thechef Jan 25, 2013 @ 5:51am
Short review on Valve's choice to target Ubuntu regarding compatibility with other distros
Ubuntu is probably the most popular Consumer Linux at the moment, so one might think that it is of course a simple choice, but it isn't that simple.

If I were to chose a platform I'd select the one platform which is to some extent popular and to some other extent binary compatible to other distros.

Ubuntu is the base of Linux Mint and binary compatible. Choosing Ubuntu will cover 2 distros at once.

However this still is not enough compatibility for me. So I started to analyze interdistro compatibility a bit according to some experience of mine.

I built Xonotic 0.6.0 on a small variety of distros on CentOS 5, Debian Squeeze, Ubuntu 12.04 and Ubuntu 10.04 and checked on which other distro the build runs. I did not check every combination. I did not run anything on CentOS, I only made a build.
The result of the build is the binary nexuiz-sdl, which does not contain any statically linked library as far as I know (the output of ldd is very rich).

The results are simple: A newer system runs any binary built by older systems after installing dependencies.
The other way doesn't work in most cases. It does however for binaries built on Debian Squeeze and run on Ubuntu 10.04, probably because the freeze dates don't differ much and I was lucky.

I do assume that installing required dependencies is a comfortable action and no obstacle at all. (If it was not, there would be no point in using dependency systems and everyone should just use monolithic OS-ROMs). A distribution system like steam can automatically trigger the operating system to do so easily anyway.

I conclude picking the Operating System with the oldest freeze date (not the release date!) is always the best choice.

Among Consumer Distros (this excludes CentOS) this will almost always be Ubuntu thanks to its lifetime of 5 years.

At the moment it is Ubuntu Version 10.04 until EOL in April (that was just 3 years) followed by Debian Squeeze and then it's probably Ubuntu again with Version 12.04 I do not foresee that it changes soon. Debian has the potential to be older at times, but it's rather unlikely.

From this point of view Ubuntu is a good choice if Valve and other game developers respect older but still supported operating systems.

I'd be happy to enjoy new game releases in 2016 on my Kubuntu 12.04.
Last edited by thechef; Jan 25, 2013 @ 6:29am
Showing 1-13 of 13 comments
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souenzzo Jan 25, 2013 @ 6:11am 
+1
s.plisskin [Archlinux] Jan 25, 2013 @ 9:51am 
They just need supply a tar.gz file and let the distros pkg them as they see fit.
thechef Jan 26, 2013 @ 5:59am 
Originally posted by s.plisskin:
They just need supply a tar.gz file and let the distros pkg them as they see fit.

Basically yes, but packaging effort can be reduced to easy non-workaroundish solutions only if you respect the freeze date.
blackout24 Jan 26, 2013 @ 6:49am 
Well even with the current solution there isn't really an obstacle. It doesn't matter if it's a *.deb file or *.tar.gz. Both can be easily extract to whatever destination you want.
On Arch it just pulls the latest steam.deb and does it's little install routine. There isn't anything stored in the Arch User Repo in terms of a repackaged file but it still works flawlessly.

I don't know why other distros have to reupload their own packages to provide 3rd party software.
Last edited by blackout24; Jan 26, 2013 @ 6:52am
thechef Jan 26, 2013 @ 6:55am 
t.jp, but Arch is a Rolling Release. You will never face the issues an Ubuntu LTS or Debian User might have.
blackout24 Jan 26, 2013 @ 7:09am 
True. I was just commenting on the "Packeing Issue" not the problem with outdated dependencies on distros that don't offer always the latest versions.
HardPenguin Feb 4, 2013 @ 1:46am 
I fully support what thechef said.

I am Debian user and I use official release version (called 'stable', currently codenamed Squeeze). I don't want to upgrade to 'testing' branch to use Steam, because it makes my system not so stable and more problematic. So I have to wait half a year until next Debian will be released to run Steam? Nonsense.
thechef Mar 19, 2013 @ 4:43pm 
Uff - I have update my review slightly, because of recent changes. The concept is still right, but Ubuntu is building up its own software stack which might make it unable to fully target classic gaming and which might not make it a very good base for the other distros. Both, however, is uncertain and right now and in the near future Ubuntu is still a good choice, but that might change to debian.
arc| Gps Mar 19, 2013 @ 5:58pm 
Originally posted by t.jp Arch:
Well even with the current solution there isn't really an obstacle. It doesn't matter if it's a *.deb file or *.tar.gz. Both can be easily extract to whatever destination you want.
On Arch it just pulls the latest steam.deb and does it's little install routine. There isn't anything stored in the Arch User Repo in terms of a repackaged file but it still works flawlessly.

I don't know why other distros have to reupload their own packages to provide 3rd party software.

The current opensuse installer does the same.
Seems to work just fine.
Stormsight Mar 19, 2013 @ 11:55pm 
so what do i do to make steam work on ubuntu 10.04? it wants libc6 (>= 2.15)
Artemis3 Mar 20, 2013 @ 12:42am 
Steam was compiled for Ubuntu 12.04 not 10.04.
_moo_ Mar 20, 2013 @ 1:01am 
I'd like to add 12.04 LTS to what Artemis posted LONG TERM SUPPORT (for what its worth)
Shark Mar 20, 2013 @ 1:02am 
Originally posted by Storm:
so what do i do to make steam work on ubuntu 10.04? it wants libc6 (>= 2.15)
Upgrade?
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Date Posted: Jan 25, 2013 @ 5:51am
Posts: 13