Opening The Valve To High-volume GNU/Linux PC-Production On A Global Scale

OK, gaming’s a niche in IT, a place where teenagers and young men work out their frustrations with the real world… but it has long been one of the few places GNU/Linux has not thrived: gaming, business, and retail shelves. All that is ending in 2014 with news from CES 2014:
“Valve’s new hardware partners are Dell’s Alienware, Alternate, CyberPower PC, Falcon Northwest, Gigabyte, Maingear, Material.net, Next, Origin, Scan Computers, Webhallen, and Zotac. Prior to Valve’s small CES news conference, Digital Storm and iBuyPower announced that they will be building Steam boxes. Many of these are small, obscure computer OEMs, but three of the companies — Dell’s Alienware, Falcon Northwest and Gigabyte — are major PC gaming powerhouses.”

See Valve announces over more than a dozen Linux-powered Steam gaming boxes.

OK, if those players are too small, consider that HP and Lenovo are at long last going to produce */Linux PCs for businesses and consumers. Lenovo is the Chinese outfit that bought out IBM’s client PCs, remember? They have grown globally. If they enter a market, it will be in a big way. HP? They are reputed to be #1 in production of legacy PCs. HP has been struggling to maintain that share recently but if new management sees */Linux as viable, it will happen and retailers will sell what these two produce because they are globally recognized brands.

There you have it. All three of the last props under the Wintel house of cards are being yanked out. The world can and does make its own software and does not need M$. The world can and does make other CPUs than Intel. After 2014 there will be no niche in IT owned by M$.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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8 Responses to Opening The Valve To High-volume GNU/Linux PC-Production On A Global Scale

  1. T.R. says:

    Just wanted to say: Tim Schafer’s Broken Age, Act 1, is out on Steam as beta (only for backers for now). Absolutely smooth experience on Linux.

  2. ram says:

    Valve’s effort will be good for gamers and helpful to Linux in general. The high-end Steam-OS boxen are likely to be purchased not only by gamers but also by people who want a Linux graphics workstation. The economies of scale will make these affordable to more and more content creators.

  3. oiaohm says:

    There are two big issues.

    Accountancy software and Games.

    Lot of countries there is no Accountancy software for Linux approved by the countries tax offices.

  4. lpbbear says:

    “It is in terms of numbers/demographics etc. It’s almost always young people, especially males who waste time playing games. Older folks and women more likely operate in the real world.”

    That is a generalization. As an “older folk”, a gamer, and a Linux user I can attest to that….and I also operate in the real world as well. What brought me to computers in the first place were games. The PC is an excellent platform for games. What somewhat kept me tied to Windows after I discovered Linux in the 90’s was….games. As a gamer I can also attest to running into numerous older players and also numerous lady gamers. While I would agree there tends to be a larger group of young male players as you described there are also a lot of older gamers and ladies involved.

    The availability of good Games has played a major role in capturing and keeping computer users trapped in Windows. Valve is a major player in this area. If there is any company that truly has the respect of gamers….it IS Valve.

    In addition, while I am not too active at the moment, I spent several years contributing and later working on a Linux/Windows cross platform game, one that has stayed stubbornly cross platform because many of the aging developers and players used Linux themselves.

    A few years ago, when Microsoft began the Xbox effort, I recognized that one part of the strategic focus for that effort, beyond the obvious gaming console facade, was meant to pull developers away from becoming to friendly towards Linux. It worked….for a while. During those early Xbox years a number of developers quietly shuttered their Linux cross platform efforts while at the same time moving towards developing for Xbox and Windows only. The momentum that was starting to build for Linux in the gaming arena in the mid 2000’s slowly vanished. Valve changes all of that. I fully expect Microsoft to attempt to derail this in a big way. Watch for it.

    Anyway, gaming is extremely important. It acts as a motivator, it did for me. It also adds a element of excitement that serves to attract a pretty large segment of users, whether its 15% as you estimate, or more. Those users drive very vibrant markets in hardware and software. What Valve has done is a huge boon to Linux. Linux distributions should really spend more time focusing on attracting gamers…for instance….lets say 15% of their time and effort. 😉 (Linux gaming leagues etc)

  5. lpbbear wrote, “Gaming is not a niche”.

    It is in terms of numbers/demographics etc. It’s almost always young people, especially males who waste time playing games. Older folks and women more likely operate in the real world. I used to play games until I discovered GNU/Linux. I quit playing games when my PC with a game on it died/was killed, along with that other OS, in shipping.

    I expect the number of PCs dedicated to gaming is about 15% and the were all running that other OS until now. There are hundreds of millions of “Steamers” and this move will probably bring to GNU/Linux a number of users similar to Canonical, assuming a good number want to remain current.

  6. lpbbear says:

    Should have been….
    “In my opinion it has never been a problem that Linux could not match Windows equally in all areas. Linux is capable of doing whatever you want it to do provided the operating SYSTEM is given a set of quality instructions.”

    typo….sorry

  7. lpbbear says:

    Gaming is not a niche. One of the long time myths used as an excuse by Windows fanbois to not use Linux was that, according to them, Linux can’t do games.

    It wasn’t true then and it is even less true now. Linux has been able to “game” for a long time.

    Valve recent efforts to use Linux as part of their games product line does shed light on something more fundamentally important though.

    In the past, while it wasn’t really true that Linux “can’t game” it was true that there was often some difference in performance between Linux and Windows in the area of 3d games with Linux generally being a bit slower. Not so anymore. With the work that Valve, NVidia and others have done more recently Linux and Windows are neck and neck with regards to performance in this area.

    To me this shows what I knew to be true all along.

    The issue of past performance differences in this area were not due to some inherent failing in the Linux operating system, but more due to the failing of commercial software companies to put the same kind of equal effort into producing quality drivers and other products for Linux as they did with Windows.

    There are other areas that could be equally addressed.

    For instance printer drives from companies like HP, Epson, etc. Were they to put the same kind of effort into producing, at the minimum, equal to Windows quality drivers for Linux the obvious difference between print jobs from Linux to Windows on the same printer would vanish overnight.

    There are several other “problem” areas where this kind of attention to detail from commercial vendors could help.

    In my opinion it has never been a problem that Linux could not match Windows equally in all areas. Linux is capable of doing whatever you want it to do provided the operating system is given a set of quality instructions.

    For a long time its been more an issue that commercial companies have been treating Linux as a second class citizen when it came to the quality of software and drivers being given to Linux users when compared to the effort these companies spent on products for Windows.

    Valve should be applauded and has done a major service for Linux and its users with implications that could actually finally make a huge difference in more areas than just gaming as time goes on.

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