Oh happy day. As someone who resents leaving the safety of his Ubuntu desktop every time I want to play a game or do some benchmarking, today's headline from Phoronix.com is frankly the news I've been waiting for for years.
Valve has been recruiting for at least one Linux specialist to help port Windows games with this job ad since January. But it looks like they're getting very serious, and keen to push on with the project. Phoronix' Michael Larabel has received an email from Gabe himself asking for help head hunting.
The email to Larabel, which has been confirmed as genuine, reads:
We are running into a bunch of performance issues in Linux drivers (e.g. 50 millisecond draw calls because thedriver is compiling a shader).
We'd like to hire someone to work on these performance issues. If you know of anyone we should be talking to, I'd appreciate getting connected with them.
This isn't overly surprising, but it is reassuring. With the rapid rise of Android as a gaming platform, and recent changes to the Linux kernel which integrate Android code, there's every reason for developers to start treating open source more seriously. The Humble Indie Bundle has proven that there's a market for Linux gaming too, as grateful Tuxheads spending more than Mac users.
It could well be that they're looking for someone purely for internal testing and research with no firm plans to bring Steam or games to Linux yet. But neither the ad or the email seem particularly speculative.
I'd never be as foolish as to predict the rise of the Linux desktop, but the operating system is pervasive in other ways that might become a more common desktop alternative.