In September 2013, Valve announced the availability of Steam OS, its latest development in the world of Steam. It is an OS based on Linux and has gained quite a lot of interest. What do the experts say ?
“I think [the Steam announcements are] an opportunity to maybe really help the desktop,” Torvalds said recently during LinuxCon + CloudOpen Europe in Edinburgh, Scotland. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for a Linux revolution but, if anyone is familiar with endless promises of Linux-based desktops becoming popular, it’s Torvalds.
For Torvalds, Valve’s Steam efforts could be a big opportunity to drive desktop Linux because it could force the various desktop Linux distributions to standardize their technology. Torvalds said earlier in the 44-minute talk (shown below) that the Linux desktop was a “morass of infighting.” (The Steam talk starts around 29:50 minutes for those who want to fast foward.)
Speaking at Nvidia’s Montreal conference, Carmack noted that trying to force PC gaming over to Linux seems a bit crazy. Pushing developers to also develop a Linux port — or even crazier, to develop games with Linux as the main platform — is certainly asking a lot, and seems more like Valve is betting on its pedigree alone to pull developers over to aubergine color schemes and penguin logos. Though Carmack has been wrong about Valve in the past (and is fully aware of that), he’s not the only high-profile games developer that feels the Steam Machine’s future is murky. Tim Sweeney, a founder of Epic Games, also can’t predict the Steam Machine’s success, saying the open gaming platform is an interesting concept and could at least pave the way for more open gaming console standards in the future.
It seems there are different opinion regarding Steam OS, some are in support, while others are still in doubt. However, one of the good things that come out is as Linus points out, at least the hardware manufacturer are taking note and improving their driver support.
"I’m not just saying it’ll help us get traction with the graphics guys," he said. "It’ll also force different distributors to realise if this is how Steam is going, they need to do the same thing because they can’t afford to be different in this respect. They want people to play games on their platform too."
"It’s the best model for standardisation," he added. "I think good standards are people doing things, saying 'this is how we do it' and being successful enough to drive the market."
So, while the experts are still in disagreement. This at least brings a new hope of the Linux Desktop taking off into the mainstream. And getting better standard and hardware driver support along the way.