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Valve introduces closed Steam client for Linux in beta

Four months after confirming plans to build a version of its Steam gaming platform for Linux, Valve has announced the launch of a limited access Steam for Linux beta.

The new client supports the free-to-play Team Fortress 2 game, while another 24 Steam titles are also available now on Ubuntu. Additionally, the beta includes big picture mode, designed for use with a TV and controller - also in beta.

"This is a huge milestone in the development of PC gaming," Valve president Gabe Newell said in a statement. "Steam users have been asking us to support gaming for Linux. We're happy to bring rich forms of entertainment and our community of users to this open, customer-friendly platform."

Within the first week of announcing plans for the program, Valve received more than 60,000 requests for participation, the gaming platform said in a news release. As a result, the first round of beta testers were selected from that group of 60,000.

Steam for Linux Beta is currently available for installation on Ubuntu 12.04, but that is expected to expand.

"An overwhelming majority of beta applicants have reported they're running the Ubuntu distro of Linux," Frank Crockett, a Steam for Linux team member, said in a statement. "We intend to support additional popular distros in the future," he said. "We'll prioritize development for these based on user feedback."

The range of Steam for Linux Beta users will also widen as the program continues, Valve promised; subsequent participants will be chosen from those who respond to a survey. Once the system is stable, it will open to all Steam users.

In July, Newell said he chose to work with Linux because "working with a single distribution is critical when you are experimenting." A week later, he said the company is trying to steer clear of Windows 8, which he said at the time would be "a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space."

Not long after, Valve announced that it would begin offering non-gaming software via its Steam website, rolling out seven apps in early October, including GameMaker: Studio, 3D-Coat, ArtRage Studio Pro, 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark 11, CameraBag 2, and Source Filmmaker.

The company also launched Steam Greenlight this summer, allowing community members to suggest and vote on titles they most want to be released.