It looks like Valve has come up with an early Christmas present for Linux users. The company has made the Steam Linux beta open to all Linux users. All you have to do is go to the Steam website and download it.

The list of games on Steam Linux has grown too, with the newest additions being Killing Floor, The Book of Unwritten Tales and Amnesia. The total number of games on Steam for Linux users has now grown to 39.

Other changes made to the Steam for Linux beta include a fix for excessive CPU usage by the Steam client when running Team Fortress 2 and an improved interface for the Big Picture mode. You can get more details on the Steam Linux community page.

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The beta is now open to all Linux users

The Steam Linux beta had been kicked off back in November as a closed beta. Valve had announced that the studio has received over 60,000 entries for its request for testers.

Steam Linux operates on Ubuntu 12.04. “An overwhelming majority of beta applicants have reported they’re running the Ubuntu distro of Linux,” Steam Linux team member Frank Crockett wrote. “We intend to support additional popular distros in the future, and we’ll prioritize development for these based on user feedback.”

Valve had stated on a survey page—originally started to select candidates for the closed beta—that it was primarily interested in experienced Linux users. The survey needed you to have a registered Steam account and asks a number of questions to judge your expertise as well as the configuration of the Linux-based system you intend to run Steam on. The variety and specificity of the questions in the survey are probably so that Valve gets to beta test the client on a wide variety of hardware and software combinations.

The company had mentioned in its initial announcement of the Linux client that it was focusing on having a fully-featured Steam client running on Ubuntu 12.04. Valve stated that the reason it picked Ubuntu is because it wants to first work on a single distribution, as it reduces the variability of testing space and makes early iterations easier and faster. Another reason for picking Ubuntu is because it is one of the most popular distributions of Linux and “has recognition with the general gaming and developer communities.”

Valve had stated that on a considerably high end computer, Left 4 Dead 2 runs faster on Linux than on Windows. “Running Left 4 Dead 2 on Windows 7 with Direct3D drivers, we get 270.6 FPS as a baseline. The data is generated from an internal test case,” Valve said in a blog post.

The blog reports that originally, the initial port of Left 4 Dead 2 was only running at 6 FPS (frames per second). They then had to optimise the code to work better with the Linux kernel and OpenGL; they even had to optimise the graphics driver. After these modifications, the blog reports that Left 4 Dead 2 is running at 303.4 FPS on their high end testing machine. The tests were done on a machine running on Intel Core i7 3930k with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 GPU and 32GB of RAM. On the software side, they used Windows 7 Service Pack 1 64-bit and Ubuntu 12.04 32-bit.

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