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Valve showers Debian Linux devs with FREE Steam games

Community contributors given unlimited access to Valve titles

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Games vendor Valve has offered a surprise present to the Debian Linux community, in the form of subscriptions that give Debian project members free, unlimited access to all Valve game titles – past, present, and future – forever.

According to a message posted to a Debian mailing list on Thursday, the offer is open to all Debian Developers, the project's name for official, registered contributors.

To receive a redemption code, all they need do is send an email to a contact at Linux consultancy Collabora that's been digitally signed by a key in the Debian keyring.

Once they enter the code into Valve's Steam online gaming service, they'll get instant, perpetual access to the full list of past and present Valve-produced titles – including the Half Life series, Portal, Counter-Strike, Left4Dead, and more – and new ones will be added as they're published.

Valve founder Gabe Newell has long been a vocal supporter of Linux, particularly as compared to recent operating systems from his former employer, Microsoft.

In 2012, Newell described Windows 8 as "a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space" and said that Valve was working on making all 2,500 games in its Steam store available to Linux users as a "hedging strategy."

Most recently, Valve has been working on SteamOS, a Linux-based turnkey gaming platform that will come preinstalled on Steam Machines – dedicated gaming consoles based on standard PC hardware from a variety of vendors.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, SteamOS is based on Debian. Specifically, it is a fork of the Debian 7.1 "Wheezy" stable distribution with additions and modifications including an updated kernel and C library, third-party graphics drivers, and a custom graphics compositor – not to mention Valve's proprietary Steam client.

Valve has been working with Collabora to polish SteamOS ahead of the Steam Machines' expected launch later this year.

"Valve are keen to contribute back to the community, and I'm discussing a couple of ways that they may be able to do that," Collabora's Neil McGovern said on the debian-devel-announce mailing list.

Valve's games giveaway is apparently just the first of these contributions. But how laudable this particular offer is seems up for debate. It's certainly a nice gesture – but as a side effect, it seems at least some Debian Developers are likely to become much less productive soon. ®

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