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Linux Games

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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:25AM (#40883893)

    Worst case, static link the binaries.

  • Re:yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ctheme ( 2694307 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:32AM (#40883921)
    Would it make things easier for users? Would it inconvenience users already suited to one distro and not another? I'm not really seeing any benefits for their users, and I don't think this would ever happen.
  • by theRunicBard ( 2662581 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:40AM (#40883963)
    I'm still a linux noob but isn't the beauty of linux that you can create your own distros? Yes, it does create the problem that there are a lot of distros running around, but if there is demand, there should be supply. I don't think there is anything wrong with Valve making their own distro, if there is the demand for it. But in this case, it seems impractical. Not only would they need to convert Windows/Mac users to Linux, they would need to convert Linux users to their special distro. This is bound to turn some people off, which Valve probably can't afford at this stage. Ubuntu is so popular and user-friendly that it's "good enough" right now.
  • Re:Neither (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:56AM (#40884069) Homepage
    "Hardware support sucks on Linux. Sorry slashdotters but more than half use crappy intel graphics with 2002 era performance and can't run any modern games unless they dumb the graphics down big time."

    I think you're talking out your ass to suit your obvious agenda.

    Can I run $newgame? Probably not. That's not because of drivers, though; that's because the vast majority of demanding programs made use DirectX, and the best we have to make up for that is wine's reverse engineered interfaces to translate DirectX to OpenGL. They are astoundingly good for what they are, but obviously, are about 2 years behind in support and somewhat touchy.

    I might have some graphical glitches and update issues from time to time, but even using a fairly new ATI card (generally regarded as the worst possible situation to be in), I still have perfectly and fully functioning 3D acceleration, including shaders. Performance of what I can run is effectively identical to that of the same programs on windows. Native OpenGL applications (try the Ogre demos) in fact run substantially better.

    As for lowering the quality to make it run better? That basically proves you are clueless. Anyone who has actually run into driver issues on Linux can identify that speed is not an issue unless it is an extreme issue, ie, it is not that the drivers are magically slower (think about it...), but that sometimes they do cause issues that drag the system into the dirt. These are rare. The common driver problems are generally visual corruption and general failure, NEVER performance.

    Don't let the facts get in the way of your screed, though.
  • Re:Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:06AM (#40884135)

    Hey, Linux has had 15 years to get it's own shit together.

    It's sort of like the Apple MP3 player thing. When the iPod launched it was far from the first MP3 player. But it was the first MP3 player that wasn't 100% crap to use. Completely took over the market and dominated everyone. But you know what? Five years later all the other MP3 players were still crap to use. Even after Apple showed how to do it right Creative and Sony and everyone else was still trudging along with crappy syncing utilities and even worse UI on the MP3 player itself.

    Nothing was preventing them from making a good player and good software before or after Apple entered the market.

    Same way, with or without Steam, nothing is preventing Linux and the distros from getting their shit together. Nothing is preventing them now. Nothing was preventing them five years ago. Steam comes out and turns a branch of Linux into RMS's worst nightmare? The rest of Linux will have no more or less opportunity to make a good package than if this whole Steam thing crashes and burns and never gets out of beta.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:17AM (#40884181)

    Cool story bro

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:25AM (#40884235)

    I agree that some people get crazy-worked-up, but I find the sabotage outcome unlikely.

    I expect they'll hang their hats on a reference distro or two like most software that isn't included in official repos. Ubuntu first, Fedora second. They want the biggest audience possible.

  • Re:Prediction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:28AM (#40884249) Homepage

    And if Valve manages to get even 10% of windows users to switch to Valvebrand Linux, what do you suspect will happen then? I suspect exactly what I said: dropping of support for any other distro by hardware manufacturers.

    That's OK because hardware manufacturers don't support any distributions now, sometimes with rare exception for RHEL that no one really uses. All proprietary software support you see in distributions that people actually use, is ported by distributions maintainers.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:39AM (#40884319)

    Because whether the community wishes to accept it or not there is a LARGE amount of "purists" that believe GPL is law and anything that doesn't have the 4 freedoms is poison.

    Well, you know. Fuck 'em. Valve is targeting Ubuntu which already includes non-free software in some repos. If they have a problem they can go use gNewSense which won't work with most of their hardware.

    Frankly I would be VERY surprised if some of those vocal members of the kernel team didn't just "accidently" make changes that broke Steam every. damned. time.

    I would. Such malicious changes would have be very, very deliberate to interfere with a userspace application. And then you'd have to account for the hypocrisy of doing that while not interfering with the use of Linux with other proprietary applications. Not that Steam would need a kernel module or anything, since it's an entirely user-space technology.

    That said, given your history of childish, insulting, and hateful rhetoric, posting such baseless attacks against the kernel developers is entirely predictable, coming from you.

    So whether one wishes to acknowledge the truth or not

    I'm sure the truth lies somewhere, but it certainly does not resemble the picture you paint.

    nothing should be allowed to 'contaminate" Linux, especially not DRM which again, like it or not, is EXACTLY what Steam is.

    Thankfully, Steam does not integrate into the OS in any real fashion.

    the purists simply won't have it, even if it causes Linux to grow.

    The purists can cause a fuss, but like any other proprietary application that has appeared for Linux the end result will be nothing since it won't impact them should they choose not to use it.

  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:49AM (#40884369) Homepage
    "there is a LARGE amount of "purists" that believe GPL is law"

    Are you implying it isnt't?

    "anything that doesn't have the 4 freedoms is poison"

    You realize why Linux was made in the first place, right? To be a free and open system. Complaining people want to keep it such kind of strikes me as missing the point entirely, likely intentionally.

    You also realize that you CAN, in fact, get proprietary software from repos of varying degrees of officialness in almost every distro? Java, flash, drivers... however, we are not your app store marketing device.

    'Frankly I would be VERY surprised if some of those vocal members of the kernel team didn't just "accidently" make changes that broke Steam every. damned. time. if for no other reason than to be able to say "See? if you gave us your code then that wouldn't be happening now would it?" to "prove" their way is not only the right way but the ONLY way.'

    Right. Because this has happened... exactly zero times in the past. It is no secret the kernel developers HATE proprietary drivers. Yet this conspiracy has not come to pass.

    Making up insane bullshit only makes you look like a lunatic.

    "So whether one wishes to acknowledge the truth or not it simply doesn't change the fact that the community is split in two, with the pragmatists that simply want to see Linux grow and as long as the core is free they are happy, and the purists that believe that the four freedoms should be held inviolate and nothing should be allowed to 'contaminate" Linux, especially not DRM which again, like it or not, is EXACTLY what Steam is."

    Has it occurred to you that these might actually be, in fact, the same position? Linux exist in spite of repeated corporate attacks, not because of proprietary software.

    "Sure its a harmless and pretty hassle free form of DRM"

    Phone-home DRM... harmless, yeah, right. Screw your DRM. It does not belong on Linux. It certainly does not belong in any official repo of any respectable distro.
  • by DerFlob ( 1822488 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @04:10AM (#40884473)
    There is already such a thing. It's called Windows. I want Steam on _my_ installation of whatever distro I prefer. If I had to reboot whenever I want to play, it would negate the advantages of having Steam on Linux (for me), because I already do it this way with Linux & Windows.
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @04:16AM (#40884501) Journal

    That would be my logical conclusion. It solves the problem of low numbers of Linux on the desktop. Allows them to build to a specific hardware set that if the source is shared will allow the bulk of the work for other distributions to be handled by the community or the distros themselves. I understand that most of the code will be written to hardware intermediates like OpenGL and such but drivers for such hardware can creep issues in sometimes.

    If they can produce something relatively cheap compared with a phone or something, they would be in a lot of homes in no time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @04:21AM (#40884527)

    Sorry but after several years using it Ubuntu is not the distro that 'just works'. Thats Debian and Im sorry I didnt discover it sooner.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:11AM (#40885411)

    Cough, cough. Ubuntu != Crapware. Ubuntu = a stable and up-to-date version of a Linux distribution with a huge repository. Ubuntu = the only distribution that installed without fuss on every machine where it was possible to install Linux at all. Fedora is (in my experience) very much less stable in comparison. I really don't understand why anyone would ever complain about Ubuntu. If you think disliking Ubuntu turns you automatially into the Ubergeek, the only option for you is LFS or maybe Gentoo.

  • by CapuchinSeven ( 2266542 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:20AM (#40885469)
    "Linux" wasn't open or free until Stallman convinced Linus it should be.
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @10:12AM (#40886009)

    Given that they more than *anyone* need nVidia and ATI proprietary drivers, trying to start from scratch with no proprietary vendor support (a la Wayland), ditching Xorg would be an ill-advised move.

    Now in terms of layers *above* Xorg, I could see them writing a very minimalist fullscreen oriented window manager. In terms of published APIs, they do effectively control SDL now. With SDL/OpenGL in hand, a game developer mostly doesn't need to know/care that Xorg is the backend (in fact, the vast majority of modern Linux graphical source code lacks any direct Xlib API calls in it). They may want to endorse either GTK or Qt as their recommended Toolkit for out-of-game interfaces to make it more comprehensive.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein