Full Steam Ahead

7/2/2012 5:44:20 PM

This week David Hayward gets all steamy for Linux, Ubuntu 12.04, and looks at some bloat free Linux distros

This is quite exciting, and something that a few of us on the Micro Mart forums have been chatting about: the Steam client for Linux.

Apparently, the clever coders over at Valve are "extremely committed" to porting Steam and its source engine over to Linux very soon, as claimed by co-founder Gabe Newell. Apparently, Newell has always been a fan of a Linux port, but at the time it didn't justify the amount of work needed. However, after testing and developing on Windows 8, Newell's enthusiasm for Linux has increased, while his negativity for Windows 8 has become 'stunning' - so says a report from Phoronix.

Description: Latest News Related to Linux Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin Final

Latest News Related to Linux Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin Final

According to some unconfirmed reports, we could be seeing a beta for the Steam client by Q4 of 2012, and it's probable that one of the first games will be a Left 4 Dead title.

Of course, this all depends on the bean counters, and those who would rather push for more Windows coverage as opposed to open source platforms, plus we also have the problem that has plagued Linux for years: the dreaded graphics drivers. Let's face it; although the drivers are generally okay for the big two (NVidia and ATI) for basic desktop duties, their gaming and 3D-based drivers for Linux aren't a patch on the Windows versions.

However, as always, something as big as Steam moving onto Linux can only be a good thing and, who knows, with enough clout behind it, other areas of Linux that are lacking could be brought up to speed.

Incidentally, there's a video of Left 4 Dead (not sure if it's 1 or 2) running via Steam on Linux here:

Ubuntu 12.04.

Description: Ubuntu 12.04.

Well, it's finally here: Ubuntu 12.04, complete with a PAE kernel for machines with 4GB or more, HUD, the next stage of Unity and some nice speed boosts.

Unfortunately, Ubuntu isn't everyone's cup of tea, and hasn't been since it introduced the much maligned Unity as the desktop environment of choice, which is a shame, because from the perspective of the new user to Linux, it's quite good and goes a long way to show off just how far Linux has grown as an operating system.

Whether you like Ubuntu or not, you have to admit that Canonical is pushing Linux and forcing it to evolve, and it's up to us to either embrace this movement or not. We'll leave that decision to you.

Linux Minus The Bloat?

Description: Linux Minus The Bloat?

For those of you who aren't too happy with Canonical's latest hefty release or one of the many other supersized Linux distros that struggle to squeeze themselves onto a CD, why not try out a sprightly selection of lightweight distros? There are plenty around, and most of them are really fun to get into. For example:

Zorin Lite - An excellent distro, with special bearing for the new Linux user (

Lubuntu - A very lightweight distro using LXDE. Thanks to EdP on the forums ( Iz5l5m).

Puppy Linux - A great, fun distro that's really small ( Iz5u90)

Description: Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux

Tiny Core - About as small as you're going to get, from 8MB to 64MB (

WattOS - Debian based with Openbox; a great little distro (

Give these a try and see what you think. Ubuntu 12.04 may be very shiny, but these distros can be made to look just as good, plus they run comfortably on old machines, and USB sticks.

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