SteamOS and A Free Digital Society

Richard Stallman, the founder and president of the Free Software Foundation, will be speaking at the University of Lincoln on the 29th November on the topic of “A Free Digital Society”.

“There are many threats to freedom in the digital society. They include massive surveillance, censorship, digital handcuffs, nonfree software that controls users, and the War on Sharing. Other threats come from use of web services. Finally, we have no positive right to do anything in the Internet; every activity is precarious, and can continue only as long as companies are willing to cooperate with it.”

2013 has been a year of great expansion and success for the Linux gaming community. One only needs to look at the torrent of posts entitled “<game> released for Linux” on the popular Linux gaming websites to get a sense of the quickening pace of adoption by game developers. To add further flame to the ever increasingly boiling pot, Valve announced in August 2012 that they were releasing their Steam client on Linux, largely prompted by the impending arrival of Windows 8. Much to Linux users’ delight, Left 4 Dead 2 actually ran faster using OpenGL than it did with DirectX, albeit by a small margin. This news was followed a year later with SteamOS, a Linux based operating system would be used with Valve’s entry into the games console market, the Steam Machine.

With the games industry at it’s current juncture, it is only natural for gamers and game developers to become more interested with Linux, or GNU/Linux as it should be properly called. Along with the operating system, there is also a culture which pervades software development on the platform, commonly known as Free Software and Open Source Software, often abbreviated to FOSS. The general premise of FOSS is that the source code should be accessible by the user, allowing them to modify and/or distribute as they see fit. However this does not mean money cannot be exchanged in return for a product, but more that users should have the freedom to do as they please with the product they are using.

Understandably there will be a culture clash as games developers move from their predominantly proprietary software led environment to an environment built around sharing and openness, and actively opposed to DRM. An example of a notable open source game which many will know is OpenTTD, having been under continuous development since 2004.

With the highlighted issues above, this talk and subsequent discussion will be highly relevant to current games students and will give an interesting perspective on the future of the internet, software and the way in which we interact with our digital world.

The talk will take place in the Jackson Lecture Theatre at 6pm, 29th November 2013. If you’d like to attend Richard’s talk, please register here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *