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Steam’d penguins
July 17, 2012 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Valve confirms Steam for Linux
posted by Artw (88 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is the year of linux on the desktop.
posted by andendau at 8:22 AM on July 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Four years after the desktop is relevant... yeah, I'd agree.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:23 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]



This is the year that rebooting into Ubuntu stops meaning I can get some shit done.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:24 AM on July 17, 2012 [18 favorites]


Desktop is extremely relevant for actual computing (not to mention non-Angry Birds gaming), Linux has been there for a decade at least and in any case your smartphone is in all probability running Linux.

Now that the usual idiocy has been dealt with: There's a difference between Steam and any given game. I see they have one running so far. It's the right direction but far from a final destination.

I wonder how much their continual confusing of Ubuntu with Linux is going to mean it won't run anywhere else. I would hope at least Debian would work, since the one is (or was) based on the other.
posted by DU at 8:28 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


History question: Has there been a closed-source release of this magnitude before?
posted by griphus at 8:29 AM on July 17, 2012


Wow. That's pretty neat. I don't use Linux on the desktop anymore, myself, but I remember when Loki Games doing a port of "Civilization: Call to Power" was huge news.
posted by mph at 8:30 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Closed-source release for Linux, that is.
posted by griphus at 8:32 AM on July 17, 2012


Nvidia drivers are probably the most widely used closed source linux software.
posted by helicomatic at 8:33 AM on July 17, 2012


I am probably giving Ubuntu the boot in favour of Win8 later in the year. It's been fun, but I kind of want to be running real Office again, and recent UI changes have been of debatable worth. Still, interesting times.
posted by Artw at 8:34 AM on July 17, 2012


Steam for OS X certainly has helped, but I'm skeptical how many publishers are going to cross-compile and qa check their games.

History question: Has there been a closed-source release of this magnitude before?

I don't know how you'd define "magnitude." But Opera, WordPerfect, FrameMaker, StarOffice, and multiple database systems come to mind.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:35 AM on July 17, 2012




This is the year of linux on the desktop.
posted by andendau at 8:22 AM on July 17


I've never understood why market dominance is necessary for relevance. Linux has always had plenty of support, but I keep hearing that they haven't made it on the desktop yet. Apparently we're not going to be happy unless we've wiped all the other operating systems off the face of the planet?

We're not Research in Motion here, we're not grasping for straws to save a dying operating system. The whole thing has been going strong and keeping up momentum since day one.

This is cool, and handy, and a lot of people will have fun with it. It's definitely a good thing. Is it going to increase adoption? Probably not, but why would that be an issue? Linux doesn't need to be a player in the gaming market to be worth its salt.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:35 AM on July 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


> Nvidia drivers are probably the most widely used closed source linux software.

Either that or closed source firmware blobs for wireless cards.
posted by fragmede at 8:35 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Being a closed source platform for downloading closed source games is definitely going to keep it out of most of the repositories and base installs for distros.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:36 AM on July 17, 2012


I still have my copies of Alpha Centauri and Railroad Tycoon 2 for Linux.
posted by octothorpe at 8:36 AM on July 17, 2012


The only reason to do this is because you're making a console. There's been hints that Valve is staffing up hardware capability for awhile, so it all fits together.

OTOH Valve also has done a maverick thing in supporting Macs with Steam and all their games. As a Mac user I'm grateful, but I also suspect they aren't making a whole lot of money on their Mac users. Maybe they just support non-Windows systems because it seems correct.
posted by Nelson at 8:36 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am aware of all the reasons I shouldn't be happy about this news. I am nevertheless very happy about this news.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:40 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]





The only reason to do this is because you're making a console. There's been hints that Valve is staffing up hardware capability for awhile, so it all fits together.


Google/Valve could definitely release a console.
Using *nix architecture as the backbone for your closed source software is nothing terribly new either, think OSX.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:40 AM on July 17, 2012


I kind of want to be running real Office again

where do i even
posted by DU at 8:46 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


If it were two years ago, and we were still running Ubuntu 10.04, I'd be pushing all of you to run it in VMWare Player to see what you think. But, as I've talked about numerous times before, the Linux desktop teams have all lost their freaking minds, and they've all skipped off to chase tablets, pretty much fucking over their existing customer base... a lot like Microsoft.

So, I dunno. In 2010, I'd have been excited. In 2012, I don't think Linux is a suitable choice on the desktop for most people. When using various distros, all I want to do is find the various desktop teams, and give them a good thumping.

I see no advantage to you here. I think the best overall choice at the moment is Windows 7, with OS X in second place, but losing ground as it focuses more and more on tablets and less and less on desktop users.... and, of course, more and more on extracting dollars out of your wallet, and less and less on making your life better. And Windows 8 is so appalling that even the current brain-damaged Linux desktop would be better.
posted by Malor at 8:50 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Using *nix architecture as the backbone for your closed source software is nothing terribly new either, think OSX.

Android, too.
posted by Malor at 8:51 AM on July 17, 2012


Yeah, I won't be using this at all. I read horror stories about people unable to use it in "Offline Mode" Giving this kind of gatekeeper control over your machine and software you own to some corp is quite simply bullshit. Looks like a DRM system in sheep's clothing to me. Do not want.
posted by dno at 8:51 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


DU:
"where do i even"
There's a little Start Menu button up in the upper left hand corner, kind of like a Start Menu for Office. Click that, click the "Word Options" button at the bottom of the menu and then select "Trust Center" in the column to the left. On the right click the "Trust Center Settings" button, select "Macro Settings" on the left and click the "Enable All Macros" radio button to the right. Now go online and download a bunch of Word files from the internet.
posted by charred husk at 8:52 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've set up several friends with various flavors of Linux for various reasons over the years. All of them have had Linux crash and become inoperable for them more than Windows ever did. I don't know if that is just the current state of Linux or if my friends just have magical powers.
posted by charred husk at 8:54 AM on July 17, 2012


Among Valve's recent hires is Sam Lantinga, the original author of the multi-platform SDL library and a veteran Linux game programmer/porter.

Valve Picks Up Another All-Star Linux Developer
posted by tykky at 8:56 AM on July 17, 2012


Malor: Android, too.

Android is open source. The specific Google apps (Plus, Play, etc) are closed source, though, which might be what you meant?
posted by gilrain at 8:57 AM on July 17, 2012


Well, I should amend that slightly, in that KDE didn't lose their minds over tablets, they lost their mind in their 4.0 version. You can use it, but it is so ugly and unintuitive. It's like they sprayed random UI elements all over the screen, and then randomly picked some to keep. There's no elegance to it at all.

I liked earlier KDE versions, and used it for years, but switched to GNOME 2 when KDE 4 shipped in such a dismal state, and found I preferred it, especially Ubuntu's super-polished version. Everything just fit right. It felt like a real, coordinated OS for the first time.

And then the GNOME team lost their minds, too. To their credit, Canonical realized this, and tried to replace it with Unity. Unity, however, is not a credit to team. Blech. It is, again, totally focused on tablets, instead of all the freaking millions of people who were actually using the product. Just like Microsoft, they're willing to screw over their existing users to go chase some mythical new ones.

And the end state is that the 2012 Linux desktop sucks. It's so bad that I keep a 10.04 Ubuntu version in a VM, in preference to running anything else I've found so far.
posted by Malor at 8:59 AM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've set up several friends with various flavors of Linux for various reasons over the years. All of them have had Linux crash and become inoperable for them more than Windows ever did. I don't know if that is just the current state of Linux or if my friends just have magical powers.

There is a third potential explanation. ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:59 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


And the end state is that the 2012 Linux desktop sucks. It's so bad that I keep a 10.04 Ubuntu version in a VM, in preference to running anything else I've found so far.

Have you looked at Xfce? Even Xubuntu is more than tolerable compared to its cousins.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:00 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


where do i even

Meh. I've given Open/Libre more than enough of my time.
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Malor: "the Linux desktop teams have all lost their freaking minds,"

I disagree: every single major desktop OS developer including Apple and Microsoft is experimenting with new approaches to their desktop UIs. Microsoft has Metro, Apple is dragging big chunks of iOS into OSX, Gnome has switched to Gnome 3 & Ubuntu went off and developed Unity.

There's a reason for this: it's because the introduction of the iPad suddenly gave desktop developers space to innovate new UI interfaces. Personally I think this is a good thing.

Having used it for a while, I've grown to like Gnome3 a lot. Once you understand what it's trying to do, the interface just gets out of your way. It's very refreshing.
posted by pharm at 9:05 AM on July 17, 2012


Celsius1414:
"There is a third potential explanation. ;)"
I've never had a problem with my own Linux installs. It only seems to be when someone else uses it. I think part of the issue is the "I don't really want this so I'm going to gleefully find whatever is wrong with it that I can" effect.
posted by charred husk at 9:06 AM on July 17, 2012


Have you looked at Xfce?

Yeah, it wouldn't resize windows at all in my VMWare instance. Dunno what the problem was, but I'd get the resize cursor when I floated my mouse in the right spot (which was hard, as it's quite small), but any subsequent clicks would not grab the window. The click would be passed to the desktop instead. Fixed-size windows make it largely unusable.

That's not a problem I have in 10.04.... everything works properly there.
posted by Malor at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2012


The real question is: What games will be available? Because Steam on OS X has been great and all, but the game selection is not so great.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:08 AM on July 17, 2012


And Mint flavored Ubuntu maintains more of the desktop taste than does Ubunity.

Back on topic: new hardware? Seems like a lot of work. Probably skipping the console and going straight to finding a good home on android tablets/STB devices other people make.
posted by notyou at 9:09 AM on July 17, 2012


It's even more charming that I thought: Gamespot - Why steam is bad

I particularly like this one:

"If you want to play games like MW2 or Black Ops you HAVE TO use Steam. Purchasing retail DVD makes things no different - you will not be able to play your game if your Steam account is blocked, even single player version."

This nightmare looks as bad as or worse than buying Kindle books from those dicks at Amazon. These guys are the Amazon of gaming.
posted by dno at 9:10 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the end state is that the 2012 Linux desktop sucks. It's so bad that I keep a 10.04 Ubuntu version in a VM, in preference to running anything else I've found so far.


It seems really screwy to me that Ubuntu is in a state where people are freeze-drying whole releases of a distro to stave off upgrading. I'm assuming that extricating oneself from the default desktop is too much of a pain to be worth it?

I've thought about ending up back on Linux a lot lately. I've got an iMac that's probably going to be less than optimal for OS X.9, and as much as I wouldn't mind getting something brawnier now, I'm going to wait because I want to see how far down the Gatekeeper/sandboxing path Apple goes, and because I don't think the EPEAT thing is completely played out, Apple's apologies notwithstanding.

When I think about ending up back on Linux, I'm pretty sure I'll be timewarping right back to 2002. I've fiddled with a few desktop configurations on eeePCs in the last several years — choosing to blame the inferior, underpowered hardware for the poor experience — but GNOME 2 was a debacle in its own right and the answer then, as it appears to be now, is to just forget whatever the distro vendor is putting in front of you.

I'm guessing I'll be back on vanilla Debian. Now that I'm old, I really don't think I'll need that morning fix of seeing new stuff after apt-get update (or whatever the kids are doing these days).
posted by mph at 9:11 AM on July 17, 2012


dno: "Giving this kind of gatekeeper control over your machine and software you own to some corp is quite simply bullshit. Looks like a DRM system in sheep's clothing to me. Do not want."

That's what Steam takes away (although personally I've never had any issues with offline mode).

It's not a one way street though: in return you get to install your games anywhere you can get a Steam login without needing install media (although some games add even more DRM :( ), you get Steam cloud sync for save games & game settings, you get your existing games patched automatically (man do I not miss having to apply a stack of patches downloaded from some random corner of the net whenever I wanted to re-install an old game) & the update system means that game developers can continuously update their games, enabling new business models (which everyone benefits from).
posted by pharm at 9:11 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Defense Grid 2 will be coming to Mac and Linux if the Kickstarter hits it's second milestone. Come to think of it, those guys are pretty tight with valve, I wonder if that has anything to do with Linux being a target platform.
posted by Artw at 9:12 AM on July 17, 2012


mph: "I'm guessing I'll be back on vanilla Debian. Now that I'm old, I really don't think I'll need that morning fix of seeing new stuff after apt-get update (or whatever the kids are doing these days)."

Vanilla Debian (at least the next release which has just frozen) has gone Gnome3. So if you're trying to avoid the new shininess that won't help.

But I really like Gnome3, so I encourage you to give it a try :)
posted by pharm at 9:13 AM on July 17, 2012


If nothing else, this is a Valve masterstroke when it comes to negotiating the terms & cost of Windows licences for their (putative) console with Microsoft. A credible alternative will give them far, far more leverage.
posted by pharm at 9:15 AM on July 17, 2012


The big thing with offline mode is that you need to 'pre-arm' Steam to get it into that mode. If you can set it into offline mode when you're still online, it will work flawlessly, in my experience. But if you were in online mode, and your connection goes down, it becomes just about impossible to get the system restarted.

It's only really usable, in other words, when you have time to prepare. Sudden loss of Internet usually means total loss of Steam for the duration.
posted by Malor at 9:17 AM on July 17, 2012


Sure, Ubuntu lost their minds with the Unity lunacy. But the lunacy is spreading.

Under normal circumstances I would have switched to Xubuntu and stayed with it. However, those Canonical busybodies thought it would be a good idea in the last Xubuntu release to add playskool touches like the error reporting dialogues (do you want to report this error? No, I'd like to get on with my *@%$ing work!) Annoyances like that are what made me stop using Windows, which is why Debian got another user, and I won't be bothering with this Steam malarkey, unless of course it runs on Debian.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 9:17 AM on July 17, 2012


Vanilla Debian (at least the next release which has just frozen) has gone Gnome3. So if you're trying to avoid the new shininess that won't help.


Well, that's the thing: Back in my Linux heyday, it wasn't the worst of all possible fates to tear out the default desktop. Toward the end, I was just starting from whatever the distro offered in the way of a server profile then putting together the stuff I needed for the desktop from the numerous packages that weren't going in by default but were certainly available in the repo.

Things were still sort of genericized back then because the configuration tools were still a work in progress. There wasn't a ton of upside to using the shiny printer configurator when all it was doing was the same thing you could do in the CUPS local web management interface. Same with Wi-Fi in anything other than "unsecured network" scenarios: You were going to be in a text editor somewhere in /etc before the day was done.

Maybe that's not so easy anymore?
posted by mph at 9:20 AM on July 17, 2012


pharm:

"That's what Steam takes away (although personally I've never had any issues with offline mode)."

Is it really that simple to you? No principle at all about being in complete control of your highly personal property?

"you get Steam cloud sync for save games & game settings"

Do not want, the cloud is a privacy nightmare.

"you get your existing games patched automatically"

This is really closed-software and Big Game Biz failing you. I get plenty of things "patched automatically" with apt-get or yum or similar. I'd like to see one smart game dev put their game into apt repos.

Bottom line was, is and always will be: this is DRM and DRM is FAIL
posted by dno at 9:23 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The year Linux angrily rejects the desktop...
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


mph: I'm assuming that extricating oneself from the default desktop is too much of a pain to be worth it?

Well, the easy way to to do that is to download Kubuntu for KDE, or Xubuntu for XFCE. You can also switch regular Ubuntu to those window managers if you like, but it's faster/easier to just install them by default with the different spins.

I didn't care for either, but your mileage may vary. XFCE looks like it might be good, but I couldn't resize windows in it, perhaps due to a driver bug in running through a virtual machine.

At this point, I'm pretty firmly in the Win7 camp -- after the Vista debacle, Microsoft knew they had to get it right, and they did.
posted by Malor at 9:27 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


mph, I installed Mint (MATE version) last month, after needing to transition to a new hard drive. I'd been using a unity-disabled version of Ubuntu for a year or two prior to that, and the transition was beautiful.

The default really reminds me of KDE circa 2003 or so. Clean, customizable, and doesn't get in my way with a bunch of pretty bullshit.
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 9:31 AM on July 17, 2012


I actually don't mind Unity. I am a bad, bad person.
posted by rhymer at 9:33 AM on July 17, 2012


Is it really that simple to you? No principle at all about being in complete control of your highly personal property?

I truly despise intrusive DRM, but I think of Steam as being about as non-intrusive as it gets. It's easily cracked, so if they ever get abusive, I'll still be able to get versions of my games, probably taken directly from the Steam releases.

It's sort of token DRM, at least so far, and you get quite a lot of convenience in exchange -- no more hunting down your install disks anymore. However, like all DRM, Valve has the power to unilaterally change the terms of the deal anytime they choose, and shove anything they want down our collective throats. Our sole (legal) remedy will be praying they don't alter the deal any further.

But, again, because the present DRM is so light, their ability to bludgeon us is fairly limited. We can always flip them the bird, and pirate stuff instead.
posted by Malor at 9:33 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This nightmare looks as bad as or worse than buying Kindle books from those dicks at Amazon. These guys are the Amazon of gaming.

No, that's EA and whatever-the-fuck they call their version of Steam.


Is it really that simple to you? No principle at all about being in complete control of your highly personal property?

Dude - it's videogames.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:34 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Meh. I've given Open/Libre more than enough of my time.

I don't think there's a single sane person alive who thinks Open/LibreOffice is a good piece of software in any objective sense. It is only "good" in that it (more or less) successfully replicates the terrible experience of using Microsoft Office.

If you are using LibreOffice on Linux, something has gone horribly wrong. That something may be out of your control, in which case I feel for you. But if that something is in your control stop and rethink your life.
posted by DU at 9:34 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'know, I actually like Unity. I was forced to use it for a week when I had a stock Ubuntu install and no time to configure it, and would you believe it, by the end of the week I was quite happy with it. It's slick, it's fast, and it puts everything in a predictable place. There's not much to mess around with, so it sucks if you had an obsessively configured system.

People who complain about GUIs should be forced to use Suntools for a couple of hours. Then they'll know what a bad GUI is.
posted by scruss at 9:36 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


dno: "Is it really that simple to you? No principle at all about being in complete control of your highly personal property?"

I'm saying that Steam has positives as well as negatives. That for some people, those positives might outweigh the negatives.

Do not want, the cloud is a privacy nightmare."

Firstly: get a grip. The world is welcome to see my Batman Arkham City settings if it wants them. Secondly, I appreciate that some people might not want to share some of this stuff: Strangely enough, Valve understands this too & lets you turn of Steam sync for any & all games. They're not monsters you know.

This is really closed-software and Big Game Biz failing you. I get plenty of things "patched automatically" with apt-get or yum or similar. I'd like to see one smart game dev put their game into apt repos.

This is a non-starter on Windows. There is no such central facility for anyone except Microsoft themselves.

Blaming the game business is all very well, but it doesn't actually solve the problem of how do I get my games patched does it? Steam does.

On the Linux side, until very recently, the UI for adding an apt (or yum) repo was appalling from the "ordinary computer user" point of view. It has got a little better recently but I suspect most users are still going to be put off by being asked to enter their admin password just in order to buy a game.
posted by pharm at 9:38 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another +1 for Unity. The big horrible mistake I thought Canonical did was release Unity in Ubuntu 11 as the default, when it was quite clearly a buggy piece of crap. In Ubuntu 12 its stabilized, and after using it for a while, I've completely come around to it.

This of course after getting super angry and jumping ship for many machines under my control to Mint, and now I have fractured my own little empire of linux machines between the two.

Nevertheless, if I were building a new desktop linux machine right now, I'm back on the Ubuntu bandwagon, including Unity (and of course, it's linux, so you can always install Gnome or KDE or whatever if you don't like Unity, or want to not use it all the time).

Sorry though, what's this Steam thing?
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:40 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry though, what's this Steam thing?

It is a sophisticated system for delivery of virtual hats.
posted by mightygodking at 9:43 AM on July 17, 2012 [21 favorites]


I actually don't mind Unity. I am a bad, bad person.

You're not alone. Neither it and GNOME Shell are quite as useful as GNOME Do in my opinion, but for the average user, it works fine.

Really, at this point, with so much being done on the Internet, desktop Linux isn't as oddball a choice as it used to be. The two big deficiencies are dealing with legacy applications like MS Office, for which LibreOffice is a poor substitute, and gaming, which today's news is helping to correct.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:46 AM on July 17, 2012


Neither it and GNOME Shell s/b Neither it nor GNOME Shell
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:50 AM on July 17, 2012


Hmm, maybe I should take a look at 12.04's Unity, I think I last tried it in 11.10.
posted by Malor at 9:52 AM on July 17, 2012


Yeah, 12.04 really stabilized Unity. 11.10 seemed like a beta release, by comparison.

I'm currently running 12.04 with Unity 2D on my netbook, and between Synapse and Guake, I really don't ever see any Unity elements besides the sidebar (which hides itself). It's still Nautilus, it's still the same (or similar enough) system panel, etc.

Ctrl+Space and I have any program I want to run, F12 and I have the terminal at my fingertips. It's a pretty slick way to go. And having it all set to autohide and pop out at my command means that it's lean on screen use, which is essential for a netbook.
posted by CrystalDave at 10:02 AM on July 17, 2012


griphus: "History question: Has there been a closed-source release of this magnitude before?"

WordPerfect. That was a pretty big deal in 1997 or so. Happily, it was very close to the experience on Windows, which is to say shit. (old wordperfect was great, the GUI versions were useless until around version 10)

rhymer: "I actually don't mind Unity. I am a bad, bad person."

Me either, probably because I only use it for 5-10 minutes at a time on a 47" screen.
posted by wierdo at 10:12 AM on July 17, 2012


I'm assuming that extricating oneself from the default desktop [on Ubuntu] is too much of a pain to be worth it?

Well, before installation, it's very easy -- there are also official installation images for Lubuntu (Ubuntu + LXDE), Xubuntu (Ubuntu + XFCE), Kubuntu (Ubuntu + KDE), or for starting out without a graphic environment at all, at which point there are a few easy (unless the sight of a command line makes you break out in hives) steps to add an unofficial repository to get Gnome 3 (or there are countless other possibilities, some of them easy, some of them complicated and difficult.)

But, according to numerous reports I've seen, once you've installed one of the big desktops, you're probably in for some pain if you try removing it, or big hunks of it, and replacing it with something else.

I recently switched my wife's desktop from Ubuntu 10.04 with Gnome 2 to Ubuntu 12.04 with XFCE and she's been unfazed by the change. I wouldn't hesitate to suggest XFCE to anyone who had been okay with Gnome but is unhappy with Unity. (This was a straight-up re-install; I didn't even try to upgrade.)
posted by Zed at 10:29 AM on July 17, 2012


Steam is supposed to just work as far as automatically starting in offline mode when it can't find an internet connection. No preparation required. I've tried it in the past and it has worked for me. Pulled my internet connection and Steam started in offline mode with no problems and games worked fine.

However, in older client versions there were definitely a lot of bugs and problems with it.

A selection from the Steam client update history:
Sep 27, 2011 - Steam client update released
- Fixed switching into offline mode

Sep 6, 2011 - Steam client update released
- Fixed offline mode not working if there was no remembered password

Aug 25, 2010 - Steam OSX client update released
- [OSX] Restored ability to enter offline mode

March 2, 2010 - Steam client update released
- Really fixed offline mode not always working

February 23, 2010 - Steam client update released
- Fixed offline mode not working
posted by umrain at 10:33 AM on July 17, 2012


As much as I am a parishioner of the Church of Steam, my experiences with offline mode are proof of the existence of the devil.
posted by Samizdata at 10:53 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those complaining about Unity, I will say what I say every time this comes up: Salvation is a "sudo apt-get install [favorite wm/de]" away. Some good options include: xfce (might as well just install xubuntu), fluxbox, lxde, and others...
posted by kaibutsu at 10:59 AM on July 17, 2012


I wonder how much their continual confusing of Ubuntu with Linux is going to mean it won't run anywhere else.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. Do they have other Linuxy things for Ubuntu only?

From the article:
This doesn’t mean that Ubuntu will be the only distribution we support. Based on the success of our efforts around Ubuntu, we will look at supporting other distributions in the future.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:16 AM on July 17, 2012


There's also Bodhi which is minimalist Ubuntu with Enlightenment as a DE.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:31 AM on July 17, 2012


The target demographic for Unity may have only six people and a three-legged dog in it, but apparently I'm one of them. (Probably not the dog, though.) I move from one machine to another so much that I've long since stopped customizing my menus and desktop. Unity turns out to be quicker and more efficient for me straight out of the box than anything else I've used.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:34 AM on July 17, 2012


Gnome shell is nice and simple, the UI for Windows 7 is okay. But it has such a weird underlying operating system that I'm not sure how anyone uses it.

There's no way I'm installing steam on my Linux machines...
posted by aychedee at 12:04 PM on July 17, 2012


I don't think there's a single sane person alive who thinks Open/LibreOffice is a good piece of software in any objective sense.

There is no sense in which "good" can be "objective".

LibreOffice is fit for the purpose of WYSIWYG word processing. It happens that the problem-space of WYSIWYG word processing imposes some limitations on the user's control that you don't like, because they make your work harder to do. That's fine, but have perspective. Most people just use this stuff for making pamphlets.
posted by LogicalDash at 12:22 PM on July 17, 2012


Now that it's out from under Sun's control, LibreOffice is reportedly moving very quickly, at least internally, as they're cleaning out huge amounts of old cruft and poor code. I would expect that you'd start to see some real improvement in the external functioning of the program before too much longer. At least per Linux Weekly News, it sounded like they were going through that code with a chainsaw.
posted by Malor at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2012


dno: "Bottom line was, is and always will be: this is DRM and DRM is FAIL"

Greetings from the year 2012, oh ye denizens of 2003.

So here's one interesting thing that swayed me about valve and steam:
What if Steam goes out of business?

Valve has said they will try to stop the call home - the part at the beginning where it tries to launch your game, and on very very busy times such as the launch of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, people were having problems launching certain games. However, Steam going tits up isn't likely to happen anytime in the forseeable future.
Valve has repeatedly given me refunds for games that did not work on my PC, or like From Dust, or Anno 2070 where ubisoft promised no DRM of their own, but snuck some in any way. No questions, no hassle: sorry for the trouble, here's your money back. I can't imagine best buy or gamestop extending me the same right.

Additionally, there has been more than one developer who's said "Valve and Steam have saved my company from bankruptcy". In fact, they repeatedly get called the saviors of PC gaming. In addition to that, EA Games is supposedly releasing Battlefield 4 for $70 US. Valve's AAA FPS title, Counterstrike: Global Offense, will be selling for $15. It will have better support, a better "shelf-life", and will have tools available for its players to become great content creators, whether that's in terms of map-making or model creation. There have been several people who have started off with crummy little deagle skinning in CS or little map making who have gone on to make some amazing AAA games of their own.

In fact, there's a program in Team Fortress 2 where users submit in-game goods for purchase-- the creator gets a large percentage of the price. People hone their skills and they can make some (a lot) of money on it.

Related: One of the artists who made some items before this plan was put into effect complained through twitter in an off-handed way. Gabe Newell bought a shitload of those items just so that person would get a big check from Valve.

You also mentioned that some games are exclusive to steam. This is true for a lot of cases, but not all. Why would that be? 1) Valve takes a smaller cut of the title's price. 2) Valve will patch and update your game for free, for as long as you, the developer, will care to deliver those patches. 3) Valve makes delivering add-ons and updates (both free and paid) utterly simple. People in the industry prefer Valve. There are also a lot of indie developers and big named developers who will still publish through other avenues, or self-publish. Valve doesn't restrict game makers. If a game is available solely through Steam, that's the developer's choice.

In short, I recognize what you're saying to a degree. But you seem to present a very strongly dogmatic viewpoint in a pretty strident way.
posted by boo_radley at 1:34 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


A claim that they'll try not to leave all your bought and paid for software completely broken swayed you so much? I'd consider that non-assurance to make the don't-buy-DRM case.
posted by Zed at 1:40 PM on July 17, 2012


Zed: "A claim that they'll try not to leave all your bought and paid for software completely broken swayed you so much? I'd consider that non-assurance to make the don't-buy-DRM case."

I understand, really. But, this is literally miles ahead of anything else EA or Ubisoft have done. In fact, both of those publishers have shut off game servers just because they wanted to release a new version of a particular game. Populated servers with hundreds of players cut off for no apparent reason other than to push out a marginal upgrade or version bump.

And to be absolutely clear -- I'm not saying that Valve's way is the only way. I've played tons of sauerbraten, kkreiger and god knows what else. I've sponsored a few kickstarters. But there's a point for a lot of indie developers where they say "Fuck, I need to make some actual money on what I'm doing. The donation model is eating me alive." For when developers want to have that kind of conversation with a publisher, I think you'll be hard pressed to find one that isn't comfortable with Valve. Now, I know that's looking at it from the developer's perspective and maybe not exactly the same as preserving your bought and paid for right of ownership. But I think that if Valve (and its DRM) is helping developers get to a place where they can actually sell games and maybe make some more good games, then maybe I can find a way to deal with that intellectual tension.
posted by boo_radley at 1:56 PM on July 17, 2012


pop pop!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:00 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a steamthusiast. It's DRM, but it offers enough in return to make it very much worth the candle for the reasons already mentioned. But one thing that doesn't get mentioned enough is how much time they spend plugging indie games.

For those who don't know, there's a 'look at me now' part of the storefront that has a scrolling marquee of six or so 'hot games'. Now this marquee is the first thing the five million people who are logged into Steam will see when they start it up. So it's incredibly valuable space.

Almost invariably, half of those spaces will be taken up with stuff like Terraria, Dear Esther, Arma II, Cthulhu Saves the World. Boutique indie games that otherwise would sink without a trace get displayed for a vast audience, at a price that's essentially free. That's huge for the health of the medium.

And they've recently announced Project Greenlight, which is a way for indie devs to get their games in front of people and on to Steam by way of Community support.

I agree that there's a risk in trusting Valve, but so far they've demonstrated so much baked in good faith that the trust is warranted. It's not 100%, but unless you're going to store all your games on gold DVDs in an apocalypse vault down a mineshaft somewhere, there's a risk you'll lose them some day. I think the odds of misplacing a disc/cdkey is many times higher than Steam turning evil but you may differ.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:27 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


(On second thoughts Arma II isn't really indie - substitute Recettear if that works better)
posted by Sebmojo at 2:28 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


A claim that they'll try not to leave all your bought and paid for software completely broken swayed you so much? I'd consider that non-assurance to make the don't-buy-DRM case.

I ruined physical Deus Ex CDs several times, probably brought it 4-5 times maybe? I bought it once again in a Steam sale. It's now lasted a few years, and whenever I want I can download just dip back into it.

The risk/return seems considerably better than having bought the 6th CD. Not many companies I'd take that bet from. But Valve, especially after 7 trouble-free years of having an account with them? Yeah, I would.
posted by jaduncan at 2:38 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


PS: my word, if you have puppies or children the probabilities shift *so far* in favour of Steam over ephemeral physical objects.
posted by jaduncan at 2:41 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming that extricating oneself from the default desktop is too much of a pain to be worth it?

I've been running Ubuntu 12.04 since it was in beta. For me it involved clicking the little desktop selector thing on the login screen and selecting "Gnome classic" or whatever it's called. Only had to do it once. Simple!

Then of course I had to delete one of the two default gnome panels, because that's twice as many as you need, and had to work out how to configure the other one, which was way more complicated than it should have been. One hopes they've fixed some of the bugs now that it's officially released, but I'm done with it until the next big upgrade. Only remaining annoyance at the point where I gave up fiddling with it is the stupid "indicator applet" which includes one little widget I need and a couple that are just wasting space that would otherwise go to the task bar. All I want is the volume control. Running gnome-sound-applet, as the Internet suggests I should do, does nothing possibly because it's trying to go in the top panel which isn't there? This sort of thing was easier on previous versions. Ah well, good enough. So now aside from that non-functional mail icon and a 'switch user account' menu that I will never ever use despite having a dozen user accounts for software testing purposes, I basically have an outdated version of gnome configured to look very much like whichever older version of KDE was current when I first chose to start using these fancy GUI "desktop" things. Take that, UI designers.

Anyway, look forward to trying Steam. I can understand in principle the dislike of DRM, but to me it doesn't seem any worse than closed-source software itself, and if you don't like that it seems you aren't going to get much in the way of games, so I guess it's good news for the old "linux on the desktop" cause.
posted by sfenders at 2:43 PM on July 17, 2012


Fuck 'em all I'm going back to CDE
I've come to like KDE 4, even if it is like an easter egg hunt sometimes. I've been using Kubuntu since Ubuntu switched to Unity. I'll try Unity again in a VM to see if I still hate it.

I don't fault anyone who wants Steam on Linux. I'm not going to use it because a) I suck at gaming b) geting away from DRM crap was one of my reasons for moving to Linux in the first place.

The year of Linux ruling the desktop is only three years away, and always will be.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:21 PM on July 17, 2012


I don't really understand the hate for KDE4. Sure, the first couple (or 5...) releases were buggy messes, but it really works quite well for me now.

Perhaps I just don't demand that much out of my desktop.
posted by nolnacs at 7:40 PM on July 17, 2012


As far as the available games go, Valve states in their blog post that they've been porting Left For Dead 2, so presumably that will be available. As for as other games, there are a bunch of Linux games already available for money on indie Steam competitor Desura. It's not entirely clear which of them would make it past Valve's editorial processes, which have quixotically barred a few cult favorites such as Din's Curse from the store, but Valve has also recently launched Steam Greenlight, which is a way for users to influence Valve's decision on what to include and what not to in the store.
posted by whir at 11:43 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Valve boss Gabe Newell calls Windows 8 a 'catastrophe'
posted by Artw at 9:31 AM on July 26, 2012


Of course the PS3 was a huge disaster until he got developing for it. TBH I think Microsoft is stupid if they haven't been courting the hell out of him to get the slickest, most metro integrated version of Steam possible up onto W8 pretty please,never mind any X-Boxy stuff they are trying to foist onto people.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on July 26, 2012


Valve's linux blog continues to be interesting (so does their economics blog). In their latest post they say they've got the Left 4 Dead 2 to run at 315 FPS on Linux (OpenGL), versus 270 on Windows 7 (Direct3D). How? Simple, by getting hardware vendors to fix their broken graphics drivers. Why didn't anyone else think of that?
posted by whir at 8:23 PM on August 4, 2012


Valve reportedly preparing second-generation Source engine, kinda explains the Episode Three delay
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on August 6, 2012


whir: It's exceedingly helpful that Valve is a big company with a lot of clout and ongoing interactions with the hardware manufacturers. Attempts by the general linux community and developers to improve graphics drivers have been only partially successful over the years. But Valve is actually economically important to these companies, so the work is making some strides forward. I really hope these driver improvements make it into the open drivers, though!
posted by kaibutsu at 2:37 AM on August 8, 2012


Also the comments in the Valve Linux blog are first class. I learned things!
posted by kaibutsu at 2:49 AM on August 8, 2012


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