Valve is pushing ahead with its plans to bring its games platform Steam to Linux and the publisher revealed that it will start testing the service in an external beta next month, but first it is going over things in-house and an internal beta will take place next week.

The company explains that the external beta will include Steam, one game and support for Ubuntu 12.04 and above. However there are initial limitations and beta testers will not get the pleasure of ‘big picture’ mode, nor will they be able to test out any additional value games.

The beta sign-up — which is likely to be popular going on this Hacker News thread — is not yet open, but the company explained a little about the kind of audience it is looking to road-test with:

For existing Linux users, the external private beta is a good release for seeing where we are in running our games on Linux. We will be using a sign up page for the external beta. Information about the sign up will be announced in a future post.

For those new to Linux, we recommend waiting for a subsequent release where more features are implemented along with improvements to the user install experience.

We’ll keep you posted as and when this gains further momentum.

Though the Linux project is has been long anticipated but open source plans — ‘beta too late’ the company jokes — it is likely to be related to Value’s plans to foray into the hardware space with its own devices. Running Linux-based systems — like the rumored Steambox —  would make a lot of sense for the popular games firm.

The company is planning apps for Steam and it recently launched Greenlight, a system that allows users to help pick which games will come to the platform.

Steam hit 5 million concurrent users in January, but, with the plans it is making, that figure is likely to be much surpassed when 2013 comes around.

Image via Shutterstock / Steven Mann