Valve is expanding its Steam digital storefront to yet another platform, with the company confirming plans to release a Linux version of Steam that is built on the operating system's popular Ubuntu distribution. Linux is an open-source PC operating system -- aka FREE -- that offers an alternative to leaving your PC in the hands of Microsoft or Apple. It's not as widely supported by software makers, but Valve is looking to change that.
The Valve project, called "Steam'd Penguins" in a nod to Linux mascot Tux the penguin, has been in development since 2011. Work is still ongoing, and there continues to be a possibility that other Linux distributions will be supported. The first game up for a cross-platform port is Left 4 Dead 2, though Valve intends to bring more of its published work to Linux once that one is done. Curious Linux users just need to sit tight for now, until Valve launches the beta version of the client.
This project has been in development since 2011, but it's hard not to see the announcement of Steam for Linux as at least a partial response to the recent and still ongoing dispute between Diablo 3 players and the game's developer, Blizzard. While Diablo 3 isn't officially supported by Linux, players have seen success using compatability tools like Wine to make the game work on the open-source operating system. Or that WAS the case until the banhammer started to fall for a number of Wine-users who were permanently barred from the game for what Blizzard deemed to be cheating.
Many of the banned players have stepped up to insist that Blizzard's cheat testing process is resulting in false positives. Blizzard maintains that its testing process is accurate and that cheaters have been dealt with according to company policy. Whether or not you think it's fair to have a player permanently banned from the single player portion of a game that they've purchased because of a potentially unreliable and all together invisible cheat detection system is besides the point; the situation has gotten quite ugly, and the lesson is pretty straightforward: Linux users gonna game, so it's probably a good idea to include support for the platform in your PC games.