Valve has launched a beta for a new project in support of it’s Linux development. Starting today, Valve is officially developing and supporting a fork of the WINE compatibility layer called Proton, which will run in conjunction with Steam. Proton will allow games that have not seen an official Linux release to run on Linux through this compatibility layer. WINE, which originally stood for Wine Is Not An Emulator, is a reverse-engineer of the Windows API, allowing Window applications to be run on Linux and other Unix-like operating systems.
Proton itself is released under a permissive license similar to the MIT license. The code forked from WINE was originally licensed under the Lesser GNU Public License (LGPL), which requires derivative works to also be under the LGPL. It will allow Linux to play many games, as well as providing developers a development target without making a full port. Proton uses the Vulkan graphics API to translate DirectX 11 and 12, leading to better compatibility and performance.
Valve has listed the following games as being compatible with the initial release:
- Beat Saber
- Bejeweled 2 Deluxe
- Doki Doki Literature Club!
- DOOM (2016)
- DOOM II: Hell on Earth
- DOOM VFR
- Fallout Shelter
- FINAL FANTASY VI
- Geometry Dash
- Google Earth VR
- Into The Breach
- Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012
- Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013
- Mount & Blade
- Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword
- NieR: Automata
- PAYDAY: The Heist
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
- Star Wars: Battlefront 2
- Tekken 7
- The Last Remnant
- Tropico 4
- Ultimate Doom
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Dark Crusade
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Soulstorm
Proton has been extensively modified from the stock version of WINE, with Valve promising a better experience than using WINE directly, and some improvements from Windows in some cases, such as automatic controller support. This should make it easier for users who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with WINE to game on Linux.
The list of compatible games will expand as time goes on, and Valve appears to have the ambitious goal of ensuring compatibility with most of the titles available on Steam per the announcement. “This goes hand-in-hand with an ongoing testing effort of the entire Steam catalog, in order to identify games that currently work great in this compatibility environment, and find and address issues for the ones that don't.”
Since the announcement, the author has tested several games to varying degrees of success. South Park: The Stick of Truth and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon ran flawlessly. Doom (2016) ran with no issues, as one might expect from being a whitelisted title. Batman: Arkham City and Cuphead both encountered runtime errors and would not run. Proton is in beta, but it is working on some games that aren't on the whitelist, as promised.
Do you think this will promote adoption of Linux and SteamOS gaming? Will you personally make the switch? Let us know in the comments.