True to its word, Valve has opened up its efforts to port the Steam digital distribution client to Linux users - but only in a very limited manner.
The company has issued a request for users eager to try out the Steam service under Canonical's Ubuntu Linux distribution, but is keeping the project small for now with only 1,000 places available for eager gamers. Valve has claimed to be 'primarily interested in experienced Linux users
' to fill the positions.
Those lucky enough to get through the survey and be offered a spot on the beta will be provided with a copy of the work-in-progress Steam Linux client. This provides all the functionality of the Windows and OS X Steam clients, including the ability to purchase and download titles, track progress and communicate with friends, but tailored specifically for the open-source Linux platform.
Previously, those who wanted to use Steam under Linux were forced to use the wine (wine is not an emulator) compatibility layer to run the Windows version of the software. While that's one method, it's not ideal - and frequently led to bugs and crashes. Valve's native client, meanwhile, should run perfectly in Linux without performance-sapping compatibility shims.
The opening of the beta comes as Valve expresses considerable interest in Linux as a platform for gaming, working on porting its own titles to the system and boasting of significant performance improvements
in doing so. With Valve boss Gabe Newell vocal in his dislike
for Microsoft's recently-released Windows 8, and rumours of a 'Valve Box' hardware project
spreading, the day may yet come when 'cross-platform' means Linux support as well.
If you want to try your luck at getting into the Steam for Linux beta, here's the survey