Desura goes open source as Desurium

Desura goes open source as Desurium

The Desura digital distribution platform is now - partially, at least - open source under the GNU General Public Licence v3.

The creators of the Desura digital distribution platform have made a surprise announcement that should help differentiate the software from the pack: it's now available under an open source licence.

Similar to Valve's popular Steam platform, Desura allows users to buy downloadable copies of popular mainstream and independent PC games on both Windows and Linux platforms. In addition, the platform offers a selection of tools and utilities to game developers which enable them to embed Desura-specific functionality in their titles.

First released in 2009 by an Australian games company following a 'stealth' development period of two years, the platform has proven popular enough to be selected alongside Steam as one of the distribution methods for the Humble Bundle selection of independent games; largely, admittedly, thanks to the release of a native Linux client back in November.

Now, however, the Desura team is looking at a different way to improve the platform: open source development.

Forking the code base, the team has now released a clone of the client dubbed Desurium under the GPLv3 open-source licence. The aim, it is claimed, is to allow the community to add new features and address existing issues at a far faster rate than Desura's own developers could ever manage.

Fixes and features that make the grade will be merged back into the main Desura tree, improving the software for everyone across both Windows and Linux platforms.

It's a clever move, but one that doesn't mean you can take the software and launch your own digital distribution outfit: while the client source code is available for download, all art and sound assets remain Desura's property; the code for the server side software, meanwhile, will be staying closed-source.

If you're a coder and fancy a peek at how the client software works, however, the source for Desurium - named in homage to Google's Chrome closed-source and Chromium open-source browser projects - is live on code repository GitHub now.

Are you pleased to see gaming companies embracing an open source development methodology, or do you think this is the wrong way for Desura to attempt to compete with the mighty Steam? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
ffjason 24th January 2012, 19:00 Quote
Amazing - great move by the company. At the end of the day nothing bad can come from this, only good!!
syrioq 24th January 2012, 21:58 Quote
It might not be a silver bullet, but it's a good idea. As long as they follow through with the idea of merging improvements, I like it.
Bakes 24th January 2012, 22:25 Quote
Hm. From my knowledge of the GPL, this could cause problems. If they're planning on maintaining an open source, and closed source tree (implied by the article), where Desura is a closed source version of Desurium with more features or whatever, they may run into problems. Chromium is licensed under the BSD license, which effectively lets you do anything with the code - that's why they can take all the features into the closed-source Chrome. On the other hand, Desurium will be licensed under GPLv3, so they won't be so lucky - it's fine for their own code, which they can easily change the licenses of, but for the code of others, they will either have to publish the source of Desura (ie making Desura, Desurium), or not use it at all.
Originally Posted by ffjason
Amazing - great move by the company. At the end of the day nothing bad can come from this, only good!!
Well, I tend to be fairly cynical on the whole, but I'm not sure I agree. The upside of this for Desura is that they'll have to pay less towards development costs.

The upside for the developers is that they've spent their time improving a piece of software which, as it stands, exists solely for the purpose of purchasing. It's equivalent to Scan or eBuyer open-sourcing their web software to try and get people to look for fixes - sure, you're improving software, but in the end they'd just do it themselves, so you're not gaining much. It's like cutting off your left ear to make cutting off your right slightly less painful.

Of course, if you just want a credible Steam alternative, it's probably a great thing to contribute to.
yougotkicked 25th January 2012, 03:57 Quote
Brilliant. My biggest complaint about steam has always been how rigid their GUI is. As a bit of a coder myself, I love the idea of switching over to something I can readily modify and integrate into my other projects. Unfortunately I don't see a switch being feasible until the program gains popularity, and can contend with steam's social network.
johnnyboy700 25th January 2012, 11:33 Quote
Good luck to them, they have some good stuff on offer.

The Mods for a lot of my favourite game are generally very good, often as good as the original.
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