Valve had announced last month that it is working on porting its popular digital distribution platform for games, Steam, to Linux. The company was also all set to port Left 4 Dead 2 to Ubuntu, because Steam would be a bit pointless if there weren’t any games on it.
Valve had started a developer blog dedicated to the project. “Avoid the rumors and speculations that multiply on the Web. Instead, come to the source – a blog where people who are interested in Linux and open source game development can get the latest information on Valve’s efforts in this arena,” says the first post on the blog.
According to a new post on the developer blog, on a considerably high end computer, Left 4 Dead 2 runs faster on Linux than on Windows. “We are using a 32-bit version of Linux temporarily and will run on 64-bit Linux later.” The blog post continues, “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.”
The popular zombie shooter
The blog reports that originally, the initial port of Left 4 Dead 2 was only running at 6 FPS. They then had to optimize the code to work better with the Linux kernel and OpenGL; they even had to optimize 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.
The first post on the blog stated that Gabe Newell, head of Valve, had been interested in the possibility of moving Steam and the Source Engine to Linux. It continues, “At the time, the company was already using Linux by supporting Linux-based servers for Source-based games and also by maintaining several internal servers (running a 64-bit version of Ubuntu server) for various projects. In 2011, based on the success of those efforts and conversations in the hallway, we decided to take the next step and form a new team. At that time, the team only consisted of a few people whose main purpose was investigating the possibility of moving the Steam client and Left 4 Dead 2 over to Ubuntu.”
The reason they picked Ubuntu is because they want 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 will be posting more entries to the blog as development of their platform on Linux continues.