Valve was one of three companies to join the Linux Foundation today – a sign of the company's commitment to the family of open source operating systems key to its plans to break free of Microsoft.
That vision of independence has brought a new Linux distribution, Steam OS, that comes pre-installed on all of the company's new living-room based Steam Machine PCs.
By joining the Linux Foundation the move towards open source that began as a “hedging” strategy against Windows 8 is revealed for what it is: not a hedge, but a tree.
Simply put, Valve is no longer moving towards Linux, but is a publicly acknowledged part of and provider for the Linux ecosystem.
“Joining the Linux Foundation is one of many ways Valve is investing in the advancement of Linux gaming,” said Valve's Mike Sartain.
“Through these efforts, we hope to contribute tools for developers building new experiences on Linux, compel hardware manufacturers to prioritize support for Linux, and ultimately deliver an elegant and open platform for Linux users.”
This isn't just a statement of what Valve intends to do, but very neatly describes what Valve has already done, not just for it's own Linux operating system, but for Linux-based systems of all distributions.
Develop has heard from multiple sources that Valve hasn't just been working on its own internal tools for Linux development, but is working with several third-parties to make a variety of tools worthy of professional game developers.
Anyone with experience on Ubuntu – currently the most widely used consumer distribution – knows just how much easier it is to get games up and running without using the command line and how much the driver situation has improved since Valve first launched Steam for Linux.
But Valve's interest isn't just charitable - a fact even the Foundation itself isn't trying to hide.
“Our membership continues to grow as both new and mature entities embrace community development and open technologies,” said Linux Foundation chief operating officer Mike Woster.
“Our new members believe Linux is a strategic investment that allows their markets to evolve as quickly as possible to achieve long-term viability and competitiveness.”
Just what Valve's involvement in the foundation will mean for Linux as a whole remains to be seen, but it isn't the only big money corporation that's pledged to help the open source cause.
In the past Linux creator Linux Torvalds has complained that some of the companies to get the most from the Linux kernel haven't actually put much of their research back in to the project.
By joining the Foundation, Valve may well be signaling its intent to walk a different path.