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Torvalds: SteamOS will "really help" Linux on desktop

Linus Torvalds

By Shona Ghosh

Posted on 23 Oct 2013 at 15:00

Linus Torvalds has welcomed the arrival of Valve’s Linux-based platform, SteamOS, and said it could boost Linux on desktops.

The Linux creator praised Valve's "vision" and suggested its momentum would force other manufacturers to take Linux seriously - especially if game developers start to ditch Windows.

"I love the Steam announcements – I think that's an opportunity to really help the desktop," he said, speaking at LinuxCon in Edinburgh.

Valve announced SteamOS last month as a way to bring PC gaming to the living room. Users will be able to install the system on PCs they build themselves, and Valve will make the system available to manufacturers to use on their own hardware.

I love the Steam announcements – I think that's an opportunity to really help the desktop

Should SteamOS gain traction among gamers and developers, that could force more hardware manufacturers to extend driver support beyond Windows.

That's a sore point for Torvalds, who slammed Nvidia last year for failing to support open-source driver development for its graphics chips. Now that SteamOS is on the way, Nvidia has opened up to the Linux community, something Torvalds predicts is a sign of things to come.

"I’m not just saying it’ll help us get traction with the graphics guys," he said. "It’ll also force different distributors to realise if this is how Steam is going, they need to do the same thing because they can’t afford to be different in this respect. They want people to play games on their platform too."

"It’s the best model for standardisation," he added. "I think good standards are people doing things, saying 'this is how we do it' and being successful enough to drive the market."

Pretty login screens

Another reason Linux hasn't done well on desktop, according to Torvalds, is because developers focus on useless UX features.

"Linux is doing wonderfully well in so many different areas, but I still am somewhat disappointed about the fact that Linux desktop is this morass of in-fighting and people who do bad things," he said.

"I do hope the desktop people will try to work together, and work more on the technology than trying to make the login screen look really nice," he added.

Torvalds wouldn't mention specific companies, but has previously championed Google’s Chromebook Pixel, which runs on the Linux-based Chrome OS - describing other PCs as "crap" by comparison.

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User comments


You realise Linus was only talking about screen resolution when mentioning the Chromebook Pixel right? He wasn't calling other pcs "crap" he was directly talking about screen resolution and you took that completely out of context.

By liamdawe on 23 Oct 2013

The only thing that concerns me with Steam OS is whether other distros will see the GPU improvements.

That said, it would be nice to see Linux get more support, one of the main reasons I still mainly use Windows.

By tech3475 on 24 Oct 2013

I'm guessing things like AMD's Mantle API will mean all distros can take full advantage of compatible cards (and will greatly simplify the crossover from the next-gen consoles -that are running AMD Mantle-compatible GPUs) to SteamOS.

With Windows 8 costing £100, SteamOS removes a pretty expensive hurdle for the PC gamer. I can see SteamOS -and Linux- doing pretty well.

By Mark_Thompson on 24 Oct 2013

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