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Steam is dropping support for Ubuntu, but not Linux entirely

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The availability of Steam on Linux has been a boom for gaming on the platform, especially with the recent addition of the Steam Play compatibility layer for running Windows-only games. Valve has always recommended that gamers run Ubuntu Linux, the most popular desktop Linux distribution, but that’s now changing.

Last Friday, a developer at Valve announced that Ubuntu Linux 19.10⁠—which is due to come out this October—won’t be supported by Steam. Valve is still supporting Linux, just not future versions of the Ubuntu operating system.

So why is Valve ditching the most popular Linux desktop OS? Canonical, the company that owns and develops Ubuntu, said last week that Ubuntu 19.10 will not include any 32-bit packages. That means applications that rely on any 32-bit libraries or drivers won’t work, which includes a large amount of games on Steam. The actual Linux kernel still supports 32-bit software, but requires OS distributors like Ubuntu to develop and test the 32-bit components.

In response to the backlash, Canonical released a statement this morning that it would continue to update “selected 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS,” and that it would work with the gaming community on long-term solutions. In the meantime, Valve is still looking for another Linux desktop to call its home.

One possible long-term solution could be to package Steam into a ‘Snap’ package, a container format that could ship with all the required 32-bit libraries. However, at least right now, it doesn’t seem Valve is interested in going down that route.

This move will likely affect the dozens of Linux distributions based on Ubuntu, including Pop!_OS, which was recently highlighted by LinusTechTips and others as a great gaming OS.

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