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Ask Slashdot: Should Valve Start Their Own Steam Linux Distro? 316

Duggeek writes "There's been a lot of discussion lately about Valve, Steam and the uncertain future of the Windows platform for gaming. While the effect of these events is unmistakably huge, it raises an interesting question: Would Valve consider putting out its own Linux distro? One advantage of such a dedicated distro would be tighter control over kernel drivers, storage, init processes and managing display(s), but would it be worth all the upstream bickering? Would it be better to start anew, or ride on a mature foundation like Fedora or Debian? Might that be a better option than addressing the myriad differences of today's increasingly fracturing distro-scape?"
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Ask Slashdot: Should Valve Start Their Own Steam Linux Distro?

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  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:41AM (#40883967) Journal

    I think that xkcd [] covered this fairly well.

    The solution to fracturing is certainly *NOT* to make an existing standard. That just furthers the fracturing. It would be a terrible thing to inflict upon the Linux community.

    Pushing out packages for the common distros (Ubuntu, Fedora, Redhat) should work well for most Linux users.

    On the other hand, one argument for a new distro would be non-Linux users. Just as Android is essentially a Linux fork, a Steam distro could essentially be a "Linux for non-Linux users." More specially, it would be a "Linux for Gamers."
    In many ways it would make the PC functionally similar to a console. Boot disk, play game(s).
    Of course, some other problems arise:

    * How would it be installed? Would it automatically try to make space alongside the likely-existing windows partition?
    * Would it run directly from a bootCD? If so, where would it save settings or games, to the HDD or a USB stick?
    * If each game is a bootCD, how would they fare with newer hardware?
    * What's the upgrade path for installed distros?

    Using existing distros would add compatibility work for Valve. However, making their own might - and moreover maintaining it - could very well be a lot more work.

  • Re:WINE? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:23AM (#40884219) Homepage

    Because then noone would bother to make any native linux apps... Look what happened to OS/2.

    Incidentally if you target wine when you develop your applications, they will run just fine on windows too whereas the other way round doesn't always work.

  • by shentino ( 1139071 ) <> on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:28AM (#40884253)

    Depends on whether Valve tries to use gpl only interfaces or not.

    If valve breaks while relying on a public interface, then it's the kernel team's fault for breaking it.

    My point is that if the kernel team wants to subtly break things for valve, it can only do so if valve tries to use backdoor apis that aren't designed for external code in the first place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @04:59AM (#40884667)

    "You realize why Linux was made in the first place, right? To be a free and open system."

    No, GNU was. Linux started out as some compsci student's OS kernel hobby project and it wasn't really free software initially.

  • by davydagger ( 2566757 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @06:12AM (#40884947)
    better yet, just make the PC into a game console.

    bundle a minimal version of linux with kernel + drivers + game, attach controller and boot off a live CD.

    Just like a console.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @09:58AM (#40885935) Journal

    The drivers for gaming-related devices have got to be pretty awful on FreeBSD if nobody seems to use it at all for games, only servers

    nVidia ships blob drivers for FreeBSD.

    Yet they don't make the (blob) drivers for BSD either

    Yes they do [], at least for x86 and x86-64.

    The way drivers work in Linux and BSD, aren't accommodating to "binary blobs" since they can be broken with even minor updates

    FreeBSD guarantees a stable KBI across minor revisions, and we require strong justifications for breaking it between minor revisions (which means that often kernel modules will work between major revisions, we just don't guarantee it). After 10.0, we're looking at providing longer-term support for a subset of KPIs.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @10:14AM (#40886019) Journal
    How would that work? Valve isn't going to be writing drivers, they're just going to be bundling third-party ones, and Ubuntu already bundles all of the ones that have redistribution rights. This entire story is moot. There are two possible reasons for Valve to do a Linux port. The first is to appeal to existing Linux users. They won't do this by saying 'we support your OS. Well, actually, we don't, we support a similar OS, but it's like your OS and you can install it for free!' The second is to make it cheaper for companies to make Steam-powered consoles. I suspect this is more likely - I wouldn't be surprised if we see cheap Chinese-made consoles hitting the market running a basic Linux install with Steam set to launch full screen on boot and used as the application manager / installer. In this case, it's also pointless to ship their own distro: OEMs will want to use their own and will strip out everything except the drivers their hardware needs, basic libraries, X, and Steam.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell