It’s been a rough few days for Linux gaming, but the battle is over. In response to Canonical’s change of plans around 32-bit compatibility libraries, Valve has announced it will “likely” support Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS.
Following Canonical’s statement after “the huge amount of feedback this weekend,” Valve’s statement was posted by developer Pierre-Loup on the Steam forums on June 26. He explains the entire situation:
In response to the concerns raised by ourselves and the wider community, the Ubuntu project recently discussed a more conservative approach wherein a selection of 32-bit libraries would still be available on the host system, through at least 20.04 LTS. We’re still not particularly excited about the removal of any existing functionality, but such a change to the plan is extremely welcome… Given the information we have on this new approach so far, it seems likely that we will be able to continue to officially support Steam on Ubuntu.
However, things aren’t all rosy for Ubuntu. Valve currently recommends Ubuntu to Linux gamers as the preferred officially supported Linux distribution. That may change going forward:
The Linux landscape has changed dramatically since we released the initial version of Steam for Linux, and as such, we are re-thinking how we want to approach distribution support going forward. There are several distributions on the market today that offer a great gaming desktop experience such as Arch Linux, Manjaro, Pop!_OS, Fedora, and many others. We’ll be working closer with many more distribution maintainers in the future…
That all being said, we don’t have anything specific to announce at this time regarding what distribution(s) will be supported in the future; expect more news on that front in the coming months.
While Valve isn’t thrilled about Ubuntu’s likely plan to drop compatibility with legacy 32-bit software after Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, there are no immediate changes to announce. Linux gamers can keep using the next few releases of Ubuntu to run Steam’s library of games. The community has been heard.
Both Canonical and Valve’s entire statements are worth a read if you’re interested in this topic. Thanks to OMG! Ubuntu for spotting this.