The place of the Ubuntu Software Center regarding Steam, Desura and others

Nicolas Michel be.nicolas.michel at
Tue Aug 21 21:52:28 UTC 2012

Hello guys,

I'm sure you all followed the news from Valve about the announced release
of Steam on Linux. And in the storm of news, articles and other announces
related to gaming on Linux, I read this one this afternoon : How easy is it
to play windows games on

Then I thought: what Linux and Ubuntu particularly have to bring more than
Mac OS or Windows? Why gamers and game developpers would want to come here
and stay? I think part of the answer can be found in the recent interviews
of Gabe Newell: the openess of the platform at a time where all other major
OS makers are closing their systems more and more :
- Microsoft is reducing access to Windows
its Windows Store
- Apple in its just released 10.8 had also reduce the access to the system
with sandboxing<>and

Then I though about the future: how will we search for and buy a game on
Linux? We'll have the choice between Desura, Steam, Play On Linux (and
other Wine wrappers), the Ubuntu Software Center and why not, eventually
new other ones. The life of the user will be more complicated because he'll
have to switch from one software to another to search for games although
desktop environments are trying to have a better integration of remote and
cloud ressources.

So I thought the best I would want as a user is to search for everything I
want to install on my desktop from the Ubuntu Software Center. Although I'm
not aware of the future plans for the application I think it would be
really amazing to have a plugin system on the Ubuntu Software Center to
plug external content database to its search engine so we could see the
content available from Desura, Steam AND Play on Linux (and maybe others).
These plugins should work (and keep updated their databases) even without
these applications installed. So the user should be asked to install it to
be able to install that game or that software.

First argument against this idea : why Valve, Desura or others would want
to do it? I'm not sure but if the Ubuntu Software Center only open these
softwares at the right page (so act as a search engine but don't host the
content itself) I don't see why it would be a problem? They would also gain
more visibility since even if Steam or Desura are not installed on Ubuntu
by the user, he could be asked to install them if he search for content
they are hosting.

Second argument against this idea: why Ubuntu and the Ubuntu Software would
want to do it?
Firstly to ease the use of the desktop for the end user.
Secondly to offer what guys that are coming to our platform are searching
for: freedom. You may think it's ironic since we are talking about
closed-source softwares but it is not. I'm talking of freedom as in freedom
of choice. Regarding this topic I think the Ubuntu Software Center should
really tag clearly what is open-source, closed-source, free of charge and
not. It should also really well highlight who is providing the software:
Ubuntu, Steam, Desura, others? So we'll have the choice: if I'm searching
for the "video" keyword and I want to use only open-source softwares
provided by Canonical, I should be able to click on a filter to only see
it. But if I'd want to play the last Crysis it would be so simple to type
"crysis" in the search box of the Ubuntu Software Center :)

Third argument against this idea: offering more visibility to closed-source
softwares will weaken the open-source ones. But I think the open-source
software has grown in usage and gained visibility because of their
efficiency and users want to use them. Secondly the Ubuntu Software Center
could give a better ranking to open-source so if there is more than one
result, open-source will be first in results. Maybe that the Ubuntu
Software Center could give the user an option in the preference menu to
choose to give advantage or not to open-source. So again the user have the

The Ubuntu Software Center as a central entry point in Ubuntu for managing
softwares, that would be the best experience we could have as a user ;
better than on Windows or Mac OS. It would ease the access to games,
contents and would give more choice to the user.

What do you think?

Nicolas MICHEL
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