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Steam on Linux - Disappointing

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#1 +Majesticmerc

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:16

Disclaimer: This is basically a rant thread.

So I've been using the Steam Linux beta for a few weeks now, and I've come to following conclusion: The Steam Linux beta sucks.

It's not like I don't appreciate what they're doing, I mean after all, Valve are the only publisher that's really taking Linux (except they're not, I'll discuss that later), but still, the execution of the whole thing is farcical.

First of all, why is the client 32-bit only? I honestly can't remember that last time a Linux application came with only a 32-bit binary. This decision means that everyone on an x64 Linux build has to install 32-bit libraries in order to run Steam. Why not just provide a 64-bit binary and save us the bloat of having to install multilib libraries purely for Steam? I can't imagine that the difference between x86 and x64 would be so much that it'd be impossible to develop both at the same time.

Second, what's with the auto-update process? Most Linux distros have pretty solid package management. So why not just leave it to the package managers? This problem is SOLVED in Linux. Why use some [****-poor] auto-update process when mature platforms already exist for exactly this problem?

Third, why does the client feel compelled to screw with my cursor. This is probably a problem with my setup rather than Steam, but it's the only app on my system that insists on reversing my mouse cursor. Oddness.

Fourth, and probably most importantly, where's the quality control in the games? Of all the games that are "available for Linux", in my experience about 50% are 'private betas' that need a password to play or simply don't install. To make things worse, it doesn't actually tell you that when you buy the game, so you are at risk of buying a game you can't actually play. The funniest thing I find about this is that a lot of the games that don't work are also former Humble Bundle games, so I can play the game perfectly well without Steam, but then can't play the Steam version of the same game. What the hell is up with that?

This inconvenience is compounded by failures like, for example, SpaceChem trying to use apt to try and install dependencies on my Arch install (for those that don't know, that doesn't work), and including libraries that don't work on 64-bit installs. There are threads with distro-specific hacks to get games working, but why isn't Steam doing this for us? I don't expect them to cater to every OS, but they could at least give us some hints. Make the developers provide a list of dependencies, and then check against installed libraries to determine which ones I need to install to get a game to work, and then tell me.

The games overall seem to be the 32-bit versions of the games (which I guess makes sense since the client is too), so I'm installing a lot of 32-bit libs for all the games too. It's gradually turning my Arch install into a glorious mess of libraries. Not really an issue per se, but an annoyance for someone like me who tries to keep a minimal install as much as possible.

I don't know, I guess this beta is giving me a bit of a bitter after-taste. They're touting it as the "Steam Linux beta", when in reality it should just be the "Steam Ubuntu Beta" since non-Ubuntu user's are pretty much out there on our own hacking it together to get it to work.

Overall, I'm finding more success playing games outside of Steam than I am within it. One of the best things about the Windows client is the convenience factor. On Linux I just get the overall impression we're testing the steam box client, and getting a buggy DRM client out of it. I don't think Valve are really taking Linux seriously like they're making out, they're just getting us to iron the bugs out of the client so they can release a bug-free console. Linux games will be a fortunate side effect of the Steam box, but not the primary focus IMO.

Not impressed.


#2 Simon-

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:24

Sounds pretty mild, approximately 0% normal users care sbout dependancies unless it is causing a problem. It uses a few GBs of space, and that is the price you pay for the client and the games which need it. How big is your hard drive? 10GB? Maybe you need a bigger drive. It makes sense that they use their own auto update, standard update managers don't support the DRM which Steam needs to make their platform a reality, and using their own auto update to test their DRM laden update process makes sense.

#3 The_Decryptor

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:29

Valve have said that Ubuntu is currently the only supported distro, hence it trying to use apt-get to install stuff it needs. So it not working properly on Arch isn't surprising.

#4 Eins.MY

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:33

Ubuntu community seems impressed with Steam Linux Beta, some of them are calling death to Windows gaming after the release of Steam client for linux

not sure other distro users need to install extra libs and some kind of hacking just to play Steam games...

#5 Farchord

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:42

Sounds pretty mild, approximately 0% normal users care sbout dependancies unless it is causing a problem. It uses a few GBs of space, and that is the price you pay for the client and the games which need it. How big is your hard drive? 10GB? Maybe you need a bigger drive. It makes sense that they use their own auto update, standard update managers don't support the DRM which Steam needs to make their platform a reality, and using their own auto update to test their DRM laden update process makes sense.


I tested it myself and I'll reply to some of the OP's points.

1- 32-bit only FOR NOW. They are only starting, give em time. And for the record. Skype is 32-bit only as well. So was Chrome for a while. Give em time!

2- The auto-update makes sense. So what, you expect them to make a Pacman, Debian, RPM, ... -compliant update process? Nah. Makes sense they just use their own, as they have to keep complying with their contracts with the game makers.

Gotta give it time. It'll all settle.

#6 JaredFrost

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:59

I tested it myself and I'll reply to some of the OP's points.

1- 32-bit only FOR NOW. They are only starting, give em time. And for the record. Skype is 32-bit only as well. So was Chrome for a while. Give em time!

2- The auto-update makes sense. So what, you expect them to make a Pacman, Debian, RPM, ... -compliant update process? Nah. Makes sense they just use their own, as they have to keep complying with their contracts with the game makers.

Gotta give it time. It'll all settle.


I don't care either way if they make Steam for Linux, but sometimes I think people forget what the hell a beta is.

#7 Nothing Here

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:05

I use the Steam Linux Beta under Fedora and I have no issues at all.

#8 Gerowen

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:08

Disclaimer: This is basically a rant thread.

So I've been using the Steam Linux beta for a few weeks now, and I've come to following conclusion: The Steam Linux beta sucks.

It's not like I don't appreciate what they're doing, I mean after all, Valve are the only publisher that's really taking Linux (except they're not, I'll discuss that later), but still, the execution of the whole thing is farcical.

First of all, why is the client 32-bit only? I honestly can't remember that last time a Linux application came with only a 32-bit binary. This decision means that everyone on an x64 Linux build has to install 32-bit libraries in order to run Steam. Why not just provide a 64-bit binary and save us the bloat of having to install multilib libraries purely for Steam? I can't imagine that the difference between x86 and x64 would be so much that it'd be impossible to develop both at the same time.

Second, what's with the auto-update process? Most Linux distros have pretty solid package management. So why not just leave it to the package managers? This problem is SOLVED in Linux. Why use some [****-poor] auto-update process when mature platforms already exist for exactly this problem?

Third, why does the client feel compelled to screw with my cursor. This is probably a problem with my setup rather than Steam, but it's the only app on my system that insists on reversing my mouse cursor. Oddness.

Fourth, and probably most importantly, where's the quality control in the games? Of all the games that are "available for Linux", in my experience about 50% are 'private betas' that need a password to play or simply don't install. To make things worse, it doesn't actually tell you that when you buy the game, so you are at risk of buying a game you can't actually play. The funniest thing I find about this is that a lot of the games that don't work are also former Humble Bundle games, so I can play the game perfectly well without Steam, but then can't play the Steam version of the same game. What the hell is up with that?

This inconvenience is compounded by failures like, for example, SpaceChem trying to use apt to try and install dependencies on my Arch install (for those that don't know, that doesn't work), and including libraries that don't work on 64-bit installs. There are threads with distro-specific hacks to get games working, but why isn't Steam doing this for us? I don't expect them to cater to every OS, but they could at least give us some hints. Make the developers provide a list of dependencies, and then check against installed libraries to determine which ones I need to install to get a game to work, and then tell me.

The games overall seem to be the 32-bit versions of the games (which I guess makes sense since the client is too), so I'm installing a lot of 32-bit libs for all the games too. It's gradually turning my Arch install into a glorious mess of libraries. Not really an issue per se, but an annoyance for someone like me who tries to keep a minimal install as much as possible.

I don't know, I guess this beta is giving me a bit of a bitter after-taste. They're touting it as the "Steam Linux beta", when in reality it should just be the "Steam Ubuntu Beta" since non-Ubuntu user's are pretty much out there on our own hacking it together to get it to work.

Overall, I'm finding more success playing games outside of Steam than I am within it. One of the best things about the Windows client is the convenience factor. On Linux I just get the overall impression we're testing the steam box client, and getting a buggy DRM client out of it. I don't think Valve are really taking Linux seriously like they're making out, they're just getting us to iron the bugs out of the client so they can release a bug-free console. Linux games will be a fortunate side effect of the Steam box, but not the primary focus IMO.

Not impressed.


They have an Ubuntu repository for auto-updating, figured they'd have something similar for all the major distros, and other than them not having a whole lot of games ported yet, I've had no issues.

#9 +Karl L.

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:28

I agree with some of your points, but I think other problems you're having are Arch-specific. For example, AFAIK multiarch is a Debian-specific (or, at the very least, spearheaded by Debian developers). Since it relies on APT to perform its magic, I guess that makes sense. Because Ubuntu 12.04+ is the only supported platform for Steam at the moment, Valve decided to take advantage of multiarch to run 32-bit binaries without requiring a plethora of 32-bit libraries to be installed on the system.

Since I run Steam on Debian Wheezy, multiarch is not a problem for me. In fact, it works very well. I can even use the precise repository to get Steam package updates. The only modification I had to make to my system was installing the latest libc from Debian's Experimental repository. (Ubuntu 12.04 shipped with libc 2.15, but Wheezy has libc 2.13.) The only thing that really disappoints me about Steam for Linux is that I can't run Portal 2 yet.

#10 n_K

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:41

"First of all, why is the client 32-bit only?"
Windows build is compiled for 32 bit. So what if you have to have some extra libraries, it really isn't much of a big deal. You'd need the libraries for the games anyway because chances are they're all compiled for 32 bit so it would be pointless having a 64 bit steam for linux at this time.

"Second, what's with the auto-update process"
Nothing is wrong with it. If you're saying use a package manager, how about we just dump .dpkg, .rpm and all other package mangement systems and just use arch's method - oh yeah, because each distro has it's own package manager which is very different from all other package managers so I'd rather have something that auto-updates than have to have red crap 9.0 installed.

"Fourth, and probably most importantly, where's the quality control in the games? Of all the games that are "available for Linux", in my experience about 50% are 'private betas' that need a password to play or simply don't install."
I've got a lot of linux games and they all work fine.
Store -> tab 'Linux Games' lists only linux games.

"SpaceChem trying to use apt to try and install dependencies"
Haven't seen that happen but agreed fully, should be up to steam and using config files that you set up yourself for your system/package management system.

I've been impressed with it since I got invited to the beta, seems fine to me all in all for a beta.

#11 Mindovermaster

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:46

It's still under beta, relax ppl...

#12 giantpotato

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:48

Sounds to me like Steam on Linux is a... "Giant Sadness".

#13 Pong

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 04:04

It's a beta. It is not a final release, it is not going to work correctly.

Don't complain that something which wasn't intended for your distro of choice doesn't work correctly. There are targeting a single architecture and distribution because it makes life a lot easier when they're trying to find the cause of a bug. It's not easy if everyone is running different software.

Stop treating software previews like they are the final product. Instead, go submit bug reports, tell them what's wrong, and what you'd like to see. That's what a beta is for, Valve is not Google.

#14 +hedleigh

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 04:14

And of course Steam worked perfectly on windows when it was first released. Except for me apparently!

The bigger the user base becomes, the better the client will become.

Is there a list of 64 bit games available? Is there such an animal?

#15 Yogurtmaster

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 04:18

Valve have said that Ubuntu is currently the only supported distro, hence it trying to use apt-get to install stuff it needs. So it not working properly on Arch isn't surprising.


Well, that is more of a Linux issue than it is with Steam.