Valve has officially launched its Steam for Linux client, providing Linux users who don't want to install beta-quality software on their systems access to the digital distribution platform for the first time.
Unlike the previous beta releases, which had to be installed manually, Steam for Linux is now available through the Ubuntu Software Centre. Users of alternative distributions, meanwhile, will have to continue the process of finding a package file and installing the software manually - something that is unlikely to change in the near future, given Valve's close partnership with Ubuntu creator Canonical on the project.
The full release comes with a boost to the available games, which now number around 100, and a welcome bonus for early adopters: between now and the 21st of February, all Linux games purchased through Steam for Linux can be had at a discount of between 50 and 75 per cent off their usual prices. Team Fortress 2 fans get an extra treat, too: installing and playing the game under Linux results in the awarding of an exclusive in-game penguin item, themed after the Linux mascot Tux.
'We welcome all the new Steam users who can now upgrade to Ubuntu. Steam Big Picture running on your Ubuntu computer connected to the living room TV is a great way to experience the future today,
' Canonical's David Pitkin claimed in an announcement on the release - a not-too-subtle reference to the upcoming Steam Box PC-cum-console, which is believed to be running a customised Linux distribution based on Canonical's Ubuntu. 'Canonical looks forward to the steady progress of games from all our partners on Ubuntu on the desktop and soon on the Ubuntu phone and tablet in due course.
While the launch of Steam for Linux is a major step for Valve, and a milestone on the roadmap to the Steam Box release, not all is well at the company: Jeri Ellsworth, a noted hardware hacker recently hired by the company to work on hardware believed to be related to the Steam Box project, confirmed that she had been fired from Valve in a post to microblogging service Twitter
earlier this week, with further reports claiming she was just one of around 25 to 30 lay-offs at the company - an alarming 10 per cent of its overall employee headcount.
Although the lay-offs are largely centred around the company's engineering and development departments, Valve has broken its silence on the matter to reassure fans that everything is still running smoothly. 'No, we aren't cancelling any projects. No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing,
' Valve's Gabe Newell told Engadget
. 'No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or Hardware or [insert game name here. We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here.