It’s no secret that Valve founder Gabe Newel doesn’t like Windows 8, and the fact that he’s a fan of Linux is clear: as well as driving efforts to port the Steam digital distribution service and a raft of games to the open-source platform and using the software as the basis for the impending Steam Box console, his company has recently started advertising the previously-closed Steam for Linux beta.
Designed as part of his company’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Microsoft, Steam for Linux ports Valve’s digital distribution service – previously exclusive to Windows, before slowly making its way to Apple’s OS X platform – to Linux. While the company’s efforts are currently limited to Canonical’s Ubuntu, the community has been hard at work making sure the Steam for Linux client runs on other Linux variants with notable success on other Debian-based distributions as well as Fedora and Arch Linux.
Thus far, however, Valve’s Linux plans have been limited to hoping fans of its software come to them: the previous closed beta for the Steam for Linux client waslimited to a mere thousand applicants, and even when the beta opened up to allValve did little to promote the software – likely as a crude means of preventing the servers from being overwhelmed at too early a stage in the porting process.
Now Valve is really bringing out the big guns: this week, the company started openly advertising the existence of Steam for Linux to users of its software on all platforms, inviting them to join the beta test and see what gaming without Windows is all about.
As well as a Linux tab on the main Steam Store screen, which provides immediate access to the games currently available for the platform through the Steam for Linux beta, the company has updated its About Steam page to focus on Linux. As well as a picture of Tux, the Linux mascot, the page includes links to the Steam for Linux community group, the full list of Linux-compatible games available through the service and access to a feedback forum.
Interestingly, the page also includes a link to download Ubuntu 12.04, Canonical’s long-term support (LTS) version of its Debian-based Linux distribution – meaning Valve is actively encouraging gamers on Windows and OS X systems to download and try out Linux, which is available free of charge under an open-source licence.
While the Steam Box itself may be a year or so away, it’s clear that Valve is interested in laying the foundations well in advance – and with Newell confirming that the Valve Steam Box, distinct from versions offered by third-party manufacturers who licence the name, will be based on Linux, expect to see plenty more in the way of Linux marketing from Valve in the near future.