Linux users will soon have access to Steam, as Valve is working tirelessly to get its service running smoothly on the open source OS. The first game that will be available is Left 4 Dead 2, and recently some interesting information was posted on the Valve Linux Blog. The engineers at Valve have managed to get the Linux version of Left 4 Dead 2 running faster than the Windows version using the exact same hardware. When the studio first started out, L4D2 only managed a measly 6 FPS in Linux. Now, it can reach 315 FPS on an Intel Core i7 3930K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680, and 32GB of RAM, while the Windows version baseline is 270.6 FPS. Valve was using the 32-bit version of Ubuntu 12.04, however it plans to switch to 64-bit before long. The Windows version used was Windows 7 SP1 64-bit, which uses Direct3D compared to Linux's OpenGL.
The developer was able to modify L4D2 to work better with the Linux kernel and OpenGL, plus it optimized the graphics driver to get the best performance. An interesting sidenote to this was Valve was able to enhance the OpenGL performance in Windows to increase L4D2's FPS to 303.4, which still does not match the Linux version. The studio is still working to improve the Windows performance, so perhaps soon L4D2 and other Source games will run even faster.
The improvements Valve is making will affect the entire Linux community, as it is working closely with AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel to improve graphic driver performance. This should go a long way towards making Linux a viable gaming platform, plus it would not hurt having the entire Steam library available.