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Valve hits Left 4 Dead 2 performance high - on Linux

Valve hits Left 4 Dead 2 performance high - on Linux

Valve's work on Left 4 Dead 2 has it running faster under Linux than it does under Windows, proving that the open-source operating system can be good for gamers.

Valve has released more information regarding its efforts to port zombie-killing shooter Left 4 Dead 2 and its Steam digital distribution platform to Linux - including the interesting fact that performance is better than under Windows.

Comparing the 32-bit build of Ubuntu Linux 12.04 to the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 64-bit release, both running on a Core i7 3930K with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 and 32GB of RAM, the results were initially slightly disappointing: where the DirectX-powered Windows version of Left 4 Dead 2 managed an average of 270.6 frames per second, the OpenGL-powered Linux version managed just six frames per second.

'This is typical of an initial successful port to a new platform,' the team explained in a blog post on the matter, stating that work then began on modifying the game to work better with OpenGL, the Linux kernel, and tweaking the graphics driver to help boost performance still further.

As a result of changes made to the Source engine - including reducing overheads in calling OpenGL and switching to a Linux-friendly small-block heap memory allocation system - the performance rose significantly. Following the conclusion of testing, the Linux version of Left 4 Dead 2 was running at 315FPS compared to 270.6FPS on Windows.

'That the Linux version runs faster than the Windows version (270.6) seems a little counter-intuitive, given the greater amount of time we have spent on the Windows version,' the team explained. 'However, it does speak to the underlying efficiency of the kernel and OpenGL. Interestingly, in the process of working with hardware vendors we also sped up the OpenGL implementation on Windows: Left 4 Dead 2 is now running at 303.4 FPS with that configuration.'

The improved performance for the OpenGL-based run compared to the DirectX-based run, the team claimed, is the result of a previously unnoticed overhead in Direct3D which adds a few microseconds to each batch. Although small, these delays soon add up - which explains the differing performance between the DirectX and OpenGL versions on Windows. 'Now that we know the hardware is capable of more performance, we will go back and figure out how to mitigate this effect under Direct3D,' the team added.

Finally, the Valve Linux team explained that they have been working closely with Nvidia, AMD and Intel to boost graphics performance for their respective hardware under Linux. 'They have all been great to work with,' the team claimed - Torvalds' experiences to the contrary - 'and have been very committed to having engineers on-site working with our engineers, carefully analysing the data we see. We have had very rapid turnaround on any bugs we find and it has been invaluable to have people who understand the game, the renderer, the driver, and the hardware working alongside us when attacking these performance issues.'

With Valve proving that gaming on Linux can equal or better the Windows experience, more developers are likely to follow suit and pile in on the Steam for Linux launch.

84 Comments

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Phalanx 2nd August 2012, 10:41 Quote
So, what you're ACTUALLY saying, Valve, is DirectX is worse than OpenGL....

We knew that already.
will_123 2nd August 2012, 10:42 Quote
Great news! Just read this on twitter a minute ago. Scary performance increase. Lets hope they can keep improving the performance. Hopefully more devs see that there is gains to be had developing for Linux as well as windows.
GeorgeStorm 2nd August 2012, 10:47 Quote
Hopefully it won't be long before all the sources games will be running awesomely :D

Will be keeping an eye on their progress.
Rich_13 2nd August 2012, 11:05 Quote
To be honest this is a load of rubbish. Did they do like for like performance testing with the same graphics feature sets? I am all in favour for OpenGL support and a AAA grade company focusing on the Linux platform but all the trash talking seems to just be an excuse to build up the platform.

It'll be interesting to see how OpenGL keeps up with developers demands on them. 4.2 is nearly a year old!
http://www.opengl.org/documentation/current_version/
Gareth Halfacree 2nd August 2012, 11:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_13
It'll be interesting to see how OpenGL keeps up with developers demands on them. 4.2 is nearly a year old! http://www.opengl.org/documentation/current_version/
A year old? My god! Valve should give up on such an outdated platform and dedicate themselves to DirectX11 immediately! You know, the DirectX11 which was released in 2008 - four years ago.
Phalanx 2nd August 2012, 11:24 Quote
I remember the days when games used to give you the choice to pick your rendering engine. I always used OpenGL as it was faster and more streamlined. Things haven't changed, apart from lazy developers who want the easy package of DirectX.
impar 2nd August 2012, 11:33 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
A year old? My god! Valve should give up on such an outdated platform and dedicate themselves to DirectX11 immediately! You know, the DirectX11 which was released in 2008 - four years ago.
A bit caustic reply from a staff member but funny anyways. :D
Gareth Halfacree 2nd August 2012, 11:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
A bit caustic reply from a staff member but funny anyways. :D
Meh. I'm a freelancer, and I ain't had my morning coffee yet. Plus, I'd say more sarcastic than caustic, but I'm never the best judge of these things.
will_123 2nd August 2012, 11:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Meh. I'm a freelancer, and I ain't had my morning coffee yet. Plus, I'd say more sarcastic than caustic, but I'm never the best judge of these things.

It highly amused me!
XXAOSICXX 2nd August 2012, 11:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by will_123
Scary performance increase.

I would hardly call a ~3.5% increase in performance "scary"...
Guinevere 2nd August 2012, 12:01 Quote
303FPS vs 315FPS? (OpenGL figures)

So under these tests linux is 3% faster? And on this game and in this resolution both can generate a higher FPS figure than anyone will ever need?

Nice test Valve, now update your damn tools and game catalogue and test again using a modern game engine!

Still 3% is 3%... it's just a shame that linux is linux.
will_123 2nd August 2012, 12:03 Quote
270 fps to 315 is very impressive in my opinion? maybe scary was not the correct word. But very its a very impressive increase in frame rates.
Gareth Halfacree 2nd August 2012, 12:05 Quote
Remember that the Windows OpenGL version only gets 303FPS thanks to work done on the Linux OpenGL version - before that, the best performance was 270FPS from the DirectX version. So you're not looking at a 3% performance increase, but a 16-ish per cent performance increase under Linux/OpenGL compared to Windows/DirectX.
Elton 2nd August 2012, 12:13 Quote
I have a feeling it might be attributed to overhead more than anything else.
Action_Parsnip 2nd August 2012, 12:40 Quote
What Valve are actually saying is OpenGL is more efficient than DirectX 9. That DX9 is inefficient, was a known fact before this day.
maverik-sg1 2nd August 2012, 12:49 Quote
How important is an increase from 270 to 315fps - I guess if I had a 315hz TV it would be smooth, my eyes can only process around 60fps.

It's interesting because a linux code/OPENGL combo is important for several reasons I suspect - I assume the single most important part will be the ability to fast port PC games based on linux to Android (phones/consoles/tablets), the openGL driver will enable a faster port to iOS (iphone, ipad, imac, ipod).

Microsofts windows8 platform is attempting to gain massive share into the phone/tablet market at the same time the android/linux camp are pushing hard into the consumer PC market.... let teh games begin, but please stop trying to make my PC display look like a smartphone, when I don't use a touchscreen for my PC.
will_123 2nd August 2012, 13:23 Quote
Quote:
How important is an increase from 270 to 315fps - I guess if I had a 315hz TV it would be smooth, my eyes can only process around 60fps.

Maybe its not important in this case but when you are not on a GTX 680 the performance increases from OpenGL could be a very good thing!
Phalanx 2nd August 2012, 13:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Action_Parsnip
What Valve are actually saying is OpenGL is more efficient than DirectX 9. That DX9 is inefficient, was a known fact before this day.

Ah that's a point, L4D is DX9 isn't it, as it runs on XP!
dyzophoria 2nd August 2012, 13:50 Quote
after their calling windows 8 a catastrophe because of the windows store, I can't help but wonder if the only reason HL2 is faster is because they wanted it to be faster :))
BLC 2nd August 2012, 14:36 Quote
It's an excellent step forward, but sadly this only applies to games utilising the Source engine. The problem remains that many games utilise DirectX, which cannot be used outside of Windows.

Just wanted to pick up on this:
Quote:
Finally, the Valve Linux team explained that they have been working closely with Nvidia, AMD and Intel to boost graphics performance for their respective hardware under Linux. 'They have all been great to work with,' the team claimed - Torvalds' experiences to the contrary - 'and have been very committed to having engineers on-site working with our engineers, carefully analysing the data we see.

I really don't want to make this sound like open source zealotry - or a criticism of the article - but this is being looked at from a different perspective than Torvalds. Valve don't need to give a toss about everything being open source, as long as the implementation is there and it performs well. Should Valve really care that the closed-source code for official Nvidia drivers cannot be integrated into the open-source kernel and need to be distributed as a pre-compiled binary with a proprietary license? Nvidia have a vested interest in making their products perform well under linux, so I can imagine that they're more than happy to cooperate with and support game developers.
Shirty 2nd August 2012, 14:45 Quote
Never stop posting Gareth, your acerbic defences of your journalistic integrity always see me reading comment threads these days, even when I have absolutely zero interest in what I'm reading about (like this article - no offence) :)
lysaer 2nd August 2012, 14:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phalanx
I remember the days when games used to give you the choice to pick your rendering engine. I always used OpenGL as it was faster and more streamlined. Things haven't changed, apart from lazy developers who want the easy package of DirectX.

Glide > all !

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2
Scarlet0pimp 2nd August 2012, 15:41 Quote
Sounds like Valve is just bitter to me.
Worried about the Windows 8 Market place.
Dont worry i'll still by my games from Steam.
GoodBytes 2nd August 2012, 15:50 Quote
I don't see anything to be exited about.
All they did, and they say it, they took more time, to optimize the game. I am sure a lot of optimization they did could have been applied to the Windows version. Also, the performance difference isn't large, it's less than 4%

Blizzard released it's big update for SC2. Before I was unable to play SC2, anything above medium-high with my GTX 260. Now I play smoothly, 60fps at worst, at ultra settings. Games can always be optimized further.
danger89 2nd August 2012, 16:06 Quote
Ow very nice, can't wait I only need Linux for gaming, video editing, sound editing, image editing. A world without Windows, how cool is that :D
fallenphoenix 2nd August 2012, 16:17 Quote
Win7-x64/D3D9* = 270.6 fps
Win7-x64/OpenGL = 303.4 fps
Ubuntu-x86/OpenGL = 315 fps

So we're seeing ~3.7% difference on both systems, which is nothing to sneeze at but probably isn't attributable to the difference in rendering APIs.
Initially, I thought that difference might be explained by the slight overhead associated with a 64-bit process, but I remembered L4D2 is a 32-bit application and really has no need to be 64-bit as it stands.
I will readily admit my lack of experience with OpenGL. Basically I know the RH/LH coordinate space difference, and I leave the rest to the open source gurus.

I'm not trying to defend MS or the DX API, and I have some significant criticisms of both if given an appropriate forum. On the Linux front, I've been a user and fan since 2004/2005 when it was seriously introduced to me by a co-worker (thanks Steven!). Still, as a computer science graduate student, it is my nature to question results such as this that are presented as scientific; especially when they're used to claim X is better than Y.

EDIT: Almost forgot! Rewriting the memory allocation system to be Linux optimal isn't exactly a trivial task either. To head off the logical response, the way Linux handles memory isn't better/worse than the way Windows does, it's just a different decision that tends to perform better in certain situations.


*DirectX 9.0c (latest update to D3D9) was released way back in mid-late 2004, and still underpins (IIRC) the majority of titles today. The 360 uses a variant of DX9, and with a few notable exceptions, cross-platform titles stick to the DX9 feature set. Of note, I've read the PS3 uses a form of OpenGL, but I don't have any hands-on experience with the PS3 to know for sure.
faugusztin 2nd August 2012, 16:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fallenphoenix
Win7-x64/D3D9* = 303.4 fps
Ubuntu-x86/OpenGL = 315 fps

Wrong.

Win7-x64/D3D9* = 270.6 fps
Win7-x64/OpenGL = 303.4 fps
Ubuntu-x86/OpenGL = 315 fps
Phalanx 2nd August 2012, 16:33 Quote
Would be interesting to see a OpenGL 4.2 / DirectX 11 comparison.
fallenphoenix 2nd August 2012, 16:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
Wrong.

Win7-x64/D3D9* = 270.6 fps
Win7-x64/OpenGL = 303.4 fps
Ubuntu-x86/OpenGL = 315 fps

Good catch, thanks. I'll edit my post to fix that.
j_jay4 2nd August 2012, 16:39 Quote
This might be a crazy idea but is there anything stopping Valve making their own version of Linux specifically designed to run games, especially if it runs them faster?

I can image this working brilliantly as a dual boot setup as I personally rarely multitask during gaming sessions and chat and a browser are already built into Steam anyway so I don't think you would miss Windows whilst playing games.

Plus this could then be used in Valve based consoles etc, they have got a ten times better catalogue of games compared to the other consoles.

I think I'm on to something. Valve should pay me.
BLC 2nd August 2012, 16:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by j_jay4
This might be a crazy idea but is there anything stopping Valve making their own version of Linux specifically designed to run games, especially if it runs them faster?

I can image this working brilliantly as a dual boot setup as I personally rarely multitask during gaming sessions and chat and a browser are already built into Steam anyway so I don't think you would miss Windows whilst playing games.

Plus this could then be used in Valve based consoles etc, they have got a ten times better catalogue of games compared to the other consoles.

I think I'm on to something. Valve should pay me.

Of course not - nothing stopping them at all. I could create my own linux distro, if I wanted to. Whether or not Valve would want to put in all that effort for very little reward is another matter.

Besides, there are already plenty of lightweight, stripped-down distributions of Linux available already. My laptop runs one of them: Lubuntu.
Jimbob 2nd August 2012, 16:48 Quote
It's nice to know that an updated version of OpenGL is better than a 12 year old version of DirectX. Let's not forget that until they significantly optimised OpenGL and the game it was only 6fps.
Phalanx 2nd August 2012, 16:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbob
Let's not forget that until they significantly optimised OpenGL and the game it was only 6fps.

Sauce please...
Jimbob 2nd August 2012, 17:12 Quote
Erm, the top of this page!
Phil Rhodes 2nd August 2012, 17:14 Quote
Yes, this is about GL, not DirectX. The way the Linux kernel does timeslicing is actually somewhat less ideal for multithreaded (assuming it is multithreaded) or pseudo-realtime things like video games, not that you'd particularly notice on a modern rig.

GL does a lot less than DirectX. It is therefore faster.
Virus44 2nd August 2012, 17:14 Quote
Interesting will keep an eye out for other games which may follow this path.
Phalanx 2nd August 2012, 17:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbob
Erm, the top of this page!

Sorry, I don't see the part mentioning the 6FPS. I must be blind.

*goes to get glasses*

Where is it mate?
Malfrex 2nd August 2012, 17:43 Quote
I find it interesting that although people are focusing on the DX9 vs OpenGL debate, they are ignoring the fact the test was also Win 7 x64 vs Ubuntu 32-bit. That means the game isn't able to address the greater memory space available, which could still further performance a little bit.

In the end, I like the fact we are given a choice and that this will (hopefully) help OpenGL gain traction again. I know the consortium basically let MS kill off OpenGL by letting it stagnate for a long time but it has corrected itself and can do just as much as DX11 can, in some cases more.
RichCreedy 2nd August 2012, 18:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phalanx
Sauce please...

Tomato or brown ? or did you mean source? which was in the article.

wait til win8 comes out and see if there is a performance boost in that, or try in win8 preview, there have been reports of improved speeds with it already.
ferret141 2nd August 2012, 18:15 Quote
This has me thinking about the Raspberry Pi. L4D2 won't run on an ARM core will it?
GoodBytes 2nd August 2012, 18:15 Quote
I would like to note for everyone... that Valve got some help directly from Nvidia. Nvidia has a special assembly level tools and knowledge of their chip, so they help Valve like no tomorrow to get the performance. PLUS, possibly new drivers from Nvidia that does some optimization for this game... and as it's preaty much the only game, or engine for Linux... it's quiet easy to do optimization for, as you don't need to concern about breaking or dropping performance from other games.

When Left for Dead 2 was developer for Windows, they didn't have that kind of special support. So in others words, Valve was able to push to extremes OpenGL under Linux. And what did they get? Not even 4% increase. That's seriously not impressive.
Star*Dagger 2nd August 2012, 19:29 Quote
I did not believe all that End of the World bunk around 2012 until now!

Linux Gaming!

The Fall of Wintel is Nigh!

Yours in End Times Plasma,
Star*Dagger
azrael- 2nd August 2012, 19:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
I would like to note for everyone... that Valve got some help directly from Nvidia. Nvidia has a special assembly level tools and knowledge of their chip, so they help Valve like no tomorrow to get the performance. PLUS, possibly new drivers from Nvidia that does some optimization for this game... and as it's preaty much the only game, or engine for Linux... it's quiet easy to do optimization for, as you don't need to concern about breaking or dropping performance from other games.

When Left for Dead 2 was developer for Windows, they didn't have that kind of special support. So in others words, Valve was able to push to extremes OpenGL under Linux. And what did they get? Not even 4% increase. That's seriously not impressive.
And by "not even 4% increase" you actually mean about 16%, because you really should compare the Windows/D3D frame rate with the Linux/OGL frame rate. I'm sure if the article had concerned Microsoft's efforts optimizing Windows 8, or any Windows version for that matter, there'd be no end of you talking this up.

I also love how you pretty much give nVidia all the credit, such as you deem it, for this achievement. I'm sure they've been helpful, as has AMD probably, but that doesn't mean that Valve should be deprived of its credit for this.

I, for one, believe what Valve is doing here is remarkable and laudable, even though I use Windows on a daily basis both at work and at home. Actually, I have hardly used any sort of *NIX since my college days, which was a fair few years ago. I also do not use Mac OSX and actually have an intense dislike for Apple, but I still applaud Valve for getting STEAM to the Mac. The reason? I love choice. And there's really no downside in Valve's efforts on the Linux front.
Star*Dagger 2nd August 2012, 20:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by j_jay4
This might be a crazy idea but is there anything stopping Valve making their own version of Linux specifically designed to run games, especially if it runs them faster?

I can image this working brilliantly as a dual boot setup as I personally rarely multitask during gaming sessions and chat and a browser are already built into Steam anyway so I don't think you would miss Windows whilst playing games.

Plus this could then be used in Valve based consoles etc, they have got a ten times better catalogue of games compared to the other consoles.

I think I'm on to something. Valve should pay me.

I long for that most resplendent day, foretold in the books of the Messengers, whereupon we will be delivered up from the bondage of Redmond. All True Gamers will raise their voices in 7.1 surround sound Trumpets and yell in one voice, "Free at last, Free at last, thank Torvalds, we are free at last!"

Praise be to the Newell and the Torvalds!

Yours in Exodus from Redmond Plasma,
Star*Dagger
dancingbear84 2nd August 2012, 20:17 Quote
3% is a big enough amount. Anyone who disagrees is welcome to give me 3% of their wages.
That said if it was 3% worse than the windows frame rate would anyone be slating it, or would you be impressed at the fact they achieved it.
Competition is great, it encourages innovation. The rise of linux, the rise of ARM, hell even the rise of apple (even though I hate them) can only be good for consumers. Now if only AMD can pull something awesome out the bag we could be in for an interesting 2013.
Sloth 2nd August 2012, 20:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
I long for that most resplendent day, foretold in the books of the Messengers, whereupon we will be delivered up from the bondage of Redmond. All True Gamers will raise their voices in 7.1 surround sound Trumpets and yell in one voice, "Free at last, Free at last, thank Torvalds, we are free at last!"

Praise be to the Newell and the Torvalds!

Yours in Exodus from Redmond Plasma,
Star*Dagger
It would be pretty ironic if we were freed from "the bondage of Redmond" by Valve, a company whose headquarters is just a short bus ride away from Microsoft. :D
thogil 2nd August 2012, 20:31 Quote
Valve need to learn how to implement instancing.
XXAOSICXX 2nd August 2012, 21:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
you really should compare the Windows/D3D frame rate with the Linux/OGL frame rate.

Why? If you were trying to compare performance with any hope of deriving meaningful data you would need only one variable - in this instance the host OS. Windows/OGL vs Linux/OGL is a useful comparison (except that it's actually not, since they didn't use 64-bit OS's for both anyway).

By way of an analogy, if you had two F1 cars you wished to compare you'd use the same driver AND the same track.

Changing either the driver or the track and then comparing the two cars would give you unreliable data.

The same applies here.
azrael- 2nd August 2012, 21:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX
Why? If you were trying to compare performance with any hope of deriving meaningful data you would need only one variable - in this instance the host OS. Windows/OGL vs Linux/OGL is a useful comparison (except that it's actually not, since they didn't use 64-bit OS's for both anyway).

By way of an analogy, if you had two F1 cars you wished to compare you'd use the same driver AND the same track.

Changing either the driver or the track and then comparing the two cars would give you unreliable data.

The same applies here.
As far as I know L4D2 was made for D3D on Windows. OGL only came as an option later. Probably when it was ported for OSX, but I'm not at all sure here. Truth be told I didn't even know you could use anything but D3D on Windows and I wouldn't be surprised if that is also true for the majority of users. Given that, I believe it is more fair to compare the "common" rendering path on Windows with the "common" (read: only) rendering path on Linux. Yet even when comparing the same rendering path on both Windows and Linux OGL comes out on top. Even it it's just about 4%.

But what I really wanted to say with my post is that Valve's accomplishment isn't something that should be dissed.
Sloth 2nd August 2012, 22:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX
Why? If you were trying to compare performance with any hope of deriving meaningful data you would need only one variable - in this instance the host OS. Windows/OGL vs Linux/OGL is a useful comparison (except that it's actually not, since they didn't use 64-bit OS's for both anyway).

By way of an analogy, if you had two F1 cars you wished to compare you'd use the same driver AND the same track.

Changing either the driver or the track and then comparing the two cars would give you unreliable data.

The same applies here.
The problem with that is you're changing what's being looked at. Great, Linux runs the same thing 3% faster than Windows. I'm sure that'll go down in OS flamewar history. What you're losing is DirectX: possibly the biggest factor keeping gaming tied to Windows.

For gaming, the graphics API is more important. Proving that OpenGL is equal or superior to DirectX is what shows developers that they aren't bound to Windows to get the best performance. We can already see that Windows/OpenGL (303FPS) is faster than Windows/DirectX (270FPS), adding the Linux/OpenGL is further proof that OS/API combinations other than the standard can provide better performance.
Guinevere 2nd August 2012, 22:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingbear84
3% is a big enough amount.

I very much doubt you'd be willing to pay to upgrade your CPU or GPU for a 3% speed improvement.

Surely changing ones OS is a fairly significant thing to do. I would imagine many would need more than a 3% improvement in games to consider it - there would have to be other advantages.
Sloth 2nd August 2012, 22:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
I very much doubt you'd be willing to pay to upgrade your CPU or GPU for a 3% speed improvement.

Surely changing ones OS is a fairly significant thing to do. I would imagine many would need more than a 3% improvement in games to consider it - there would have to be other advantages.
An extention of my post above: this is why the Windows/DirectX to Linux/OpenGL comparison is important.

If you popped in for a quick game of L4D2 on Windows it would be using DirectX by default. I'm ready to be corrected, but I don't believe there's even an in game option for OpenGL. If you suddenly switched to Linux you would be seeing the 16% frame per second increase explained in the thread already.

Additionally, if there is an OpenGL option, or assuming one was implemented, you could gain a 12% FPS increase while staying on Windows. The 3% is if you went from this situation to Linux.

Based on that you can see that the real excitement is OpenGL, not Linux versus Windows. This is great because OpenGL benefits apply to Windows, Linux and Macs. It's success is great for all of PC gaming. It just happens to be even better for Linux (and Mac) gaming because they can't use DirectX which has been a large part of games not supporting them.
Roskoken 2nd August 2012, 22:40 Quote
I can understand why this is happening on account of the travesty that will be windows 8, but this is hardly in keeping with the ethos of linux and could be a slippery slope with regards to the open and free nature of the OS in the future. All that needs to happen is EA will support it and were ****ed.

However I probably would consider now building a micro "steam box" with linux as the dedicated OS.
BLC 2nd August 2012, 22:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roskoken
I can understand why this is happening on account of the travesty that will be windows 8, but this is hardly in keeping with the ethos of linux and could be a slippery slope with regards to the open and free nature of the OS in the future. All that needs to happen is EA will support it and were ****ed.

However I probably would consider now building a micro "steam box" with linux as the dedicated OS.

There are already proprietary Nvidia drivers on Linux, as well as plenty of commercial proprietary software. I don't see how having a Steam client would be a detriment; quite the contrary, it would be a massive boost. The OS will remain open source, but the same doesn't necessarily have to be said of the applications. Sure it would be nice, but there are real world practicalities to consider.

EDIT:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ferret141
This has me thinking about the Raspberry Pi. L4D2 won't run on an ARM core will it?

Even if it did, it probably wouldn't be supported by the Pi's older-generation ARM core and 700MHz clock speed :).

Chances are that if Steam/Source Engine games ever emerge on Linux, they will be x86/amd64 only.
dancingbear84 2nd August 2012, 22:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
I very much doubt you'd be willing to pay to upgrade your CPU or GPU for a 3% speed improvement.

Surely changing ones OS is a fairly significant thing to do. I would imagine many would need more than a 3% improvement in games to consider it - there would have to be other advantages.

To your first point, True.
To your second, kind of true. But if you run linux and windows then it is good news. And the analogy of paying for a 3% boost when linux is largely free is kind of irrelevant. Would you take a new cpu if it offered between 3 and 15% improvement and it was free?
I see what you're saying, honestly, I do. But we are pioneers here on bit, we are not your average user, we all have friends and family who listen to our advice. Linux is not quite ready for the mainstream yet in my opinion, when it is I will let my dad loose on it, this is a leap in the right direction though.
Roskoken 3rd August 2012, 00:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
I don't see how having a Steam client would be a detriment

Richard Stallman thinks otherwise.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19065082
azrael- 3rd August 2012, 00:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roskoken
Richard Stallman thinks otherwise.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19065082
Now, there's a man that should be ignored. Even most Linux fanboys believe Stallman is too shrill. :)
Aracos 3rd August 2012, 00:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roskoken
Richard Stallman thinks otherwise.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19065082

I hate to be negative towards him but his comments are pretty silly. Linux will remain the open source platform that it is and will still represent freedom even if Valve bring DRM to the system in the form of Steam. There are many closed source programmes available for Linux but they don't pollute the system by changing its message. In an ideal world everything would be open source and no DRM would exist but this is the real world full of fearful developers. I'd like to see the rise of Linux as a gaming platform and if Valve wants to lead that charge then they may.

On topic: I think the most interesting aspect of this is that OpenGL drivers are typically much slower for consumer graphics cards and this move might prompt Nvidia and AMD to put more effort into their Linux and OpenGL drivers if the platform gets more popular with developers. More performance can only be a good thing.
fluxtatic 3rd August 2012, 08:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roskoken
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
I don't see how having a Steam client would be a detriment

Richard Stallman thinks otherwise.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19065082

Richard Stallman can eat me. Dude had twenty years to make a kernel for the GNU project and failed. The a while back he wouldn't shut up about how it's "GNU/Linux", since essentially everything other than the kernel was part of the GNU project. Sorry, didn't realize getting credit was more important the spreading of the software itself.

Not saying he didn't contribute (hugely) to computing, but he needs to shut up now. His whining about ethics and morals is more irritating than your average religious zealot, because at least Fred Phelps and the rest are so ridiculous, they're entertaining. Stallman's morals and ethics aren't necessarily mine, and I'm tired of him trying to shove them down my (and everyone else's) throat.

On topic, though, I like this. I like it a lot. I don't much give a crap about how the Source engine performs on Linux. What I like is that those improvements may translate into improvements back in the Windows world. As people who aren't zealous fanbois recognize, competition benefits us all :)
BLC 3rd August 2012, 09:40 Quote
Somewhat on topic, before I come to the subject of Richard "Saviour of Software" Stallman, it's interesting to see the direction that Valve is moving in recently. They've been hiring hardware engineers for a while now and while they may be tight-lipped on what's happening, you can bet that those engineers aren't sitting round with their thumbs up their backsides; even if it's only skunkworks-style research projects, they must be doing something. Now we learn that they're putting a lot of effort into improving the performance of their games under Linux. I'm willing to bet money on Valve releasing some kind of console or dedicated gaming hardware.

As long as I can plug in a mouse and keyboard, and there's a proper OS behind it (even if it is stripped down and heavily customised), I could really get behind the idea of a Valve console. Didn't they announce a while back that future versions of the Steam client would support joystick/joypad navigation? I'm pretty sure that was mentioned around the time that the overhauled client UI was released...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roskoken
Richard Stallman thinks otherwise.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19065082

Richard Stallman has his fat head up his arse. Some of the comments in that article are complete B-S; at this point no one is proposing that Steam is shipped with a Linux distro or that its DRM becomes part of the kernel. It'd be like any other closed-source piece of third-party software available for Linux: you install it separately using whatever proprietary license the vendor wants. If it is shipped with a distribution then it'll be a distribution released by Steam/Valve, using a mix of their own proprietary license(s) and open source licenses where appropriate. If you don't like those terms then go away and don't use it - it's as simple as that. And Richard Stallman can shove his head even further up his own tradesman's entrance for all I care. Perhaps he might disappear so far up his own backside that he causes some kind of quantum singularity and disappears altogether; we can but hope.

Gamers have almost zero options under Linux. You can run older games using emulation or Wine, but for most modern games you have no chance. Steam on Linux can only be a good thing and you would likely see a hell of a lot of people - myself included - moving away from Windows almost completely. This isn't a pro-Linux/anti-Windows thing, it's about consumer choice. Does anybody think that Steam on Mac OS X was a bad idea? Steam on Linux isn't that far removed from the idea of Steam on Mac.
tristanperry 3rd August 2012, 10:07 Quote
More great news :) So tonnes of dev time was spent on running L4D on DirectX and W7, and then a tiny amount of dev time for Linux and OpenGL has beaten Windows performance. Gaming is one of the only areas where Windows (understandably) beats Linux - I hope Valve can level the playing field :)
Parge 3rd August 2012, 10:37 Quote
Everyone can say whatever they want about this but bottom is line is.....

Hardly anyone uses Linux.
azrael- 3rd August 2012, 10:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parge
Everyone can say whatever they want about this but bottom is line is.....

Hardly anyone uses Linux.
Tell that to the millions of users of Android phones... :p
will_123 3rd August 2012, 10:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
Tell that to the millions of users of Android phones... :p

So so true.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
I would like to note for everyone... that Valve got some help directly from Nvidia. Nvidia has a special assembly level tools and knowledge of their chip, so they help Valve like no tomorrow to get the performance. PLUS, possibly new drivers from Nvidia that does some optimization for this game... and as it's preaty much the only game, or engine for Linux... it's quiet easy to do optimization for, as you don't need to concern about breaking or dropping performance from other games.

When Left for Dead 2 was developer for Windows, they didn't have that kind of special support. So in others words, Valve was able to push to extremes OpenGL under Linux. And what did they get? Not even 4% increase. That's seriously not impressive.

The windows drivers get that kind of treatment anyway, now when Nvidia actually put some work into there Linux drivers we can see the performance increase.
BLC 3rd August 2012, 11:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parge
Everyone can say whatever they want about this but bottom is line is.....

Hardly anyone uses Linux.

This sort of thing comes up almost every single time Linux is mentioned in a news article on here, and I really can't be bothered to argue or defend my viewpoint any more - especially after the royal trolling last time...

Not having a go at you specifically, but every time a competing/alternative platform is mentioned it's the same arguments all over again: C64 vs ZX Spectrum, Atari vs Amiga, PC vs Mac, Windows vs Linux etc... Frankly, I got bored of it 15 years ago.
law99 3rd August 2012, 11:49 Quote
So we find a typically less resource intensive OS deals slightly better performance.

The real question is how easy can steam make gaming on linux? Is it going to be as easy as launching a steam title through windows? And are we going to start seeing ports? Or does no one care?

The only reason I ever migrated to Windows from linux was the gaming element. Nowadays I use office and adobe software a lot so that would seriously hamper my gnu/linux ambitions.
tristanperry 3rd August 2012, 12:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parge
Everyone can say whatever they want about this but bottom is line is.....

Hardly anyone uses Linux.
The vast majority of supercomputers use Linux. So a HUGE amount of information each of us use each day is underpinned by Linux. Plus the majority of servers are powered by Linux, so plenty of the websites we use each day are unpinned by Linux, too.

Also Linux exceeds Windows in many things, usability and gaming being the main exceptions. If these can be improved, desktop usage will increase.

For something that's free, it's used an amazing amount.
Aracos 3rd August 2012, 14:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tristanperry
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parge
Everyone can say whatever they want about this but bottom is line is.....

Hardly anyone uses Linux.
The vast majority of supercomputers use Linux. So a HUGE amount of information each of us use each day is underpinned by Linux. Plus the majority of servers are powered by Linux, so plenty of the websites we use each day are unpinned by Linux, too.

Also Linux exceeds Windows in many things, usability and gaming being the main exceptions. If these can be improved, desktop usage will increase.

For something that's free, it's used an amazing amount.

And just to add to what others have said, an impressive point that Linus Torvalds made in his controversial talk is that Linux also manages to do it with a single kernel used by all applications, that is something that Apple and Microsoft can't claim.
XXAOSICXX 3rd August 2012, 15:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
Truth be told I didn't even know you could use anything but D3D on Windows and I wouldn't be surprised if that is also true for the majority of users. Given that, I believe it is more fair to compare the "common" rendering path on Windows with the "common" (read: only) rendering path on Linux.

Without meaning any disrespect, I'm not sure you fully understand what DirectX and OpenGL actually are. OpenGL certainly isn't the only graphics API available for Linux just like DirectX isn't the only graphics API available for Windows.

DirectX and OpenGL are simply libraries of code that exist to make it easier for software developers to talk to the graphics hardware in a person's computer. There are plenty of other graphics APIs out there (some far, far better than others), as well as input APIs, sound APIs and so on.

One of the reasons DirectX is popular with games developers for the Windows platform is because it's bigger than just 3D graphics (Direct3D). DirectDraw, DirectSound, DirectInput, DirectPlay and so on.

OpenGL doesn't provide for all of this (and nor should it, as an open GRAPHICS language). Other APIs exist for that.

It's worth noting that you don't NEED to use a graphics API at all. You could, if you felt like wasting your time, write your own graphics engine that talks directly to the Hardware Abstraction Layer, or even the graphics hardware directly if you absolutely wanted to (depending on what your host OS allows you to do!)
azrael- 3rd August 2012, 16:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX
Without meaning any disrespect, I'm not sure you fully understand what DirectX and OpenGL actually are. OpenGL certainly isn't the only graphics API available for Linux just like DirectX isn't the only graphics API available for Windows.

DirectX and OpenGL are simply libraries of code that exist to make it easier for software developers to talk to the graphics hardware in a person's computer. There are plenty of other graphics APIs out there (some far, far better than others), as well as input APIs, sound APIs and so on.

One of the reasons DirectX is popular with games developers for the Windows platform is because it's bigger than just 3D graphics (Direct3D). DirectDraw, DirectSound, DirectInput, DirectPlay and so on.

OpenGL doesn't provide for all of this (and nor should it, as an open GRAPHICS language). Other APIs exist for that.

It's worth noting that you don't NEED to use a graphics API at all. You could, if you felt like wasting your time, write your own graphics engine that talks directly to the Hardware Abstraction Layer, or even the graphics hardware directly if you absolutely wanted to (depending on what your host OS allows you to do!)
Also without meaning any disrespect, but I believe I may know more about DirectX (and possibly OpenGL) than you, considering I was a beta tester for DirectX at one point. :)

You might also have noticed that I specifically didn't mention DirectX, but Direct3D (or rather, D3D). And when I wrote that comment (about anything besides D3D on Windows) it was specifically made in the context of Left4Dead 2. I simply wasn't aware that the game gave you the choice of another rendering path besides D3D.

Now, that we've clarified our respective positions all is well in the world again... ;)
BLC 3rd August 2012, 16:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
Now, that we've clarified our respective positions all is well in the world again... ;)

Just as long as you don't expect any group hugs or anything...! ;)
azrael- 3rd August 2012, 16:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
Just as long as you don't expect any group hugs or anything...! ;)
Nah... Way too touchy feely for my taste. :p
Star*Dagger 3rd August 2012, 17:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
I long for that most resplendent day, foretold in the books of the Messengers, whereupon we will be delivered up from the bondage of Redmond. All True Gamers will raise their voices in 7.1 surround sound Trumpets and yell in one voice, "Free at last, Free at last, thank Torvalds, we are free at last!"

Praise be to the Newell and the Torvalds!

Yours in Exodus from Redmond Plasma,
Star*Dagger
It would be pretty ironic if we were freed from "the bondage of Redmond" by Valve, a company whose headquarters is just a short bus ride away from Microsoft. :D

They are in close proximity in order to effect strategic and tactical advantage!

S*D
tad2008 6th August 2012, 17:04 Quote
As much as Windows has been my OS of choice? since Windows '95, especially when it comes to gaming I think this is very good news indeed.

Linux has had its appeal for years but its lack of gaming compatibility has kept me away, even with options like Wine etc. Tho thought of being able to finally use an open source OS along with open source apps AND able to play games on the same platform without having to dual boot has been a long time coming indeed.

This also makes building new rigs a lot more viable and cost effective with the money saved being put to better use elsewhere.
impar 10th August 2012, 11:27 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Here Is Valve's Source Engine Left 4 Dead 2 On Linux
Valve's SIGGRAPH 2012 presentation last night -- about the Source Engine on Linux and their experiences with maximizing the OpenGL performance of their game engine on Linux -- was a success.

More details about the presentation will be available in the coming days, including the slides. However, for those overly-excited, here's a few photos from the Valve Linux presentation in Los Angeles.
GoodBytes 13th August 2012, 16:51 Quote
All I can see is that the team did some crazy analysis to get every single FPS. Something they most likely did not do. Usually they just program, and see their results and judge if its enough. Usually they only do crazy analysis like this when you have a scene where your GPU performance just dips to 15fps in that area, and you have no idea why, and you try to quickly find the problem and remove or optimize the needed area.

If they ACTUALLY did all these step during game development, and optimize the game to the max, all by keeping the same level of visuals, then game development time could easily double or triple. This is just insane. And this is very bad.

Also they don't get to use tools like Visual Studio, or a shader debugger anymore, as you can't debug glsl (OpenGL shader language). They COULD use gDebugger (never been updated since 2010) but it's apparently not as great as DirectX stuff, although it's something, is only for AMD cards (cause they purchased them). So while they got above and beyond support THIS time from Nvidia, AMD and Intel. That is not normal support. And I expect Linux ports will drop in performance over time, or quality, due the lack of really bugging to find and fix problems.
impar 8th September 2012, 10:59 Quote
BLC 8th September 2012, 13:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Greetings!

Windows user tries to run games written for Windows under Linux and encounters problems because he's running Windows games under Linux, and Linux is not Windows.

That is not what Valve are trying to accomplish.
theshadow2001 8th September 2012, 15:08 Quote
BLC is right. I'm surpised anything that's windows native can be made to run in another O/S. Quite frankly any of the major operating systems are capable of running AAA games. The game just needs to be written for the O/S be it windows linux or mac.
impar 9th September 2012, 00:40 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
Windows user tries to run games written for Windows under Linux and encounters problems because he's running Windows games under Linux, and Linux is not Windows.

That is not what Valve are trying to accomplish.
Sure. But that is what Valve is starting with.
If they can improve the gaming side of Linux starting from this position, it will be an achievement.
azrael- 9th September 2012, 11:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Greetings!

Sure. But that is what Valve is starting with.
If they can improve the gaming side of Linux starting from this position, it will be an achievement.
Are you under the impression Valve is trying to emulate Windows-based games on Linux? That's certainly not the impression I'm having. From all I've read and seen so far L4D2 will be a native Linux application. As will all other Source-based games be on Linux. However, I wouldn't be surprised if STEAM for Linux came with some sort of Windows emulation layer for some other games. If for nothing else than to bolster the initial selection.
impar 9th September 2012, 13:08 Quote
Greetings!

The impression I have is that Valve games will be native. If they can make a emulation software for other games I dont know.
Lantizia 30th September 2012, 02:46 Quote
More games than you realise (like all Quake and UT engine games) do already or could very easily be ported to Linux anyway as their engines have been built with Linux/Mac in mind anyway.

Roll on UT3..... FINALLY.
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