6 portable Windows tools for USB thumb drives

PC Gamer at

A USB thumbdrive can be a lot of things—a backup of important photos, a quick transfer device for big files, a cheap way to give out documents. It can also be a Swiss Army knife of portable software, filled with software that runs straight off the USB drive. These tools can be useful for working with computers you can’t install your own software on, or laptops that have dropped the CD drive for a thinner chassis. Our colleagues at TechRadar have covered a variety of portable tools, and we’ve put together six we recommend below. Make your own USB Swiss Army knife.

Living with Linux: how open-source OS gaming stacks up against Windows

Craig Pearson at

2013 has been a big year for Linux gaming. For the first time, there's a glimmer of hope for a gaming future for the OS. Games are being built in Unity, being sold in Humble Bundles (which tend to require Linux versions), and though it's more of a trickle than a flood, things are picking up a little. And then there's Steam. Valve's push towards Linux, with an existing Steam client as well as a Linux-based OS in the works, mirrors my own frustrations with Windows: I'd quite like an OS that's not going to completely change shape, size, colour, and usability when it comes time to upgrade it, but I'd like to have a supported OS as well. So once a year I'll try out Linux's friendliest face, Ubuntu. Is this the year it stays on my PC*?

My initial plan was to dual-boot my Windows 7 desktop with the latest version of Ubuntu. I have a laptop with Nvidia Optimus (it has two GFX cards: one Intel card for undemanding chores, then it swaps to the Nvidia card when it needs more power), and the driver support for that in Windows is a mess, so I didn't imagine Ubuntu mobile drivers would fare any better. But Ubuntu just didn't want to install where I wanted it to install on my desktop. No matter what I tried, it would attempt to squeeze onto a hard-drive that ultimately wouldn't allow it to boot. This left me with little option but to make room on the Optimus laptop and install it there. After a relatively painless few minutes, I was dual-booting PC with Windows 7 and Ubuntu 13.10. So far so good.

Steam's December hardware survey shows early Linux take-up

Phil Savage at

Valve's monthly Steam hardware survey/tech-peen comparison chart has been updated to reflect what users have been playing on through December. The big change this month is the emergence of Linux, after the open-source OS went into full public beta at the tail-end of last year.

Steam Linux now available for everyone

Phil Savage at

There's a large penguin on Steam's about page, so either TF2 has got itself a surprising 10th class, or Valve have released Steam's experiments in Linux delivery to the public.

It's the latter (although I really wouldn't put it past the TF2 team). Now anyone can join the Steam Linux beta, simply by clicking the install button from one of the relevant operating systems.

Steam begins listing Linux system requirements on some game pages

Phil Savage at

OMG! Ubuntu are reporting that Valve have started listing Linux system requirements on Steam's game pages, possibly hinting that the company is preparing for an official Steam Linux release.

Steam for Linux needs beta testers, Left 4 Dead 2 Steam Workshop closed beta "this week"

Tom Senior at

Valve are seeking "experienced Linux users" to test the Linux version of Steam. This will be the test that Valve talked about back in September, which means that the Linux Steam client, one Valve game and "support for Ubuntu 12.04 and above" will be extended to 1,000 lucky applicants who manage to survive this survey.

Steam on Linux beta seemingly going live later this week

T.J. Hafer at

A request to developers of popular Linux distro Ubuntu seems to have revealed that Steam for Linux will launch some time this week. OMGUbuntu.co.uk spotted the correspondence, in which Canonical employee BryceH asked for some technical information about the distro citing, "These [details] are needed for the Valve Steam release that happens in a few days."

Steam for Linux beta due in October

Adam Oxford at

There’s an update over on Valve’s Linux blog that the Steam for Linux beta is less than five weeks away, and the team reckon they’ll have something to show outsiders running Ubuntu 12.04 or 12.10 by the end of October.

That’s the good news. The bad is that it’ll be restricted to 1,000 users for the first stage of testing.

Valve Linux bringing Steam and Left 4 Dead 2 to Ubuntu

Tom Senior at

A new official blog called Valve Linux has popped up, put together by an 11-strong team of developers on a mission to "strengthen the gaming scene on Linux, both for players and developers. This includes Linux ports of Steam and Valve games, as well as partner games. We are also investigating open source initiatives that could benefit the community and game developers."

The team was set up last year, and have been experimenting with porting Steam and Left 4 Dead 2 over to popular Linux operating system, Ubuntu. "We’re just starting development and working with a single distribution is critical when you are experimenting, as we are. It reduces the variability of the testing space and makes early iteration easier and faster," say Valve.