There's an update over on Valve's Linux blog (opens in new tab) that the Steam for Linux beta is less than five weeks away, as the team there reckon they'll have something to show outsiders running Ubuntu 12.04 (opens in new tab) 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 closed testing.
The worse news, personally, is that my PC is going to be stashed in a shipping container and sailing at least two of the seven seas for most of October. Bah.
There's no details about how to sign up for the beta yet, which will apparently include “One Valve game” - presumably Left4Dead 2. You'll just have to keep an eye out and prepare your penguins - they're not looking for newcomers to Linux to test the initial client.
Coincidentally, I've been enjoying Black Mesa (opens in new tab) on a low end Ubuntu 12.04 laptop recently, using Wine to run the Windows code. Despite using Intel integrated graphics, it's running at a fairly playable rate with only one adjustment needed in the Wine control panel to enable audio. It's ridiculously easy to set up and not a bad introduction to Linux gaming if you do fancy trying it out.
Ubuntu, on the other hand, fell out of favour last week when Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth revealed that as of the next version (12.10, also due in October) the desktop search function will add affiliate links to Amazon to results (opens in new tab) . Here's hoping Valve's plan to support other distros is coming on apace too.