As wonderful as it is to use Linux on a desktop PC, gaming on Linux has been one of its weakest points. Yes, there are many Linux games but nowhere near as many as on Windows. That's changing. Valve, creator of the popular Steam game engine, has released its Steam for Linux Beta client.
Avid gamers have heard of Valve. It’s the publisher of such favorite games as Grand Theft Auto, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
Today, the company said it had launched a limited access beta for its new Steam for Linux client. It also includes Big Picture, the beta mode of Steam, designed for use with a TV and controller
“This is a huge milestone in the development of PC gaming,” said Gabe Newell, Valve president and co-founder in a statement. “Steam users have been asking us to support gaming on Linux. We’re happy to bring rich forms of entertainment and our community of users to this open, customer-friendly platform.”
The Steam for Linux Beta client is currently available for installation only on Ubuntu 12.04. “An overwhelming majority of beta applicants have reported they’re running the Ubuntu distro of Linux,” said Frank Crockett, a member of the Steam for Linux team in the same statement, “We intend to support additional popular distros in the future; we’ll prioritize development for these based on user feedback.”
Alas, it's a closed beta for now. Don’t get your hopes up: The first round of beta participants has already been selected, out of the 60,000 responses to its initial request for participants.
However. the Steam for Linux Beta client will become available to a widening group of users over the course of the testing and release cycle. Subsequent participants will be chosen from among survey respondents. Once the beta is more stable and its performance has improved, the company says, Valve will make the Steam for Linux client available to all Steam users.
Why is Steam doing this? I mean, after all, Linux, not counting all the Android games like Angry Birds, probably has less than 1% of the gaming market. The answer isn’t necessarily a heartfelt belief that the Linux desktop is going to take over. It’s because of Windows 8. Newell thinks, "Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space" and he wants to hedge his gaming system platform bets.
The R310 drivers support both the GeForce GTX 600 series GPUs (graphics processing units)), and earlier generations’ GeForce GPUs, such as the 8800 GT and above. Drivers are available for both 32-bit and 64-bit Linux systems.