Signs are pointing to an October release of the Steam beta for Ubuntu.
PC Gamer and several other sources believe that Valve Software plans to release Steam for Linux sometime in October. The theory is based on a mention of the Linux client in the Steam database records which was spotted last week. The official Linux tag has also now appeared as a search option for Steam Greenlight titles.
According to reports, the Linux client will likely arrive in beta form sometime just before Microsoft launches Windows 8 on October 26. Currently Steam Greenlight is listing a large number of games for the Linux client including Major Mayhem, Blue Libra, and even Postal 2. Left 4 Dead 2 and a handful of other unannounced AAA titles are also expected to launch with the beta.
"Left 4 Dead 2 is running at 315 FPS on Linux," Valve said at the beginning of August. "That the Linux version runs faster than the Windows version (270.6) seems a little counter-intuitive, given the greater amount of time we have spent on the Windows version. However, it does speak to the underlying efficiency of the kernel and OpenGL. Interestingly, in the process of working with hardware vendors we also sped up the OpenGL implementation on Windows. Left 4 Dead 2 is now running at 303.4 FPS with that configuration."
Valve said earlier this summer that the goal of the Steam Linux client project is to produce a fully-featured Steam client running on Ubuntu 12.04. "We’ve made good progress this year and now have the Steam client running on Ubuntu with all major features available," the company added back in July. "We’re still giving attention and effort to minor features but it’s a good experience at the moment. In the near future, we will be setting up an internal beta focusing on the auto-update experience and compatibility testing."
Valve chose Ubuntu because working with a single distribution is critical when experimenting with the possibility of porting over to Linux – it reduces the variability of the testing space and makes early iteration easier and faster. Ubuntu is also a popular distribution and has recognition with the general gaming and developer communities.
"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," Valve said.