1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

Is Valve's Steam Client Bad & Damaging For Linux?

Valve

Published on 07 April 2013 11:29 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Valve
183 Comments

When I exclusively reported last year that Valve would be releasing their Steam client for Linux and Source Engine, most Linux desktop users and gamers were filled with joy. However, now that the Steam client is out in the wild and more and more games are coming to Linux via this digital distribution system, it seems not everyone is happy.

For the past week within the Phoronix Forums has been a very active thread entitled Is Valve's Steam antithetical to Linux and the very core of the open source spirit?

The thread has sparked dozens of responses. The original poster's views are that Steam is anti-ethical to Linux because developers must sign an NDA not to discuss their Valve contracts, Valve has some say over which games are distributed/promoted, control over some game pricing, reduces rights of the game developers, etc.

The poster is also not happy that the code to the Steam client is not open-source and that it uses proprietary protocols. The DanLamb user says, "Valve wants Steam to take away rights of Linux developers." He concludes, "I don't seen any positives out of this for Linux."

Fortunately, most Linux gamers don't see this way as Steam being a detriment to Linux. Valve supporting Linux has been the most significant boost to the Linux desktop in many years, perhaps ever. Most of the complaints expressed in the thread are just because Steam is closed-source software. Sure, it would be great if Steam was open-source software, but it's not, yet Valve is doing much good for Linux -- both directly and indirectly.

Among the positive Linux activities that come to mind this Sunday morning include Valve promoting and embracing OpenGL and SDL 2.0, Gabe Newell personally promoting their Linux activities to other game studios and developers, Valve ensuring their own titles reach Linux and are of a first-rate status even titles more than a decade old, the mobile and home Steam gaming consoles running Linux that will greatly expand the number of Linux devices on the market, plus a lot more. The Source Engine coming to Linux directly led to significant driver improvements for Linux from AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA that benefit all desktop users too.

In terms of the original poster's other fears, NDAs are simply common in many B2B negotiations. From what I could infer from Gabe last year when talking about their original Linux plans, the cut that Valve takes from game developers distributing their titles on Steam is less than what Google takes from Android developers and what Apple takes from iOS applications. When it comes to their console plans, it's a much better bargain and easier to push down updates than what Microsoft charges for their XBox marketplace or Sony for their PlayStation.

Meanwhile, Desura coming to Linux really didn't do much and open-source gaming really hasn't advanced much at all. Most open-source games look like shit and beyond the artwork the latest open-source engines really aren't competitive or comparable to Source Engine, Unigine, or Unreal Engine 3. So while it would be nice if Source/Steam was open-source, it's not, but Valve is making great contributions to the Linux desktop.

Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. 13-Way Low-End GPU Comparison With AMD's AM1 Athlon
  2. ASUS AM1I-A: A Mini-ITX Board For Socketed Kabini APUs
  3. Mini-Box M350: A Simple, Affordable Mini-ITX Case
  4. Overclocking The AMD AM1 Athlon & Sempron APUs
Latest Linux Articles
  1. Ubuntu 12.04.4 vs. 13.10 vs. 14.04 LTS Desktop Benchmarks
  2. AMD OpenCL Performance With AM1 Kabini APUs
  3. A Quick Look At GCC 4.9 vs. LLVM Clang 3.5
  4. Are AMD Athlon/Sempron APUs Fast Enough For Steam On Linux?
Latest Linux News
  1. The Improv ARM Board Still Isn't Shipping; Riding A Dead Horse?
  2. Debian To Maintain 6.0 Squeeze As An LTS Release
  3. Wasteland 2 Is Finally Released For Linux Gamers
  4. FreeBSD Advances For ARM, Bhyve, Clang
  5. Ubuntu 14.04 LTS "Trusty Tahr" Officially Released
  6. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS vs. 14.04 LTS Server Benchmarks
  7. QEMU 2.0 Released With ARM, x86 Enhancements
  8. Running The Unity 8 Preview Session On Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  9. R600 Gallium3D Disables LLVM Back-End By Default
  10. Fedora 21 Gets GNOME 3.12, PHP 5.6, Mono 3.4
  11. Fedora Workstation Is Making Me Quite Excited
  12. Maynard: A Lightweight Wayland Desktop
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. The GNOME Foundation Is Running Short On Money
  2. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  3. Radeon 8000M problematic on Linux?
  4. Linux Kernel Developers Fed Up With Ridiculous Bugs In Systemd
  5. After Jack Keane, RuseSoft will briing Ankh 3 to Linux through Desura
  6. Suspected PHP Proxy Issue
  7. Change installation destination from home directory
  8. Bye bye BSD, Hello Linux: A Sys Admin's Story