Over the past few months, rumours have turned into facts as Steam for Linux has gone from whispers to reality. Late yesterday though, a new blog went up from the Valve Linux team, announcing the progress and plans of the team on their march to bring Steam to the Linux community.
The main news from the blog is that the first Steam Client for Linux will be coming to Ubuntu. “We’re just starting development and working with a single distribution is critical when you are experimenting, as we are.” It was explained on the blog, “It reduces the variability of the testing space and makes early iteration easier and faster.”
Whether you dislike Ubuntu or not, you can’t deny it’s a popular distro, and one of the few known Linux distributions outside the community. It won’t just be limited to Ubuntu for the rest of time though, as the team went on to confirm that if the client on Ubuntu is successful from a technical perspective, they will look at supporting future distros.
While this is big news, it’s interesting to note that the Steamworks SDK has allowed developers to create Steam for Linux builds of games – and this isn’t a new thing. Talking on the True PC Gaming Podcast, game developer Ethan Lee mentioned it while discussing his work porting games to Linux. We followed him up on Twitter, and he confirmed this.
@RobThez Well, it’s compatible with the Steamworks SDK, and I imagine that’s been possible for a while… we just need libsteam_api.so.
— Ethan Lee (@flibitijibibo) July 16, 2012
This was yesterday, before the new announcement. While Valve is busy getting Left 4 Dead 2 ready for when the client is released, this probably means a lot of third party games will be making their way onto Steam for Linux. According to Ethan on the podcast, the jump from the Linux or Mac port of a Steam game can be very small, meaning more games might make their way over early.
There are already a lot of indie titles available for Linux, some of which make up the humble bundles. After the announcement, we reached out to Ethan Lee again on his thoughts:
@RobThez Very much excited, hoping to be able to work with them as a developer of Linux games (and also as a non-Ubuntu user). We shall see!
— Ethan Lee (@flibitijibibo) July 17, 2012
There’s currently no word on when the client will be released, but even for Valve, it may be sooner rather than later.