For a long time now, Valve has been a bastion for PC gaming on Linux. While news on SteamOS seems to have slowed down to a crawl, in the last year Valve has released Proton, a compatibility tool that allows thousands of games to run on Linux without official support for the developers. Unfortunately, Valve is going to be dropping Steam support for one of the more popular Linux distros, as Ubuntu will no longer support 32-bit software.
Many games found on Steam were released in 32-bit, including Valve’s own classic titles. From version 19.10 onwards, Ubuntu will no longer support 32-bit software, which puts Valve in an awkward position. As a result, Valve will no longer be recommending Ubuntu to Steam users and will find a new distro to focus its efforts on.
Ubuntu 19.10 and future releases will not be officially supported by Steam or recommended to our users. We will evaluate ways to minimize breakage for existing users, but will also switch our focus to a different distribution, currently TBD.
— Pierre-Loup Griffais (@Plagman2) June 22, 2019
Canonical Group, the company that develops Ubuntu, has seen the level of concern, particularly from the Linux gaming community. In a statement, the group said that it will “build selected 32-bit i386 packages” for Ubuntu’s next update and “will work with WINE, Ubuntu Studio and gaming communities to use container technology to address the ultimate end of life of 32-bit libraries”.
In the meantime, it looks like Valve will continue to be finding a new Linux distro to begin recommending to users for the long-term. Perhaps even SteamOS could see some form of a comeback.
KitGuru Says: Valve has been very focused on making Linux a better OS for gaming and with Ubuntu being the most popular distro, something like this could have an adverse effect. Hopefully everyone involved will be able to work things out, it does seem like the team behind Ubuntu is open to making some changes.