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Valve boss Gabe Newell on Linux in the living room, more info next week


Valve has long touted the power of Linux as a gaming and networking platform, but at LinuxCon 2013 bossman Gabe Newell was really able to let his Linux love fly. He takes the crowd on a tour of gaming history, and how Valve is addressing the connected living room with the Steam Box and Steam Big Picture mode.

Big Picture modifies the desk-focused UI of Steam for a couch-bound audience, making menus and games accessible with a controller. The Steam Box is the hardware extrapolation of Big Picture, putting a Linux-run PC that unifies mobile, desktop and living room technologies in a common family area. This unification is something other platforms can't do, Newell said.

"Yes, in fact, you can take everything that you liked about your PC and get it to work in your living room – that's called Big Picture," Newell said. "Our next step, having done these other pieces, is now on the hardware side. There are sets of issues to making sure that whatever computing platform you have works well in a living room environment. There are thermal issues and sound issues, but there are also a bunch of input issues. The next step in our contribution to this is to release some work we've done on the hardware side."

Next week Valve will release more information about its approach to unifying technologies and it will outline "the hardware opportunities that we see for bringing Linux into the living room," Newell said. In March, Newell said customers would see some Steam Box prototypes within four months.

Other fun facts: Valve is developing a Linux debugger alongside its LLVM debugger, and when it updates a game such as Dota 2, Valve generates up to 3 percent of the worldwide LAN-based IP traffic.

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