It's been a long wait but it looks like Linux users will finally get some native gaming action on Steam soon, according to Michael Larabel of Phoronix. Despite denying the existence of a port last year, the revelation comes straight from Valve's headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, where Larabel met with Gabe Newell to discuss their plans for the open source operating system.
Apparently Valve has been working towards a Linux port of both the Steam service and Source engine for a while, but given the company's flat structure and absence of managers assigning tasks, there has been no real direction and focus on the project -- like some of you joked when the employee handbook leaked. Developers worked on the Linux client when they could and wanted to, but now Newell has become personally involved in the project, prompted by a seemingly newfound love for Linux and his disappointment of Windows 8.
According to Phoronix, Valve has already hired at least one Linux OpenGL developer and is looking to hire more. Exactly when the Linux version of Steam will arrive is unclear, but the photo above offers some proof of progress, showing Left 4 Dead 2 running natively on Ubuntu 11.10 with AMD Catalysts drivers.
Larabel says Valve chose Left 4 Dead 2 for their initial port because of its stable codebase, but once the Source engine has been successfully ported other AAA games will follow. The company also plans to lobby other game developers using Steam and the Source Engine to bring their games to Linux natively.
Lastly, the report claims Valve and Gabe Newell's interest in Linux goes beyond what would be expected of any normal game company. Though Larabel didn't elaborate on that, one possibility is that the company might be looking into Linux to power its "open hardware platforms", which they recently expressed an interest in, to create 'mobile and living-room devices' as an alternative to existing proprietary console technologies.