Valve Announces SteamOS Linux Distro
The first expansion of the Steam Universe has been unveiled – the Valve's version of Linux called SteamOS. This has been an expected turn of events ever since Valve had begun promoting Linux and talking about SteamBox. So let's take a look at the features of this Linux for gaming.
Just as expected from Valve and often associated with Linux – SteamOS will be free. Gamers will be able to download it and install themselves, while hardware manufacturers will be able to include it with their systems. Valve also claims that they have optimised the graphics pipeline of the system and are working on improving audio performance and input latency. It will be interesting to see how SteamOS compares with other Linux distros in graphics performance as Linux GPU drivers are already trading blows with Windows versions.
Other announced features will be available in the Steam client itself and make a lot of sense in light of the SteamOS and impending SteamBox announcement. The family sharing feature allowing people to access games on other Steam accounts while getting their own achievements and stats is definitely important for a living room gaming device. There are also some hints that the feature will become more flexible than just a full library sharing. Saying goodbye to Windows is also premature at this point due to its enormous game library. It seems that Valve prefers people to have SteamOS on a new smaller machine rather than as a replacement for the main gaming PC. The new streaming feature should allow playing Steam games from one PC on another via local network anywhere in the house. This must mean that some changes are coming to the way Steam client works on multiple PCs, as the same account must be able to be logged in at 2 PCs at the same time. Finally, Steam is expanding to be a wider entertainment solution, offering films, TV shows and music.
The new Steam features together with the version of Linux geared for the gamers are very welcome news. However this is not all, as Valve still has a few things to tell us this week, the next one coming just in 2 days. I am quite sure that one of those is SteamBox hardware from Valve for the living room. The other one – hard to say, but I do not expect it to be a game announcement, as this week is about the big picture, not about the separate games.