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Linux gaming gets a serious push with launch of limited Steam beta, new Nvidia drivers

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Last month Valve revealed that a public beta of Steam for Linux was coming soon, and today it has finally launched. Described as a "limited access beta," the Linux version of Steam features support for Ubuntu 12.04 and higher, and according to a previous blog post it will be available for just 1,000 users. While it doesn't yet support as many games as its Windows and Mac counterparts — Valve says that around two dozen games will be available to Linux users, including Team Fortress 2 — the beta does include support for Steam's recently launched Big Picture mode, for those who want to use the service on their television.

The first batch of users will be pulled from the more than 60,000 who responded during the initial call for participants. In addition to the eventual expansion of the beta to other participants, users can also expect to see support for additional Linux distros in the future as well. "We'll prioritize development for these based on user feedback," says Valve's Frank Crockett. In other good news for Linux gamers, Nvidia has just released new GeForce R310 drivers, which it says "double the performance" and "dramatically reduce game loading times" on the platform. The drivers were developed in conjunction with several game developers, including Valve, and Nvidia says that they were "thoroughly tested" with the Linux version of Steam.