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Steam for Linux leaves beta, paves the way for the Steam Box

Valve has officially released the Linux edition of its Steam client, marking the first step towards the long-rumoured Steam Box games console.

Steam first appeared for Windows back in 2003, adding Mac OS X support in 2010 and growing into the world's biggest digital games distributor, with over 50 million accounts globally and more than 2,000 titles in the library. Now that it has made the jump to Linux, it supports all three major PC platforms.

Steam is a free download, available through the the Ubuntu Software Center. As the most popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu currently has more than 20 million users worldwide, with many currently forced to either dual-boot or run Windows in a virtual machine in order to play the latest games.

"The introduction of Steam to Ubuntu demonstrates growing demand for open systems from gamers and game developers," David Pitkin, Director of Consumer Applications at Canonical, said of the launch. "We expect a growing number of game developers to include Ubuntu among their target platforms. We're looking forward to seeing AAA games developed with Ubuntu in mind as part of a multi-platform day and date release on Steam."

To celebrate the release, Valve has discounted over 50 Linux-compatible titles available through the Steam marketplace, with 50-75% off until the 21st of February. Many Valve titles, including Half Life, Counter Strike 1.6, Counter Strike Source and Team Fortress 2 are now fully playable on Linux, with TF2 players receiving a free in-game item the first time they log in through Linux.

As well as games, Steam for Linux also includes the newly introduced Big Picture mode, the full-screen interface designed for TVs - seen by many as the first step towards having a Steam games console in the living room.

More details regarding Steam for Linux, including community discussion and official announcements, are available on the Steam for Linux Community Hub.

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