As part of a larger initiative to enhance the quality of gaming on Linux, the business is providing a sneak peek at an alternative method of packaging the widely used personal computer gaming platform.
The developer of the widely used Ubuntu Linux system, Canonical, has made an announcement regarding the early availability of a Snap package for the digital distribution platform Steam. The new version is being released at the same time as Steam maker Valve and Canonical are making a significant push into the Linux gaming market.
Ubuntu Aims to Streamline Linux Gaming With Steam Snap
The Ubuntu desktop team is making a significant effort to enhance the gaming experience on Ubuntu, and the Snap version of Steam is a part of that effort. In a post on the official Ubuntu blog, Canonical product manager Oliver Smith made the following announcement about the Steam Snap:
At Canonical we’ve been anticipating “the Year of Linux Gaming” for about as long as we’ve been waiting for Half-Life 3, but it’s never seemed as close before as it does now in 2022.
Even while Ubuntu has previously made Steam available through its package manager, the Snap version of Steam represents a significant shift in the way that Steam is distributed. Snap is a more recent package management system that was created for Ubuntu by Canonical. Snaps are completely self-contained packages that are disconnected from the underlying operating system and contain all of the necessary dependencies for an application to function properly. The current iteration of APT retrieves dependencies in the form of individual components.
Users of Ubuntu can acquire the early access version by downloading it from the Snap shop.
Ubuntu’s Steam Move Comes Amid Snap Controversy
Snap has been met with backlash from consumers due to speed difficulties, despite the fact that it makes it simpler for developers to distribute their programs for Ubuntu. It appears that the size of the Snaps, which causes applications to load more slowly, is to blame for this issue. The most recent version of Ubuntu, version 22.04, which goes by the codename “Jammy Jellyfish,” has come under fire for converting the Mozilla Firefox package into a Snap format.
Given that performance is typically at the top of the list of concerns for gamers, it is possible that a similar issue may arise in the event that Canonical decides to completely move Steam from an APT package to Snap.
Canonical and Valve Aim Steam at the Linux Gaming Community
The action taken by Canonical appears to point to a rising interest in gaming on Linux. Smith said that Canonical was recruiting additional developers in order to enhance Ubuntu’s capabilities for gaming. In addition to this, the organization is looking for feedback from gamers regarding how it can enhance the system. Changes to the system’s drivers and kernel are the primary focus of Canonical’s efforts.
According to a survey conducted by Valve in March 2022 called the Steam User Survey, 96 percent of Steam’s users use some version of the Microsoft Windows operating system on their computers. Linux users make up only one percent of all Steam users; nevertheless, Ubuntu 20.04 was the most popular distribution among Linux users, accounting for around 13 percent. Other entrants, such as Linux Mint and Pop! OS, are based on Ubuntu, which demonstrates how large of a market share Ubuntu has in desktop Linux. Because of this, it makes perfect sense to focus on Ubuntu for gaming-related enhancements.
Survey conducted on Steam displaying Linux distributions
Valve has been a supporter of Linux gaming for a very long time, and they just released the portable Steam Deck, which comes in a variety of different configurations. While earlier iterations of SteamOS were constructed on Debian, the Steam Deck runs a customized version of Arch Linux that has been given the name “SteamOS 3.0.” The Linux distribution of Steam comes with a compatibility layer called Proton, which allows users to play native Windows games even if such games have not been converted to Linux.
According to GamingOnLinux, there are over 6,000 games that are compatible with Linux that can be downloaded via Steam. This is despite the fact that the number of games that are native to Linux being far lower than the number of games that are accessible for Windows. It’s possible that the increased availability of cross-platform programming tools that support Linux, like Unity, has had a role in this.
What Kind of Role Will Steam and Ubuntu Play in the Gaming Industry?
Given that Windows is the preeminent operating system for playing games on a personal computer, it is unclear how much of a return on investment Ubuntu and Steam will see from their investments in Linux gaming. There are many distinct distributions of Linux, which has already led to market fragmentation in the desktop space. This category includes distributions that have been tailored specifically for gaming.