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Valve's Lessons Learned: Porting Source Engine to Linux

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April 6, 2013 12:06:08 PM

what is the camera man doing?
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a b 4 Gaming
April 6, 2013 12:12:47 PM

I think people hype Linux to much, it's great, but it's terrible for normal consumer use and fragmented. I still see no benefit to using Linux over windows except for commercial uses.

Gotta give Valve credit for their work though, it's a step in the right direction.

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April 6, 2013 12:17:05 PM

LOL why not just turn off the video and make it just audio...

This story really isn't about linux as it is making a product that is easier to port to different platforms and that is something the openGL gives them.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 6, 2013 12:33:15 PM

Maybe this is the beginning of cross-platform gaming? Steam cloud saves and multi-platform support are the steps in the right direction.
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April 6, 2013 12:40:27 PM

The hell is the camera mans issue.. It's worse than the blair witch project.... My 5 year old can hold a camera steadier than that..... Would have been nice to actually see the data slides and not have to pause the video so i could see what the said.. Looks like it gets better after a few minutes but it really ruined the first part of it..
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April 6, 2013 12:55:52 PM

The real issue is there needs to be a de-facto "gaming" dedicated O/S for PCs. Likely linux based due to Windows licensing fees. I use linux & I use Windows (XP, Vista & 7) on different PCs during the week. By far, I like 7 the best, but it's not perfect. Linux is very complicated in comparison to accomplish basic tasks. It can be intentionally unintuitive to a windows user, and questions are often met with "RTFM!". That's why Linux is so far from becoming a daily driver for PC users, nobody likes that attitude. There is definitely a tone of "Do it MSFTs way, or don't do it at all" with Windows based O/Ss that also doesn't work in an environment of choice. Their attitude towards customers with W8, just proves the point. You aren't Apple, we aren't sheeple. Stop telling us what we (the consumer) want, we already know better.
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April 6, 2013 1:09:01 PM

The thing is you have to see open source program for what they will be not what they are. The fact that Linux and Windows 7 are even close is astounding. The potential will only increase and the ease of use is easily adjusted with a GUI. Unbuntu is even being funded by China now. People need to stop being so short sighted or there won't be any growth anywhere.
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April 6, 2013 1:32:41 PM

anfunnyThe thing is you have to see open source program for what they will be not what they are. The fact that Linux and Windows 7 are even close is astounding. The potential will only increase and the ease of use is easily adjusted with a GUI. Unbuntu is even being funded by China now. People need to stop being so short sighted or there won't be any growth anywhere.


It's not a matter of being short sighted. It's a matter of, I've used different flavors of linux both personally and professionally since 2000, and while MSFT has moved on from dos over a decade ago, Linux still ties itself to an antiquated command line. MSFT is working on 3D holo interfaces using technologies like kinect. Meanwhile you have these elitest douchbags who will always mutter "I can do it faster in a shell". So the f**k what? All that matters is "What can I do with it today?" When you invest in projects for things you want to do now, for stuff they promise will happen later, all you get is disappointment. Adopt linux for the things it's good at today; e.g. webserving.

The fact that China is investing in Ubuntu is *not* a positive deciding factor for me. I'm not an Anti-China nut, but I understand the 'behind closed doors' competition China is in with US on technology. Believe me, if China is investing in Ubuntu, it's not for the greater global good of OSS. It's so China can stop relying on pirating software from US companies. If you think China won't just take what they want and give little in return, you are short sighted.
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April 6, 2013 2:05:42 PM

The only thing that keeps me using windows is my games.
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April 6, 2013 2:07:23 PM

So... when is the next Half-Life coming out?
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April 6, 2013 2:12:18 PM

I can't wait until I can play all my Steam games on Android.
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April 6, 2013 2:14:18 PM

With Ouya (ouch), Steam, and Android Linux has finally reached critical mass. I've used a combination of various OSes over the last 15 years or so. Linux has grown from an immature set of tools to something that tends to be easier and more robust to use than the current version of Windows. The vast majority of gold plating available in Windows has been available in Linux for a number of years. Overall software management tends to be easier because from most distributions there is a single management point. Contrast this with Windows were MS update only works with MS products. Software support is still lacking but has improved considerably. And I'm not going to go into security models.

I've found that most of the people who complain that Linux is harder than Windows, hard to learn, clinging to an antiquated CLI, or had no support are usually MC* types who are unwilling to learn a different system and expect to be spoon-fed answers all the time (although there are a few legitimate dissenters).
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April 6, 2013 3:25:22 PM

dark_knight33It's not a matter of being short sighted. It's a matter of, I've used different flavors of linux both personally and professionally since 2000, and while MSFT has moved on from dos over a decade ago, Linux still ties itself to an antiquated command line. MSFT is working on 3D holo interfaces using technologies like kinect. Meanwhile you have these elitest douchbags who will always mutter "I can do it faster in a shell". So the f**k what? All that matters is "What can I do with it today?" When you invest in projects for things you want to do now, for stuff they promise will happen later, all you get is disappointment. Adopt linux for the things it's good at today; e.g. webserving. The fact that China is investing in Ubuntu is *not* a positive deciding factor for me. I'm not an Anti-China nut, but I understand the 'behind closed doors' competition China is in with US on technology. Believe me, if China is investing in Ubuntu, it's not for the greater global good of OSS. It's so China can stop relying on pirating software from US companies. If you think China won't just take what they want and give little in return, you are short sighted.


At risk of sounding like an elitest douche bag, for me, linux does everything better; with the exception of gaming. Any modern distro does not tie you to the command line; it provides the command line as an alternative means of doing things. Rather than than the parochial Microsoft and their "I know what's best for you" attitude, I much prefer an OS which lets me do what ever I damn well please.

I also don't see the "complicated" nature of linux that you refer to. KDE does everything as easily as windows.
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April 6, 2013 3:49:42 PM

The gaming world has a problem of the most popular API, DirectX, being Microsoft's exclusive.
If Valve succeeds, it will shatter DX domination and is a good thing.
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April 6, 2013 4:51:36 PM

Never get this guy to film anything ever again.
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April 6, 2013 5:34:23 PM

chefwearNever get this guy to film anything ever again.

Did you actually watch more than the first two minutes?

I haven't seen the whole thing yet, but it looks like the camera person is sitting down and setting up a tripod that is used for the remaining 53 minutes of the talk. I skipped around and the rest of the talk look perfectly stable.
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April 6, 2013 5:46:09 PM

dark_knight33Linux still ties itself to an antiquated command line. MSFT is working on 3D holo interfaces using technologies like kinect.

You're speaking like an end-user who uses computers only to browse the web and write word docs. The reason people like the commandline so much is that a commandline-centric model makes everything easy to script and automate. On GUI-centric systems, automation is usually an afterthought.

I like that Linux doesn't force a specific GUI on me. I am free to use whatever frontend (be it X-windows based or not). And if I do use X-windows, then I can use whichever window manager I choose. Things like touch screen and 3D gestural interfaces are a property of the interface and shouldn't be tied to the kernel.

But that's all beside the point. The fact is that Android is built on Linux, which makes it probably the most popular OS on cell phones and first or second most popular on tablets. That's why this matters.
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April 6, 2013 7:00:18 PM

I rather thought the interesting point here was that OpenGL has most of the features of modern versions of DirectX. If programming engines in OpenGL were to go mainstream, users would rarely, if ever, be held hostage by Microsoft's "You'll have to upgrade to the latest version of Windows if you want the newest version of DirectX" attitude.

All the new shiny graphics, now available on Windows XP!! (For those of you who prefer it)
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a b 4 Gaming
April 6, 2013 7:00:45 PM

For me I see no benefit in porting Steam to Linux given that out of 224 games I have a total of 6 that are playable in Linux and NONE of them are even close to AAA titles. At least on OS X I have 66 that are playable and most are AAA titles.
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April 6, 2013 7:22:04 PM

kartuThe gaming world has a problem of the most popular API, DirectX, being Microsoft's exclusive.If Valve succeeds, it will shatter DX domination and is a good thing.

That's what I would hope + the fact I love mostly anything open source, marvelous things usually result because of that. My only concern though is will Nvidia/AMD/Intel step up their game and prioritize OpenGL as they have DirectX--of which they have severely lacked to do. Because they will play a big part in this too, whether they want to assist the move by optimizing, or hurting it by doing what they currently do (almost nothing).
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April 6, 2013 7:28:21 PM

bryonhowleyFor me I see no benefit in porting Steam to Linux given that out of 224 games I have a total of 6 that are playable in Linux and NONE of them are even close to AAA titles.
You're just thinking of desktop PCs running Linux, but this is really about Android phones, tablets, and set top boxes.
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April 6, 2013 7:36:46 PM

ddpruittI've found that most of the people who complain that Linux is harder than Windows, hard to learn, clinging to an antiquated CLI, or had no support are usually MC* types who are unwilling to learn a different system and expect to be spoon-fed answers all the time (although there are a few legitimate dissenters).


May be the same reason why Windows 8 is so hated by so many.
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April 6, 2013 8:10:48 PM

LOL. Looks like some linux hater(s) just gave us all a bunch of down votes.

That's really constructive, kids. Bravo. Time well spent.
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April 6, 2013 8:18:09 PM

valve is now the authority of pc-gaming... they brought so many game changer, also this. hope it succed.
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April 6, 2013 8:55:00 PM

bit_userLOL. Looks like some linux hater(s) just gave us all a bunch of down votes.That's really constructive, kids. Bravo. Time well spent.

Probably just a person with multiple accounts trying to ruin a reasonable conversation. All I did was point out a fact everyone in the tech community knows and got down voted.
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April 6, 2013 9:15:59 PM

Well, "most of" isn't good enough for me, and saying DX isn't supported by other "platforms" just isn't true. Bottom line here, Valve is cheaping out for a lower quality product.

I don't care what Valve does for Valve games, but if it means I can't play my DirectX game in DX because I'm forced to use Steam, I'm going to be one pissed off guy.
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April 6, 2013 9:38:12 PM

While rendering is certainly the biggest part of an engine, it's still not quite as simple as that. Yes, Direct3D and OpenGL are pretty much equal, and with OpenGL ES being dominant in the mobile space, it has a good chance of taking over. But DirectX is more than just Direct3D, it's a set of very robust frameworks for audio, input, networking, etc. with unified style and solid documentation (the number 1 thing for most devs).

Having said that, I have never worked engine-level, and I have studied mostly OpenGL.
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April 6, 2013 9:42:49 PM

kartuThe gaming world has a problem of the most popular API, DirectX, being Microsoft's exclusive.If Valve succeeds, it will shatter DX domination and is a good thing.


This just isn't true. You can run DirectX on other platforms (you may have to use aftermarket software), and even the PS3 can use it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_%28software%29

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-04-24-crytek-has...

Microsoft didn't make DirectX to force users to buy their software (or hardware in the case of the Xbox), they did it to make Windows a good gaming choice for game devs by 1) bypassing Windows as much as possible, and 2) giving the devs as much of everything they asked for as they could. The latter is why it's still the best API suite today.

How do I know MS isn't trying to force people to use MS products with DX? Because when aftermarket software apps give the other platforms DX capabilities, MS doesn't go after them. It's fine by MS if you use DX on other platforms, it's the makers of the other platforms that refuse to incude DX capabilities in their products.

Oh, and PS4 will include DX support natively:

http://www.ps4site.com/tag/directx-11/

So, as you can see, MS has no problem with Sony using DX. Saying that OpenCL is the only cross-platform API suite is doubly a lie - it isn't true now, and it won't be true in any stretch of the imagination in a few months.
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April 6, 2013 9:54:39 PM

Why are like 75% of the comments marked down? I don't understand...
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April 6, 2013 9:58:07 PM

madjimmsWhy are like 75% of the comments marked down? I don't understand...

I take that back, nearly all of them are now thumbed down.

Someone must REALLY hate technology. :-(
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April 6, 2013 10:44:48 PM

I am not regular Linux user and there are things I don't like about it but - I must say - It is a great news. And I'll be happy to see more gaming companies support Linux. If it was not for Linux, we would still need to reinstall Windows every 3 weeks instead of every 6-12 months.
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April 6, 2013 11:24:05 PM

The games I've tried on Steam that run smoothly under windows jerk annoyingly with OpenGL. I don't know if it's non-optimized software or hardware, DirectX became so ubiquitous. Now that Microsoft's abandoned the desktop in favor of pads with it's operating systems and software licensing, it's the right time to look at other technologies.

Mint with Cinnamon has been flawless for me, while Windows 8 has had multiple driver issues with my 2010 hardware. The desktop is even graphically sharper, I just need to spend more time using it.
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April 6, 2013 11:29:28 PM

madjimmsI take that back, nearly all of them are now thumbed down.Someone must REALLY hate technology. :-(

I think someone declared a thumb-war.
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April 7, 2013 5:00:25 AM

I'm showing my support for Linux gaming and have been playing the free MMORPG on Ubuntu through STEAM, Champions of Regnum. It has some bad reviews but hey it's free and runs stable. Has more than once made me think of picking up a points card for STEAM.
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April 7, 2013 8:32:14 AM

dark_knight33The real issue is there needs to be a de-facto "gaming" dedicated O/S for PCs. Likely linux based due to Windows licensing fees. I use linux & I use Windows (XP, Vista & 7) on different PCs during the week. By far, I like 7 the best, but it's not perfect. Linux is very complicated in comparison to accomplish basic tasks. It can be intentionally unintuitive to a windows user, and questions are often met with "RTFM!". That's why Linux is so far from becoming a daily driver for PC users, nobody likes that attitude. There is definitely a tone of "Do it MSFTs way, or don't do it at all" with Windows based O/Ss that also doesn't work in an environment of choice. Their attitude towards customers with W8, just proves the point. You aren't Apple, we aren't sheeple. Stop telling us what we (the consumer) want, we already know better.


Consumers don't know what they want until they're told what they want!
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April 7, 2013 5:35:14 PM

So now you have Id's Tech engine (carmack), Valve's Source Engine & Unreal engines all perfectly capable of making a glitzy gameS on something OTHER than DIRECTX/WINTEL.

Simple porting as a rule will speed this war along. OpenGL runs on everything (yes even those 39% XP users) and once your engine is ported to it, the major battle is over and porting the games themselves from windows-linux-osx-android is simple. It seems going forward you'd be a bit short sighted to make any content tied to a directx version and by default windows upgrades for your customer base. It will be much wiser to go opengl for your next engine (or use someone else's already on opengl) and be able to reach a MUCH larger audience with very low porting costs to reach them all.

All of these companies attempting to help kill WINTEL dominance will seriously hurt MS unless they buy some chip company to start controlling some hardware. Intel will survive this (porting to android for x86 etc moves show this), but Windows/Office margins will be driven down as they lost the gaming crown/tie-in to windows sales. If I don't need games I can leave. A dual boot of linux/android on every device in the future gives you games on both (whichever gets the port first you'd use) and googles apps to replace office etc.

Apple also has an opportunity here to kill windows. If they would stop IDing your hardware as Apple only and sell their OS to the rest of us (say $75 for a full copy) then we get a cheaper way to create content also. Adobe etc are on OSX so windows would lose yet another stranglehold reason most of us have for staying on Windows.

The world is changing fast. Assaults on MS shown here. Assaults on Intel (platform alliance to speed smaller chip tech with IBM,GF,TSMC all joining to share research to diminish Intel's fab leads) and we've already been watching assaults on device makers. Amazon is about to release the $400 phone that's probably going to sell for $200 which will drive all phone makers margins down just as they've been doing with tablets. I suspect Amazon will make the most powerful phone they can for around $200-250 but with ZERO margin (to seriously damage any sale of $400-500 phones). So while the rest pocket 30-50% or so on a phone (some more) they'll sell it at break even to cripple your profits/margins. It won't kill all $600 phone sales, but if it's close enough to them and $200-250 it will steal a lot of sales from people who cringe over that $600 cost. Driving down margins for device makers is what's killing nokia, killed motorola etc.
http://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-galaxy-s4-shipm...
Galaxy s3/s4 for example has a margin of 46/48%. This will be tough to maintain going forward as Amazon/Google seem content to make next to nothing to kill everyone else (they profit from content and ads not devices). Sammy obviously lasts longest here as they source 60%+ of the crap in their phones/products from themselves. Component makers can still make a ton during this huge war, but DEVICE makers will suffer if not sourcing most from inside like sammy. We will see more device makers wither and die or get bought (HTC comes to mind etc).

All in all, I can't wait for linux/android (via OpenGL, webgl, html5 maybe some opencl) to take over my gaming which will finally release me from my next windows upgrade :)  Bring on the opengl war please ;) 

I expect console sales to suck also (worse for MS with always on DRM crap) further hurting the Windows/DX platform. Steambox, Ouya, Shield, Razer Edge, Wikipad, etc all after consoles sales (not to mention phones/tablets taking some too). Sales of Vita/Wiiu/3DS show a new console doesn't automatically mean sales this time. That party is over. EASY cross-platform gaming is the wave of the future so you can play anywhere, and devs can reach the largest audience easily. MS is in seriously hot water pissing of the end users with win8 and valve with the appstore etc. Everyone is hating them and actively seeking destruction of their platform. It appears Win8.1 (9? whatever) is still shoving the same crap at us so they may never recover from the next 2yrs of crap we ignore (win8 sales worse than vista! 8.1 will be worse than win8!). Either MS wakes up and makes the OS we WANT immediately or they face total destruction going from PC stalwarts to basically a Rimm fiasco. It only takes 3-5yrs for all these huge death spirals to take place (nokia, motorola, 3dfx, rimm, palm etc etc).
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April 7, 2013 9:13:11 PM

i imagine those games run better too. if they can make a streamlined way of porting games over (i have no idea of the differences), it would put opengl back on top, where it should have been. i mean, it used to be, pre-2005 i believe.
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April 8, 2013 1:26:24 AM

Basically everyone wants your money and they will do anything to get it. I. personally, do not think that valve has YOUR best interests at heart with OpenCL AT ALL! Money.

Cold, cold cash.

I shudder to think of the end result if MS vanishes. There's always apple? yeah, ok, which company has money to literally throw away what with machines that you cannot repair etc.


You might not like MS, you might not want to use Windoes, but I'm GLAD that we've a stable platform to create and work under.
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April 8, 2013 7:20:31 AM

The only thing that keeps me running windows is Photoshop. At work we have MS office too, which is still the best office suite. Yeah I game some too, but with this newest push by Valve I think we've reached critical mass. If anything, OSX has helped to proliferate open GL usage. I hate Apple but thanks for that.

Looking forward to a future in which I can go totally windows free.
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April 8, 2013 7:23:36 AM

I'm convince Tom's has allot of MS fanboys troll these pages probably some that work at Tom's. They thumb down anything Linux and anti-MS.
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April 8, 2013 7:42:03 AM

Windows 7 has its place and probably always will until the EOS. Microsoft is digging a massive hole for themselves. Companies have a tenancy of becoming this elitist entity that no longer feels the need to live under the constraints of polls and consumer feedback. When they fail they blame the customer that "they weren't smart enough to understand that this is what is best."

@damianrobertjones: of course it comes down to money, it always will, but more competition drives ingenuity and saves consumers money in the end.

It would take a major F-up on MS's part to lose businesses and MS Office, that is where MS makes their money. If they keep trying to shove Metro interfaces down our throat in 10 years time that will happen. I just cannot imagine Bill Gates, who is still on the board of directors and is majority stock holder, letting that happen.
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May 1, 2013 2:35:29 AM

I arrived, technically, a few minutes late for the talk. I figured you guys would rather have a shaky camera while I set up the tripod, than be missing part of the presentation. There realty wasn't enough time to get from one session to the other, especially since this one was in the hotel, not the convention center.
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May 8, 2013 4:18:21 AM

It's a shame though that Optimus support on Linux is still less than ideal. I use Bumblebee, but I still consider it more of a botch than a fix. Kernel 3.9 is the first to have rudimentary support, but it's not in the latest version of Ubuntu yet. Hopefully 13.10 will be the one, but It'll take time and polish.
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June 23, 2013 8:32:39 PM

and i was hoping lessons learned: release halflife 2 ep3 / halflife 3
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!