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SteamOS, Linux, and Steam Machines (steamcommunity.com)
374 points by ekianjo on Apr 4, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 209 comments

This is a good update for Linux Gaming fans. There was definitely uncertainty when the Steam Machines page was delisted, some even thinking this was game over for gaming on Linux.

Those who were there at the beginning of the Valve Linux Offensive (circa 2012) will remember Gabe Newell stating that the main driver for investing in Linux is their dependency on Windows as a platform. Valve has never been one for dependencies at the best of times (creating their own engine to replace quake, creating their own sales platform to replace retail) and having a dependency on a platform that explicitly seems to be trying to emulate the iOS/Android approach more and more is absolutely a reason to at the very least have a plan B.

Having Valve come out and say that they're still invested in Linux is important, but what is highlighted in the post is also poignant - in 2012 it seemed the barrier to adoption was interest in the platform and access to a Linux machine. The solution to both of these was to create a high-profile, easily accessible form factor which was Linux by default. It turns out that this may not have actually been the right solution. Linux adoption has risen and the back catalogue of available games has increased incredibly, despite lacklustre sales. The problem now, and perhaps always was the graphics APIs and cost of porting. Valve are actively investing in Vulkan which is absolutely the right thing for them to be doing. The only downside is that it looks like they're neglecting the 'movement' they started with Steam Machines.

I hope to see big things from Valve in the future. If I were them, however, I would invest in creating a truly fantastic desktop experience with seamless transition from Windows, lots of toys to play with, riced desktops etc. Hardware and the console form factor should be secondary to creating a PC desktop experience worthy of the people who created Half Life and steam.

Those who were there at the beginning of the Valve Linux Offensive (circa 2012) will remember Gabe Newell stating that the main driver for investing in Linux is their dependency on Windows as a platform.

I see a problem that is just as big, or probably bigger, here for the (PC) game industry: the near-monopoly of Steam.

I try to buy non-Steam versions of the games I buy, because I dislike Steam's online DRM and their client, but it seems that Steam is the new Windows when it comes to gaming. "Everything" is released on Steam first, and it seems a lot of times only on Steam. Which means that we're one focus shift or stolen password away from not being able to run the games we've bought and paid for.

gog.com has a better offer, IMHO, by being DRM free. Are there any other similar competing services? Humble Bundle seem to be selling Steam keys these days, so they're a subset of Steam.

I think people maybe don't realize that, like Windows, Steam got to where it is for a reason. Valve knuckled under and built a digital distribution platform for PC games during a severe decline in the PC gaming market when very few people thought it would work.

And it wasn't exclusive, they sold other people's games on there too. Then they helped kickstart the indie gaming explosion with the Potato Sack. Then they started trying to make Linux a better gaming platform to provide an alternative to being locked in to MS. Then they released a non-exclusive VR platform against a competitor that was exclusive.

Say what you want about Valve having a monopoly and that being bad for the market, because that's generally true, but my opinion is that Valve has demonstrated a sincere interest in doing good things for PC gaming, not just what's good for Valve.

Mentioning the Potato Sack gets into one of my biggest complaints with Steam and why I worry about its monopoly position: we can't talk about the Loot Box problem and dumb addiction hacking and not point to the elephant in the room.

Valve has invested a lot of time and effort into its various loot box schemes (hats, trading cards, stamps, badges, etc), and Steam is currently the only retail platform deeply complicit in the worst slot machine tendencies of the industry at large, and has been for a long time.

They have stopped improving their client, doing anything novel in their store, releasing titles in popular franchises and improving graphics or game engine technology.

It's been 6 years since their last franchise title, CS:GO, was released and it's profitability was based on micro-transactions. I think this experience (along with DOTA 2) would forever change the way the company perceives its value to customers.

In hindsight, I regret hats on TF2. I regret that as customers we steered Valve into this lackluster state where microtransacted eSports is in and beautiful game engines for storytelling are forgotten.

Ya, all they did in that time was design and release the world’s first mainstream VR headset, tracking system, controllers, and API.

What a waste of time.

As a Linux-only user, there are almost no Linux-compatible games I'm interested in playing on Steam. So, if I have that rare desire to load up a game, I always find myself going back to TF2, which I didn't even pay money for, and at this point am about as entertained by as Solitaire.

None of the big name releases ever seem to be available. I understand this is due to the game studio's decision of not spending the money on porting to a market that they calculate would make up a rounding error in revenue.

I'm sure there are Linux-compatible indie games out there that would be nice to try, but I'm a casual gamer and I don't have time to research and trial and error what might be a good fit for me.

How is this Valve's fault? Valve lets pretty much anyone who's willing to pay a (small) up-front fee list their game on their store. If there aren't any good games for Linux, that's because nobody is developing them.

There are plenty of AAA games released with Linux support each year - a small fraction of those released with MacOS support, and a much smaller fraction again of those with Windows support but still: they're there.

A large amount of AA and Indie games are also released on Linux (largely, I suspect, because they use middle-ware like Unity which makes multi-platform releases much more straight-forward).

My point being that there are lots of options if you have a hankering to play a quality game on your Linux machine. The problem in this instance, I suspect, is more to do with this line from imjustsaying's post: 'if I have that rare desire to load up a game'.

Civilization 6 is definitely an AAA game and it supports Linux if strategy is your thing. Tested it myself with both AMD and Nvidia cards on Ubuntu and apart from few minor glitches it works just fine.

Give Darkest Dungeon a go. It's the one game I just keep coming back to.

Steam gives developers unlimited free keys for their own games. That's why so many services also give Steam keys. Valve gets $0 if you buy from Humble Bundle even if you redeem the Steam key.

> Are there any other similar competing services?

itch.io is one such competitor, with lots of interesting games (you need bit of digging for sure). http://itch.io/


They mostly have games by Japanese developers; I suspect their Japanese version of the site has quite a few more games, however they do have some games with English translations that do not appear on gog. I haven't actually purchased from them yet, mostly due to their cloudflare settings being fairly strict and often blocking my vpn/proxy (that only I use, but is in an IP address range that others use for vpn) so I am reluctant to use them even when it works. However, it is not so good if gog is the only DRM-free option either (I strictly avoid steam). I don't know of any others.

Humble occasionally has bundles that have "DRM-free" options for most or all of the games (like the current indie bundle), although I am a little suspicious that their "DRM-free" might sometimes have call home DRM. However, I haven't investigated closely and most of the games I got from them have worked fine without an internet connection.

There are some who claim that gog is better than steam but for me there are two big advantages to steam that gog and perhaps other stores are yet to catch up with: One being region specific pricing, in Steam third world gamers pay affordable third world prices, and this has been I think a majored factor in steam adoption in these countries. The second thing being that Steam offers no-questions-asked refunds for upto two hours playtime, GOG as I understand is not going to have no-questions-asked refund facility.

One of the reasons for current Steam refund policy is that Valve lost lawsuit in Australia: https://www.pcgamer.com/valve-loses-australian-legal-battle-...

I'd say Steam gets points because they seemingly care about gamers around the world, where as GOG apparently as yet is focused on selling to gamers from the developed countries.

Many games on Steam are DRM free already. Just because it's served on Steam doesn't mean it automatically has DRM.

Only if you have a version that exists outside Steam. If a game has been installed through Steam, it must have the Steam client running to play.

Only if the Game requires it; that's an API call.

Many games you get from Steam can be run without the client.

That‘s really up to the game developer, who can (and often do) use Steam DRM, but it‘s certainly not mandatory.

Not true. I know I've been able to run many games by directly running the binary on the filesystem w/o the Steam client running.

I'd say GOG is the biggest competitor now. Then there is itch.io, but they have quite different approach.

For Ubisoft, there's Uplay. But I don't think you'll like their client either. Also, Origin, EA's shop, carries non-EA games.

GOG is probably the sanest competitor to steam, especially since they launched Galaxy so that you can manage your local installations without having to download and run individual installers. Next up is probably itch.io.

UPlay, Origin and whatever the hell Blizzard's client is called these days are just lock-ins from their respective publishers.

Yes, I agree that GOG is the best, especially with Galaxy. I was just trying to find alternatives to both GOG and Steam.

There might be others sellers, but I don't know if they deals with the distribution themselves or just sells Steam keys, like HumbleBundle.

Uplay is the worst of them. UPlay has modal ads for other games in the store when you close a game, or if your game crashes!

The worst is when you're forced to use Uplay in addition to Steam.

To some extent, https://itch.io - also DRM-free AFAIK

(No affiliation)

The problem I find with itch.io (haven't checked this year) is that it provided roughly the equivalent game quality of Steam Green-light.

Itch.io is the open bazaar of digital distribution platforms, so yeah there's going to be a lot of crap in there, but it is that open model that gives it value. Also I hear they have exceptional tooling for developers.

And they have almost none of the AAA games.

If you make a habit of checking GoG first (sometimes you have to be patient for maybe a month), you'll find that there isn't as much of a monopoly as you'd think. Have a look at itch.io, but keep in mind that it's more about indie than DRM-free.

I do, and actually ask developers if/when they’ll release on gog. One example: Bomber Crew, they refer to their distributor who doesn’t seem interested :/

> Are there any other similar competing services?


You and they are probably right. Investing in Vulcan and the attractiveness of non-Windows platforms in general is the most important thing they can do. The many games that are now available for Linux are what makes Linux a good gaming OS, not the steam machines that were never sold.

Still, it is a bit sad. Steam machines could have worked, but they were severely flawed. Buying a steam machine did not guarantee that one would get a machine actually capable of playing current games, they were very different and often underpowered. Linux-compatibility alone is then not enough.

I think they could be great if they had been more controlled: Define a form factor, define the minimum cpu and gpu power needed, buy those in big quantities to be able to give a discount compared to buying a PC manually. Release it at the start of a gpu-release cycle, so it does not need to be updated that soon. Pre-install SteamOS on a machine like this and add a starter game (Portal) and one would actually have an upgradeable gaming console developers could target games for.

Steam machines biggest flaw was they eschewed the biggest benefit of a game console, being a common hardware Target for devs. They should have a rolling release built around a good Apu and move from v1 through to v2 etc revisions of the hardware every couple of years.

Maybe throw in a pro version of the hardware for people with money to burn

SteamOS / Linux releases are always and always will be afterthoughts. The games are developed for Windows and consoles. No significant effort is put into the Linux port, it's released because it's easy to do.

So a common hardware target would do absolutely no good. No games would be developed specifically for that target.

Don't see why that's a given. Had Valve really thrown their weight behind it, devs would have followed.

Just because the market is a certain way doesn't mean that's out of necessity. There are large markets in developing economies that would benefit much (as would everyone else) from getting out of MS's grip.

Devs aren't the problem. There are a huge number of games available for Linux on Steam. Linux gaming on Steam is a success, well beyond the expectations of most.

Steam Machines are the failure. Making them even more expensive would not have helped.

It seems to me that the reason why they failed was because they were too expensive due to a reliance on OEMs like Alienware who inevitably put out overpriced junk. There were too many options. That's not how you win the market. Not sure they were really interested in doing so...it was more of a hedge against MS.

Hilariously enough, Alienware put out one of the only reasonably priced Steam Machines.

The lowest end Alpha was by all means a decent console contender in terms of size, graphics, processor, and memory, while also being one of the cheapest models of all Steam Machines.

The majority of OEMs pushed out overpriced garbage, but for the most part Alienware wasn't one of them. They committed to a custom, low profile case design AND worked with Nvidia to create a powerful low power GPU based on the GTX 960m. $400 for that versus the other companies pushing poorly supported low end Radeons? Phenomenal.

I bought on release day and still use my Alienware Steam Machine. Unfortunately, like many other said above, the developers simply don't optimize for Linux releases like they do for Windows, but the hardware pushes what you'd generally expect from what is effectively a couple years old gaming laptop hardware.

Never would have guessed that. I take back my slander.

> Had Valve really thrown their weight behind it

Is Valve as a company actually ever capable of throwing it's weight behind anything?

They had VR handed to them on a plate and all they've managed to ship is a tech demo. Almost feels like all these projects that should be major for them are treated like side projects.

I know people still have a lot of love for the games they released 13 years ago but for me I've learned to accept that Valve today isn't what Valve back then was.

> They had VR handed to them on a plate and all they've managed to ship is a tech demo. Almost feels like all these projects that should be major for them are treated like side projects.

They own the distribution of VR games. Even games that can't be distributed on Steam use their APIs, because it's the widely-supported way of doing it that works with all the headsets. Even if Valve never makes a VR game, they're going to make a lot of money from them if it ever takes off.

My argument isn't that their (almost) monopoly on PC games sales allow them to print money. My point is they're not the visionary games and hardware company that most of their cheerleading fans think they are.

They're just an online store, and for people like myself who grew up on Half Life it's a sad realisation.

As someone using a less-popular VR headset (Windows MR, it's what works with my hardware), Steam VR has let me play a lot of fun games that I probably wouldn't have got to otherwise. I don't know about "visionary", but they've put in the legwork to make it all work, and deserve credit for that.

MS lost a shit ton of money pushing Xbox before it became profitable. Don't think valve has the will or even the resources to do the same honestly.

The biggest issue I've faced when it comes to playing games on Linux that have good support (for example CS:GO) is that mouse handling in linux is not easy to configure and vendor mouse drivers are often atrocious if they exist at all.

Specifically for first-/third-person games this means getting the right sensitivity and disabling mouse-acceleration (or setting it in a very specific way for some hardcore quake pros supposedly).

Last time I checked, disabling mouse accelleration is a huge hassle and no working UI exists. The average gamer will not go into config files of the OS to try and find the right formula that makes their mouse move the way they expect it to.

This isn't really an important issue in normal desktop usage or point-and-click games. Thus support by linux developers is understandably lacking.

The first thing I do after installing Linux or using a live cd is to disable mouse acceleration.

  xset m 0/1 4

I sense there is no irony in using a command line to alter a mouse attribute that could ostensibly less-cognitive-dissonantly be done via a mouse-driven GUI

It does seem unfortunately that the best method is to install the mouse on Windows somewhere and save the config to the mouse itself. This obviously requires the mouse have on-board memory, but it works at least.

Replying for anyone else who comes along. Another good command to have for these kinds of things is "xinput". It's how I configure my touchpad (surpassing the synaptics thing) and other things.

I've found it a little harder to script in ~/.xsession though for hotplug devices. Things get addressed by integer ID, not necessarily names.

This. Playing competitively on Linux is still an exercise in frustration.

Have you tried rtfm?

  man xset

Aside from the unnecessary snarkiness, here's my main reason for downvoting you:

Even somebody who is familiar with the concept of man pages would have no chance of knowing that xset is the one to look for.

Discoverability is super important. Luckily, the kind of desktops people actually use tend to have a System Settings app in which mouse acceleration can be figured.

Didcovdrability isn't great, but eg: "apropos input" suggest "man xinput" and a quick search points to acceleration along with a pointer to the "xset(1) man page".

Unfortunately it looks like the path from "apropos mouse" might be a bit more convoluted.

Totally agree. This is a problem I have in general with linux - you don't know what you don't know, and using man to find a command to do the thing you need is akin to using a dictionary to find a word to describe a definition you have.

>The problem now, and perhaps always was the graphics APIs and cost of porting.

Perhaps some special financial incentives from Valve to big studios would be able to get the rock moving down the mountain? Temporary discounts perhaps?

I feel like Valve has certainly been putting effort into Linux, but not serious effort.

They seem to be going low-moderate risk/investment. Sure there's progress, but then the Wine devs are moving pretty steadily too at the moment.

If Valve wants to really be serious:

- Offer incentives to Devs to support Linux/Vulkan

- Release a goddamn new game (HL3 - dreams) and make it Linux exclusive for a time

- develop and release new features for Linux first (maybe if GoG ever get the Galaxy client over to Linux Valve will get a kick in the pants to act...)

- Promote SteamOS and (maybe) Steam Machines, like at least some. Show Steam Machines as an 'out-of-the-box Windows gaming replacement, not a console competitor.

- Fund Linux devs or take a lower cut from Linux releases

- Convince Adobe to release their suite on Linux! Push for/fund official Unity and Unreal Engine Linux versions

- Offer the ability to natively launch games through Wine (and either use 'community' environment files or require one exist, or have a link to WineHQ for help)

Be serious Valve, be genuine and get your flat structured 'follow the shiny thing' company focused and determined.

> Release a goddamn new game (HL3 - dreams) and make it Linux exclusive for a time

A move like this would definitely not win Linux any friends, because as it turns out the Linux Desktop really isn't that great and you'd just be causing a huge headache for a lot of people. The gamers would be annoyed at having to deal with Linux's bullshit, the Linux Destkop community would be annoyed at the huge influx of new users who don't think "try another distro" (especially after the third distro), or "write your own driver, it's open source!", are acceptable solutions to their problems.

If Linux wants gamers there's a simple (note: simple != easy) thing they have to do: make their platform attractive to gamers and game developers. So far they can't manage either, the only reason gaming on Linux is even remotely viable is A) Valve coming in and saying "Ok, since there's no such thing as a standardized base system in Linux Desktop land, here's a standardized base system for Steam you can target", and 2) the popularity of Android making engines like Unity and Unreal have Linux support, which allows devs to tack it on without too much extra effort.

> the Linux Desktop really isn't that great

That's not true. Stick to the 'user friendly' popular ones (Ubuntu, Mint, etc) and they're very solid now. Sure, edge cases are still a problem, but for gaming - if supported - not really anything more problematic than Windows.

When did you last try Linux?

I currently run a Linux desktop (Ubuntu 17.10) on Apple hardware. The list of problems:

The camera fails to work consistently (the driver does not always load)

Audio fails to work consistently (restarting pulse fixes this)

Closing the laptop lid initially sleeps, but then the laptop wakes up a few minutes later for no reason (so I wrote a script to disable all the events that can wake the laptop up, but this in turn causes it to not wake up at all sometimes when I actually want it to)

kde plasmashell will crash if I try to use ffplay, and doesn't reliably recover so I end up needing to restart my session which loses any work I hadn't saved since I can't switch windows

These are all problems I have never experienced with my Windows laptop, nor macOS.

Anecdotes obviously, but I've been trying to go only Linux for the past decade and never felt like I could reliably do so.

> I currently run a Linux desktop (Ubuntu 17.10) on Apple hardware.

It's important to buy hardware that is supported and properly documented by the manufacturer. Apple is not one of those that do that.

If these were issues I've only encountered on the Apple hardware I would agree. I've encountered issues like these on every computer I've put Linux on, which is every computer I've built or bought since 1996.

Then, again, you weren't using the right hardware. I've used Linux on two Dell XPS and three different Thinkpads in the last 5yrs and I haven't had a single hardware issue. And we're still talking about very popular, affordable, and accessible devices.

It's nothing like it was 5-10yrs ago.

The person you're replying to is right, using Linux is a lot like using MacOS, you need the right hardware for the software. I too had issues with Macbooks and it was like night/day switching to Dell/Lenovo when using Linux. When everything works, desktop Linux is very nice and on the same tier (or better) to MacOS as a programmer.

I've had issues with early releases/preview builds of windows 10 too. Even on Microsoft hardware.

If you want a stable experience, you'll need a lts release with supported hardware. Eg for Ubuntu: 16.04 along with a Dell xps. Or red hat, debian stable or whatever.

Fortunately Ubuntu 18.04 is just around the corner.

Not saying poor hw vendor support for Linux isn't still a problem. But my parents have actually had more issues upgrading to Windows 10 (firewire drivers not working, won't be fixed by vendor or ms).

Seems to be trend that when hw doesn't work on Windows, it's "pc doesn't work/is difficult", on Mac it's "well, third party, can't expect it to work". But with Linux it's always: "Linux is crap".

I never said Linux is crap, do not put those words in my mouth.

I said the Linux desktop experience has not been good to me, with any of the hardware (even the stuff I picked specifically for good support) with very popular hardware. I still use Linux as my desktop OS, and really would love to ditch Windows 10 permanently but don't feel like I can without a lot of frustration. The same as it has been for the past 20 years for me.

Apologies, I could've been more clear that I didn't mean to imply you said Linux was crap; more that in general many users seem more ready to blame Linux when faced with the mess that pcs sometimes are.

Apple hardware always have me issues, starting with the wireless drivers or power management.

With ThinkPad I never had an issue.

Be me

Perform vanilla install of Windows 10 on new desktop build

Watch it sporadically work with Logitech 920 webcam

Watch it randomly not load network device at boot

Watch it show me a blank login screen with no ability to pick a user or enter pwd

Watch it “lose” a USB connected Brother laser printer

Watch it ...

I’m pretty sure Windows and Apple get a pass on quality because we’re low level conditioned to give Big Corp products a pass

The Ubuntu + i3 setup I’ve been rolling for years now has not given me any more or less odd ball problems than Win or OSX

OSX on my work laptop reboots every day. I have Firefox and Slack and some stuff installed via homebrew, on a 2017 MacBook from work. Every morning “your computer is recovering from a shutdown”. Even if I shut the software. IT hasn’t figured it out, Apple can’t and won’t replace hardware that tests ok

Watch FaceTime just stop doing anything every call I make with it

Oooh and the WiFi issues with Mac that I haven’t had with Linux since wpa_supplicant was managed by hand

But Apple has their “just works” rep. I mean it “just loads” then just needs a reload everyday seems more accurate

I’m not saying Linux isn’t a quirky chore

I’m saying it doesn’t seem any quirkier than the competition going off my daily experiences with all 3

I've very rarely had an issue with Windows that wasn't fixed by replacing faulty/failing hardware. While not a hard rule, your issues sound exactly like that's the root cause. Time for a new motherboard or PSU. Most people just never realize it is failing, blame the OS. Everyone who has done deep stints into desktop Linux knows that's definitely not the case over there and Windows does a fantastic job at covering up hardware errors as much as it can, more than people realize.

Starting from my Commodore128 till today, other than that original Commodore, I haven't seen anything else as well-built as Windows. macOS & desktop Linux distros included. I hate to elevate one above the other but my honest opinion starting on desktops in 1986 that Windows is the most rock solid desktop OS out there today. Microsoft has to ensure it's the most battle tested by necessity, given that even back in 2011 it ran 1+ billion[0] devices. There's nothing else even in the same league for desktop operating systems when it comes to exposure, testing & fixes in the QA feedback loop. Even the big player, Ubuntu, doesn't come close.


I basically agree with you. Though I think you are ultimately exaggerating windows and Mac problems, they are far from nonexistent.

I haven't seen the quirk where Linux doesn't allow typing full sentences before.

kUbuntu 17.10 + Kubuntu backports from 18.04 + kernel 4.15 (AMD open-source support of HDMI sound it's here)

- Works flawless. - No issues with the webcam. - Plasmashell don't crash. - Even I can use my old Epson C-62 printer where on Windows I can't!

And I have nearly the same configuration on my workplace without issues.

The only issues that I notice: - Skype for linux is garbage. - OBS doing weird thing the last time that I try, I need to update it.

Yep, I love Linux on the Desktop, but its really only a thing that works well when all of the hardware is supported. That happens surprisingly often with commodity hardware, but it isn't exactly something that I'd expect every random gamer to be able to reliably deal with.

Those are completely your problems. Linux works perfectly driverwise and usage wise. Even for my older familu members.

Well, the luck of the draw experience with Linux is precisely one of its problems.

Works perfectly? Exaggeration isn't going to change anything. "Those anecdotes are bullshit but mine aren't, they were doing it wrong" is a common trope in these discussions.

At least with laptops, there are models that you can research and see if other people have been successful using a Linux distro on them.

Building your own Linux gaming rig is then that much harder in comparison for most people.

I'm a die-hard Linux user, but I completely disagree. Wifi is still terrible, video-card support is still terrible, audio is still terrible, we still can't get sleep to properly function, etc.

I really want Linux to be the go-to OS that people install, but the criticisms of it tend to be pretty valid, IME.

Wifi: Works fine on linux as long as you avoid Realtek and Broadcom.

Intel and Atheros wifi works great out of the box 99% of the time

Video Card support: video drivers are still a pain point for sure, but I don't think it's fair to say 'video card support is terrible' as a blanket statement. Intel, Nvidia and AMD graphics all work on linux.

AMD is making great progress with their OSS drivers, and intel has been well supported with OSS drivers for a long time now.

Most issues are due to nvidia still insisting on only supporting proprietary drivers, and the annoying issues that come with that (e.g. drivers breaking after kernel updates).

Audio: Usually just works out of the box

Sleep: In my experience sleep works fine on most hardware, but there are some motherboards with horrifically buggy acpi implementations that have issues.

Wifi: Works fine on linux as long as you avoid Realtek and Broadcom.

Or Ralink. I bought a TP-Link Archer with Ralink that had a driver and was a recommended AC chipset on some sites at the time. The driver loaded and worked, but frequently dropped connections or had very slow transfer rates.

AMD graphics, NVIDIA

Still can't reliable switch my monitor on/off without problems (artifacting or miscellaneous Wayland compositor bugs) with the amdgpu driver. I used NVIDIA with Nouveau before, but that was even less reliable (regular flickering). At least amdgpu works fine if I keep my screen on and avoid system sleeps.

The last time that I had issues with the Wifi card on Windows, was like 8 years ago.

Sleep function works better that Windows. I don't get blue screens when I wake up, like windows does. Also, the time since I boot to get ready to do something, is far better on Linux that on Windows.

Also, I can output sound at same time by HDMI and to the sound card out put. I can't do that on Windows!

And Video card support, with AMD, it's at the same level that Windows.

I'm glad things work for you. I'm not at all saying that they never work right, but that they often enough don't work right to the point that complaining about their lack of quality is justified. Just because something works for your setup doesn't mean that it works for everyone else's.

> And Video card support, with AMD, it's at the same level that Windows.

I haven't used Windows in years, but if that is the case, Windows must have gotten way worse. I can't say my experience with any video-card vendor has been smooth on Linux.

And this right here is why Linux never really gets any better.

Someone posts legitimate complaints, someone else comes out of the woodwork saying "works for me!", dismisses those complaints, and wonders why nobody gives a shit about their desktop platform.

Curious what exact issues you are having, I am also a die-hard linux user (nearly 20 years of it being my primary Desktop platform for personal use, and almost 10 years for Work as well). I have 0 issues with wifi/graphics/sound/sleep, and haven't for at least 5 years or so.

My recipe for success lately is: use all Intel hardware for major components (CPU/GPU/Net), use Business grade hardware (I run Thinkpads and Optiplex desktops at the moment), and stick to a rolling release distro or otherwise frequently updated one (I use Arch, there are probably plenty of other good options, but don't try to run a 2 year old LTS distro on 2 month old hardware if you don't want a headache).

Video drivers: Multiple displays are still wonky. 3d-graphics are very hit and miss.

Wifi: randomly drops out, packet loss, inability to connect.

Audio: I still end up having to disable Pulsaudio about half the time.

I generally use older Thinkpads and Debian, though I've used Arch, Ubuntu, Mint and probably others, as well as a range of hardware.

I use Linux all the time, Linux Desktop much less often but I keep an eye on things in that sphere. It makes a great web kiosk, and as long as you color inside the lines of what the distro developers intended as a use case you're fine, but as soon as you try to make any changes to fit your workflow you get buried in broken overengineered crap and outdated documentation.

I get the same impression when I have to use Windows. What in Debian amounts to "change a configuration file" is usually "install this (proprietary) program" in Windows.

I guess it's a matter of habit and expectations then?

Neither WiFi nor Bluetooth worked on my last 3 Ubuntu laptops, for most people that right there would be enough to throw it in the trash.

I use a Linux desktop every day and love it.

Nevertheless, I can't help but laugh at the fact that you basically just suggested for him to try another distro.

More seriously, the reason that suggestion is so common is because it does sometimes work out and I can't blame you for pointing that out.

This is true. I use Ubuntu on a custom built machine (where I verified hardware before purchasing) and play Rocket League all the time. My son thinks it plays much better on Linux than Windows, as do I. If only CoD WW2 was available on Linux, I'd actually play it :(

> A move like this would definitely not win Linux any friends, because as it turns out the Linux Desktop really isn't that great and you'd just be causing a huge headache for a lot of people

They released HL2 as a Steam exclusive (IIRC), and your description of Linux now was how you'd describe Steam then (not great, a headache). It won Steam lots of friends and set it on its money-printing way.

I'll be the first to agree that there isn't much on the line for Valve now, given that Microsoft has pulled back from the more extreme plans of Windows-Store-exclusivity fuckery, which was an existential threat to Valve.

There was a rather large amount of hatred for Steam when it first came out. I was one of the haters, so I remember it pretty clearly. We had a lot of reason to doubt, but we were won over as Valve kept improving the platform and didn't end up using it for the evil we expected they would.

Having once been a Linux Desktop evangelist, and knowing what I do about modern Linux Desktops, I feel I can safely say that very few people are going to be won over by it.

Steam was _reviled_ when it came out...simpler times!

The thing is that Steam was a vastly different way of distributing software at the time and offered benefits that drew customers to it. Using Linux has few practical benefits for most people other than cost savings of not buying Windows. And not many people explicitly pay for Windows either - it usually comes with the machine they bought.

> They released HL2 as a Steam exclusive (IIRC), and your description of Linux now was how you'd describe Steam then

There is a ...tiny... difference between "install an additional shitty drm software" and "replace your entire system". And yes, even steams introduction was hard, back in the day with shitty internet... i certainly wouldn't spend that much time (and money for isdn traffic) installing a game these days.

I installed Ubuntu 17.10 on my desktop. There is an awful tearing issue in video playback, so I installed the AMDGPU driver from the AMD website for Ubuntu.

After installing it, the machine would hang during boot. I had to boot to recovery mode to remove the driver. Then I tried to switch to Xorg from Wayland. That also caused the UI to fail to load. I eventually figured out how to get Xorg to work and tried the AMDGPU driver again. Again, failed to boot. I ended up reinstalling Ubuntu from scratch. I've consigned myself to the fact that I can't resolve the tearing issue and I'll just have to live with it.

So, I dual-boot Windows 10 and Ubuntu, depending on the task I'm working on.

17.10 isn't an LTS.

Why is everybody who is complaining about the Ubuntu issues trying to run what amounts to a beta build of the operating system? I think you would have a lot smoother experience of the just a to 16.04 and don't upgrade until everything is ironed out.

Fwiw i agree, but I think canonical should be clearer in its messaging here. Stuff like 17.10 isn't much better than running Debian testing - which if anything comes with far too strong warning labels :-)

After going a bit back and forth on canonical/Ubuntu - I'm starting to think I've slightly misunderstood what they're doing: they really are all about competing with red hat on a debian foundation. This is both good and bad; Lxd and juju seem great, and they have a live kernel patching service (costs money :-/), support contracts... And put effort into various projects that benefits everyone.

But they're not really trying to be a great free software project/product - a "better" debian than debian.

I think that's actually for the better - but they've got the signalling a bit messed up. Almost no-one should run non-lts Ubuntu as their daily driver, IMNHO - just like Debian testing is for the adventurous - not for the person new to debian.

But every Ubuntu release comes with friendly packaging that understandably confuses newcomers. And by the time people have few years experience, they've become tinkerers - the target audience. So they stay, and pull people on to the edge, when most would be better off with the boring stuff that works pretty great.

Maybe it's just poor/understaffed community management. Debian has a wiki that's half dead in places (I've made some half-hearted attempts to help give it live support - but it's though keep going when there's so few around...) - While Ubuntu have vibrant user Web forums ripe with enthusiastic and often very misguided advice...

And somewhere else in this thread, someone is suggesting to run a rolling release to get reasonably good hardware support. Which one is it?

I have a Linux machine at home and I use it regularly. Linux is great as a Unix system. It has a more modern userland than macOS. Linux is exceptionally good for development (from recent gcc/clang to profiling with perf). But why can't we just be honest: Linux and hardware is hit and miss. You need to buy the right hardware and configuration typically requires at least some terminal work and/or configuration file editing, which are both outside the realm of regular users and many gamers.

Why would a hardware selection or hacking on configuration files be out of the realm for your typical PC gamer?

When they've already committed to purchasing and assembling special hardware components just to run the games? Crosschecking your build against Linux compatibility would be pretty simple...

Sometimes the beta build includes support for features that are otherwise completely unsupported on the last LTS release. This was the case for me with 17.10-- 16.04 is unusable on my hardware.

I agree with much of your commentary, but I don't really like the community bashing. Having looked at the average Windows community, I'm not really sure that it is better, they just act off-putting and helpless in different ways (just reinstall it, and that kind of thing being the most common responses).

I'm at the point where I consider post like these flamebait because it yields the same discussion over and over again. Either people haven't used linux since the mid 2000's or they comment on their one off technical issues. I deal with similar (or even worse) issues listed in the comments below with windows AND macOS machines all the time. In fact, my issues with a macbook have been so plentiful it sits collecting dust on a desk in my apartment.

Every time I mention the macbook, I am always chided that "it's a lemon." In that spirit, given the preponderance of people who use linux daily and have no issues[0] with it, I think it's time to stop claiming the issue is linux itself already. It isn't a valid argument anymore in 2018 and given the fact about drivers on linux, it's even more surprising how well it does when one has driver support.

[0] No issues that wouldn't be something out of the norm of what windows users or mac users are already used to regularly dealing with.

> but not serious effort.

Dunno, my Steam Box runs games like Grid Autosport, Mad Max, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex etc. without a single issue, as fast as on Windows (quad i5 + NVidia), and I don't even notice I am on Linux. So thanks to Valve and Feral Interactive, I can slowly move away from Windows to Linux for all my computing needs, not just for programming, Deep Learning and blockchain. What else is missing?

Moreover, I can run a lot of software under Wine, like Adobe CS6 or MS Office, or even many games (it has gotten significantly better lately).

> Dunno, my Steam Box runs games like Grid Autosport, Mad Max, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex etc.

It runs them now, but none of those games ran on Linux when they first launched. Grid Autosport took 17 months after the initial release, Mad Max took 13 months, Tomb Raider took 3 years (and the 2015 sequel is still not available on Linux) and Deus Ex MD was the only somewhat timely one at 2 months (but the previous game in the series was never ported to Linux at all).

I know not everyone cares about playing games the moment they come out, but many people do. Especially with multiplayer games where the community is most active closer to launch.

If currently Linux has 1% gaming market share, I am thankful they port these games at all. I am one of those early adopters that paid >$1200 for a top end Steam Box, and bought every single AAA game available on Linux even if I might not play them all, just to put my money where my mouth is and perhaps contribute a bit to getting Linux more relevant. It's only going to be because companies will see some money out there as well, so I try to give them what they want.

It's not even 1%.

You might consider saving that money instead of promoting Linux through buying games you won't play.

Compound the interest, and maybe you can find an indie game studio investment instead. That would be a real and substantial contribution that moves the needle.


That situation will probably change as soon as most games ship with Vulkan: Even if devs devote zero effort to porting to Linux, Vulkan makes it easy to run them with Wine with pretty much the same performance. I can imagine Valve adding Wine automatically with Steam.

Graphics support is only a part of the puzzle. Many devs have never used Linux and know nothing about it. And they hate to learn a new operating system just to support 1% of the players. Building a game for Linux is easy if you already know your way around, but otherwise it can be quite complicated. Valve does offer the compatibility layer (set of system libs like SDL, C++ libraries, etc., that are deployed with the Steam client which your game can use) but this means having to build your game in a chroot environment. Once they see all that, many Windows-only devs just run away.

And then, there are runtime considerations like where you store the player data, cache files, and the case-sensitiveness of the filesystems which many Windows developers are completely unaware of.

So no, Vulcan doesn't give you "zero effort" Linux ports.

Let me put "ports" with quotes. I've played the Windows version of DOOM (2016) in Linux with same performance and didn't do anything special other than copying the configuration that had Vulkan enabled. I can imagine devs just enabling a checkbox in Steamworks to deploy to Linux automatically using Wine.

I don't know what you're expecting, it's not like Playstation and Xbox built empires overnight.

It's not like Playstation or Xbox built their empires at no cost either - they invested heavily in exclusive IP to bring users to their platforms, and nobody is willing to make that investment for Linux. Not even Valve apparently.

IMO making a great Linux-exclusive game by Valve would be equal to starting a war with Microsoft and other publishers. As they want to use SteamOS as a bargaining chip when dealing with MS/EA/etc., it might not yield optimal results to anyone and could even kill any high-end Linux-oriented game development.

I'd agree that the games do indeed run, but I have a big problem with the 'as fast as on windows' part - I have a beefy gaming rig (i7, 1080Ti, 144+ fps is a must), and most games run at 20% lower FPS compared to W10, while maxing both CPU/GPU to 100% utilization. There's also a lot of collateral problems, like borderless window support when running under i3, OBS and other streaming tools are rather quirky etc. I have tried 5 different distros and eventually went back with W10.

> I feel like Valve has certainly been putting effort into Linux, but not serious effort.

Wait, what? Valve has been making huge contributions to the large parts of the Linux ecosystem.

Of course they can do more -- anyone can, but patronizing them with "be genuine" and "follow the shiny thing" is really unnecessary.

Everytime somebody does a bit of good, he is more severely judged and on highter expectations than those doing nothing. Generally by people not doing much themself.

It's an exhausting and unfair reality.

In the field of ethics, this is known as the Copenhagen interpretation of ethics [0].

In short: "The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics says that when you observe or interact with a problem in any way, you can be blamed for it. At the very least, you are to blame for not doing more."

[0] - https://blog.jaibot.com/the-copenhagen-interpretation-of-eth...

Be careful with this line of thinking. Not everyone contributing something is "doing a bit of good"; it's quite possible they're making it worse. It's sorta like "good samaritans" who try to help accident victims, but because they have no training, end up hurting the victim even more than if they had just left them alone until someone qualified could get there.

Just because someone (or some group) contributes something to the Linux ecosystem doesn't necessarily mean it's a net positive. It could, arguably, be a negative: it could cause more fragmentation and confusion, it could make Linux look bad to outsiders (decreasing adoption rates), it could take mindshare away from a better organized project, etc. Worst case, it could be done with malicious intentions, such as contributing code that has a secret (and not obvious) backdoor/vulnerability.

Also, I think there's a logical fallacy about criticizing people who don't contribute yet offer criticism, though I can't name it. For an extreme case, imagine a group of lousy coders writing an OS kernel, and some actual kernel expert like Linus or Dave Cutler jumps in an offers some criticism, though they aren't contributing to this particular project. Who should you listen to, the actual expert in the field, or one of the amateurs who really doesn't know what he's doing? Obviously, the expert's criticism should be considered and not rejected out-of-hand just because they're not a contributor.

In Gabe Newell's own words, Linux support was a hedging strategy against Microsoft potentially mandating software distribution through the Windows App Store:

"So we’re going to continue working with the Linux distribution guys, shipping Steam, shipping our games, and making it as easy as possible for anybody who’s engaged with us — putting their games on Steam and getting those running on Linux, as well. It’s a hedging strategy.

I think that Windows 8 is kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space."

> https://venturebeat.com/2012/07/25/valves-gabe-newell-talks/

Given Gabe's fears never really materialized (perhaps with the exception of Windows 10 'S', but even that no longer has fees to enable third party software sources), there simply hasn't been anything like as much pressure for Valve to push SteamOS/Linux.

It's like a nuclear race, you are funding it not because you want to nuke someone but because you don't want to be nuked.

So the incentive here is to continue to make it viable in order to have an argument against someone trying to blackmail you because you are so locked-in into their ecosystem.

On the other side, the more viable you make it, the better future you are building, as you then have access to a platform where you can actually control from end to end, and so implement whatever your future requirements require you to.

They are not in a hurry to change the status quo, they are playing it for the long term.

It's really too bad that Microsoft didn't stick to their guns with their strategy of forcing software distribution through the Windows App store. I'm curious how history would have played out with that decision, and I think it would have been fun to watch.

>>Release a goddamn new game (HL3 - dreams) and make it Linux exclusive for a time

I think people seriously overestimate how popular that game would be. If they really did release it as a Linux exclusive, a lot of us nerds(and I mean it as a compliment here) would install Linux in a heartbeat just to play it, but I think overall, the game would sell very poorly. It has been so many years since the last one that the mainstream public doesn't care about it anymore - a group of hardcore enthusiasts would buy it + some people interested in what the whole Half-Life hype is about, but I'd be surprised if it sold million copies.

I also think about the other side of it. I love teaching people about Linux/(F)OSS/etc. However, I would hate to see HL3 exclusive for Linux. It would largely hurt the community, I think.

Let's assume millions did rush to buy it and install Linux.

Think of how many of them would be installing it just to play one game. Most would gripe about not being able to do something they're used to in their other OS [0].

While I love Linux, there are some pain points on desktop. Just getting it installed on your machine is not always trivial even when you know what you're doing. Something you've done a thousand times sometimes just doesn't work for no real reason and you just have to try again [1].

Linus help them if they need a proprietary driver [2].

I imagine most of the people trying Linux for the first time would be trying it with the intention of playing a game instead of learning a new system. That sets them up to be annoyed every step of the way and walk away angry at the new system (Linux).

On top of all that, it could cause some frustrations for people like myself who try to help others install and learn Linux. I imagine having several conversations with friends/family thinking they want to finally learn some of this Linux thing I keep talking about. Only to discover it's just because they want to play HL3.

[0]: http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm

[1]: I realize this happens with computers, in general. The point here isn't to bash Linux (heh).

[2]: obviously, not a fault of the Linux ecosystem, but that doesn't change the fact that it is incredibly frustrating.

EDIT: formatting.

Exactly. Convince people Linux is worth moving to, but don't force them towards it.

If memory serves, when Valve was initially getting their feet wet, publicly, with Linux, they were getting Left 4 Dead (1 or 2, can't remember) to work there. If I remember correctly, they got it to a point that hardware for hardware, they got the Linux port to run better than the Windows version.

And that's a direction worth going if you want the gaming crowd to follow: come this way and get an extra boost in performance. We know you just spent $300 to get a couple frames per second boost, come get a few more for free.

They really need to do something about Big Picture mode though: that thing looks terrible on anything above 1080p. Even more so at 3440x1440 where it is blurry and inside black bars. If they're trying to make Steam into an appliance of sorts, the user interface needs to be right.

As absurd as it looks, Microsoft in some part seems to be helping make Linux more attractive. I can tell because of my younger brother, he is constantly complaining of Windows shenanigans (forced upgrades, inconsistent performance, disk space usage, some kind of 30fps cap that he needs to fix on regedit sometimes).

He tried CS:GO in my Linux box and liked that it just worked, apparently ran smoother, and according to him the OS itself seemed simpler. He wants to try Linux on his computer now with my help. Let's see how that will work out, but still, it's a start.

I feel like this is true and frankly it bothers the living hell out of me.

I'd like to eventually be using an open source operating system on my desktop, I really would, but Linux Desktop is crap and from what I can tell will remain crap because their community has crap ideas.

But now Windows is getting more crap too, by trying to copy the crap parts of the mobile ecosystem and the crap parts of Linux at the same time.

I'm facing a future where I end up with a Linux Desktop not because the Linux Desktop has finally become worth using, but because Windows has become so shit it is better by comparison.

It's enough to make me want to give up computing altogether.

There is no "Linux desktop", there are distros, they have various desktop environments KDE, Gnome, Unity, MATE, Blackbox, and lots more.

I'm curious what MS Windows has copied from a common Linux DE or distro that you believe is "crap"?

> There is no "Linux desktop", there are distros, they have various desktop environments KDE, Gnome, Unity, MATE, Blackbox, and lots more.

Yeah, that's a big part of the problem right there.

> I'm curious what MS Windows has copied from a common Linux DE or distro that you believe is "crap"?

Rolling releases, i.e: break everything every 3 months, an over-reliance on the the command line for configuration tasks (and I say this as someone who loves powershell), package managers, and hardcoded paths (mostly for their dev tools), to name a few.

Ubuntu, one of the largest Linux distros, does Long-Term Support (LTS) releases with a 5 year release cycle [1].

Things break on Ubuntu for those addicted to upgrades (me!).

In my preferred DE, KDE/Plasma, I can't recall ever needing to use command line for normal user level configurations.

[1] https://www.ubuntu.com/info/release-end-of-life

> In my preferred DE, KDE/Plasma, I can't recall ever needing to use command line for normal user level configurations.

Which in typical Linux evangelist fahion means it never happens to anybody else.

He's right though, on a modern linux desktop you can typically make through a GUI.

But sure, there are edge cases where you might need to use the terminal or edit a configuration file.

As an analogy, in Windows I've occasionally had to make configuration changes through regedit.

That doesn't mean it's normal to have to make changes in the registry on Windows, it can usually be done through the gui

Not at all. If I meant that I'd have said "is never required" or similar; I clearly stated it was my personal experience.

It depends on your hardware as much as anything IME - sadly most PC hardware sellers make stuff to work under MS Windows, so if you're not careful with your purchases you can have problems.

I used to use Slackware, and that was a lot of command line - or at least text based - configuration; but I chose it to learn about administration. Like buying an old car so you can practice fixing it.

A good push on Wayland will cull the herd of WM/DE's quite a bit. At least, it will funnel them into a small set of common toolkits for building DE's.

Things are improving over time, even if slowly. With more people using Linux distros, the incentive to improve the desktop parts is greater.

Kernel support is improving too. AMD is contributing to the open source amdgpu driver now, Intel's open source driver is one the most supported among distros.

And what if a Linux Desktop ends up being better than Windows at some point in the future, well, why won't you use the best tool you have available?

I had the chance to run KSP on an older laptop, something more to low end. On windows it was playable on low settings, with small hiccups. On Linux it was running smoothly with similar settings, same game save. It could have been code optimizations, game engine, the OS, the drivers, but there was a difference.

Obviously the solution is the build HL3 with JAVA so it runs on everything.

Sounds like a great way to get progress on Linux moving faster, in a way helping the chicken-egg of users vs dev support. Short term pain for long term gain.

Windows is often a horrible thing for people to learn at first, but they do it because it's the default.

If Linux is to be in the sphere of 'things to learn to play games/be productive,' then a more disruptive event is better than hoping to get there by growing at 0.2% per year...

Agreed but all they really need to do is make the BETA Steam OS only. This still gets the hardcore enthusiast interested while not alienating everyone else.

I know why you think that, but when Fallout 4 came out even my father was interested in it, and he'd never heard of any prior Fallout game, and hadn't really gamed in years.

Of course, he also still asks me every year when "the next Half-Life is coming out".

your dad is trolling you. He knows.

I doubt it. If it's not called "Wolfenstein", "Doom", "Half-Life", or "Call of Duty", he probably hasn't heard of it.

It would also have the danger of backfiring - fans being pissed off that they'd have to change their OS because valve decided to arbitrarily make it exclusive.

I've always thought that they've been saving a HL3 release for a proper, SteamOS-based console, ala Xbox or PS4.

This is absurd.

They aren’t trying to promote Linux. They are trying to have an open platform to run and sell games.

Why would they be talking to Adobe, limit their sales while pissing off fans by releasing a Linux exclusive (for any amount of time,) or spend/forgo money on Linux development/sales?

This doesn’t make any sense. It’s just a wishlist for someone who likes Linux, not a part of strategy to deal with DirectX.

it is a weird dance, for sure. But currently, they're very dependent on Windows (and based on the restructuring at Microsoft, dependent on Windows remaining a big thing indefinitely).

While saying Linux First outright is probably a bad move, they do need to funnel developers' attention elsewhere to something either they control (a linux distro called SteamOS) or something compliant with Linux in general so that whatever flavor of the month distro can run them. I'd personally aim for the latter as it enables sales to people in love with Arch, Ubuntu, etc., but I could see a push for SteamOS too.

But yeah, Linux only? Not a good idea. Creating incentives for companies to target Linux too seems like a good path, but at the same time, you have to make it worth their time to support another version.

They don't, actually. They just need to support a model for developing once and targeting all operating systems.

This is about DirectX, and not about what you use as a desktop OS.

- Fund Linux devs or take a lower cut from Linux releases I believe Valve is already employing people to work on Linux and it's ecosystem directly.

- Convince Adobe to release their suite on Linux! Push for/fund official Unity and Unreal Engine Linux versions Maybe they should just convince Microsoft to port over win32 and all the other APIs to linux? Whilst they're at it, they could also convince your most hated political figure to be more like your most loved political figure. With the convincing powers like these, Valve could just convince the world to no longer suffer from hunger.

The only incentives that work would be of the financial kind, however, paying for support is not sustainable. Console vendors can pay for first party or exclusive support from game devs because they are fairly sure this will increase revenue in the long term. Valve gains no more money if they incentivize developers to support Linux. I also don't really want for things to be supported exclusively on Linux unless if there are good technical reasons - I use Linux because of the freedom it provides me, I wouldn't advocate for people to be forced to use it. FWIW, Unity and Unreal run on linux, but a lot of developers elect to use windows-only Unity plugins. The developers don't care.

What Linux really needs is non-shit drivers and a mainstream desktop environment that takes into account input latency when developing it's window manager - Wayland on Gnome is really bad in this regard, yet Gnome is the target desktop environment for Steam OS (at least last time I checked). They should maybe make sure that their games run just as fast on Linux as they do on other platforms - currently this is not the case. I believe that solving these issues will be hard and may require a unilateral effort across various entities in the ecosystem - something which is incredibly hard to do, especially when it comes to Gnome. Then there's things like drivers - yes, performance wise Intel and Nvidia drivers might be OK, but they are not feature complete especially when it comes to power management. I don't believe there is a single problem that has to be fixed to make gaming on linux a massive success - there isn't even a shortlist of 10 incredulous tasks. It has to be a long-term effort and the open source community has to take part in it.

> Convince Adobe to release their suite on Linux!

I used to toot this horn, but I'd rather see the Affinity line up released, at this point. Aside from professional designers, and people who use it daily, the costs are beyond prohibitive.

I worked as a designer for about 15 years before landing a job in programming. So, my uses for Photoshop or Illustrator have dwindled down to once a month at most. A subscription makes no sense for someone in my shoes.

I understand why they did it, and how piracy was out of control for their apps. But $50 a month for something I'm rarely going to use is nuts. Which, is a real shame considering the amount of hours I spend learning these apps.

> Valve could just convince the world to no longer suffer from hunger.

You meant it as a joke but by far and large hunger is a problem of the past. Massive famines have not occurred in years, and where they do it's because of political disorders like conflicts or civil wars.

Even in the UK, a supposedly rich Western democracy, people are regularly going hungry. I think you're overstretching by a long way.

The capacity for ending hunger is here.

Probably UK companies throw out enough food to feed all those who're hungry in their locality [1]. But hunger is still a big problem. It's going to get worse here too. The recession brought food prices up significantly, Brexit will do so to.

[1] high-street companies used to sell off perishable goods cheaply at the end of the day. Now they lock them in bins. Because poor people would buy them to save money, poorer people would "steal" then from the bins.

Well, about that: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/sep/15/a...

There's also increasing problems inside first world countries: https://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/blog/2014/06/uk-hunger-...

It's also possible that hunger is a leading indicator of conflicts. I've heard this cited as a cause of the Arab Spring, and water conflict is a factor in the war in Yemen.

A) one could (and many do) make the argument that most famines through human history have been at least partially because of political disorders, usually exacerbated by or exacerbating weather conditions.

B) There's currently at least one massive famine going on RIGHT NOW in Yemen that gets pretty much no attention. Yes, it' due to a conflict, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Oh, this is quite interesting. Are we talking only famine, or general world hunger?

Even hunger at large is a disappearing problem. Not completely done with, but the trend is positive everywhere (apart from conflict zones):


You could look at that and say "It seems to be a problem that's being solved so I should do something else" or you could say "Wow, interventions in this area have been really effective so this must be a good use of my charity dollars!" There are different problems where one or the other of these views are actually correct based on the marginal utility of an extra dollar directed towards a problem and you really need careful research to distinguish them. More than you can do yourself, so look at places like Givewell[1] or 80,000 Hours[2].

[1] https://www.givewell.org/

[2] https://80000hours.org/

If you want to help get it to zero there's a UN program: https://wfp.org

It has to be a long-term effort and the open source community has to take part in it.

That statement is not fair to the people who do this every single day. We're only where we are because the open source community took part of it and took us there, give some credit where it's due.

edit: don't mean to sound ungrateful, point is OSS is dramatically underfunded, we need big corps to do more

> If Valve or others really cared about this, they could do more, but it is not a priority.

Valve has only something like 300 employees last time I checked, so you can't expect them to do a lot more unless they massively hire a lot more people.

One thing Valve may just be able to do is somehow convince Apple to support Vulkan. I feel that if Vulkan becomes the official API for both macOS and iOS (even if say 3 years from now), that would be a huge boost to the Vulkan ecosystem.

I think the prospect of developing a game that "automatically" works on both Windows (and not just 10, but also 7 and 8) and macOS would be quite compelling. Plus the bonus that the games would also work on Linux, and iOS/Android, and eventually the web (at least some of them for these last three).

Besides Apple, Valve should also convince Sony to support Vulkan on the next-gen PS5 console. They should tell both of these companies that they benefit more from being in this larger ecosystem than they do by creating their little walled gardens while Microsoft's gaming ecosystem engulfs and dominates them from outside.

It's also quite imperative for Valve to try to achieve this because they are still at risk of being obsolete by a future version of Windows that restricts Win32 apps by default for consumers (a non-zero chance of that happening over the next 10 years). So Valve should have a big incentive to try to get some kind of "partnership" with both Apple and Sony and get them to support Vulkan.

Apples lack of support for Vulkan is less of an issue now that MoltenVK is available: https://github.com/KhronosGroup/MoltenVK

Metal is low-level enough that Vulkan can be implemented on top of it without too much overhead.

3D API support is a radio button on most engines.

Most game companies don't care about Linux, because the added development costs on testing and community support don't translate in any meaningful revenue.

"sure, you guys sell delicious chocolate near by, but i feel you are not commited to this. You should open a factory if you are to show you are serious with my street"

The thing is, statistically, no one uses Linux desktops. There's really no point in expending any great effort there, aside from ideological reasons.

I suppose it could be a hedge against Microsoft doing something incredibly stupid, like cutting support for Win32 and mandating UWP garbage through their garbage store.

This seems like a lovely sentiment...


If you release games on a platform, or targeting a hardware spec which has a player base with is too small (like say, VR), and don't make enough money in your 'big bang' release, you're screwed, and your company goes under.

Heck, even if you do make some money, if its not enough to 'wow' investors, your studio will probably still be shut down. The economics of big bang release software are very hard ('Explain to me again why after making a million dollars this month you want another million dollars investment that will not generate any return for the next 2 years?'), and game companies are behind the curve in dealing with it.

The alternative (freemium) is just a race to the bottom, and its happening on steam right now the same way it happened on the app stores.

Incentives to encourage developers to target 'linux first' isn't just not going to work; its actually unethical.

You're basically paying people to target a platform that you know isn't significant enough for them to recoup the significant development costs in making games.

So yeah.

Realistically, you need to do one thing:

Figure out a way to provide a meaningful continuing income stream to developers targeting the platform.

As I understand it, what value is currently doing is attempting to bootstrap the market to consume linux games, by:

- Minimise the cost of developing on the platform by improving the tooling and making it easier to target 'cross platform' to include an additional platform (vulken, steam networking, etc).

- Make a platform that will consistently actually run said games, and push that upstream for other distributions to pick up.

- Work with partners to provide hardware that is configured in a way that can actually run that platform without having to compile the kernel yourself.

So... frankly, that seems like a pretty smart way to tackle the problem.

...but on the other hand, it hasn't been massively successful, to be fair.

Practically speaking, 'linux first' is never going to work; but I don't really know what else they can really do to help it along the way.

> Incentives to encourage developers to target 'linux first' isn't just not going to work; its actually unethical.

Care to explain?

People seems to think this kind of politics from first parties and even from Microsoft very acceptable. But for some reason these tactics applied to Linux would be unethical?

> make it Linux exclusive for a time

I completely disagree with that. I don't believe anyone should be forced to use a different platform, when the only reason behind it is a handshake and a piece of paper - even if it's my preferred platform.

Kinda goes against one of the reasons for using Linux.

> Convince Adobe to release their suite on Linux! Push for/fund official Unity and Unreal Engine Linux versions

I run UE4 on Linux without errors.

But everything else you mentioned I agree with 100%. I'll also add my opinion that Valve is lazy and hard of hearing.

Pretty much if you could get Adobe on Linux, it would be a clincher for me. I would move, endure whatever drama I have to endure with configuration etc, and just live happily ever after. Even change distro every now and then.

Are there any Linux exclusives?

It's been a long while since I launched a game on Steam; I was under the impression that a Windows binary is required.

Sunken cost fallacy at its best.

Valve has been making serious amounts of contributions to Linux graphics in the past few years.

Vulkan, RadeonSi and VR to name a few. They deserve all the recognition they can get for it.

They also open sourced GameNetworkingSockets and made it independent of steam for allowing games that use it to be ported to other markets.


I love how many good games are available for linux in steam! Factorio, Terraria, Silicon Zeroes, ...

It seems that it's even trivial to release Stream games for linux when using any common game engine, and I hope developers will make use of that as much as possible.

Fallout 3 has no linux version in steam unfortunately, but I actually could play it perfectly by running the windows client of steam in wine. Everything just worked (I had to do a memory patch to support 64-bit CPUs, but so do windows users have to so no difference there)

I tend to prefer GOG over Steam lately, mostly because of how shady Valve is at certain stuff. The first 2 of the 3 games you mentioned are available DRM-Free on their site.

Playtesting takes time and money and it's entirely possible that just exporting the game for linux won't run perfectly, so I can see why some companies using the common game engines don't do it, I kinda wish they did, though.

Wine runs a lot of Windows games properly.

I remember a indie dev saying that he won't port his game to Linux, since, even if it was working, he couldn't do enough testing to guanrantee a stable enough release.

Potentially unpopular opinion: There is no money to be made in consumer desktop operating systems in 2018, so there is little funding for innovation in the consumer desktop operating system space. Until a business model emerges which challenges this, the status quo will remain roughly the status quo.

The two major commercial producers of proprietary operating systems are basically giving away their operating system at this point. Free Linux distributions offer basically the same functionality for most users; the only things preventing migration from one OS to another are existing applications. For non-gamers, that's often moot, because the world exists in a web browser now. Yes, there are other applications causing OS lock-in too, but they're mostly on the business side, not the consumer side.

There is still plenty of money to be made from enterprise operating systems, but the innovation there is in a totally different direction than what consumers would find valuable.

Example: Linux containers are great! But who's spending the R&D money to make them a viable way to distribute games? There's plenty of work being done on containers and graphics chipsets for ML applications, but not for consumer use.

> The two major commercial producers of proprietary operating systems are basically giving away their operating system at this point.

Huh? Windows 10 home and pro aren't free? It's true that Apple doesn't charge for upgrades, but they do charge a significant markup - and they will happily sell you a licence to run Os X on a hackintosh although they'll forbid you from doing it in their licence ("non apple hardware").

> Until a business model emerges which challenges this

Appstores. Windows, and Os X have app stores. Steam is an appstore. Microsoft and Apple bundle a competitor to steam with the Os.

Just because both apple and Ms suck at making/marketing/developing their App stores... Doesn't mean valve don't want to stay in the business...

They can't get in on ios, Xbox, ps4, etc. They could probably make an appstore for Android - but I'm guessing they'll just focus on streaming games from the cloud to Android (esp Android TV).

With hw support for virtualization, Linux could be the universal runtime - allowing the same game to run on Mac, Windows and Linux...

There are a number of packaging technologies already being worked on, and games are just programs, why do games need a special focus?

AppImage, snapcraft, etc

When leaving Windows for Linux I kinda gave up on gaming, but not only some but most of my favorite games do work on Linux! For example Kerbal Space Program (which unfortunately get more and more buggy for each update, and is currently unplayable due to space ships spontaneously rip apart spreading parts all over the galaxy)

Most of the big game engines were ported to Linux at this point, so it has become easier for developers to target these platforms. There are multiple AAA titles running natively on Linux, with comparable performance to their Windows counterparts (some people have noticed even better performance).

I've been playing older titles that now have official Linux versions, like Bioshock, Metro 2033. Let me tell you, I would never have predicted I'd be playing AAA titles natively on Linux.

I stopped using Windows about 11 years ago and I've been using Linux ever since. I actually played so much Dota 2 on Linux that I had to uninstall it. I used to play a lot of Enemy Territory; Quake Wars too. I was very disappointed that both Quake 4 and Doom 3 BFG edition were Windoze only, though. Otherwise I would have bought those instantly.

> get more and more buggy

It's probably because they don't pay their developers and fire everyone that expresses any discontent with it... KSP is not a good citizen.

It basically goes like this: Company have thin margins and dev's agree to work for slave wages. Company starts to make millions in IP profits. Employees want to increase their salaries. Company says no. Employees quit. Company hires new employees, but doesn't have to increase salaries much due to market prices. The employees could probably get employed at some enterprise IT shop and make CRUD forms all day with decent pay, but what a waste of talent.

I don’t understand why no one is talking about Linux on stand-alone VR headsets.

Valve’s hardware team has been very busy, designing the Vive in 2016 and the knuckles controller in 2017.

They’ve said they are working on multiple full length VR games, but that they wanted to be able to design the hardware (knuckles) and the games together a la Nintendo.

This is public knowledge.

It’s also known that Oculus is releasing two standalone VR devices in the next couple years.

Valve has a headset, controllers, and a Linux OS. It seems obvious to me where this is all going: a stand-alone Valve VR device running SteamOS.

Of course they’re not investing in screen-based games and desktop Linux boxes. They’re perfectly positioned to release a medium-defining device in a green field new computing paradigm.

They are at least as well positioned in this fight as Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple. That’s the big leagues. Valve makes good money on Steam, but not that kind of money.

And you know Apple and Microsoft aren’t going to use Linux. So having Valve means there’s a Linux horse in the VR race.

I'm really confused if PC gaming is a winner-takes-all market. Most of the people I know (let's be honest, it's probably 90%-95% of your friends) play games (AAA, bigger indies, the "household names") on Windows and only a very fervent minority plays on Linux.

I personally have been using Linux on work computers and personal laptops (almost) exclusively for.. I don't know, 10 years? - but my "gaming pc" is still on Windows and I'm not in the mood for experiments with WINE or grasping at the games that run on Linux.

Does anyone play major games on Windows and Linux? I'm really excited for the idea of Linux gaming, but it's not a thing I'm willing to compromise and fiddling if the games I want to play really work.

It's about platform independence. Basically it lets steam tell microsoft, us and our ecosystem can move our PC 'console' to a linux foundation any time.

Sure, but that was neither my point nor my question. I'm not interested in what Valve wants to achieve (in this scope) - but if there's a tangible benefit for gamers and not just a hypthetic one :)

I value their commitment.

>While it's true Steam Machines aren't exactly flying off the shelves

I hope they didn't expect anything else. Steam already has a limited choice of games and a console that is even more limited is a niche product at best.

To make it succeed, they need a lot of resources to get GPU manufacturers and game publishers on board (also those who took their games off Steam and created their own launchers). They need both of that only to have a chance to attack regular consoles.

Look no further than this to understand why Linux doesn't work for most game developers https://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/linux-game-sales-stat...

I recently received an invite for the GeForceNOW beta. For the unaware, GeforceNOW is game streaming; they leverage cloud GPUs to render games, then stream the results back to you. My take away is in-line with critical consensus. If you have a sublime Internet connection, it's an awesome service. It's prone to the odd dip in quality, but all-in-all it's a major paradigm shift.

I have been a proponent of gaming on Linux most of my adult life, but I can't help but think that Valve might be missing the boat by sinking resources into gaming on Linux local hardware. Times are a-changin'.

  > I have been a proponent of gaming on Linux most of my adult life, but I can't help but think that Valve might be missing the boat by sinking resources into gaming on Linux local hardware. Times are a-changin'.
No they aren't. There is just now a large amount of hammer-wielding cloud idiots on the scene who think everything local is a nail. There is an entire industry built around computer building, and a very large proportion of the PC gaming crowd see the two as inexorably intertwined. Part of the joy of PC gaming is the satisfaction of building a powerful system and watching it play 3D games really well.

>might be missing the boat

Valve's goal was to hedge against a "Windows Store" model for games at a time when it seemed that it was inevitable.

Also, and I don't mean to sound dismissive, but that streaming model simply will not work. When it comes to anything more than visual novels or turn based RPGs, the only way you'll be able to solve the problem of latency, which players of these games are very sensitive to, is by using tachyons. I think there are better uses of hypothetical faster-than-light particles, personally.

> If you have a sublime Internet connection, it's an awesome service. It's prone to the odd dip in quality, but all-in-all it's a major paradigm shift.

I thought this when OnLive launched, but even with a relatively good internet connection for the time, OnLive was still pretty horrible to play consistently. You can have a great experience for an hour or even an hour or two, but by the 8th hour you're bound to be hit by the inherent problems of delivery of a network. Maybe that's a random latency spike or loss of video quality. Maybe that's something more. Even a great connection can have problems with consistency over long durations. That's what you need for streaming games to work well for everyone.

I could see this working for something like Civ or casual RPG play. I can't see this working well for anything competitive. Even in a best case scenario with a huge pipe and a server right nearby you'll probably be looking at one or two frames of delay at 60 fps which is already pretty frustrating for games where timing is important, and I doubt that's going to be the case in general. Physics is just going to get in the way, and we're not even considering 144Hz or higher resolutions, the bandwidth/latency requirements quickly get way out of hand.

If Linux could play all of my favourite games I would drop Windows in a heartbeat.

There is absolutely no reason for me to have a Windows machine except the games I play that don't work on Linux/Wine.

Steam as a platform is completely, utterly atrocious in all regards. Their client is ancient, outdated, and barely usable, there's no content quality filtering, the greenlight program is a failure that only succeeds in bringing complete bottom of the barrel dreg in 99% of cases, even from a developer's point of view the platform is just a major PITA.

But it has the first mover advantage and that is really everything. Even platforms that are infinitely better, have better tools, support, and pricing (such as itch.io that doesn't require a cent to publish your games) are heavily disadvantaged just because it takes extra work for developers and gamers to adopt them. There's no easy way out of this and Valve can continue being lazy and make major slip-ups every year and there's very little others can do to endanger their heavily entrenched position on the gaming market.

As far as PC (or GNU/Linux in particular) gaming is considered, Steam is everything, and it's not going to change any time soon.

PC isn't an operating system. Please call it Windows if you mean Windows.

I didn't mean windows, I meant PC gaming.

Ok I'm sorry, I see it quite often and your comment could be read that way.

There exists a world where the Switch is the Steam Machine. It would have been very well possible if Nvidia had chosen Steam instead of Nintendo as distributor for its Shield.

We'd have an open handheld platform for indie games.

It's not "Nvidia choosing Nintendo as a distributor", it's "Nintendo choosing Nvidia as a component provider".

Let's be realistic, the success of the Switch is more because of Nintendo software (Zelda, but also the promise of other Nintendo IPs coming) rather than the hardware. The success of indies on the Switch is more a byproduct of the Switch success that the other way around.

Nvidia Shield existing before Nintendo Switch, it did have a focus on gaming but it didn't cought anyone's attention. I don't see a partnership with Steam changing much about that.

Nvidia already had two generations of Shield products, and the third generation was hotly anticipated. After a delay, it was revealed that the Switch was going to be the third "Shield" generation. Nvidia was always going to make another tablet.

Sure, but I don't think that third tablet would have had any more success than the previous ones if it wasn't a Nintendo console.

>We'd have an open handheld platform for indie games.

They already had a standalone Shield years before the Switch. Nobody wanted to support it since games had to be reworked for ARM and the Android framework. Same with the Ouya. It's not a particularly difficult obstacle, but there were so few users that it wasn't worth it.

Breath of the Wild alone was enough to sell millions of units. There are now over 15 million Switches out in consumers's hands.

>We'd have an open handheld platform for indie games.

Nintendo is the last company in the world that would be interested in this. They're not in the hardware business to sell other peoples software, they're in it to build a platform for their own software.

Nintendo platforms could literally ship with zero third party support and people would still buy them. Heck most casual gamers I know who bought Wii and Switch don't even own third party games at all, just Nintendo.

Yep. People have been decrying the end of Nintendo since the Playstation and it hasn't come to pass because Nintendo is actually really freaking good at making games people want to play. They make the hardware to their standards, with a target price they choose, and they make their games to the hardware. It can't push as many triangles as a PS4? Nobody cares, because you can't play BotW on a PS4.

> Nintendo is the last company in the world that would be interested in this.

My point was that Steam should have been interested in it.

But there are already x86 handhelds that can run Steam games just fine without trying to get all the developers on board porting to ARM. Just buy a GPD Win, or a SMACH Z if that thing ever actually goes into production.

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