve has been pushing Linux in a big way recently, adding Linux support to its Steam client, and making it the basis for the upcoming SteamOS and Steam Machine living room devices.

Now the company has joined The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, with the aim to make this new-found focus on Linux even more appealing to more people.

"Through these efforts, we hope to contribute tools for developers building new experiences on Linux, compel hardware manufacturers to prioritize support for Linux, and ultimately deliver an elegant and open platform for Linux users," says Sartain.

Want to know what game developers think of Valve's big Linux push? You should check out our feature on the topic.


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Comments


David Rosen
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While I've never used (nor seen it in action) I'm not against the push in the slightest. Every great stride that's ever happened (in our industry and others) has happened by someone(s) trying something different and pushing VERY hard to make it happen. Go for it Valve!

Wyatt Epp
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Even for the average non-gaming desktop user, this might be great news! Most of the more-influential members of the Foundation are mainly focused on corporate and enterprise environments. If Valve goes in at the Gold or Platinum level, they could be a major voice advocating for the ordinary person.

Cordero W
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Whenever I hear someone join the Linux foundation, I think "Well, there's another company/ individual becoming irrelevant."

I know Linux has its perks, but whenever a business says that they are pushing for it, it's simply a means of trying to monetize on their terms.

zed zeek
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Since when did IBM, Intel, Samsung, Oracle, AMD, Google etc become irrelevant

Kevin Fishburne
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Informative reply; we all now know what's in that pipe you're smoking. :)

You do have a point about Valve monetizing on their terms however, since it all started when Gabe flew off the handle about Microsoft's new app store.

The way I see it, since Linux literally runs on anything, freeing games from their hardware and OS overlords can only be a good thing. Unless you're Microsoft, Sony, Apple or Nintendo of course. Every now and then a company acting in their own self interest does end up helping the consumer, even if only incidentally.

Cordero W
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When you say OS overlords, I can't help but see a little contradiction in your reply. All you're saying is that one overlord is better than the other.

Valve: "Hey, come over to Linux everybody! That way you can use our SteamOS and remain under OUR umbrella of power instead of Windows. No, we don't have all the convenient programs that Windows have, but we're Valve. We never cheat you like Windows has (documented accounts pending) even though you don't own most of the games you buy on our service."

"Every now and then a company acting in their own self interest does end up helping the consumer, even if only incidentally. "

If only. I have nothing against Linux, but I won't delude myself that Linux is the better platform. This is essentially just a marketing campaign for companies like zed implied to move users to come under their own house of cards.

Edgar Harris
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I tried an experiment and installed Linux on my latest machine instead of Windows. I wanted to see if Linux applications and the web apps have caught up with Windows. What I found was a bit alarming. Linux was far easier to install and use than any Windows OS I've ever used in the past. Finding applications for Linux was a breeze, due to aptitude, and they were certainly plentiful. Not to mention installing applications for Linux was much easier. This was most evident with some of the exciting new no sql databases that are coming out. All in all, I think you're deluding yourself if you think Linux is missing the convenient software that's available on Windows. It's there in full force. The only software I've found that's lacking on Linux is video games. I realize that last one is kind of a big deal to people like us, but if Valve is successful, then this issue goes away.

Cordero W
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Edgar, I believe you're missing the point of customer adaption and convenience. Linux, while you yourself confirm that it's easy to install applications, installing applications is just as easy on Windows. That's not the point of bringing people over to Linux. You have many obstacles to overcome before Linux becomes a viable option to be on, primarily the open source problem. Actually, it's because of Linux's strength that this is its biggest weakness. Thought developing for Windows was hard. Oh man, it's going to be even more fun once people run into the problem of not only hardware incompatibility, but drivers, too. Man, oh man, and Linux doesn't have an on call or chat support like Microsoft either? What, they have to go to the Linux forums to find help? Or find a specific forum based on their Linux OS configurations? Wait, they have to go to an IRC room now?

I'm not going to fool myself in thinking anyone but you or me will have the patience for that.

Kevin Fishburne
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The only thing that comes close to the control or ownership of Linux is the word "Linux", whose trademark is owned by Linus Torvalds. Don't confuse Valve and Steam with Linux. If a game works in Steam on Linux it can work on Linux without Steam. Valve doesn't own or control Linux; we all do. So for Valve to effectively use Linux to consolidate its digital distribution monopoly they will have to require that games published using Steam not be distributed via any other mechanism, including the developer's own web site. I don't think Valve will do this for various reasons.

I'm not even arguing which platform is superior, just that Linux offers consumers an escape from proprietary competing operating systems, at no charge, and that being able to run and play most games on such a platform is good for the consumer.

How many people disagree with Microsoft and Sony's business strategies yet buy the consoles anyway because there's no other viable option? The freedom to choose has little merit when the choices are few.

I don't care what Valve's motives are; I just want the cake.

Edgar Harris
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The driver story for Linux is actually pretty decent. For starters the OS can most likely talk to your network adapter out of the gate, which is awesome. With Windws 7 and earlier the network driver never worked on install. It was so ridiculous. The one driver I needed to hunt down all of the other drivers didn't work. It does look like Windows 8 addresses this issue quite nicely, so kudos to MS for that. Linux also does a good job at detecting your video card and reommending drivers for it. That being said, the video card drivers that are available are pretty sub par. That's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to Valve's contributions. If Valve can improve the video card drivers for Linux, then we'll all benefit from that.

Cordero W
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@Kevin: I say Steam because Steam wants you to come over to Linux for Steam because that's about the only attraction any average consumer will be coming to it for. They're not coming for the freedom, the no charge, etc etc. The consumer doesn't care about that. Especially Steam users. They want to play their games. After that, they want to go use their browser, use their Window chat programs like Skype, they want to use Microsoft Office because it's the standard and dominating office suite. There's nothing enticing for users to come over. The Linux is and always will be a programmer's heaven and nothing else.

"How many people disagree with Microsoft and Sony's business strategies yet buy the consoles anyway because there's no other viable option? The freedom to choose has little merit when the choices are few."

The majority certainly didn't disagree with them when they made their choice with their wallets. They enjoyed their choices. As far as everyone is concerned but those few developers crying, Windows is still THE choice for gamers and developers.

Wyatt Epp
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@Cordero
"...installing applications is just as easy on Windows."

Emphatically disagree. In Linux, my workflow to install something is one step: Tell the package manager to install something. That's it.

It's like Steam, only for every general piece of software you could want.

"...primarily the open source problem."

Open source...problem? I'm guessing that just came out insufficiently qualified, because that statement makes no sense at all.

"...hardware incompatibility [and] drivers, too."

Could you clarify this statement? I've found one ethernet card and two wifi adapters (All Broadcom, natch) in the past eight years that don't work out of the box. Your GPU drivers are the same as on Windows (literally. Something like 90% of the driver code is shared across platforms for both AMD and Nvidia). Pretty much every webcam ever made works. Printer setup (if you're into that) is painless. Scanners work. Every USB, parallel, serial, or SCSI bit and bob you can think of probably has support in the kernel.

"...on call or chat support like Microsoft..."

I've never had any luck with MS support. I suspect that's not uncommon, either; hundreds of Windows-oriented user support forums and chat rooms didn't spring out of a vacuum.

I appreciate your dissent, but I'm rather curious where it actually comes from.

Edgar Harris
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@Cordero
"...they want to use Microsoft Office because it's the standard and dominating office suite".

The future actually doesn't look so bright for Office. Google Docs is giving offic a good run right now, and Google Docs is set to dominate as people move to cloud apps. I personally never use MS Office. I always go with Google Docs. Even if my work requires a Word Document, I will create that document in Google Docs and export it to a docx.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/11/13/technology/enterprise/microsoft-o
ffice-google-docs/

Kevin Fishburne
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While I respectfully disagree with you, time will tell, as the gears are moving ever faster.

Craig Jensen
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Not sure what Valve is thinking here.

I installed linux like 15+ years ago, played with it, and then uninstalled it. I love unix. Sun did a good job.

Let's face it though: Linux is not going prime time.

Maybe they are just trying to annoy Microsoft so that M$ is more friendly toward them. That's the only angle I can really figure.

Kevin Fishburne
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I did the same thing with Windows 98 15+ years ago. And I believe Linux has a wider install base than Unix at the moment.

zed zeek
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>>Let's face it though: Linux is not going prime time.<<
from the Linux foundation website
"Since its inception 20 years ago, the Linux operating system has become the most widely used software in the world."

So whos right?

Kevin Forest
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My suspicion is that this includes servers, embedded devices, etc...

Edgar Harris
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I installed Linux about 10 years ago myself. It was the Mandrake distro, and it was horrible. That's part of the reason why I was so surprised when I isntalled Ubuntu about 6 months ago. Linux has come a very long ways in the past 10 years.

Aiden Eades
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Funny, I played on a mac 15+ years ago, and I don't think that'll ever make prime time either. Oh wait things change, silly me.

Wylie Garvin
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"Not sure what Valve is thinking here."

It should be pretty obvious? They're thinking "Microsoft is trying to close their platform and become a walled garden like Apple" (Metro, the Windows 8 Store, etc.) App developers for Windows don't seem to be buying into it yet. But Valve's platform, Steam, is dependent on Microsoft's OS and they don't want to be left out in the cold if Microsoft's changes alienate users, or if MS turns hostile towards Valve/Steam itself. (Microsoft's long history of anti-competitive business practices is well documented.) Steam is their cash cow, all of the money it brings in allows Valve to remain independent and just do their own thing at their own pace. But it took them a long time to grow Steam into the valuable platform that it is today, and of course they want to protect that investment.

So Valve is trying to turn Linux into a viable gaming platform that can host Steam. They're working on their own Steambox hardware designs that will basically be Linux-running PCs with Steam on them, hooked up to your TV in big picture mode. It will basically be win/win for everyone who cares about gaming on PCs, because (1) Linux will finally have a "de-facto standard" gaming distribution that developers will find it worthwhile to target, and (2) other distributions will want to be compatible with the Steambox distro so that they can also run the games. So gaming and gamedev for Linux might finally achieve enough critical mass to become a real thing, and that will be great.

Anyway, Valve is doing these things to assure that Steam has a future even if Windows somehow becomes too hostile to their platform. If they manage to grow the mainstream gaming market and/or take some marketshare from the big console vendors, that's just a bonus.

disclaimer, This is just my own opinion, not that of my employer, etc.


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