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Valve clarifies how they test Native Linux or Proton for Steam Deck

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For people who watch SteamDB updates, there's been a little bit of confusion on how Valve has been testing titles ready for the release of the Steam Deck on February 25. They've now fully clarified.

The issue surrounds what version they will pick for Deck Verified when games have a Native Linux build. There were a number that appeared on SteamDB, noting Steam Play Proton as the runtime picked instead (meaning the Windows build was used). As example, an update for Portal 2 on SteamDB (their own game) shows the recommended runtime being Proton. Turns out, this was not intended.

Valve shared via email (making clear this was not embargoed info): "early on, there were a limited number of titles that were tested via Proton before Linux before we made some policy changes. Since then all of those titles are already back in the queue for re-testing using their Linux builds".

Additionally, the developer documentation has been updated (right at the bottom) to state:

If my game has a native Linux version and is selected for review heuristically, will the compatibility review take place on the Linux build or under Proton?
By default, we will test a Linux build if one is available. If the Linux build fails compatibility tests or otherwise experiences significant issues, we'll then test the Windows build of your game running under Proton. Our goal is for customers to have the smoothest experience possible on Deck, so we'll submit whichever set of test results is more favorable.

Your compatibility test results will specify what runtime they were generated on. You can see details in the "Details" section of your report under the "Recommended Runtime" field.

If you believe we tested the wrong version of your product, you can always submit for a re-review and specify the platform you'd like us to test.

Something to remember: nothing is final, and even after the Steam Deck releases the Deck Verified program will be an ongoing thing. No doubt there will be changes to how it's run after release too as they continue to try and give players the best experience.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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audiopathik Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: BielFPsBut I wonder how they'll handle cases like Borderlands 2 that, while having a "performant" native build, the last DLC can only be played through Proton.

That's probably one of those cases they don't think of until someone brings it to their notice.
Ardje Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: BielFPs
QuoteIf the Linux build fails compatibility tests or otherwise experiences significant issues, we'll then test the Windows build of your game running under Proton.
Judging by this message, I bet Dying Light will be one of those games who will be opted to run on Proton by default despise having a "native" version.
I always thought Dying Light really played well under linux. I did a lot of time with my steam machine.
But somethink like ARK: survival evolved, or ETS, or ATS, I play them on Proton.
They did fine when they were linux native, but now proton seems to work better. Because proton is vulkan, and all these titles are doing opengl.
Maybe that's also the issue with Dying Light. Steam machines always had an nvidia card. So maybe it was an nvidia vs AMD opengl "compatibility" issue. (Made for nvidia)
BielFPs Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: pete910The native build apparently has controller support so don't se why they would. It certainly runs well on AMD hardware in Linux so no reason why it won't on the deck !
Quoting: slaapliedjeHuh, Dying Light ran awesome natively for me. Granted I don't know if running under Proton makes it run better, as I had no reason to test it.
Dying Light port was made using OpenGL, so even the extra hurdle of converting DX -> Vulkan through Proton still performs better. Unfortunately Vulkan wasn't a option back then.

Quoting: pete910BL2's situation is embarrassing to be frank. The port from Asprey runs really well but basically it's abandoned from the looks of it. Whether thats due to Gearbox or whomever I don't know. Could be the deal/license has run out as in the case with some of feral's ports.
Gearbox only ordered the Linux port because the Steam Machines hype back then, once the last DLC was release steam machines were already failed so Gearbox didn't want to spend money porting the last one.

Quoting: audiopathikThat's probably one of those cases they don't think of until someone brings it to their notice.
That's what I'm thinking too

Quoting: ArdjeMaybe that's also the issue with Dying Light. Steam machines always had an nvidia card. So maybe it was an nvidia vs AMD opengl "compatibility" issue. (Made for nvidia)
Back then AMD was in a sorrow state with their drivers on linux so Nvidia was prety much the only option. Personally I'm glad AMD decided to open source their drivers so Mesa developers can do their magic.


Last edited by BielFPs on 18 February 2022 at 2:24 pm UTC
CFWhitman Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: slaapliedjeI always buy nVidia GPUs, but the Feral ports have ran fine for me.

Actually, the one time that I have tried the native port of Tomb Raider (2013) on an NVIDIA card (GTX 1650), it seemed to run fine there for me also (tested near the middle of 2020). I generally would expect the Vulkan based ports to run fine on NVIDIA. I've seen a number of claims about Feral ported games, especially old OpenGL ones, not running correctly on NVIDIA cards, though.


Last edited by CFWhitman on 18 February 2022 at 2:59 pm UTC
Eike Feb 18, 2022
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Quoting: CFWhitmanActually, the one time that I have tried the native port of Tomb Raider (2013) on an NVIDIA card (GTX 1650), it seemed to run fine there for me also (tested near the middle of 2020). I generally would expect the Vulkan based ports to run fine on NVIDIA. I've seen a number of claims about Feral ported games, especially old OpenGL ones, not running correctly on NVIDIA cards, though.

Didn't meet a problem with any Feral port I played, always native, always on Nvidia.
denyasis Feb 18, 2022
Feral's stuff should run fine on Nvidia. Thats the only card they've always supported, IIRC. Older ports didn't always release with "AMD support" , do to the driver situation, as mentioned by someone above.

While I'm personally still pretty skeptical about the Deck, both in commercial success terms and Valve's long term support, I am genuinely excited that this endeavor seems to be a bit of a pusg to improve Linux gaming on the Steam Ecosystem, which benefits all of us, regardless of the Deck's success.
melkemind Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: headless_cyborgI'm curious about Rise/Shadow of the TR because their Feral native ports are IMO perfect so they should be the way to go.

They're good ports but not perfect. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is still receiving updates that Feral hasn't added. They could go back and update all their games, but it's probably not profitable at this point.

Wine/Proton is an open source solution, while Feral's wrapper was not. Dare I say this is a better solution?
slaapliedje Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: denyasisFeral's stuff should run fine on Nvidia. Thats the only card they've always supported, IIRC. Older ports didn't always release with "AMD support" , do to the driver situation, as mentioned by someone above.

While I'm personally still pretty skeptical about the Deck, both in commercial success terms and Valve's long term support, I am genuinely excited that this endeavor seems to be a bit of a pusg to improve Linux gaming on the Steam Ecosystem, which benefits all of us, regardless of the Deck's success.
So the nice thing about a static hardware platform like Steam is they won't need to be chasing constant kernel / mesa updates to get all the features of the GPU enabled. As long as the current kernel / Mesa versions support everything in SteamOS 3.0, then it should be shiny.

The problem, in my mind, is usually when a new AMD card comes out, and then you have to use kernels outside what your distribution normally supports (hence can cause random issues that are more difficult to poke around) and bleeding edge mesa libraries. This is the reason I use nvidia. Get a new card, update the nvidia driver (or wait for the distro to update their packages) and boom, you have support.
slaapliedje Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: BielFPsDying Light port was made using OpenGL, so even the extra hurdle of converting DX -> Vulkan through Proton still performs better. Unfortunately Vulkan wasn't a option back then.
Using OpenGL doesn't instantly make something perform worse. nVidia has always had fantastic OpenGL support. Didn't Dying Light get a Vulkan patch at some point? (Too many games did, but they supported that game very well, so I was thinking it had).

Found this; https://github.com/MakaVeliYo/DLVK so maybe not a native thing.
denyasis Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: denyasisFeral's stuff should run fine on Nvidia. Thats the only card they've always supported, IIRC. Older ports didn't always release with "AMD support" , do to the driver situation, as mentioned by someone above.

While I'm personally still pretty skeptical about the Deck, both in commercial success terms and Valve's long term support, I am genuinely excited that this endeavor seems to be a bit of a pusg to improve Linux gaming on the Steam Ecosystem, which benefits all of us, regardless of the Deck's success.

So the nice thing about a static hardware platform like Steam is they won't need to be chasing constant kernel / mesa updates to get all the features of the GPU enabled. As long as the current kernel / Mesa versions support everything in SteamOS 3.0, then it should be shiny.

The problem, in my mind, is usually when a new AMD card comes out, and then you have to use kernels outside what your distribution normally supports (hence can cause random issues that are more difficult to poke around) and bleeding edge mesa libraries. This is the reason I use nvidia. Get a new card, update the nvidia driver (or wait for the distro to update their packages) and boom, you have support.

That's a very good point. Also historically, the same reason I've used Nvidia in my Linux build as well.

I was actually meaning something different in my mind when I said support. I was not clear with that, my apologies.

I was thinking more along the lines of commercial/institutional support (I hope that's the right word), as opposed to more kernel/driver support.

Basically how quickly will they discontinue the product/stop supporting it, fixing issues specific to it, etc.

Sorry for being confiusing
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