No Steam for Linux - Right Now

Despite some early teasing, it now seems Steam is not coming to Linux after all - at least for now.

News broke August 21 that Valve's marketing VP Doug Lombardi said in an interview with that "There's no Linux version that we're working on right now." This is despite early discoveries that Linux was indeed on the menu and apparent confirmations.

There are two trains of thought on the statement by Lombardi. Most seem to interpret it to mean that Steam is not coming to Linux - period. Then another camp is saying don't overlook the obvious qualifier: "right now".
That means currently no, but it doesn't mean not next month, or not next year, or not ever.

Steam is expected to be released for Mac OS X sometime in 2011 and speculation that Linux could arrive sometime later wouldn't be completely outrageous. A trick of developers to fend off nagging "when" questions is to say "no time soon" or even "never." As news spreads throughout the Intertubes that Valve has put the kibosh on Steam, they can now work in peace.

Officially there is no Steam for Linux right now and perhaps Lombardi was just leaving wiggle room for a later change of mind, but those who have chosen Linux are continuing to view Steam as they do many many other projects - with hope that someday will come.

Update: Though sources used for this article estimated Steam for Mac OS X would be available soon, it seems that information was inaccurate. Steam became available for Mac OS X on May 12. In addition, the Senior Software engineer job listing that has been in the news lately was reported originally by three years ago.


Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of


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Steam is expected to be

Anonymous's picture

Steam is expected to be released for Mac OS X sometime in 2011


Yeah I was happy to read

Anonymous's picture

Yeah I was happy to read something that was going in the direction of hope until I saw this sentence and facepalmed vigorously.

Steam and other online stores

John Knight's picture

Steam is the PC equivalent of the online stores the current generation of consoles. It annoyed me at first, but having seen what happens on the XBox and Playstation, and what users come to expect in terms of online purchases, Steam is invaluable as PC's gaming equivalent. Not sure I like it being in the hands of one company, but at least it's a good one.

Any current PC journos that are unfamiliar with Steam would do well to experiment with it, if only for an hour, maybe on a mate's Windows box. However, Steam does run on Wine, but on some machines like mine, it's really slow and buggy. Nevertheless, you get a pretty good strike rate of games that work as opposed to those that don't.

Even if you're not that much into gaming, any self respecting PC journo should at least have a look at, and understand, Steam.

John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.

Hello! The burning hot summer

lincc268's picture

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If you're so inclined,

kon16ov's picture

it runs under Wine. There are several decent run-throughs and discussions out there. This is one of the better ones:

If they don't get serious about Linux

Jebblue's picture

Then they can forget my dollars which would have gone to buy Steam Linux games as it did several years ago when Steam first came out and I was still on Windows.


gt's picture

To those that haven't heard about steam, if you have played half-life 2, then you would understand.

I am not a fanboy of steam, nor do i game these days, but getting steam on linux will be a dream come true for hundreds of thousands of linux users. And, this will likely change the perspective of gaming companies towards linux.

Their code, their right...but their stupidity

Sum Yung Gai's picture

Personally, I don't care. I hadn't heard of them before this article and I think I'll do just fine without 'em. :-) But generally, it's kinda dumb not to make your code Free Software in the first place (Red Hat does it, they're rakin' in money hand over fist). And even if you'll settle for a binary blob, they seem to have a Mac OS X compile target already, so the BSD's and GNU/Linux should be a snap. Therefore, there are other, non-technical reasons that they must have for this (usually business).

So good luck to those who hope 'n' pray that this "Steam" company will throw 'em a binary blob that runs on GNU/Linux, but I suggest you don't hold your breath. LOL

Steam is already out on Mac

Anonymous's picture

Steam is already out on Mac OS X

Keeping up my hopes

goblin's picture

Look at this job listing at Steam:
Senior Programmer:
Must have two years experience with the responsibilities of the position with C++, Windows and Linux platforms

re: job listing

Susan Linton's picture

That job listing is three years old.

Seems like they were toying with the idea of porting to linux for a while, but it's at least put on a back burner now.

Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of

And this one: Senior Software

reprocessed's picture

And this one: Senior Software Engineer ? "Port Windows-based games to the Linux platform."

What is Steam?

David Lane's picture

Am I the only person that has no idea what this is or why it matters? Is it a new programming language? Or visual display engine?

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

Steam is to games what iTunes

Anonymous's picture

Steam is to games what iTunes is to music... Linux needs this because it really isn't a platform for gamers at the moment.

The only reason I keep Windows around is for gaming.

A commercial game package manager

Tangent128's picture

Essentially, Steam acts as a package manager for commercial games- you can log in to Steam from any supported computer and install/launch games registered in your account. It is used by Valve for their own games, as well as by numerous third-party publishers.

Its' DRM scheme is the only one that mainstream gamers don't generally despise, because games are only tied to your account- not to a specific computer. (Or even OS- if you bought Portal on Windows, for instance, you can play the Mac OS X port too.)

Thus, the significance of Steam on Linux: presuming Valve also ports their Source-engine games to Linux (almost certain if they ported Steam), then many gamers would already possess a library of Linux-compatible games; meanwhile, publishers would have an established marketplace to pitch games to Linux users.

What is Steam?

carlfink's picture

Yes, I had the same reaction. Been too long since I was a gamer, I guess.

Carl Fink is an occasional freelancer for Linux Journal.

I Agree

Liz Q's picture

Seriously, must be a marketing gimmick, i've never heard of it until now either, and im a dedicated Linux user, dont even run any other OS, and i work as a Linux sysadmin!
Maybe its just a gamer thing?

You're right, it's a gamer thing

J&#039;Dea's picture

You're right, it is a gamer thing. Steam is a game distribution platform with a built-in instant messenger and Web browser, both of which can be used in-game or out-of-game. See

Steam is...

goblin's picture

... the stuff they used for killing Google :-)

But seriously...
Read this: