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Valve Announces Linux-Based SteamOS 510

Posted by Soulskill
from the inexorable-linux dept.
Today Valve Software announced SteamOS, a Linux-based gaming operating system designed for, as Valve puts it, "living room machines." They say, "In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we're now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level. Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases." One major feature they're touting is the ability to use the SteamOS machine to stream video games from other Windows and Mac computers in the house to your TV. They mention media streaming as well, but without much detail. "With SteamOS, 'openness' means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they've been able to. Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love. SteamOS will continue to evolve, but will remain an environment designed to foster these kinds of innovation."
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Valve Announces Linux-Based SteamOS

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  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by vivaoporto (1064484) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:13PM (#44925553)
    But does it run Windows?
  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:16PM (#44925581)

    Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want.

    Thus turning the console into - dun dun dunnnnnn - a desktop?

  • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:16PM (#44925583) Journal

    You know, when I think back on my first Linux install way back in 1993 or so with Slackware, who would have thought that Linus's project would end up on hundreds of millions of servers, smartphones, tablets, game systems, embedded hardware and the like. I find the whole thing rather breathtaking. Linux really is one of the great successes of the computer age.

    • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

      by meta-monkey (321000) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:26PM (#44925729) Journal

      You think it's breathtaking that the new Steam box runs linux? Just imagine a Beowulf cluster of them!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And yet it could be so much more.

      Linux games that run well across multiple distributions have been out since when, the original Unreal Tournament? Perhaps even earlier? I'm talking about commercial games of course, if you go to the free software offerings the list gets larger.

      Now all of a sudden in 2013, it seems impossible to produce a binary of ANY of the games on Steam that run well across any other distribution than Ubuntu...in fact I tried it -on- Ubuntu and had problems with Amnesia starting, whereas

      • by kermidge (2221646)

        Can't speak for everyone, obviously, but why would I want a dual-boot setup just to run games? To me it's a hassle to have to re-boot just to get a particular environment. My preference is use Wine (CrossOver, actually) or if necessary a virtual machine. I play my games in a window anyway; I prefer to have convenient access to my computer. Then it becomes another hassle viz. Wine compatibility, of course. Having money and space for several systems would not displease me but that's not in the cards.

    • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Monday September 23, 2013 @03:33PM (#44927141)

      Linux really is one of the great successes of the computer age.

      But there sure is an astonishing contrast between how much it has enriched Linus' personal fortunes vs., say, Steve Ballmer (never mind Bill Gates), or for that matter Stephen Elop [slate.com] or Carly Fiorina [cnn.com].

      Let us never confuse creating value with capturing value; somehow we have to get them better aligned.

      • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bmk67 (971394) on Monday September 23, 2013 @05:57PM (#44928663)

        Let us never confuse creating value with capturing value; somehow we have to get them better aligned.

        Do we?

        Because you know, I was under the impression that not everybody measured value and success by the fatness of one's wallet.

  • by Dega704 (1454673) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:18PM (#44925621)
    This has the potential to end Windows as the dominant gaming platform; maybe even as a gaming platform in general. Once that happens, one of the biggest obstacles to mass desktop Linux adoption will be gone. Excellent.......
    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:30PM (#44925763)

      You can't enforce DRM effectively until you lock down the device completely. So, of course Steam wants to control the OS. SteamOS sounds exactly like Microsoft's strategy of embracing, extending, and then extinguishing open standards.

      So, yes, SteamOS will bring the Linux kernel to the masses, but as to the actual *benefits* of Linux -- transparency and freedom -- Valve is going to kill those.

      • by devman (1163205) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:38PM (#44925853)

        DRM will work fine, just as it does on Windows, and it won't be unbreakable, just like its not unbreakable on Windows. It just needs to work well enough to be more of a hassle than simply buying the legal copy on Steam.

        There will be cracks and patches for Steam games on Linux just as there are for Windows, and you'll get them from the same seedy corners of the internet with the same risks of getting pwned ("yes this crack absolutely needs root to work, trust us").

        So basically, no difference.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by IanCal (1243022)

          It just needs to work well enough to be more of a hassle than simply buying the legal copy on Steam.

          And given the ease of paying on steam, as well as the low cost, you don't need to have much of a barrier for it to be effective.

          • by devman (1163205) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:04PM (#44926111)

            You can see this same phenomenon at work on Android. There are lots of GPL apps that are sold on the Play store and earn the maintainer a couple of bucks an install for the work they did in the port. However, being GPL software you can download the source and build the .apk for free and sideload it.

            People still buy the Play store version even though there is a free and (unlike in the Steam case) legal alternative. Make it easy and they will come, and likely pay you.

        • There will be cracks and patches for Steam games on Linux just as there are for Windows, and you'll get them from the same seedy corners of the internet with the same risks of getting pwned. ("yes this crack absolutely needs root to work, trust us").

          So when the crack demands root access that's just fine, chroot has very good performance

      • It seems to me that this has never been valve's behaviour in the past. Their business model seems to be based on making buying more convenient than torrenting, and also on multiplayer server use as DRM. I don't think there is a single game on my steam account that I couldn't have pirated a single player only version of, and I am not averse to piracy at all, yet I bought some games. If you can't get past steam DRM you aren't trying at all. I did it by accident the other day.
    • So all of the older windows game work as. There are some open source ones that will need a lot of work to have them run on mac or Linux.

      Now open mac os that run no non apple hardware can be even better.

    • Microsoft doesn't move quickly, and over the last couple years, they don't move intelligently.

      With the change of management pending, and the fact that some of top contenders for the top spot are...um...remarkably surprising...I wouldn't expect a technical response to this, but rather a legal one.

  • SteamOS and XBMC? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kieran Evans (3181069) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:20PM (#44925637)
    Now comes the question, How well will XBMC integrate with this? If they both behave well together it's going to make for a damn good HTPC setup. Any word on if this is a completely own-rolled Linux Distro, or is it, as I suspect, an Ubuntu/Debian derivative due to their previous interactions?
    • by Microlith (54737)

      Given the stated support for remote streaming of media, you might not need XBMC. And there's no word on the base platform, yet.

    • If it's just a different distro, you shouldn't have trouble building XBMC for it.

  • by MetricT (128876) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:21PM (#44925645) Homepage

    "Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three."

    I'm assuming Wednesday is the Steambox announcement. You guys *really* need something with with a "3" in it for a launch. I don't think "Half-Life: Source" is gonna cut it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ou guys *really* need something with with a "3" in it for a launch. I don't think "Half-Life: Source" is gonna cut it.

      Like 3 new hats?

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      I am wondering if there will be a Steambox announcement. Perhaps, but with the announcement of SteamOS, with the flexibility to be either a gaming device itself, or accept in home streams of games from a more powerful machine, I wonder if it will primarily be a spec that other hardware devs can produce, like LG or Samsung.

      "Introducing the Samsung Galaxy Gamer, with SteamOS and Gesture Sense UI overlay" :P

    • by discord5 (798235) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:04PM (#44926105)

      You guys *really* need something with with a "3" in it for a launch.

      Holy shit! Left3Dead! Hat Fortress 3! DOTA3! Portal 3! CounterStr... Nevermind, nobody wants yet another counterstrike.

  • Does this make Linux qualify for Steampunk? :)
  • If you notice... (Score:5, Informative)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:33PM (#44925791)
    The original page [steampowered.com] on steam has two more icons to light up and a new countdown ending 2 days hence. Apparently there are two more announcements to go.
    • by tb()ne (625102)
      Well, if o is SteamOS, I'd guess that the next announcement, [o ], is the SteamBox, (since it looks like SteamOS in a box).
    • Re:If you notice... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mypalmike (454265) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:47PM (#44925931) Homepage

      The icons appear to be...


      "O" - A gaming OS
      "[O ]" - A box running the gaming OS?
      "O + O" - A gaming network?

      • by sabernet (751826)

        I wonder if the third icon is a "Cloud play" system similar to Gaikai and onLive.

      • by eclectro (227083)

        "O + O" - A gaming network?

        My bet on the third icon (from the page);

        Workshop
        The creative energy of Steam users takes shape in the Workshop - your one-stop shop for the best add-ons available. Here you can create, discover, and download a nearly endless supply of top-quality user-created content.

      • by astro (20275)

        Actually, when I saw this, I thought:

        "O" - Single player
        "[O ]" - Multiplayer with remote, internet, co-players.
        "[O + O]" - In-person multiplayer, console style.

  • Sounds like that's what they're going for- an "open" OS that can be used for any gaming device. It's a neat idea, but...

    It will fail spectacularly. There is no money to be made on console hardware. Who is going to bother building a SteamOS device besides Valve? No one, because Valve is going to be making all the money.

    Valve would've been smarter to go all-out, and just build a new proprietary console, but one that is supremely developer and consume friendly. Maybe that is what they are doing, but they are d

    • by tom229 (1640685) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:54PM (#44925991)
      I don't know. If i can install SteamOS on my gaming hardware (that currently runs windows), stream that to my TV, and sit on the couch with a wireless controller.. I think I'd be pretty happy. Steam is by far the largest repository for games in the world so they would potentially have the developer backing to move a lot of future titles to linux.

      What's more, if they release this OS in conjunction with a hardware release, that makes the entire process I described above easy for someone with little to no technical knowledge. Developing their own hardware also should alleviate a lot of the notorious driver issues with any *nix distribution.

      I think this could work. And more importantly I want this to work. The less money I'm forced to give Microsoft, the better.
    • by steveha (103154)

      It will fail spectacularly. There is no money to be made on console hardware. Who is going to bother building a SteamOS device besides Valve? No one, because Valve is going to be making all the money.

      I predict that you will see at least one or two companies selling small form factor PCs intended for the living room and with SteamOS pre-installed.

      There are companies now selling PCs. Why wouldn't those companies sell those same PCs as "SteamBoxes"?

      I want a SteamBox in my living room. I usually build my own

  • Having SteamOS for running a dedicated SteamBox in the living room is great but I wonder what the implications of SteamOS are for running Steam on other linux distros. I have a capable workstation at my desk and I really don't want to have to replace my current distro just to get the additional benefits of SteamOS. Will this cripple the momentum of Steam development for other distros?
    • by steveha (103154) on Monday September 23, 2013 @03:02PM (#44926779) Homepage

      Here's what this will mean: game developers will test their games on SteamOS and nothing else, making SteamOS the gold standard for Linux gaming. (In fact there will probably be a single "reference" SteamBox used for the development and testing.)

      The distros will need to include compatible versions of all the libraries used in SteamOS, to get the games to run. Users will be able to file bugs that say "$GAME runs perfectly on SteamOS but does not run correctly on $DISTRO."

      Since SteamOS is just Linux with a particular set of libraries installed, this is feasible. All the distros will have a clear target for which to aim.

      Overall I think this is a win for gaming on Linux. The current situation is far too fragmented for Linux ports to be profitable for the game developers. SteamOS will defragment "Linux gaming" to a single platform.

      • by Bradmont (513167)
        Many modern games are pretty enormous to install; often taking 5-10 gigs or more of hard drive space. In comparison, my entire / partition, including all* the software I have installed on my laptop (kernel, X, KDE, productivity software, web browsers, SQL servers, and thousands of other things), weighs in at 8.8gigs. In cases where a game absolutely requires a certain version of a library, it would be much more sensible to just statically complie them for distribution via steam. Maybe it would increase down
  • Looks like Gabe is doing to PCs & set-top boxes what Google did with the phone. A customized Linux distro is a good start, but still much info missing.. does it integrate some gaming engine (maybe Source?) How much API support for hardware and software that aids in writing games? Is it even a gaming OS or is it just some content provider wrapper around Linux?
  • Linux is the future of gaming because Valve created their own version of Linux.

    BTW, its not living room ready if I have to set up a big PC shoebox with liquid cooling to play the same content I get on a console.

    Still waiting for the actual SteamBox, but apparently I now have to give Valve suggestions on who to design it.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      A modern console isn't that far removed from a PC shoebox with liquid cooling.

      If anything, the shoebox would likely have the advantage of not cooking itself. The consumer mentality can be a double edged sword when it comes to electronics.

      The main thing that keeps bog standard PC parts from being living room friendly is the fact that most of the defined form factors are too deep.

  • by ilikenwf (1139495) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:48PM (#44925935)
    Whatever improvements they make will hopefully be sent as patches and pull requests to the open source projects they're likley building upon...I don't want to run a commercially run distro, or at least one that's more restrictive like Ubuntu, etc....

    I run Arch for a reason.
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Monday September 23, 2013 @01:55PM (#44926005)

    I've been wanting to stop dual booting for nearly two decades. The purists complain that locking you out of the OS (DRM) components is vehemently prohibited in the spirit of Open Source and basically creates the very problem OSS was designed to get away from.

    On the other hand, software companies complain they need to lock you out in order to combat piracy and protect their digital assets. Without doing so, they have no way to protect their revenue stream.

    I have never found a good solution to this problem. It's been a good 20 years, and nobody else has either so those of us who straddle the fence between purity and utility still dual boot.

    I do not like the idea of SteamOS. I would really like the entire computer industry to be based on open formats, source and standards but that is a crack dream that will never happen. Something needs to give. Maybe this is it. I prefer to believe I trust Valve more than anyone else with something like this.

  • This is unclear now: is it just a GNU/Linux distro (like Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, etc.), or a vastly different OS that happens to use the Linux kernel (like Android and Sailfish)?

  • Secondary effects. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jartan (219704) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:07PM (#44926127)

    This could have a lot of ripple effects.

    1) Improved Wine support.
    2) Better cross platform libraries/tools.
    3) Linux distro optimized for gaming.

    The interesting thing to consider is that Valve doesn't need to turn a profit right away. It's a private company and Gabe is looking at the long game here. He sees his reliance on Windows as a weakness and he intends to change that.

  • poetry (Score:5, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:32PM (#44926407) Homepage Journal

    "With SteamOS, 'openness' means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they've been able to."

    "Iterate in the living room"... I love marketing-speak.

    Come to think of it, if I remember correctly, "iterate in the living room" is something my wife and I used to do before our daughter was born.

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