Valve's collection of Linux-friendly games has grown. On Friday, the developer announced a Left 4 Dead 2 beta for the alternative OS. The beta is available now, and so are authoring tools and dedicated server software.
In addition to bringing L4D2 to Linux, the beta includes a handful of fixes and enhancements. Those tweaks can also be found in fresh beta versions of the game for Windows and Mac clients. The beta shows up as a separate game in the Steam library, so you'll need to download the whole thing to get a taste.
If you prefer puzzle solving to zombie smashing, you might be pleased to know that Portal has made its way to Linux, as well. Linux support comes courtesy of a new beta, which works with Steam's updated content delivery system. The beta is accessible to Windows and OS X users, but not as a separate library item. Instead, you have to right-click on the game, select properties, click the beta tab, and select the SteamPipe beta.
Thus far, it looks like Portal 2 remains limited to Windows and Mac versions of Steam. It's probably coming to Linux before long, though. Valve may need a little extra time to port the game's puzzle creator to the open-source OS. Interestingly, Valve credits the "efficiencies [it was] able to achieve with Linux" with enabling the Left 4 Dead 2 beta to be released "as planned." Perhaps shifting Episode 3 development to Linux would help to accelerate the arrival of the next chapter in the Half-Life franchise.
The original Half-Life has been ported to Linux already, as have Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, and several other Valve games. This padding of the Linux library is likely part of preparations for the Steam Box console, which is expected to run the OS. Valve's entire catalog will probably be available for Linux before long. The question is whether any other big-name developers will follow suit. There are over 100 Linux titles on Steam right now, but most of them are smaller games from indie developers. The Steam Box may have to stream games from a Windows-equipped PC if it wants to offer a similar selection of blockbusters to next-generation consoles.
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