steam logo Valve squashes rumours of Linux native Steam client

Now this is definitely not a good way to start the week, especially if you are a Linux user. Unfortunately, Valve has finally come clear with its plans: that there will be no Linux-native client for Steam, and the rumours in the past were nothing but just rumours. What does this mean for Linux gaming?

Read on for more information.

steam logo Valve squashes rumours of Linux native Steam client

When Valve released its Mac-native Steam client, pundits heralded it as a new breakthrough for cross-platform gaming on the PC. After all, Steam had access to a huge library of games from both Valve and other thrid-party of independent developers, and achieving inter-platform compatibility was a huge boost to any OS seeking to target gamers as part of its intended audience.

Naturally, hopes were high on Valve pushing out a Linux version of Steam to achieve true cross-platform compatibility. This hope gained a lot more fuel and credibility after Phoronix, a technology website centered around the Linux operating system revealed that the BASH script used to launch OS X’s Steam client contained flags to identify whether the user was running on a Linux distribution:

 elif [ "$UNAME" == "Linux" ]; then
   PLATFORM=linux32
   # prepend our lib path to LD_LIBRARY_PATH
   export LD_LIBRARY_PATH="${STEAMROOT}"/${PLATFORM}:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH
fiif [ -z $STEAMEXE ]; then
  STEAMEXE=steam
fi

ulimit -n 2048

# and launch steam
cd "$STEAMROOT" 
*Steam launcher script courtesy of Phoronix

However, it turned out that all the talk about Valve porting Steam over to Linux turned out to be nothing more than just rumours. Apparently, a website known as GameIndustry.biz managed to score an interview with Valve Marketing VP Doug Lombardi, and when asked about the rumours of a Linux Steam client in the works, his answer was curt, and to the point:

“There is no Linux version that we’re working on right now.”

Of course, such news is definitely going to hurt many Linux users who have been hoping for a chance to get their hands on the latest games which Windows gamers have been going crazy over. However, this might also have been expected, given the state of Linux desktop computing today. For one, there are countless Linux distributions in the market today, most of which differ from each other in the location and availability of various system libraries (for example, TLS is not bundled in a stock Fedora installation, but is loaded in most other distributions). This alone makes dependency management extremely challenging in Linux, with the only way to work around being to provide a self-contained binary or to statically link to the various libraries, which amounts to needless hassle.

The other reason would have to be the business viability of a Linux port. In addition to the additional work needed to make the games and the client workable on Linux, there is also the issue of DRM on Steam. While DRM is almost a non-issue on Steam due to its implementation method (online-only authentication), this will not sit well with Free Software idealists who are extremely opposed to any form of proprietary software or DRM. And anyone hoping for Valve to suddenly release all of their games under an open-source or free software license is really clutching at straws, simply because it is not going to happen.

However, no amount of speculation is going to change the hard fact that Steam will not be coming to Linux anytime in the near future. Of course, business decisions are not set in stone, and there is always a chance that a similar system may finally be made available on the third most widely-used operating system. But we will not be holding our breath on that, and we’d advice other Linux users to do the same as well.

Source: TFTS