Valve has just announced the release of SteamOS, a new Linux distribution based around the Steam gaming client.
Valve has split its announcement in three distinct parts and the first one has taken everyone by surprise. All the gaming community was thinking that a new Steam Box is in the works, and this is probably still true, but no one suspected that Valve is also developing an operating system.
“As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we've come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself.”
“SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines,” reads the official announcement on Valve’s website.
There is no mention if the distribution has been developed from the ground up or if it’s based on something that is already working. It wouldn't be too surprising if SteamOS is based on Ubuntu, but given their recent Mir forays, it seems unlikely.
Valve has deliberately been rather vague about the pedigree of the distribution, but we have to read between the lines.
“In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level. Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases,” is also stated in the announcement.
This could mean a number of things, from collaboration with the developers of the base distro, to the collaboration with major hardware vendors such as Nvidia and AMD.
SteamOS will also come with some interesting new features such as In-home Streaming that will help users play their Windows and Mac games with ease.
The new Linux distribution from Valve doesn't have a download link yet, but the developers have promised that one will be available soon and that it will be completely free. Forever.