Steam's potential shift to supporting the open-source Linux platform would be 'unethical'.
That's according to Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the Unix-like GNU operating system, who disapproves of Steam's closed nature.
Valve boss man Gabe Newell recently called Windows 8 "a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space", seemingly nervous of a closed-platform future for Microsoft's dominant operating system. That said, Newell declared that Valve was "working with" Linux distributors on supporting the open-source platform with Steam.
Good news for Linux, right? Maybe not, argues Stallman. Steam uses DRM (digital rights management) technology to protect its games from piracy, and also doesn't allow users to dip into its software and re-write parts of the code for themselves - which goes against two of the most basic principles of the open-source, free Linux operating system.
In a recent blog post, Stallman contemplated the pros and cons of Steam's possible move. "I suppose that availability of popular nonfree programs on GNU/Linux can boost adoption of the system. However, our goal goes beyond making this system a 'success'; its purpose is to bring freedom to the users," he said.
On the other hand, he declared, "Nonfree game programs (like other nonfree programs) are unethical because they deny freedom to their users. (Game art is a different issue, because it isn't software.) If you want freedom, one requisite for it is not having nonfree programs on your computer.
"Nonfree software in GNU/Linux distros already works against the goal of freedom. Adding these games to a distro would augment that effect," he went on.
"If you're going to use these games, you're better off using them on GNU/Linux rather than on Microsoft Windows. At least you avoid the harm to your freedom that Windows would do," he admits, while discouraging the practice.
Stallman concludes by asking members of the community not to spread the word of Steam on Linux in order to "support for our cause".