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Enter the Penguin: Steam for Linux arrives

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(Read caption) A shot of Tux, the Linux mascot, before fighting a rival.

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Valve announced today that Steam is now available for the open-source operating system Linux. The free application can be found in the Ubuntu Software Center.

To celebrate the release, Valve kicked off a week-long sale on 50 available Linux games. The sale offers gamers the chance to save up to 50 percent off of the original price.

Rumors of Steam for Linux have long been discussed. Last July, Valve confirmed that they were working on such a product. By November, Valve began a closed beta and in December, the company opened the beta to the public.

Valve has reportedly been planning a Linux version since Valve chief Gabe Newell became increasingly vocal against Windows 8According to PCMag.com, Mr. Newell says that Microsoft 8 will be “a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.”

Linux has long been criticized for its lack of games. Forbes reports that the cause for this is the long time that it takes graphics card manufacturers to create drivers for Linux systems. This, coupled with the time it takes developers to make Linux ports for Linux’s small gaming community, has created a hole that Valve hopes to fill.

"We're huge fans of Linux. It's like the indie OS -- a perfect home for our indie game," Alen Ladavac, CTO of Croatian video game developer Croteam, told PCmag. "And who better to lead the charge into Linux gaming than Valve?”

Steam's Linux-compatible games can run on multiple platforms. This means that you can begin a game on Linux, move to a Windows PC, and finish it on a Mac.

The Linux Steam client also supports Valve’s Big Picture mode, which allows gamers to play computer games in a format that suits living room PCs. Instead of dealing with a mouse and keyboard on the couch, Big Picture allows the user to play with a regular controller.

Although the games currently available for Linux are slim pickings, Valve is working on converting its own games to the OS. Some current favorites include: Amnesia, Half-Life, and Defcon. The sale is scheduled to continue through to Feb. 21.

For more tech news, follow Aimee on Twitter@aimee_ortiz

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