Earlier this year we shared that Valve's Source Engine is coming to Linux after receiving some information that pointed in this direction. In addition, a year ago Valve Software was publicly looking for a senior software engineer to port Windows-based games to Linux platform. There have long been rumors and hopes among Linux users that Steam games would become natively available for Linux, but we have additional confirmation that Valve Software has ported their Steam game client to Linux. In Valve's most recent title, Left 4 Dead, there are shared Linux libraries shipping alongside this Windows game client.
We were tipped off this morning by an attentive Phoronix reader that in the demo copy of Left 4 Dead there were several Linux library files worth investigating. In particular, one of these files was even named steamclient_linux.so. This is in the Windows demo client -- we're not referring to the Linux dedicated server-only version. Left 4 Dead is a first person shooter developed by Turtle Rock Studios and then acquired by Valve and is written around the Source Engine. Left 4 Dead brings several new features to the Source Engine such as post-processing effects, rendering and AI improvements, and dynamic lighting and shadowing improvements. The Windows client was released earlier this month and a playable demo a few days before the release. The retail game is distributed via Valve's Steam client, but the demo is no longer available through the Steam network.
With the demo version, there were shared libraries for Linux with the game client on Windows. The Left 4 Dead playable demo has twenty Linux library files shipping with the client (not simply the dedicated server version) and among them were steamclient_linux.so, studiorender_i486.so, vstdlib_i486.so, libsteam_api_linux.so, and engine_i486.so. We had bought the Left 4 Dead Windows game through Steam to continue our investigation, but the shared libraries were not to be found in that build at this time. The Linux files are obviously also present in the latest dedicated Linux server for Left 4 Dead through the HLDS utility.
We had explored the various shared libraries using the strings command. Among the many strings within steamclient_linux.so that caught our attention were k_EMsgClientRequestForgottenPasswordEmailResponse, k_EMsgClientGetLobbyMetadataResponse, k_EMsgClientPurchaseWithMachineID, k_EMsgClientGamesPlayed, k_EMsgAMSetCommunityState, SetOverlayNotificationPosition hates linux, Average %.2f fps, %.2f ms per frame, Steam_GSSendSteam3UserConnect, GetBillingAddress. These strings plus hundreds of other technically shouldn't be needed if this were simply for Linux server usage -- even though no Linux server binary ships with the Windows game on Steam.
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