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Debian Ubuntu Games Linux

Valve's Steam License Causes Linux Packaging Concerns 163

Posted by Soulskill
from the patience-young-padawan dept.
New submitter skade88 writes "With the Linux Steam beta giving Ubuntu and its large userbase all the love, other Linux gamers understandably want to be let in on the fun. For the beta, Valve has provided Steam as a Debian package. Many hungry Linux gamers have reported that they have Steam running on their favorite distro, but that still leaves the legal debate. What is the legal threshold needed to get Steam in the repos of your preferred flavor of Linux? Will Valve's one-size-fits-every-OS license be flexible to work on Linux or will it delay the dream of a viable gaming world for Linux? We are so close to bridging the last major hurdle in finally realizing the year of the Linux desktop: Gaming. Lets hope the FOSS community and Valve can play together so we all win."
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Valve's Steam License Causes Linux Packaging Concerns

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  • by icebike (68054) * on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:33PM (#42006229)

    The packaging is not the issue here.

    Any competent distro can install Debian packages via various foreign package tools.

    The issue is that some of these Distros are going out of their way to accommodate a non GPL package, and a beta one at that.

    Its a binary blob.

    Any time a Distro starts messing with those, its on very thin ice. Most don't. They just write scripts that will fetch the original and
    do what ever is necessary to install it if the user chooses. Or they seek official permission to re-package. This is very common with Video drivers, etc.

    The proper way is to fetch the binary from what ever legal source Valve provides, and install it using what ever foreign package utilities they have.
    That way they live within valve's license. Its the only reasonable way. Why take on a packaging headache for a binary blob?

    Part of what was troubling from Valve's Steam license comes down to "You may not, in whole or in part: copy, hotocopy, reproduce, translate, reverse engineer (with the exception of specific circumstances where such act is permitted by law), derive source code, modify, disassemble, decompile, or create derivative works based on the Program; remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Program; or attempt in any manner to circumvent any security measures designed to control access to the Program."

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:39PM (#42006323) Homepage Journal

    Think 'debian-multimedia' or Adobe's yum repo for flash. Total non-issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:45PM (#42006419)

    The answer is easy, and I think it applies to all distributions:

    To be in the distribution, the licence of your project must fit the , currently version 1.9 or later. This means that the licence most likely also has [opensource.org]OSI approval [opensource.org] and can be found on the SPDX list. Beyond that, you also need to make sure that your package is compatible licence wide with the licences of all your dependencies.

    To be available for a distribution, you only need to take care of the latter bit, and you can choose any licence, including non-FLOSS commercial ones. I, however, will not look at, review, debug or build that package without being paid for it outside of the scope of my work on the distribution.

    I am a packager for a major GNU/Linux distribution.

  • by Tr3vin (1220548) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:54PM (#42006521)
    The Steam client auto-updates on Windows. I would imagine it would do the same on Linux. Now, I understand that Windows doesn't have a packaging system like Linux but I really don't see why Valve would need to use one. There are several pieces of software that I use that I get from a tar.gz over a rpm or a deb. Why wouldn't Steam do the same?
  • by mic0e (2740501) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:21PM (#42006865)
    Counterhint: Steam circumvents this by providing only a tiny 'seed' package, which will then download the whole steam application and all games to the user's home folder. I also heard chrome does the same (on windows as well). However, the seed coul probably easily be re-written as or published as free software (e.g. a 100-line bash script) to circumvent all packaging license issues.
  • Well, non-free and all that... Or maybe, the best way for Debian to handle it is to put a package at non-free that adds Valve's repository into apt.conf.d. That way they avoid any problem that may appear by redistributing Valve's software when their license changes, as it keeps doing. (Maybe Debian could create a few of those packages, including the keyring and sources.list of other repository - multimedia and backports, for example, could use that.)

    Anyway, the main reason I cared to replay was to say: PLEASE STOP SAYING "BINARY BLOB". A BLOB IS BINARY, IF IT WERE TEXT IT WOULD BE A CLOB.

"Any excuse will serve a tyrant." -- Aesop

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