Steam Play Evolves as Valve Adds Tools for Windows to Linux Compatibility

cageymaru

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Valve has been hard at work funding the creation of open source tools to make Windows games compatible with the Linux operating system (OS). The end goal is to create a better more robust version of Steam Play.

The first tool called Proton is a version of Wine that is directly funded by Valve. It offers a plug-and-play experience for Linux gamers that wish to play Windows games within the Linux OS. Through the vkd3d tool, Direct3D 12 games are possible on Linux via Vulkan. Both OpenVR and SteamWorks are supported and there is even a patchset for multi-threaded performance improvements.

DXVK is also supported and funded by Valve and allows Direct3D 11 games to run on Linux via Vulkan also. They have enlisted the help of Khronos, Nvidia, Intel and AMD to add features and driver support. Support for Steam Play in macOS isn't planned, but it works fine with Wine and Proton. The Q&A section is truly enlightening to read as it addresses compatibility, DRM, developers seeking to meet compatibility standards, and more! Thanks GNUse_the_force .

Our goal for this work is to let Linux Steam users enjoy easy access to a larger back catalog. We think it will also allow future developers to easily leverage their work from other platforms to target Linux. This would give them the option of focusing on areas that would make a meaningful experience difference for all users instead, such as supporting Vulkan[www.khronos.org].
 

tetris42

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If anyone wants to know more about gaming on Linux, do let me know. I'll help you out ;)

I'm working on a YouTube series demonstrating it in realistic ways.
I PM's you earlier, though it's from an older conversation.
 

Burticus

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Cool. Whats the overhead vs Win10? 10%? 20%? Not being an ass, actually curious.

GTA video looked smooth enough, it doesn't say but I have to assume that was at 1080p to keep above 60fps through linux layers.

Makes me want to try GTA 5 again, LOL
 

kirbyrj

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If anyone wants to know more about gaming on Linux, do let me know. I'll help you out ;)

I'm working on a YouTube series demonstrating it in realistic ways.

I've always been interested, but it always seems easier to just install Windows because I already know how it works. I'd watch some videos about getting it working though.
 

steakman1971

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I'm putting my business hat on. Why is Valve going down this path? Are they still working on SteamOS? Let's be real, there just aren't a lot of Linux gamers out there. You could argue there aren't many since there are not a lot of games, etc. I get it.
I just wonder why spend the development costs for a small market. In all honestly, I would love to see Linux be on the same playing field with Linux for games. I spend a lot of my time in shell and like Linux. I can do almost everything I need to in it - except play all of the games I have.
Wonder if they are shoring up for Microsoft and what they might do in the future? (Lock it down more like iOS - personally, I think this is a bit far fetched, but who knows. Can't say I'm happy with Windows 10 and some of the choices they have forced on the world.)
 

Vader1975

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If this really turns Linux into a primary gaming platform. I may concede to not using Windows again. but.... I still use Crossfire or SLI. I don't recall ever getting it to work on Linux etc? Any of you?
 

x3sphere

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I'm putting my business hat on. Why is Valve going down this path? Are they still working on SteamOS? Let's be real, there just aren't a lot of Linux gamers out there. You could argue there aren't many since there are not a lot of games, etc. I get it.
I just wonder why spend the development costs for a small market. In all honestly, I would love to see Linux be on the same playing field with Linux for games. I spend a lot of my time in shell and like Linux. I can do almost everything I need to in it - except play all of the games I have.
Wonder if they are shoring up for Microsoft and what they might do in the future? (Lock it down more like iOS - personally, I think this is a bit far fetched, but who knows. Can't say I'm happy with Windows 10 and some of the choices they have forced on the world.)

I think they are hedging their bets. With how big Steam has gotten, relying mostly on Windows is a bit of a risk. It's possible Microsoft could start enforcing all apps to be published under its UWP system in the future and force legacy apps to run in some limited container.

Not really expecting that to happen, though. While Microsoft continues to push UWP my hope is they'll leave the legacy side of Windows alone mostly. However Valve certainly has the resources to support all OSes at this point so I think it is in their best interest to do this even if the market share of those gaming on Linux is small.
 

Vercinaigh

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Why they're doing this you ask? I mean...have you not used win10? It's a shitshow lol, I've not had this many problems since XP (God I loved all the tech business on that OS...nice to see it returning). Linux is different yes, but aside from needing to learn a few new things it's much easier to live with on a day to day basis. It's a better Os on many, many fronts and isn't as prone to being held back because someone can always go around and over whoever, no one owns Linux. If Microsoft doesn't want to make progress on something because it effects their bottom line even if it helps your experience, well....they got plenty of tough shit for you to shovel.

Personally I think freedom to compute how you wish with the functionality you wish is the perfect world. You're not gonna get that on a totalitarian platform like Windows or worse Mac.
 
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Filiprino

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Windows 10 abuses the user by pushing things he does not want. Even with batch files to disable telemetry there are still things hanging around like web search integrated into the desktop even with Cortana turned off, which implies sending data packets to Bing servers when you are searching the launcher of an installed program :S
On Ubuntu you had that Amazon shit, but you could disable it through the GUI toggle or just remove the package which provided the plugin to GNOME Desktop. You know, in the end it is FLOSS.
 

chaos4u

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Well if the pace of getting windows games and apps working across linux keeps picking up pace like it has been, i may have to pick up my pace at becoming more proficient with linux.

although i dread the thought and its convoluted command line fu requirements at times.
 

Mazzspeed

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I've been fiddling with this since official release today and I have to say I'm very impressed! Just like Lutris but far simpler and no need to run both a Windows and a Linux Steam client anymore.

Good job Valve!
 

DPI

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Good lord... I think this is great, but Windows 10 has been fantastic for my work users and home. We all love it. To bash windows 10 as problematic, I don't get it!

Even setting up new systems is so much faster.

Ignorance is bliss. Why many users and businesses are avoiding converting their 7 or 8.1 PC's to 10 is due to some of the shady shit happening under the hood, like the telemetry you can't turn off and the forced updates that can hijack and reboot your PC in the middle of working. All MS would really have to do is make a few minor concessions and most of the complaints would evaporate. It's the fact they're still refusing that's allowed the controversy to fester, now three years in.

I suspect MS will, as always, make the most requested fixes and concessions only after it's too late. If Valve is really on some slow course to actually, finally deliver a couple killer AAA's natively to Linux (not holding my breath, but they have hinted for years that multiple titles are in the pipeline), and be the first major crack in the dam of the windows gaming monopoly, that's one example of a time it would be too late for MS.

The myth, and the narrative that the MS dudes nervously push is that Linux needs 100% of Steam's windows titles to have any relevance as a gaming platform. But by that metric, Xbox should have never been created because it didn't have any games and Nintendo/Playstation already existed. However, as Halo proved, it can take as little as one killer exclusive to spark a forest fire.
 
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dyzophoria

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I don't think Valve's decision is about dropping Windows (Windows 10 going to hell, now one wants Windows anymore-telemetry qq) or the hail Linux initiative (hell yeah opensource rocks, etc etc). It is just plain business. The company is not developing much games today. So at the moment the only way to increase revenue would be to increase their user base (even if the percentage is not that high). that is why there is steam link in android and IOS (beta I think), and now emulation in linux in general. revenues.
 

DPI

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^ Yep, they're not trying to drop windows asap, since it is their bread and butter platform, but continuing to plant platform diversification seeds is also smart. They're just taking eons to do it, and it's hard to decide which absentee PC gaming landlord I really want to horsewhip more - MS or Valve - for their inaction and coasting in this space.

Steam Play isn't providing the native Linux versions of AAA titles that Linux gamers really want, but it could be a major bridge there by bringing more visibility and interest to Linux gaming, and a native AAA eventuality.
 
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KazeoHin

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I may throw together an Ubuntu build to test this out. I would love to have a low-overhead system that can play games on the cheap, or even a solution for those who don't want to spend the $100 bucks on an OEM Windows license but want to game legally.
 

ChadD

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Well I have been saying for awhile DXVK clearly has some juice behind it. Well there it is they hired Philip back in Feb and have been coordinating with their open source gpu team and NV Intel and AMD.

This is going to get interesting. I wasn't expecting Proton... but it makes perfect sense now.

The next few months are going to be very very interesting. Can't wait to see benchmarks.
 

DeathFromBelow

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I'm putting my business hat on. Why is Valve going down this path? Are they still working on SteamOS? Let's be real, there just aren't a lot of Linux gamers out there.

...

Wonder if they are shoring up for Microsoft and what they might do in the future? (Lock it down more like iOS - personally, I think this is a bit far fetched, but who knows.

That's exactly what Microsoft is doing. Just look at Windows 10s or whatever they call that trash now.

What Microsoft has done post-Windows 7 is bizzare, it would be like Coca-Cola saying 'oh, people don't like New Coke? We'll just get rid of every flavor except New Coke. It's not like people will stop drinking Coke!'

I moved my gaming rig to Linux over a year ago. It's time to make the switch. If you're on this forum you're ready.
 

tetris42

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That's exactly what Microsoft is doing. Just look at Windows 10s or whatever they call that trash now.

What Microsoft has done post-Windows 7 is bizzare, it would be like Coca-Cola saying 'oh, people don't like New Coke? We'll just get rid of every flavor except New Coke. It's not like people will stop drinking Coke!'
Well it's not bizarre, it's just basic abuse of monopoly power. Coca-cola doesn't make less money if they sell old Coke. MS makes more money selling ads to you, hence the push to Windows 10.

DeathFromBelow said:
I moved my gaming rig to Linux over a year ago. It's time to make the switch. If you're on this forum you're ready.
Unless we play a wider variety of games than you.
 

TrailRunner

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it would be like Coca-Cola saying 'oh, people don't like New Coke? We'll just get rid of every flavor except New Coke. It's not like people will stop drinking Coke!'

Interesting analogy. In blind taste tests, New Coke was the clear preference among colas. The reason New Coke failed is because consumers were emotionally invested in their ‘old Coke’ and rebelled when that offering was taken away. If Coca Cola had offered both options simultaneously, most people probably would have switched on their own.
 

DukenukemX

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I've been saying for years that Steam should do this, cause Wine is a shitshow. Developers are more likely to port their games when they see enough people playing them on Linux through Proton.
 

BloodyIron

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I'm literally wrestling with my video editing tool to get videos out to demonstrate how easy it is, heh ;P

I've always been interested, but it always seems easier to just install Windows because I already know how it works. I'd watch some videos about getting it working though.
 

Iratus

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It's a protection play for valve to stop their store being shut out, but it does have merit.

It would be nice to see Microsoft push to a different model for customers. Strip away all the cruft that accumulated, pluggable kernel, open source direct x, load all the apps in proper containers, Get a new filesystem that doesn't run like shit.

They've been trying a bit but lack commitment. People use a browser, open office files and play games, mostly through steam. Outside the office that's 90% of shit. Why do they come loaded with so much bollocks that no one uses and makes it more confusing to use.

In the office things are rapidly becoming web orientated too. I don't need a 30gb install to run 4 things.
 

mashie

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Interesting, might have to plug in a gaming card at some stage.
 
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velusip

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I'm really looking forward to this. There are so few reasons left to have Windows, and they are all games. As it turns out, it really was too much to ask developers to adapt to cross platform development (sarcasm), and having one central authority do it for them was the only solution.

I'm literally wrestling with my video editing tool to get videos out to demonstrate how easy it is, heh ;P
I used Flowblade on some large projects over the years and enjoy it. The unique compositing order and editing modes creates a bit of a learning curve for the first few hours, but it becomes a joy to edit so quickly.
 

heatlesssun

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I moved my gaming rig to Linux over a year ago. It's time to make the switch. If you're on this forum you're ready.

If you're on this forum as a gamer you're much more likely than average to have large game catalogs and/or complex and bleeding edge hardware that's at best difficult to get fully running under Linux even with compatibility tools such as Proton.

I did get a big laugh out of this just because for years I've pointed out that probably the biggest weakness in Linux gaming was lack of native content. It's beyond obvious and glaring at the rate things were going unsustainable for Linux. Yes, more Linux games than every, but WAY more than that for Windows, the gap was just growing and main point of Proton is to at least help to narrow that gap at least some.

So a great thing for Linux gamers. For everyone else, meh. There is also the risk that this just discourages native Linux development but given the state of native game Linux, relative to Windows, risk certainly worth taking.
 

sc5mu93

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While I prefer native ports, having Valve support a wine fork and upstream compatible features is a win.
 

cageymaru

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This is freaking amazing. Linux really needed something like this to make is easier to play games. Probably some of the most exciting PC news in awhile.
The more plug-and-play it is as far as gaming goes, the more likely the younger crowd will use it. Of course it will still maintain the ability to fully customize the OS. But it really needs this to attract new blood to the ecosystem.
 

sadsteve

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Good lord... I think this is great, but Windows 10 has been fantastic for my work users and home. We all love it. To bash windows 10 as problematic, I don't get it!

Even setting up new systems is so much faster.

I think part of the problem is lack of control with a number of the 'features' Windows 10 provides. Updates, telemetry and actually being able to simply uninstall/disable features/apps you'll never use (in my case Cortana, Edge, OneDrive and most 'Apps').

I started dual booting Win 10 and Linux about 6 months after Win 10 came out. I have to say I could easily live the Linux life full time IF most of my games would work under Linux. At this time, only about a third of my games are available under Linux. I do most of my general purpose computing/programming under Linux now, using the same applications I used under Windows 10 (Firefox, Thunderbird, jEdit, eclipse (TI CCS), Libre Office, g++, octave, etc). I pretty much only use Win 10 for games (on my main desktop).

Maintenance wise, Linux has been much easier than Windows 10 for me. I've had absolutely no problems with my Linux systems (Mint 17.3 on my laptop and Devuan ASCII on my desktop). With Windows 10 and the twice a year feature updates I've had problems on multiple machines over the years (I've got 12 Win 10 machines). With the 1803 update one of my machines got all honked up. It would still boot but it was running very badly. I took a look with the device manager and found out that the update decided to clone a lot of my hardware. My 1 mouse turned into 3 mice and my USB device list was now about 2.5 pages long. I just went with a fresh install and things went OK from there. The problem now is that I had to reinstall all the applications I use and get rid of/disable the cruft that I don't want/need.
 
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Staples

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I'm putting my business hat on. Why is Valve going down this path? Are they still working on SteamOS? Let's be real, there just aren't a lot of Linux gamers out there. You could argue there aren't many since there are not a lot of games, etc. I get it.
I just wonder why spend the development costs for a small market. In all honestly, I would love to see Linux be on the same playing field with Linux for games. I spend a lot of my time in shell and like Linux. I can do almost everything I need to in it - except play all of the games I have.
Wonder if they are shoring up for Microsoft and what they might do in the future? (Lock it down more like iOS - personally, I think this is a bit far fetched, but who knows. Can't say I'm happy with Windows 10 and some of the choices they have forced on the world.)
Gabe has had a beef with Microsoft ever since the Windows 8 store surfaced. He really hates competition and he feels MS poses a threat he is willing to spend millions to ward off.
 

cageymaru

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Gabe has had a beef with Microsoft ever since the Windows 8 store surfaced. He really hates competition and he feels MS poses a threat he is willing to spend millions to ward off.
Gabe and Tim Sweeney from EPIC Games feel the same way about monopolies. They seem to view the Windows Store as MS creating a monopoly and walled garden for apps to be allowed onto it. Many times the Windows Store version of a game can't connect to multiplayer servers on competing services for example. I think one of the COD games on the Windows Store had this issue for example.

Personally I have had zero luck getting my Windows Store games to run without an internet connection. Maybe there is some trick to get them working, but that's my experience with them. I also had trouble getting my Steam games to work some years ago if I didn't place it into Offline Mode before a hurricane hit. Personally I'm a GOG type of person as I can't sit around watching paint dry for 3 weeks until the crews clean up after a storm.
 

Jagger100

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I'm putting my business hat on. Why is Valve going down this path? Are they still working on SteamOS? Let's be real, there just aren't a lot of Linux gamers out there. You could argue there aren't many since there are not a lot of games, etc. I get it.
I just wonder why spend the development costs for a small market. In all honestly, I would love to see Linux be on the same playing field with Linux for games. I spend a lot of my time in shell and like Linux. I can do almost everything I need to in it - except play all of the games I have.
Wonder if they are shoring up for Microsoft and what they might do in the future? (Lock it down more like iOS - personally, I think this is a bit far fetched, but who knows. Can't say I'm happy with Windows 10 and some of the choices they have forced on the world.)
A few reasons:
Because forcing distribution through the windows store is death to a Digital Distribution platform.
If they have a successful next gen console, they'll go back to pushing both on you by hampering the Windows Gaming Experience. They want you to have Windows & an Xbox, not just Windows. Right now forcing this would just hurt Windows too.
 

ChadD

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If you're on this forum as a gamer you're much more likely than average to have large game catalogs and/or complex and bleeding edge hardware that's at best difficult to get fully running under Linux even with compatibility tools such as Proton.

I did get a big laugh out of this just because for years I've pointed out that probably the biggest weakness in Linux gaming was lack of native content. It's beyond obvious and glaring at the rate things were going unsustainable for Linux. Yes, more Linux games than every, but WAY more than that for Windows, the gap was just growing and main point of Proton is to at least help to narrow that gap at least some.

So a great thing for Linux gamers. For everyone else, meh. There is also the risk that this just discourages native Linux development but given the state of native game Linux, relative to Windows, risk certainly worth taking.

So now Linux has steam play... and ALL games will shortly be click and play in Linux. Steam has now removed the the hassle of installing wine, and DXVK (hmm turns out it was them) and even VKD3D for DX 12. Simply click the Go button.

It will be interesting (well more funny really) to see where you move the goal posts too next.

There goes your ecosystem argument. So whats your next best wine ? Performance isn't going to be an issue. I know from personal experience DXVK is in fact capable of providing BETTER performance then native windows. Not in a lot of titles yet right now you loose 5-10%... but ya DXVK gets weekly updates that improve performance. Which is why I think everyone sort of knew who was really behind it. No project progresses that fast without serious support.

No one is really worried about native Linux support for GAMES. Games are just not that important. As long as they all run who cares if the binaries are housed in a .exe or a tar ball. The main thing is now developers can focus on providing config scripts to valve instead of complete ports. This does make me feel for companies like Feral though who where making decent ports for AAA studios. Their value just dropped through the floor. No point in hiring them to make say a witcher 3 port now (they ported witcher 2) as Steam play should be able to play it at 95% the speed of windows with DXVK.

Now we see how many gamers will put their money where their mouths have been. Linux at a 5-10% performance penalty but (close) to perfect compatibility. Lets see how many gamers hate MS and windows 10 enough to install a good Linux distro.
 
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Zarathustra[H]

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Now we see how many gamers will put their money where their mouths have been. Linux at a 5-10% performance penalty but (close) to perfect compatibility. Lets see how many gamers hate MS and windows 10 enough to install a good Linux distro.

This is highly optimistic.

In my experience the linux performance penalty FOR NATIVE TITLES can be as much as 50%. Add in a compatibility layer and that figure goes way up!
 

ChadD

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Gabe has had a beef with Microsoft ever since the Windows 8 store surfaced. He really hates competition and he feels MS poses a threat he is willing to spend millions to ward off.

Well in his defense everything he said has come true. MS has in fact released versions of windows that ONLY install store software... meaning Steam does not work at all. MS has made it very clear that if they could get away with it. They would wall windows up for the average user.
 

Nobu

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This is highly optimistic.

In my experience the linux performance penalty FOR NATIVE TITLES can be as much as 50%. Add in a compatibility layer and that figure goes way up!
It depends on which drivers you are using and wich gpu. Nvidia with binary drivers has very good performance, AMD with open drivers also has very good performance, but only with more recent gpus. Nvidia open drivers are good with older gpus, but lack a lot of features on the newer ones (if they work at all).
 
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