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Eight years ago today, Steam for Linux went into Beta

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Steam has now been available on Linux, at least in Beta, for eight years now and it's come a long way.

What began with a limited Beta that saw over 60,000 people originally sign up for testing, Valve quickly expanded to a fully public release in December of 2012 and then onto a proper release in February 2013.

During that time we've seen many ideas rise and fall, including Steam Machines and SteamOS but Valve continues onwards with Linux anyway. They continue working with various companies and individual contractors on various projects. Here's just a small slice of what they've been doing:

  • Work on improving Mesa graphics drivers which this year had the ACO (AMD shader compiler) hooked up for smoother gameplay. Not only that, they have developers contracted to work on other parts of Mesa graphics drivers too and they continued hiring for it.
  • They continue to be involved with the evolution of the Vulkan graphics API, with a few of their contractors helping to create new extensions.
  • There's the almighty Proton compatibility layer for Steam Play, which they work on with CodeWeavers and other individual developers, and also the likes of DXVK and vkd3d-proton.
  • The shader pre-cache system, along with shader background processing which (if you turn it on), should produce a smoother game from the moment you hit play.
  • Also now available is the 'Pressure Vessel' Steam Linux Runtime Container system, developed with help from Collabora allowing games to run in a contained environment which can ensure older games continue working long into the future and it gives developers a stable environment to test against too. See some info on that here and they recently put the code for it up on GitLab.
  • Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais has also been working on Gamescope, which they showed off at XDC 2020 that sounds hugely promising too. The idea of having such complete control over game display is very exciting and I hope Gamescope can be properly realised through 2021. A reader recently took a quick look at the scaling it offers.

Plenty more I've likely forgotten, as they do a lot and that's only things clearly specific to Linux. Valve appear to always be active behind the scenes as they continue to push Linux gaming from various directions.

In regards to actual games, Steam now appears to be listing over 7,000 that have Linux support. Back in April we wrote about how there were well over 6,000 and it seems to just keep going up adding multiple hundreds over the last few months. When taking the Steam Play Proton compatibility layer into account too, there's multiple thousands more playable (but usually not supported) on Linux.

Steam itself has been through a small evolution even in the last 1-2 years with the huge Steam Library refresh and Remote Play Together, the recent Curator News feature, Chat Filtering, the ability for developers to let Steam users request access to Beta versions with Steam Playtest, lots of smaller stuff coming from Steam Labs like store list filtering and so on.

As for the Linux user share on Steam, it continues trending upwards.

Happy Eighth Beta Birthday, Steam For Linux.

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Tags: Event, Steam, Valve
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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Linux gaming is more successful than I could have ever imagined. While there are lot of individuals that made a huge difference (indie developers, porters, etc.) I think Valve has made the single biggest impact over the last 10 years.

I sure hope they continue!

Last edited by no_information_here on 6 November 2020 at 5:33 pm UTC
pete910 6 Nov, 2020
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It's a shame that the big names have dropped us like a stone tbh

I know I'm being a bit cynical about it but I don't see it getting better either

I'm at the point of seriously thinking about a PS5 and drop gaming on PC. That and the ever increasing price of CPU/GPUs isn't helping.
Liam Dawe 6 Nov, 2020
Quoting: BloomberyHow can I get the same achievement?
I'm afraid it's entirely proprietary and only we have the power to use this special achievement.
Slackdog 6 Nov, 2020
This made me look at my steam account - 17 years of service

I after I switched to Linux about I dunno 10 years ago maybe I didn't really game until I stumbled on this site somehow - You can GAME?

Never looked back :D
legluondunet 6 Nov, 2020
8 years ago who think we can play all this games on our Linux OS?
Games with Directx 10-11 and even 12?
AAA Games?
logge 6 Nov, 2020
Happy birthday, even you did not accept my beta test wish at first! Keep up and me happy!

Hopefully they saw my increase in steam usage from 3h/week to almost 24*7 on my homebrew arch Linux Steam machine / Kodi media centre...

To add one feature to the list I just realized this evening: you won't get logged off when using two instances of steam across your house.

Last edited by logge on 6 November 2020 at 7:35 pm UTC
heidi.wenger 6 Nov, 2020
Quoting: Salvatos
Quoting: BloomberyHow can I get the same achievement?
It’s not real, just a graphic for the article.

i was thinking too
Slackdog 6 Nov, 2020
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: BloomberyHow can I get the same achievement?
I'm afraid it's entirely proprietary and only we have the power to use this special achievement.

FFS I had a whoosh! Moment on this!

Played, Sir!

Dunc 7 Nov, 2020
Quoting: SlackdogThis made me look at my steam account - 17 years of service
12 years here, but I remember thinking that the four years it had been inactive before Steam came to Linux* was a really long time.

*I tried to run it under WINE back in 2008, but it was an absolute pain. I managed to open an account and activate the Orange Box (oh, those happy days when I could afford to waste 30 quid on something I wasn't even sure would work...), but I don't think any of the games ever actually ran, let alone well. We really have come a long way.
edo 7 Nov, 2020
I remember how happy I was 8 years ago, this was unbelievable.
I started using steam just because of this. Now I have like 1300+ games

Last edited by edo on 7 November 2020 at 3:44 am UTC
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