back to article Steam client drops support on macOS, but adds it on Linux

Valve Software's latest update announcement for the Steam client contains news for both Mac and Linux users – and the portents should concern not only gamers. The latest update on the Steam client mentions several improvements for Linux users – but it also links to an end of support announcement for users on macOS 10.13 and 10 …

  1. DoContra

    And while this writer is not much of a gamer, we are told that a lot of games are still 32-bit and won't be updated. That was the main reason that Canonical backed down on dropping 32-bit support back in 2019.

    Ostensibly the main driver (complaint) back then for keeping 32bit support was Wine, which needed 32-bit host libraries to run 32-bit programs (likely the vast majority of programs one would try and run under wine). Since then, Wine library loading has been completely reworked and you should "now" be able to use a single wine executable linked to your system's fully native 64-bit libraries and run 32-bit Windows binaries. However, 'tis true that Steam native Linux games are built against an Ubuntu LTS release which may or may not be 32-bit

    Now, the last current browser for these old macOS releases is Firefox 115 ESR.

    Which should be supported until a bit after Q1 2025

    (On a personal note, I never thought I'd get to see the 32bit x86 mass extinction event this early. Mac is going through its 3rd to 5th such event -- 68k->PPC->x86(->amd64)->Arm, OS Classic -> OSX during the PPC days -- but it's a first for most x86 Windows/*Nix[1] users)

    [1]: The only similar event(s) I can recall were on GNU/Linux before I had even heard of it: the switch from libc5 back to glibc, and on a smaller extent (with the same borkage capability), the switch from a.out to ELF.

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      >> The only similar event(s) I can recall were on GNU/Linux before I had even heard of it: the switch from libc5 back to glibc, and on a smaller extent (with the same borkage capability), the switch from a.out to ELF

      You will see it a little with the introduction of Wayland. There will be a few few software titles (not necessarily games) that will fall through the cracks. Xwayland as an Xephyr replacement will help with some but as things progress more, you will see breakage. The problem is that games ultimately *aren't* important. There will be no real drive to maintain them.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: You will see it a little with the introduction of Wayland

        But will Wayland ever reach Beta?

        I can't understand why people who are not developing & testing Wayland would use it at all.

        Will Wayland be like IPv6?

        1. Daniel Nebdal

          Re: You will see it a little with the introduction of Wayland

          It's used by default on Fedora, and Ubuntu if you use the (also default) Gnome desktop, and Red Hat talks about completely replacing X.org with Wayland and XWayland in their next release. If you install a new Linux desktop today, it will most likely be Wayland.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Windows dropped 16 bit support with their 64 bit OSs, but you could still install a 32 bit version up to Win 10 which would still allow compatibility.

      1. Nate Amsden

        Wasn't Microsoft that did this, well at least if I recall right. It is the x86 64 platform itself (hardware) that dropped support for 16bit while running in 64bit mode. I think it had to do with the registers on the CPU. I assume just a way to make things more simple (and cheaper),

      2. Sandtitz Silver badge

        ""but you could still install a 32 bit version up to Win 10"

        Better yet, just use winevdm. Win3.1 era software work really well on my 64-bit Windows 10.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So will Valve provide "official cracks" for those 32-bit mac games that will ultimately be rendered unplayable due to the older Steam DRM platform no-longer being supported (or activatable)?

    The same happened to Windows XP. You had games on there that only ran on Windows XP or older but then the Steam DRM platform only ran on Windows Vista or newer. This disconnect killed a lot of effort, money, personal (digital) property.

    ... but the sort of rapid consumers who are happy to rent their games off the Steam DRM platform for an unspecified amount of time probably don't care. So I suppose they can do what they want and so can Valve.

    1. Innominate Chicken

      That won't help, 32 bit games won't be usable either, unless the developer releases 64 bit binaries.

      Valve can't permanently maintain an outdated version of the client for a small fraction of MacOS users who haven't updated their OS two years after it went out of support, eventually the plug has to be pulled.

      1. kend1
        Thumb Up

        Good Old Games

        Good Old Games [gog dot com/en/games?systems=osx] still has 2706 games on macOS.

      2. DougMac

        The bigger problem with MacOS is that Apple also cut off support for older machines for upgraded MacOS versions, so it may be a hardware (artificial) limitation preventing the upgrade as well.

        (I know there are ways to make newer OS versions force upgrade on older hardware. )

        I generally treat each generation of machine I get as a time capsule, that if I want to use this set of software, I need to keep that system as is. There are so many programs that would die off if I force upgraded it beyond its' means.

        But the hardware still is completely usable for what it has. Ie. 98% of what I do can still be covered by my white MacBook (after I put in the SSL proxy software to allow modern crypto), and it is still as speedy as it was back in the day, still runs all my old software.

        OOTH, I do have latest hardware, almost none of those old games can run, and even in emulation, do not run half as well as running on my ancient white MacBook.

      3. karlkarl Silver badge

        > That won't help, 32 bit games won't be usable either, unless the developer releases 64 bit binaries

        What? Of course they will. My old 32-bit compatible mac will still run 32-bit software fine... Why wouldn't it? If I ever by a computer, I don't send it to landfill when the next chip comes out... Is that a rare use-case these days? haha.

        But by the 32-bit Steam DRM platform no longer being able to activate against Valve's servers, it *will* break it in an artificial (and in my opinion, criminal) manner.

        This is all theoretical of course. I would never engage with a DRM product.

        (unless someone suggests never being able to reformat my machine again or replace the hard drive once the games are activated? Of course that is a daft suggestion).

    2. Kevin Johnston

      I use Steam for games (on my linux systems) mostly because it is hard to plough through the various game review sites and publishers and find games I may enjoy which will run on Linux whereas using Steam I can run the compatibility mode which allows me to mostly ignore the intended OS. there is also the issue that very few games are available for full download to keep forever and anything claiming to be a AAA rated game will have an always online requirement meaning you have no idea how long before they turn of the validation server.

      It has been many a year since I was able to buy a game from a bricks'n'mortar establishment and run it directly from the disc inside the box, only connecting to the internet for minor updates. The last game I bought as a downloadable was >30GB for the initial download and then needed to pull down a >40GB 'update'

  3. heyrick Silver badge

    The entire x86-32 platform is declining

    That's been true for quite a while. My Windows box is a P4, 32 bit. A few months back I got a Linux magazine with cover disc for €1 (to shift old stock). Put it in, rebooted, saw a tiny text message saying I needed another 32 bits for it to work. Nowhere was this mentioned (I'd not have bought it if it said it was x86-64 as I know I don't have that). I think, these days, it's just assumed that all the ancient hardware is either dead, forgotten, or landfill.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: The entire x86-32 platform is declining

      About time.

      The last 32-bit x86 processor was made in 2011, the last ACTUALLY USABLE one was something like 2004.

      If you haven't migrated to 64-bit software (processor change likely not required if purchased in the last 2 decades!) yet, then you have some serious problems.

      32-bit-only is dead, and has been for over a decade in terms of production, and 2 decades in reality.

      That we're only just removing backwards compatibility TWENTY YEARS LATER is testament to quite how backward people can be in scrapping obsolete hardware that only runs on obsolete operating systems with obsolete software.

      It's like wondering why you can't boot a ZX Spectrum (discontinued in 1992) to play titles from twenty years later (2012).

      1. MonocleRB
        Linux

        as our BDFL said,

        "At some point, people have them as museum pieces. They might as well run museum kernels." -Linus Torvalds

    2. Smirnov

      Re: The entire x86-32 platform is declining

      "That's been true for quite a while."

      No, it hasn't.

      "My Windows box is a P4, 32 bit. A few months back I got a Linux magazine with cover disc for €1 (to shift old stock). Put it in, rebooted, saw a tiny text message saying I needed another 32 bits for it to work. Nowhere was this mentioned (I'd not have bought it if it said it was x86-64 as I know I don't have that). I think, these days, it's just assumed that all the ancient hardware is either dead, forgotten, or landfill."

      Seriously? The last Pentium4 that was 32bit only was Northwood which came out in 2002, that was *two decades ago*. Subsequent P4s all had intel64 (intel's variant of AMD's x64 extensions) and likely would have booted that Linux disc.

      While I'm all for keeping older systems running, 22 years is really stretching it, especially when the processor in question has been a POS since the day it was released. And considering the horrific performance/Watt ratio of intel's dreadful NetBurst architecture, recycling is where anything with a Pentium 4 should have been (and mostly has been) headed many years ago.

      Pretty much any PC that is given away for free to a willing taker is likely to run circles around that antique in terms of performance and energy efficiency. There is really no point holding onto that P4.

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: The entire x86-32 platform is declining

        There were plenty of 32 bit only Atom powered Netbooks around in the early 2010's, and even when they started using 64 bit ATOMs some still had BIOSs which only allowed 32 bit OSs.

        But with any Atom 64 bit OSs were more crippled than 32 bit, due to the stingy 2GB maximum RAM.

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: The entire x86-32 platform is declining

        "There is really no point holding onto that P4."

        Given that it gets used maybe a couple of times per year for the more complicated picture edits I can't do on my phone, and ripping the odd DVD (I mostly watch Netflix these days), it's really not worth the hassle to find and set up something else. Yes, it's a dinosaur. But it's a non-internet-connected extremely low use dinosaur. Its primary purpose in life these days is, um, a weird looking bookshelf. ;)

      3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: The entire x86-32 platform is declining

        A P4 will make for a decent Windows 9x and 2000 box for running old games or hardware that don't play nicely with later OS, but yes, for most intents and purposes a later system is a better idea.

    3. Jotrav

      Re: The entire x86-32 platform is declining

      32bit Linux? Look up LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition), there is still a 32bit version in the latest version (LMDE6) if what you want is something sort of similar to W7 (definitely not a clone though). There are a few others out there, mostly based on Debian, so you still have a choice of desktop environment.

      How long these 32bit versions will remain available is anyone's guess, but at least for now they are still kept up to date.

      1. morningtea
        Linux

        Re: The entire x86-32 platform is declining

        i386 is still a supported architecture on Debian, and it will be for the upcoming trixie release*.

        But what comes after that, nobody knows... unsupported Debian architectures usually end up being "ports", which means that all compatible packages will still be built for them, and repositories are kept alive. But there will be much less effort put into maintaining the packages, and if one breaks, it's silently dropped unless someone steps up and fixes it.

        * With a little caveat - official installation images will no longer be provided: https://lists.debian.org/debian-cd/2023/08/msg00005.html

  4. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    If I could find an alternative to iTunes / last.fm that works properly on Linux, I'd happily upgrade my Mac Mini. Until that time comes, nope.

    (And does automatic management of the iPod, I don't want to have to drag and drop stuff all the time)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You mean like a scrobbler? Plenty of media players have this built in. Rhythmbox and Banshee come to mind, but there are plenty of others. You don't need an independent application just for this. I think Rhythmbox can also sync to iDevices, but I could be wrong. I ditched them for Android around 15 years ago. That being said, I have a good feeling that there's something out there that can. Linux has come a long way in the past decade.

  5. Binraider Silver badge

    The answer to this surely, is emulation. Though later-and-later platforms get very hard to emulate, especially from a keeping enough software alive to run, and particularly that behind arbitrary corporate walls.

    I'm saying that the updates for the G5 Steaming Brick tower are still downloadable from official sources to this day, which is a lot stronger than you can say than the abrupt end of life given to certain other systems.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Macs vs. Linux for gaming

    "Valve's latest hardware survey shows declining numbers of Mac users (the growing black band at the top of the Mac chart). Meanwhile, the estimated numbers of Linux gamers, while still low, are growing."

    Well, the Cook company now has proprietary CPU, GPU, OS and 3D library ! Absolutely nothing in commun, except maybe USB, with any other gaming system (PS5, Xbox etc ...) !

    This, plus the ridiculous luxury prices, is no surprise the number of native games for MacOS, hence the gamers is declining in favor of Linux, thanks to Proton and Wine.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The entire x86-32 platform is declining ?

    I'll keep using ArcaOS forever

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