Valve's Source Engine, which powers games such as Left 4 Dead 2 and Portal 2, runs up to 20 percent faster under Linux and OpenGL than under Windows and DirectX/Direct 3D, says the famed Half-Life developer. According to a post on the official blog, Left 4 Dead 2 ran at 315 frames per second on the developer's Ubuntu Linux machine, versus 270 frames per second on a Windows PC with comparable power.
The results are surprising, given Valve has put substantial effort into developing for Windows platforms over the past 10 years. It attributes the speed-up to the "underlying efficiency of the [Linux] kernel and OpenGL", as well as "a few additional microseconds overhead in Direct3D, which does not affect OpenGL on Windows".
Most interesting for Linux users is Valve's claim to have "improved graphic driver performance" under the operating system by working directly with hardware manufacturers such as NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel--companies that have traditionally not gone out of their way to support the platform.
At a recent presentation, Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, called NVIDIA the "single worst company" that Linux developers have worked with. He concluded his speech by saying "Nvidia, f**k you", and presenting his middle finger to the camera.
Valve's foray into Linux development follows comments from company head Gabe Newell, who recently told All Things D that Windows 8 "is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space", referring to the locked-down nature of the operating system. "Valve wouldn’t exist today without the PC, or Epic, or Zynga, or Google. They all wouldn’t have existed without the openness of the platform".
Valve recently announced it was working on a version of Steam and Left 4 Dead 2 for Linux, though there's still no release date for either.