Steam for Linux confirmed (April Fool's Day)

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Note: This is an old April Fool's post. But for real news, see this story from April 2012--Steam on Linux is expected by the end of the year.

I'm sorry. That post title was a cheap way to get you to read this, wasn't it? But since it's April Fool's Day, it seemed like the best time to talk about the greatest joke on Linux users--the eternal wait for Steam.

I confess. For about a month, I've been spreading rumors. Back in February, I saw a blog post that said the hypothetical link to the Linux client on the Steam store gives you a 403 error, implying that there's something there you're just not meant to see. . . yet. It's still true. If you go to, you indeed still get a 403. So as I mentioned on The Linux Link Tech Show this week, I'm holding onto my optimism.

But then, it's been almost a year since a post on Phoronix assured us with slightly better rumors and link-following that there would be Steam for Linux by June. In August, Steam confirmed that it wasn't.

Back to the optimism, just this past week, someone in the Steam forums started talking about the possibility of Steam for Android. It's not your Linux desktop, even if it was games and not just chat/social functions, but it would still be a step in a good direction.

What do you think? Hope, or give up?

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Ruth Suehle is the community leadership manager for Red Hat's Open Source and Standards team. She's co-author of Raspberry Pi Hacks (O'Reilly, December 2013) and a senior editor at GeekMom, a site for those who find their joy in both geekery and parenting.


It's always quite frustrating when people pretend that there was never an accessible client (or that it's just the dedicated server client) - having actually run (as well as it could - without working font rendering or the WebKit engine) the client when it was accessible (and updated, albiet probably automatically) for several days, thanks to the pretty awesome guys in the Phoronix IRC channel at the time...

Initially its bash script would just (in a terminal) try and fail to look for updates from an internal Valve server, but eventually it was discovered a configarution file could be placed in the directory to make it use the aforementioned URL, which worked; following that however it used to encounter some issue before starting any UI. But eventually one of the guys in the IRC managed to patch it (somehow) to get some form of UI to load, and over time they got a little better at it - by the end it was possible to log in and get a 'shell' of the Steam UI - all text was missing, and the WebKit engine was missing, so no store etc, but you could see notifications and funnily enough send (yet not yourself see) Steam chat messages. Not long after this the file went 403... then a few months ago it went 404, but then about a month later 403 again.

But I digress - whatever happens, I've always argued that Valve would be in the best position of any of the game publishers/developers to take a good shot at the Chicken and Egg problem of gaming on Linux:
* with some brilliant and very popular first party games (Half-Life, Team Fortress, Portal, etc etc)
* an engine which is designed to provide a 'write run, run anywhere' solution on supported platforms for those developing games on it - so in other words, were Source to support Linux (with a lot of the same required work already been done for OS X), they'd easily be able to bring almost all of their games except the early GoldSrc games (ignoring that GoldSrc already supports OpenGL...), as well as those of third parties using the engine.
* having pretty much the most popular game distribution service, in addition to the aforementioned Source games, they'd be able to bring many of the Indie games that already have Linux ports (e.g. World of Goo) as they're already doing on OS X with Steam Play.
* despite being so successful, still being a privately run company must surely give Valve a lot more chance to take risks, as they surely already have in the past (e.g. their model of keeping TF2 players enticed with big free updates, in order to bring new players and get them into the general Steam ecosystem).

Oh damn, this was supposed to be a short comment and I've written as massive one as ever... oh well. Anyway my point is, it'd make far more sense for Valve to test the Linux waters than it would for any other large game developer/publisher (e.g. EA). There was of course the denial by Valve of working on a Linux client "right now" a few months back, but considering what a risky move Linux support (in the gaming industry) would supposedly be, it's surely something you'd not announce until you're definite about launching it and are just about to do so.

Thanks for the background--I'd heard there were definitely parts last year, but nothing as functional as what you describe. It seems so clearly an opportunity to the people who want it that it's hard to figure out why they haven't gone ahead and done it. But like any other business decision, I'm sure they have their reasons. [insert cynical or fanboy theories as appropriate]

If you really think about it what can steam really offer the Linux desktop that Synaptic + PlayOnLinux do not? Oh right...cruddy DRM because THAT'S worth waiting for...

Umm... How about Native support for major game titles?! Are you daft, or can you not see the benefit?

Obviously Steam/Valve don't want to anger MS Monopoly, so they deliver Windows software with partial support for Mac/BSD systems. When Steam is threatened by another direct-download supplier (probably google) they'll open their well-prepared doors when the reprisals from Microsoft are nullified by free markets.

linux is in your phone, TV, Blu-ray, router, mp3 player and most other devices you own that have an operating system. At the end of the day, license-free devices win out in the market over those that require a fee to the toll troll OS.

Steam will be a competitor long after Microsoft is just another bottom-feeding IP lawsuit income corporation.

Consider the fairly recent 'Games for Windows Live', and the 'Mac App Store', both of which must be competing with Steam to a degree, so Valve could make the case (to itself) that it currently faces less first-part competition on Linux (yes there's the Ubuntu Software Centre, but I'm sure Canonical would rather sacrifice some sales there then pass an opportunity to have Steam).

I'm not holding my breath but I also not wineing (har har). I'm just waiting for it to happen and happily playing Sauerbraten. Lord knows I'm easily addicted to cheap video games so it's not even a bad thing they've taken their sweet ash time getting around to it. When it does roll around I'll be excited to play L4d and a dozen other games that will surely be antiques. I'll even throw down for another copy of nwn2 platinum on my hypothetical future steam account when a special rolls around.

I'm wagering I'm not the only one who is holding back his wallet for native linux support. When it comes and it comes right I want to show the right support in that way vegans completely fail to understand.

Just as a reminder of our article last year on this topic. Proof that we were duped with hope.

i'm sorry but you are out of line for creating that title. a google search for "steam linux" brings up your page as the second result. you're generating traffic based on a lie, not to mention getting peoples hopes up, and i'm sure it wont be long before your page is the first result. apologising for it means nothing - if you were sorry you would change the title.

I'm sorry if you felt tricked--if it had been an actual joke article that said Steam had come to Linux, I'd probably even have taken it down by now. But I really do hope that if there's that much continued interested in it, that Steam will take notice.

I do recognize, though, that out of the context of April Fool's Day when it was posted, it is more misleading. I'll add "(April Fool's Day)" to the title.

Ruth Suehle i'll remember your name when i'm reading tech articles...

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