Steam for Linux

Steam for Linux

Pierre-Loup Jun 26, 2019 @ 3:16pm
Update on Steam, Ubuntu, and 32-bit support
There has been a lot of news and discussion over the weekend on the topic of Steam on Linux and officially supported and recommended distributions. For those not in the loop, last week the Ubuntu project announced their intent to change how they're approaching 32-bit library support for future Ubuntu versions[]. Following that announcement, we made a statement that Ubuntu 19.10 wouldn't be officially supported or recommended to our users going forward. As the Ubuntu project indicated, they let us know of their intent and walked us through the details earlier this month, which was much appreciated. We don't think it is unreasonable that they would want to take steps that are in the best interests of the project. That being said, we don't think it's an especially positive move for Steam and gaming-oriented customers who rely on this support.

To provide some background, support for 32-bit libraries is required in order to run not only the Steam client, but also the thousands of games available on Steam that only support 32-bit environments. Enabling the Steam client to run in pure 64-bit environments, while feasible, would leave the vast majority of the current Steam library inaccessible to such users without an additional compatibility layer. Ensuring that all games a user owns remain fully playable wherever possible is a core principle of Steam, and we don't believe any solution that arbitrarily splits a user's library would be acceptable.

To that effect, Steam already bundles a lot of the dependencies needed by 32-bit games, but it currently relies on some key components being available on the host system: a 32-bit glibc, ELF loader, Mesa and NVIDIA graphics driver libraries, to name a few. We've been investigating ways to avoid these system dependencies for a while now, by looking into light containerization and other approaches. The announced change by Ubuntu would have required us to fully complete such a system in the 19.10 release time frame, as it would be required there to maintain functionality without requiring users to reinstall Steam through another method. A significant portion of our Linux users are on the latest version of Ubuntu and upgrade as new versions become available. Requiring such a fundamental change in Steam's runtime environment in that time frame would have been very risky for these users, and would likely not have resulted in a seamless experience.

Our response also mentioned not recommending Ubuntu to Steam users in the future. Currently, the Steam Linux installation instructions and system requirements call out Ubuntu specifically as the best-supported path for desktop users. When we originally came to the decision to make this recommendation to Steam users, we considered the entire desktop and gaming experience, not just how well Steam itself would work. There is a large amount of older third-party games and desktop software that lives outside of Steam, and therefore does not use the Steam runtime environment. This new scheme would have broken such 32-bit non-Steam games and tools, unless the user was savvy enough to know that they needed to run them in a compatibility environment. It would be quite unfortunate if all pre-existing documentation around installing and running older binary software on Ubuntu became invalid or obsolete due to such a change, and this added caveat to using the existing ecosystem caused us no small amount of concern.

There's a lot more to the technical and non-technical reasons behind our concerns, but the bottom line is that we would have had to drop what we're doing and scramble to support the new scheme in time for 19.10. We weren't confident we could do that without passing some of the churn to our users, and it would not solve the problems for third-party software outside of Steam upon which many of our users rely.

In response to the concerns raised by ourselves and the wider community, the Ubuntu project recently discussed a more conservative approach[] wherein a selection of 32-bit libraries would still be available on the host system, through at least 20.04 LTS. We're still not particularly excited about the removal of any existing functionality, but such a change to the plan is extremely welcome, and will allow us to continue to work towards improvements in the Steam distribution model without causing new headaches for users. Given the information we have on this new approach so far, it seems likely that we will be able to continue to officially support Steam on Ubuntu.

The Linux landscape has changed dramatically since we released the initial version of Steam for Linux, and as such, we are re-thinking how we want to approach distribution support going forward. There are several distributions on the market today that offer a great gaming desktop experience such as Arch Linux, Manjaro, Pop!_OS, Fedora, and many others. We'll be working closer with many more distribution maintainers in the future. If you're working on such a distribution and don't feel your project has a direct line of contact with us, by all means, have a representative reach out directly.

That all being said, we don't have anything specific to announce at this time regarding what distribution(s) will be supported in the future; expect more news on that front in the coming months. We remain committed to supporting Linux as a gaming platform, and are continuing to drive numerous driver and feature development efforts that we expect will help improve the gaming and desktop experience across all distributions; we'll talk more about some examples of that soon.
Last edited by Pierre-Loup; Jun 26, 2019 @ 3:21pm
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Showing 1-15 of 202 comments
dumpBikes Jun 26, 2019 @ 3:25pm 
Thanks for the update and the support/investment/etc. on Linux :)
Visualvengeance Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:01pm 
Thanks for supporting Linux guys, you rock!!
A D L Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:04pm 
I hope Valve considers dropping the Ubuntu recommendation entirely. The fact that they even considered this puts me at a great deal of unease and even with their amended statement, it's just delaying what seems to be inevitable. Solus, Manjaro and Fedora are great distros that could use (and deserve) the positive PR that would come out of a Valve recommendation.

Hope it's being considered. I sure as hell won't be recommending Ubuntu to anyone I know in the future because of this, including Linux novices.

Quoting this for first page too
Originally posted by toyeLinux:
Opensuse have a company behind and they are interested in be the main platform gaming in Linux
It has a LTS version (opensuse leap)
It has a rolling release version (opensuse Tumbleweed)

IMHO you should value this great opportunity and ally with them


Last edited by A D L; Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:50pm
Yossarianuk Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:04pm 
Thank you for investment in the Linux community !

Will be interesting to see what occurs re: distro support..

Keep rocking the free/opensource world
Omega Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:06pm 
Great to hear you might start supporting more distros other then Ubuntu and SteamOS.

Originally posted by ADL:
I sure as hell won't be recommending Ubuntu to anyone I know in the future because of this, including Linux novices.
Same, I will not be recommending Ubuntu anymore either. Canonical has moved away their focus from their desktop distro and now appear to be more interested in the more lucrative server market.
Last edited by Omega; Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:12pm
Nyamiou Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:09pm 
Looks like you turned around a bad situation and found a great opportunity, nice. I'm eager to know if you'll support other distributions and which ones. Thank you for supporting Linux and helping it become (and stay) a great gaming environment, we are eternally grateful to Valve for it.
Last edited by Nyamiou; Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:13pm
Dark Arc Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:11pm 
Thanks for the Linux support, would love to see some more love for RPM distros and/or flatpak!
Excellently written. Thanks for updating us. The "light containerization" story will be interesting to follow, if it plays out at all.
Last edited by AfterWorkRankedLoser; Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:12pm
Bobby Wya Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:12pm 
Hmmm... Gentoo FTW :-)

At least it has good multilib support!
Eznit® Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:14pm 
ThankYou Dev´s for a great world of power of opensource, you guys make this possible!!
Lavenfy Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:16pm 
Thanks for supporting Linux and in general for the great work, Valve.
Nimbull Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:18pm 
I'm completely happy leaving Windows for Linux. I got tired of the poor file copy times as well as other issues with the OS that Linux just doesn't have. Throw on top the amazing support for games both old and new in Steam/Linux and this is the place to be especially since some games that don't run on Windows anymore run in Linux + Steam + Proton + Wine. So many choices.
Last edited by Nimbull; Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:18pm
i_pk_pjers_i Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:21pm 
Thank you Valve for your continued support of Ubuntu and Linux in general. We really appreciate all your guys hard work!
Nevertheless Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:23pm 
Thank you for all your very responsible Linux support!
I had recommended Flathubs Steam Flatpak, which is a great tool for more Steam compatibility in different distros already, but of course I'm very curious what your solutions will be!
Keep up the great work!
Visualvengeance Jun 26, 2019 @ 4:27pm 
Solus might be a good one to officially support ;)
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Date Posted: Jun 26, 2019 @ 3:16pm
Posts: 202