Linux is a great operating system. It is free, completely customizable, and it runs on anything, but until today there were some serious limitations on the amount of fun you could have with it.
Thursday, Feb. 14 Valve announced that its game distribution network, Steam, which has generated billions of dollars in revenue on PC and Mac platforms, is finally ready for the choosy computer user.
For the past four months, Steam has been undergoing beta testing to prep for this debut.
To celebrate the good news, Steam has also announced a week-long sale of every game currently available on the system, which is now only 54.
The Linux library is much smaller than the thousands of titles available on Windows machines. And that's mostly due to the problems in implementing the strict and opaque copyright controls that major publishers require on a platform which prefers to emphasize free and open information sharing.
So the library is mostly comprised of independent titles, though still some large ones, particularly recognizable from the Humble Indie Bundle sales which have take the Internet by storm, with their simultaneous support of developers, charities and free-will-donation pricing structure.
Diaper-necessitating first-person screamer Amnesia, perspective-messing platformer And Yet It Moves and oily puzzler World of Goo are all on sale.
Valve itself has thrown a few titles into the mix, including 1998's original Half Life, popular free-to-play hat simulator Team Fortress 2 and the gold standard of competitive first-person shooters, CounterStrike: Source (I know, I know. CS 1.3 is the only true CS).
The sale is set to continue until 10 a.m. Feb. 21.
The move is also interesting since it has been confirmed before that the highly anticipated SteamBox gaming console that Valve has been developing would be Linux-based. It seems hard to imagine that Valve would release a console with so few games, and now AAA publisher support, which could indicate a coming flood of major titles for Linux gamers (a term that until this afternoon was almost a punchline.)
Steam was originally released in September 2003, almost a decade ago, as a Windows exclusive. Gaming was almost as obscure on Mac products, mostly thanks to Apple's refusal to use common processor architectures, until Steam launched on Mac OS X in May 2010.
The original Mac library was also much smaller than the Windows one, but has steadily increased as game developers have warmed to Mac development.
Sources are mixed on whether or not this confirms Half Life 3.