Linux Goes Gaming: Valve and Steam Client Along for Ride

Well respected Linux Community member, writer, and coder Michael Larabel recently visited Valve Software and got a peak at Valve’s Linux development. Valve is focusing efforts on going native in the Linux environment with their Source Engine and ultimately the Steam Gaming Client service. This is big news for Linux fans and gamers alike.

Yup, you read that right.  According to Linux guru and writer Michael Larabel of the Phoronix.comValve is diving right into hardcore Linux game development.  In a recent interview with Valve’s Managing Director of Video Game Development Gabe Newell, Michael uncovered the dream plan for the Linux gamer’s Holy Grail: Native Linux gameplay.  In short, Valve is going all in on Linux development and this is huge.

So why is this a big deal?  Well, Linux users have been waiting a long time on native gameplay and this is the first glimmer of hope offered by a major development studio in some time.  For those new to Linux, users have to use emulators or other utilities to play most games on their systems.  Even when running games in an emulated or pass-through type environment, most games still don’t function as well as if they were running in a native environment.  This chokes system resources and ultimately defeats the purpose of running a lean Linux implementation like Ubuntu in the first place.  (For a great run down on Ubuntu check out Meet Ubuntu by our very own Ant Pruitt.)  Though no one truly knows how many Linux users there are, it would appear Valve’s interest lies in supporting the open source community by bringing their platform to the table.  It doesn’t hurt to also be the first major gaming development house to do so.

With Valve throwing dedicated professionals at this long-standing problem Linux fans can finally expect to see some significant changes.  This fall, Valve will beta test a single title that uses their Source engine for proof of concept.  Once a stable environment of the Source engine has been fielded and tested, Valve will move on to a bigger challenge: building an entire gaming client.  That’s right, not only will Valve bring their Source engine to the masses on Linux, they also plan to bring their entire Steam client to Linux as well.

Michael put it this way, “Valve and Gabe Newell’s interest in Linux goes beyond what would be expected of any normal game company, but Valve is certainly a unique beast. Listening to Gabe Newell talk about Linux for hours made me wonder whether he was a former ex-Microsoft employee (where he actually did work in his pre-Valve days in the 90’s) or the director of the Linux Foundation.”

(Left 4 Dead 2 Running native on Ubuntu. Photo Credit: Michael Larabel,

This is huge for Linux users and gamers. While I received no official response from Valve, this is the first time a major game developer is finally taking up the Linux banner and committing the appropriate resources to make something happen.  Michael got to look behind the curtain on the ongoing Linux development at Valve and we’ll all benefit from it.  To see the full interview and to get a hardcore Linux user’s perspective check out Michael’s full post on his website Phononix.

Keeping gamers and hardcore geeks up on all things important to tech.  I am Chris Poirier and this is



  • I’m SOOOOO PUMPED about this. I really want this to come to my system. I’m an Ubuntu fan for at least 5 years now and have no desire of going back to Windows. I really hate having to dual boot into Win7 when I want to play TF2 on Steam.

    Thanks for sharing this, Christopher!

    -RAP, II

  • When I can play SWTOR on Ubuntu, I’ll be ready to make the switch. As it is, almost all of my productivity tools are in the browser (GApps). Great read!

    • Thanks Carey! Working really hard to find those little nuggets of tech geek awesome wrapped in gamer heaven! This story was certainly one of those, but with E3 and a summer full of gaming news coming, more are certainly to follow!

  • only 1 post for probably the best talk about the beta, what a sad world we live in

    whereas in endgadget, we get 4 of the same posts that are half wrong