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So what's the big deal with Linux?

Valve's announcements this week about its living room plans for Steam, including a new Linux-based operating system called SteamOS, have connected Linux with games more intimately than ever before.

Gabe Newell, Valve's boss and a genuine industry visionary, has made no secret of his preference for Linux over dominant market-based systems. So what are the advantages of Linux for games players and game designers?

Gamasutra spoke today to Ryan Gordon, who the site describes as "the guy" when it comes to porting games to Linux. Since the 1990s, Gordon has been porting dozens of games to Linux, from Quake 3 Arena to Dear Esther and games sold through the Humble Bundle.

"I'm not a flag-waving Free Software fanatic," he said. "But I do think that Linux shows what happens when we all decide to work together and build something beautiful, instead of going off into our corners and building lesser things to fight other people building competing lesser things.

"As a developer, I'm free to do whatever I want. If I hit a bug in the system, it's not a mysterious black box to me. I can debug it myself, I can fix it myself, I can move forward without waiting for an indifferent corporation to clean up their mess. I can decide to replace any piece of the infrastructure with a better idea, as long as I'm willing to put in the time."

He said that games companies should be doing more to address this growing sector, especially in the wake of Valve's announcements.

"It's a giant, largely underserved audience. There's money out there waiting for quality games, and the market isn't flooded with cheap product like it is on Windows or the iOS App Store." For players, he said that a key advantage is avoiding a "paradigm shift like Windows 7 to Windows 8."

As for the SteamOS announcement? "I'm pretty happy about this," he said.

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