Steam Native Linux Client Near? Gabe Newell Trashes Windows 8?

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Michael Larabel / Phoronix

If you’re a Linux buff, you already know how to get Steam working under the scrappy Unix-like operating system using intermediary connectors like Wine, but as any Wine user knows, game performance generally suffers. What about a native Linux client, long rumored but so far a no-show?

It could arrive within “months,” claims Michael Larabel, writing for Phoronix, who says he was recently invited to Valve’s Bellevue, Washington offices after company bigwig Gabe Newell asked him for help tracking down Linux OpenGL developers.

(MORE: Steam Hack Worse than Thought…Three Months Later)

According to Larabel:

They already have a team of Linux developers working on the client efforts, but they are looking to expand. From the recommendations I made to Gabe last month for some experienced Linux OpenGL programmers, they already hired one of them for their Linux skills and are still interviewing at least one other from my list.

And:

It has taken longer than most anyone would have anticipated, but the fact remains that Valve is in fact creating a native Linux port of their Steam game distribution client and of the Source Engine to run natively on Linux … Valve’s Linux work is finally soon to see the light of day in what will more than likely be the coming months.

Why haven’t we seen a native Linux client already? Larabel says it’s because Valve has a “flat” management structure, allowing developers to do as they like (which, though Larabel doesn’t say so, would imply they don’t like working on Linux). But now Newell is directly involved with work on the Linux client, says Larabel, and as proof, he offers the picture up top (among others) — a shot of Newell’s desk setup, running zombie-shooter Left 4 Dead 2 natively on Ubuntu 11.10 with AMD Catalyst Linux drivers. Larabel says Valve is dedicating most of its Linux development time to L4D2 because of the game’s “stable” code base.

It’s been awhile since I’ve checked Linux install base numbers, but I know how fervent the community can be, so I’m assuming the response to a native Steam client — if Valve really does finally get it out the door (even in beta) — would be pretty wild enthusiasm.

So what’s this about Newell speaking ill of Windows 8? At story’s close, Larabel claims Newell is no fan of Microsoft’s upcoming OS:

His level of Linux interest and commitment was incredible while his negativity for Windows 8 and the future of Microsoft was stunning. In fact, as soon as I return to my office this weekend I plan to try out Windows 8 simply to see if it’s as bad as Gabe states and because he’s curious about my opinions of this latest Microsoft operating system.

Perhaps Newell was just firing up the choir?

MORE: Is Valve’s Steam Hack as Bad as the Sony PlayStation Debacle?

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