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.