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Old 2013-09-23, 17:11   Link #1
T-6000
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Valve just announced their own Linux based OS, the "SteamOS".

Well, it looks like those long lingering rumors were true after all.....well sort of. Valve are coming out with their own Operating system dubbed the "SteamOS" (though some people are now giving it the nickname "The SOS"), and it's architecture is based off of Linux. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since Valve are already familiar with Linux and even some from Valve have given Linux some high praises (Last week Gabe Newel claims that the future of the PC would be Linux). The SteamOS will be released "Soon" (I'm not holding my breath for a 2013 release date) and that it'll be free to download. This does sound interesting and I'll see about giving it a try on my gaming rig (Ill have to dual boot, of course) once the OS makes it's debut. I am eager to move away from Windows as an OS, but on the other hand I do have some grave concerns with the SteamOS.

1. The Steam OS is built with the Linux architecture. Not all PC Games support Linux, hell not many PC Games support Linux for that matter. From what I understand Valve have modified the Source engine to work with Linux, and the Source engine even has a performance boost over when ran under Linux than Windows. The Source engine isn't really all that demanding but this performance boost could come in handy with Source 2.0 since it may be a powerful so it'll need all the boosting it can get. But what about other games and other engines? How will they run? Will developers bother porting for the Linux architecture? Already
many developers can't be bothered to do a proper PC Port (or a PC Port at all).

2. And not just games, but what about other software? Not many support Linux (at least that is what I have been told). And what about hardware drivers? I hope I won't be pulling my hair trying to get my Geforce Drivers working for Steam OS. Or other hardware drivers, for that matter.

3. Valve did state that this free upcoming OS is “for living room machines". But what about regular desktops? How will this OS translate for PC Gamers who Game but do other things with their PC (Like surf the net and watch videos)?

I guess the only was we'll see how well this works is to actually give the OS a try. I'm optimistic but on the fence at the same time. But I will say for certain that Valve is taking a big gamble with Linux. It's been around for well over a decade (almost 2, I think) and it's still a niche in the PC Market and among PC users.

http://www.bluesnews.com/s/145307/steamos-announced
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Last edited by T-6000; 2013-09-23 at 17:43. Reason: forgot to put a link to the announcement.
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Old 2013-09-23, 18:14   Link #2
ices
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http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/SteamOS/

Quote:
Watch for announcements in the coming weeks about the AAA titles coming natively to SteamOS in 2014.
From that teasing we can guess that they've some publishers that going to port/release their next game in this platform.

Also, we've seen already about android success in the smartphone market. hence, this steamOS could be the next thing that will make linux popular in the gaming market. So, more and more vendors, game publishers, and developers will consider their support for linux.

Last edited by ices; 2013-09-25 at 03:45.
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Old 2013-09-24, 17:17   Link #3
T-6000
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I'v been thinking about this since yesterday (especially after reading this arstechnica article: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/0...over-to-linux/ ), and while some people have assumed that this is Valve's way of pushing more people towards Linux I don't this this is the case. I think this SteamOS is Valve's way of giving PC Gamers and Developers an "Emergency Exit. Something to fall back on in case the next incarnation of Windows evolves into something many PC Gamers and Developers don't want to see.
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Old 2013-09-25, 09:13   Link #4
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Cannot wait until they announce HL3 as SteamOS exclusive ^^
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Old 2013-09-25, 09:25   Link #5
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All joking aside, I'm wondering what the 3rd announcement will really be. 3 days AFTER the 3rd announcement is the 10th year anniversary of when HL2 was originally supposed to be released.
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Old 2013-09-25, 09:37   Link #6
Vallen Chaos Valiant
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2 hours 23min to go until announcement 2.
For those who don't have the countdown yet, here:
http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/

I am not a fan of FPS games, so I am not obsessed with HL3. But if they want to market themselves this is about the right time to do it.
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Old 2013-09-25, 11:51   Link #7
Flying Dagger
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tbh I am not entirely thrilled with the news.
Do they want to turn it into a DRM-based platform? (steam, other than being a marketplace for cheap games, is essentially DRM)

The "something to fall back on" imo is not very likely to happen without financial incentive for both users and developers. You are much better off making a version for iOS than linux.

Divorcing from DirectX is going to be a legendary task, unless for some reason microsoft decide to lend them a land.

End of the day we use our PC for a lot of other stuff and that "other stuff" is the main selling point of PCs. For as long as I have been technologically aware, there have been countless number of times where people keep screaming "Windows is dying", but at the end of the day it stands strong and tall. In fact I see a lot more Windows servers and workstations than many years ago.

@ the android success story.
Valve is no where in size compared to Google. They came at a time when smartphones were still booming, vs a well developed desktop market.
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Old 2013-09-25, 13:46   Link #8
Vallen Chaos Valiant
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Looks like with SteamMachine, Valve aim to lower the perceived barrier of entry for PC gaming. The aim is to sell PCs like they are consoles, and to make them function like consoles, but with various price points as well as easy hardware upgrades over time. People buying a Steam Machine PC will know their computer can run Steam. My guess is that Valve would give performance scores to Steam Boxes so new customers can tell what can run which game, at what quality.
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Old 2013-09-25, 18:02   Link #9
Flying Dagger
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Putting the software aspect aside (which *IS* a very major hurdle). There have been many cases in the past of companies trying to sell a gaming PC similar to how consoles are sold. (* - more at footnote)

Existing Steam users probably do not need to buy a new computer, because they already have one capable of playing their games.

Valve is essentially partnering themselves up with computer builders to roll out special PCs. This wouldn't work. By doing so Valve already admit they cannot strike a deal with the part providers themselves (and why can they? It is the big builders, think Dell, HP (before they quit) who are building parts in bulk). I highly doubt the buildings will allow the price of the SteamMachine to be too competitive with other lines of their product.

If Dell sells a SteamMachine with a performance on part with one of their overpriced Alienware computer, but only 30% cheaper, then they would end up losing money in the deal.

The only advantage I see is that Valve has a very large user base over Steam and that might act as a powerful advertisement model.

I see this as Valve starting their own brand of gaming PCs, nothing more. There is nothing revolutionary about what they are doing.

This is one dangerous path they are walking which have killed many predecessors already.

//

(*)
People who try to sell "standardized PCs" as consoles are... the console makers.
End of the day, a console is no different from your living room PC. Back in the days (1990s), having a console is justifiable due to the unique console control and gain from optimized hardware.

These days computer hardware imo no longer justify the existence of consoles. Consoles continue to exist as a way to "game the system". Other than the awkwardness that is in PS3 (not in PS4), there is no technical challenge in allowing a fully functional OS (linux/Windows) to run on a console box (if set as a design criteria). At the end of the day, the new generation console looks more and more like an everyday computer.

It will never happen, because the moment they allow desktop versions of Windows to be running on their console, they will lose out on all those "unique titles" they hold.

Having a unified platform ofc will be great news for gamers. No longer are you plague with a game being released on a console you do not own. You buy a game, and you can play it on PC, Xbox, PS, whatever. Sounds too good to be true, but doubt will happen in my lifetime .
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Old 2013-09-25, 18:11   Link #10
Vallen Chaos Valiant
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Quote:
Valve is essentially partnering themselves up with computer builders to roll out special PCs.
Not the way I see it. Valve is just handing out stickers to put on the computers, saying they are "Steambox Certified", with possibly a Grade for what level they are. Nothing more.
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Old 2013-09-25, 18:35   Link #11
Flying Dagger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vallen Chaos Valiant View Post
Not the way I see it. Valve is just handing out stickers to put on the computers, saying they are "Steambox Certified", with possibly a Grade for what level they are. Nothing more.
Then that is even worse if there are no discount in hardware or standardization. Worse than the Windows Experience Index that most consumers do not even know existed.
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Old 2013-09-25, 18:48   Link #12
Vallen Chaos Valiant
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying Dagger View Post
Then that is even worse if there are no discount in hardware or standardization. Worse than the Windows Experience Index that most consumers do not even know existed.
Discount in hardware? Why? It wouldn't be expensive to begin with, so why should it be discounted? It is a myth that the customer would need to spend a grand to get a gaming PC, there is no need for a discount.

And as long as Valve did their homework there would be no problems with the Steam OS running on a setup. The Windows Experience Index doesn't work because it is so diverse, while with Steam OS it is only about playing games.
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Old 2013-09-25, 19:11   Link #13
Flying Dagger
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Discount gives consumer incentive. Even though the last generation of consoles are relatively expensive, they are still cheap compared to a gaming PC. Plus, in PS3's case, it is pretty much the best BluRay player on the market available at what is then a very reasonable price.

While a "PC that run games" is cheap, a pre-built PC for the most part are terrible deals.
Just take a look at some of these http://www.ibuypower.com/IbpPages/In...eneration.aspx
Sticking a "Steam Certified" sticker is just a market gimmick if they do nothing to really push PC gaming forward.

Quite a few years back, I think I was reading the news when I saw this alienware ad claiming they will revolutionize PC gaming... making it all accessible and stuff. So I thought to myself, hmmm... maybe they will roll out an economic gaming PC that can sit in everyone's living room.

Nope, a few days later they announced the Blade, which is essentially a high power ultrabook with a special touchpad.... all that for an excessively large sum of money (I think $3k?).
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Old 2013-09-25, 20:48   Link #14
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Valve has said previously that the SteamBox program would involved cheap, ~$100 ish devices that stream your Steam games from your current PC, $300-ish devices that streams from your current PC for backwards compatibility but can also run some games natively, and a higher end tier that's essentially whatever manufacturers come up with.

Some thoughts:

Streaming: Gabe Newell has previously praised Miracast, leading some to speculate if it's the underlying technology for this feature. If so there's a couple issues, notably that Miracast works via wifi-direct only (not supported by all wireless adapters and as far as I know doesn't work over wired at all), and that Miracast isn't exactly known for being low latency. Though I suppose Valve's implementation might fix the latency issues.

(BTW, Windows 8.1 has Miracast built into the OS, allowing streaming to devices ranging from $60 settop boxes to the Xbox One... however, ATI and nVidia have yet to release compatible drivers and I understand the latency issue poses a challenge at present. Windows 7 doesn't have Miracast support but does support wifi direct - which would probably allow Valve to implement Miracast via the Steam client, though I imagine it might have driver issues as well. And of course, it's possible that Valve is using some other tech entirely as well.)

Hardware for a $300 box: To me, that price says AMD APU. And indeed, AMD has a newer, higher end APU coming out early 2014 when Valve says the beta units will be shipping. Whether it'll match up to the GPU on compute in the Xbox One and PS4 would probably depend on clock speed, it's certainly within the realm of possibility it could match the Xbox One on sheer computer power (PS4 not so much). On the other hand, matching the memory bandwidth would be tricky - AMD APUs have traditionally used dual channel DDR3, whereas the Xbox One is quad channel DDR3 and the PS4 is quad channel DDR5 - both of which offer way, way more memory bandwidth, which is important for graphics.

(Edit: one of my friends just pointed out that the prototypes are going to be shipping this year, not 2014. So that new AMD APU might not be available for the prototypes, though it might be for the production versions?

Also, a quick note on APIs and general Windows v. Linux performance: One potential curveball there is AMD and DICE's (the makers of the Battlefield series) new Mantle API, which supposedly offers much lower level access to hardware than traditional PC APIs like Direct X. It is an open, cross platform standard, though it'll be implemented on Windows first and it'll be up to nVidia whether or not to implement it on their chips.

@flying dagger: The Blade is a Razer laptop, not an Alienware, and Razer has had few qualms about pitching it as an "Apple for the gaming crowd" in terms of both design and price.

Alienware does have a "affordable" PC in their line up that would be appropriate for the living room - the X51 - but the specification of the $700 base model is much, much more mainstream PC than gaming PC.
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Last edited by 0utf0xZer0; 2013-09-25 at 21:04.
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Old 2013-09-26, 08:56   Link #15
ThereminVox
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Can we call Steam Machines the Gabecube?

I'm fine with this, but I've been hooking a reasonably powered HTPC to the television for a while now for the same purpose. Big picture mode was a nice addition for that, I have to admit.
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Old 2013-09-26, 10:17   Link #16
Flying Dagger
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Yeah I mixed up the two brands.

Its funny how I mentioned the DX problem then AMD decided to roll out the Mantle. Whether or not it takes off depends on how clean it is (and the gains over DX - whether its worth it to implement the API), whether nvidia bends over, and whether MS will just stand there and watch Mantle chip away at DX dominance.

There is a chance where Mantle just become the next OpenGL when games is concerned. AMD does have this powerful timing window where it dominated the console market. The first step into unified console development?

I doubt a $300 box can have much in it. Consoles are sold at a loss already. Unless Valve subsidize the various manufacturers, that $300 box (native hardware that can run games?) has got to be.... shit. If it is nothing more than a streaming device, then I would accept its price. Especially if it utilize 802.11ac.
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Old 2013-09-26, 12:38   Link #17
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Ryan Smith at Anandtech has speculated that Mantle may be a port of the Xbox One's low level APIs to the PC (note that the Xbox One uses Direct X for its high level API already).

Valve has already mentioned $100 as the target for streaming tier, which makes sense in a world where Miracast receivers can be found on Amazon for $60. So the $300 needs to have something additional.

Offering decent gaming hardware at $300 would depend a lot on a) what sort of discount AMD is willing to give if you order their high end APUs in bulk and b) prices on "commodity" type components like RAM and hard drives - which haven't been great recently due to supplier consolidation and production disruption. There's actually quite a lot of sub $300 barebones desktops but a Steambox would need a much more powerful APU and more RAM. At least it shouldn't need Bluray like the PS4/One though. (Also, remember that some of Sony and MS's costs is R&D for their custom chips from AMD... if Valve gets an off the shelf or near off the shelf part, I could see them lowering costs that way.)
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Old 2013-09-26, 14:18   Link #18
T-6000
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Looks like the rumors about Valve delving in hardware was true, after all. But instead of making their own hardware they seem to be offering custom made PC Hardware that is more compatible to the Steam OS. The PC Gaming community is in a bit of an uproar over this announcement. But many seem to be intrigued with the idea of having a PC Hardware built more around living room usage. Hell, some are saying that Microsoft and Sony (and even Nintendo) are going to be in trouble with some competition from Valve. Personally I don't think Valve are aiming to compete with console manufacturers. I believe Valve are just giving PC Gamers more options. What I am hoping is that maybe a few console game developers could toss a few of their console exclusive titles for the SteamOS (and thus the Steambox). More than once have I heard developers stating that PC ports of their titles won't work because they were more meant for the living room. Now porting for Linux and making the switch from Direct X to Open GL, I'll admit will be another story.....

Already rumors are suggesting that the third and final announcement will be for a set of controllers of some kind. I'm kinda hoping it's a game announcement, but at this point I'm kind of doubting it.
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Old 2013-09-26, 15:00   Link #19
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As a long time Valve fan and Linux user I'm decidedly hyped for this.

Will SteamOS pick up in a couple of months and become the dominant operating system people use to play computer games? Hell no but it does bring a few interesting things to the table.

The most interesting bit is the game streaming thing. Nvidia already has a way for people to run Steam games on their recent portable console/tablet thing (Shield) so maybe the tech is something similar to that (I seriously doubt it's Miracast btw).

Why do I think this? Due to this SteamOS announcement NVidia as shown a very strong interesting in collaborating with the Linux Open Source community in releasing documentation for their graphics hardware. I'm sure the timing is no coincidence and NVidia are looking into this as a real possibility for the future. AMD hasn't said much yet on the topic but they already have a pretty good relationship with the open source driver developers (as does Intel) and Valve games have historically targeted ATI more than Nvidia so I guess that's safe.

The only real problem is the backlog but plenty of the smaller PC publishers have been pushing out linux versions of their games ever since Steam went Linux so I think that the hardcore pc gaming crowd might just help this work.

PS: btw I'm betting that the final announcement is something with a peripheral maker since they are teasing something about controllers on the page for the Steam Machines.

Quote:
Am I going to be using a mouse and a keyboard in the living-room?
If you want. But Steam and SteamOS work well with gamepads, too. Stay tuned, though - we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input.
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Old 2013-09-26, 16:31   Link #20
T-6000
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I think the best news from this week's series of announcements is Valve's own OS. While I don't think it will fully replace Windows, I think it could make for a good "Emergency Exit" (at last for PC Gamers) if Microsoft moves in a direction that they (including myself) don't like. But also, Windows is notorious for being a bit of a System Resource hog. If SteamOS really does help relieve this problem (and it looks like it does since Source engine games actually run faster under Linux) then all the more reason to adopt it. I am hoping that Crysis 1, Warhead, and 3 will run under it, since these games are notorious resource hogs themselves. Hell, even with the latest (well....*almost* latest) hardware tech on my aming PC Crysis Warhead and 3 still struggle to run at a good steady framerate and I have to do alot of tweaking. Especially for Crysis Warhead, and that game came out back at 2008! I am hoping that developers take a allok at this upcoming OS and release some games that are fully compatible to it. Bethesda and Valve have a fairly close relationship so perhaps Valve can encourage Bethesda to release their games for he Steam OS and make their games as much compatible with OpenGL as with Direct X 10 & 11.

My primary concern with the SteamOS is the learning curve. Linux is a bit notorious with it's steep learning curve (especially for those more use to Windows) so I am hoping that Valve modified their version of Linux to be more simplistic and user friendly. But just in case, I think I may download a version of Linux to get use to it. Can anyone here recommend the best and simplest version of Linux to try out?

Valve should offer a video preview of their upcoming OS to see what it's like and how it compares to the Windows interface (Especially Windows 7 & 8).
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