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Valve's efforts to port Steam over to Linux is still a work in progress, but apparently it's far along enough that the company is ready to start beta testing its digital distribution platform on the open-source operating system. According to a blog post by the Valve Linux Team, an internal beta will begin sometime next week, with an external beta limited to 1,000 participants set to open its doors as soon as October.
The private external beta will include support for Ubuntu 12.04 and above as well as access to one Valve game. There was no mention of which game will be featured in the beta, although it's most likely Left 4 Dead 2. The company has been using that game to test out Steam for Linux internally and has actually found the game to run a bit faster on Linux with OpenGL than on Windows with either OpenGL or DirectX.
Valve will provide a sign up page for the external beta in the coming weeks and select participants based on the hardware they're running – the idea is to test Steam for Linux on as many different hardware configurations as possible. Owning a copy of Left 4 Dead 2 will not affect eligibility for the external beta.
The company first confirmed it was working on a Linux port of both the Steam service and Source engine back in April. Apparently, the project had been in the works for way longer than that, but only recently Valve CEO Gabe Newell decided to throw more resources into it. The thinking is that the company might be looking into Linux to power its "open hardware platforms", which they recently expressed an interest in.