Valve's Steam OS available to download now, but you might want to wait

The Linux system powering Valve's Steam Machines is available for download now, but if you're not familiar with Linux, you might want to wait.

With beta Steam Machines shipping out to 300 Steam volunteers today, Valve has also made SteamOS available for download.

Full instructions are listed on a SteamOS FAQ Valve posted today, but if you're not familiar with installing Linux systems, you might want to hold off on trying to configure your own Steam Machine, given the fact that the system is still in beta.

The FAQ explains that "SteamOS is designed to run Steam and Steam games," however, it elaborates, "SteamOS is based on Debian GNU/Linux and is not compatible with Microsoft Windows games and applications. However, SteamOS will soon support seamlessly streaming your games from your Windows computer; watch this page for more information about the In-Home Streaming Beta."

What do you need to run SteamOS? Here's the hardware list from the FAQ:

  • Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • 4GB or more memory
  • 500GB or larger disk
  • NVIDIA graphics card (AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon)
  • UEFI boot support
  • USB port for installation

Note: one of the installation methods that Valve details requires a 1TB storage device.

You can grab the SteamOS installation files here or this alternate download location and source for Steam OS is located here. Valve has also cautioned against downloading the files from "non-official, un-announce links." We'll be working on installing the OS ourselves over the weekend, but lets us know your own results if you've brave the process yourself!

Written By

Senior Editor, Earthbound fan, and snazzy dresser.

Discussion

779 comments
megakick
megakick

Linux is going to try to compete with

Windows and OS X AGAIN?

PS3 removed

OUYA is pretty much fail

when will Linux going to give up?

You don't see Phillips, NEC, Panasonic or APPLE making video game consoles? They moved on...

dpclark
dpclark

The success of Windows PC gaming was because everyone already owned a PC with an OS they already had and knew.  The success of the gaming console was because it simplified the whole thing.  The Steam machine and Steam OS is the worst of both worlds or at best irrelevant.  Finally, no one knows who or what Steam is, but everyone knows Sony and Microsoft.  So when people and families are walking down the store isle and see this complicated PC-like Steam device, they are going to keep walking to the Sony or Microsoft isle.  Even if the Steam machine and OS were superior, it will only be a niche (i.e. ghetto) product as SACD is to music or Betamax was.

snailz
snailz

I assumed you would be able to install Steam OS in addition to windows and be able to select which OS you want to use at start-up. Apparently Steam OS (SOS..?)  will totally wipe your HD when you install it... be warned folks

vscott453
vscott453

I really want to try this, but I don't have another spare pc to play with this on. But I am excited that Linux may have just sold their soul, and would reap great rewards coming to linux. I always believed that if anyone was going to get linux gaming going it would be steam. Besides valve are the creator to one of the best games ever.

Akijo
Akijo

There is not enough games available for Linux on Steam yet. It's not a handful of Indie games that will justify a new console for me.

Bowser05
Bowser05

I'm definitely not going to play around with the beta...but I can't wait to get my hands on this OS once it's out of beta.

snaketus
snaketus

After reading these comments for good few hours people still can't get in their heads what's the whole point of SteamOS and "Steambox". The point is to remove MS Windows and DX tie from PC gaming, which is most awesome thing ever.


SteamOS isn't supposed to run Windows games, at all. Only support streaming via network from Windows PC if you desire to do so. It's designed to run future Linux games.


Some developers may or may not port their current games for SteamOS (Linux, yes there will be more users than SteamOS/steambox users). For example Valve will port all their games for Linux, and they even run better on it than MS Windows and crappy DX.


Valve has made partnerships with several developers to bring their future games for SteamOS (Linux). It's all about future games, not past games. Your Xbone and PS4 isn't backwards compatible either isn't them? You can still run Windows along side it for older games if you wish so or stream them via another computer, yes some of us have plenty of computers that are able to run older games fine.


Valve isn't trying to take PC game market for themselves, how could they with open source free OS that runs also every other non-branded PC and open source API OpenGL? If they want to do that they already had announced Half-Life 3 as SteamOS exclusive and it could be run only on their brander "steamboxes".

kutulu1
kutulu1

You should be able to dual boot this. Does it come with a bootloader??

zyxahn
zyxahn

Those people who were pissed when they couldn't put Linux on their PS3's can rejoice I guess.

ClusterBlaster
ClusterBlaster

Would surely install this on my test VM environment. But I don't think it would replace a Windows environment anytime soon.

bakagami
bakagami

@megakick Linux isn't trying to do anything.  Linux just isn't like Windows, Apple OS, or any of those other commercial OS'.  Linux is open source and free domain.  Linux isn't owned by anyone.  

BTW, Android is Linux too

Gr1pp7
Gr1pp7

@dpclark The point isn't to appeal to PC gamers as much as to console gamers.  That's why they made the controller to go with the device/OS.  And why they made it the size and shape of a console, and HDMI ports to hook into a TV.  And I'm not sure what you see as being "more complicated" -- you will put it in your entertainment center, turn it on with a wireless controller and navigate to a game, just like a console.   I'm also not sure what you're on about with "no one knowing what steam is" -- as it already has more users than any console on the market.  If you are talking about a developer perspective - it's linux.   POSIX based systems are well known.  There's no proprietary SDK or BIOS or architecture to contend with; like there is with the "real" consoles.  Just a normal C/C++/java/whateverYouWant compiler will suffice.  (which happens to reduce the entry bar for a number of reasons, too) 


I think you're also missing some of the benefits to having the steamOS.  Since it's made to be played like a console, but can be installed anywhere, and the games are tied to your account, you can buy a game once and install/play it anywhere, as many times as you want.  If you feel like playing it from your couch, great.  If the wife wants the TV, just save it to the cloud and start where you left off on your laptop.  No worry on which of your friends bought it for what console or PC either since they can all get it on steam regardless of their prefered play style.  No more figuring out Command & Conquer sucks on the console after paying for it either.  Just switch. 


Lastly, as a PC gamer myself, I intend on getting the steamBox because I need a new computer/mobo and I'm tired of building my own, and don't think that what I'll be able to save in doing so will be worth the research and RMA headaches.  Turnkey, you know. 

Gr1pp7
Gr1pp7

@snailz Just like installing any secondary OS you have to create a partition first.  

Gr1pp7
Gr1pp7

@poromenos Gaben said in an interview that MS intended to create their own store/drm solution, and make it so the OS could only install software through that.  

snailz
snailz

@poromenos Because Windows and all the applications within consume A LOT of resources on top of Steam and the game you're running. Steam OS trims the fat and allows the full potential of your hardware to be dedicated towards your games.


You wouldn't have to remove windows or anything. You would be able to pick with OS you want to run when you boot your computer.
 <edit> Never mind.. looks like it totally wipes your system when you instal... maybe the final release will have the ability to switch OS's

vscott453
vscott453

@dpclark What platform on pc is doing better? 

dominoodle
dominoodle

@Akijo It's not a console, it's a PC. And if i remember correctly you can stream windows games to it from another PC.

dpclark
dpclark

@snaketus

"The point is to remove MS Windows and DX tie from PC gaming"

It was called DOS.

orthodox1976
orthodox1976

@snaketus Absolutely!


M$ will not be able to keep their closed platform dominance forever. Open platforms are obviously the future. Many people can code now and the thought of adding their own changes to an OS or game is a great option.


I used to code in Direct X and Open GL and from a code standpoint, Open GL was always more enjoyable to work with (SDL + OGL). I'm sure that M$ must have cleaned up its API's by now (?), but in the past they were TERRIBLE to code with in C/C++. C# is nice to use, I will admit.


When Linux becomes the most used OS I will be ecstatic. It might take another 10 years, but the Steam OS is the beginning we've been waiting for. :)


NICE.

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

@snaketus I'd say they are not so much removing Windows from PC gaming as in taking games that run on PCs and making a unique gaming platform that is very much console-like. Except removing the need for hardware locked cycles. Games can come out at any time, hardware can be upgraded any time. Not 7 years later and of course it would be backward compatible.


It removes Windows from the equation not for our benefit, but for Valve's benefit and in the process they will need to make their case as to why I wouldn't just stick with Windows as Microsoft seems to not have any plans to break legacy software as they are moving forward with Windows 8. The desktop might be shoved away somewhere like a DOS prompt, but Microsoft knows better.

christianrho
christianrho

@snaketus I would never in a million years buy any console or anything for 1 game.  I don't care if they released Half Life 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 I would not but a steambox just to play a single game title.  Not for that price.  Period.  Over before it began.  

orthodox1976
orthodox1976

@kutulu1 Oh yes. Dual-booting is NO PROBLEM for Linux. LOL


EDIT: Steam OS seems to not be able to dual-boot at this point, but Linux is way more than capable of dual-booting.

ChrisLeeFriday
ChrisLeeFriday

@kutulu1 linux is a crappier less supported OS. why would you dual boot to a crappier OS if you have windows? are you stupid?

flamingboard
flamingboard

@ClusterBlaster It's not supposed to replace Windows on your main computer. It's designed for a box in your living room.

dpclark
dpclark

@Gr1pp7@dpclark

Form factor.  Branding. The Steam machines will all look different and have different configurations which is confusing.  It has no branding and Steam is virtually unknown outside the dedicated enthusiast gaming community.  Consoles all look the same per 10 year generation and become a cultural icon over time.  Ask the average mom or pop who might buy a gaming device for themselves or their family if they know of Valve and Steam and they will think you are talking about a hot water boiler.


Steamboxes will all have different configurations and capabilities so the average person will be confused.  Casual gamers will buy a PlayStation or Xbox because they trust them to always deliver the same experience.  Yes, it is safe.  They want their investment to last and have no future obsolesce.  But with new Steam machines coming out each year, they will avoid it.


If you want to play games with friends on Steam, you don't need a Steam Box.  However, you must have a console to join multiplayer games on consoles.  There is no reason to have a Steam Box.


Again, I'm not saying Steam is better or worse - it's irrelevant.  SACD is superior to CD and MP3 and is as convenient as can be.  It did not matter.  Even Microsoft knows that so they made the Xbox One with inferior graphics and are emphasizing convenience.

stormfuel
stormfuel

@dominoodle @Akijo  


Aren't consoles dedicated PC, anyway? Also, is the streaming ad hoc through LAN or WLAN, or is it just streaming through your service provider? (If it's through service provider, then I'm not going to use it because I only have about 130 kilobytes per second on my cable. It would be ten times wiser to just have it computer to computer through LAN.)

The_grabber
The_grabber

@Kryptonbornson @snaketus Microsoft is moving away from Windows with their games to Xbox One only so why spend money upgrading Windows OS's. It's to our benefit to get an OS for free.not Valves

naomha1
naomha1

@Kryptonbornson @snaketus Why would you stick with Microsoft? Their OS blows, DX limits game devs and 99% of the games that will be running on Linux will be running easily at 100fps because of Linux ability to bypass needed Microsoft architecture. It's easily a win-win situation for pc gamers. Games run better in Linux. Believe me when I tell you that Windows is NOT the end-all run-all OS for gamers.  The only reason Linux is not a better supported platform is because it's not a subsidiary owned company throwing millions of dollars around. 

s3as3a
s3as3a

@christianrho I didn't buy an Xbox 360 for Halo 3, and I'm still waiting for Halo 3 to come to Windows, at least.

naomha1
naomha1

@christianrho Except you're forgetting about Valve being very smart and intelligent. It's not going to be ONE game. It's going to probably be hundreds. Also, you don't need to buy the Steam Machine, you just run Linux on another HDD and install the Steam OS on there. It costs you a HDD and some of your time. Not the hardest thing in the world to see games running at twice their speed in blazing glory.

xantufrog
xantufrog

@ChrisLeeFriday @kutulu1 wow this is an ignorant comment. As someone who uses Windows OSX and Linux daily I can tell you Linux is hardly the inferior OS because they haven't made CoD for it. Do you assume the PlayStation must run Windows since people are making games (including CoD) for it? If so, you might want to do some reading... 

kutulu1
kutulu1

clearly you are a moron. linux runs everything from android phones, tablets to game consoles. idiot.

snaketus
snaketus

@flamingboard @ClusterBlaster Indeed and just that's what I'm going to do, build some good looking not so awesome spec computer for my living room and stream the crap out of my monster PC and still keep the ability play some games or all games if I want to on my desktop which is nice considering I'm not alone here, yes my girlfriend must see her cooking shows which is not a bad thing and of course some games are just better when played on desktop like CivV. And yeah get rid of that long HDMi cable running through the apartment.

xantufrog
xantufrog

@dpclark@Gr1pp7"Form factor.  Branding. The Steam machines will all look different and have different configurations which is confusing.  It has no branding and Steam is virtually unknown outside the dedicated enthusiast gaming community.  Consoles all look the same per 10 year generation and become a cultural icon over time."

^ I agree with this problem. Very real concern that could lead to it failing to catch on.

To those who keep saying "the OS will be confusing", though - they don't get it. It's not "linux" in the sense of the workstation operating system. It's a customized linux, just like the PS OS is a customized FreeBSD OS - you'll turn it on and the gaming options you need will be easy to access, you click, and then you play (at least when it is in final non-beta form). You won't, in theory, need to be a damn computer scientist to figure it out like some people appear to be assuming. People have such a silly voodoo (mis)perception of what Linux is and how it works. My wife had never used linux before, but when her laptop died and we couldn't afford a new one I set her up with my old laptop running linux mint and she's been perfectly fine going about her life with it. Her mind didn't explode. And again, that is using the non-simplified-for-console-gaming type of linux. Steam OS will be a cinch to use (assuming it garners support and lives)

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

@naomha1@Kryptonbornson@snaketus I played Valve games on Linux. The performance is far worse than Windows right now and loading times are worse. What we all can hope for is that they'll reach parity to Windows by the time they release the OS and APIs like Mantle can help them get a little bit of lower level access like consoles. OpenGL is on par with DirectX as far as that, but not better. Mantle will also work with OpenGL like it will with DirectX, so there is hope there that the current poor performance in Linux can be drastically improved. But it will also be improved in Windows.

pippocalippo2
pippocalippo2

@s3as3a @christianrho Hope... you'll see. Ms game studios proved to be particularly sensible towards the pc gaming audience with Gears of War 2 & Alan Wake.

xantufrog
xantufrog

@ChrisLeeFriday@xantufrog@kutulu1A lot more of the world runs on Linux than you might think. Guess you don't need science or medicine. I use all 3 operating systems because they all do things I need for my work. Simple. You clearly don't know what role an operating system serves if you think Linux is inherently "crappy" for games. Bet you've never written a line of code in your life.

ChrisLeeFriday
ChrisLeeFriday

@xantufrog @ChrisLeeFriday @kutulu1 call of duty is not for linux never has been. you completely ignore that most professional and gaming software is not supported on linux. i dont  care what a console runs you buffoon. even in this video he makes fun of the lack of support for linux and only the idiots support this. does that mean that maybe 5 years from now linux will be more supported? maybe. but right now there is absolutely NO REASON to use linux if you have windows or even osx and that begs to ask why you would even use macosx? finalcut pro? bahahahaha, i got better things to do than respond to people who defend a currently inferior operating system just for the sake of being annoying. if linux was supported id use it. all the software i have on this computer im using is not on linux so just shut your mouth. 

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

@kutulu1 Desktop Linux isn't very good for typical consumer use. I doubt Valve is there performance-wise yet, but perhaps soon enough they'll reach parity with Windows and soon after with APIs like Mantle, we'll see the same console-like performance from PC-hardware as we will in Windows.


A lot of people know Linux is everywhere, just not in the same form as the one he's insulting. Barely any desktop user uses it and basically no one makes software for it except other open-source groups who also make the same software for Windows.

snaketus
snaketus

@ChrisLeeFriday @kutulu1 Well Adobe is to blame for that and Activision. Doesn't mean it's crappier than Windows. It's just meant for different things, like the web server you are reading this web page. And the day when Adobe and games come to Linux, bye bye Windows. Well maybe just games, Adobe is big corporation that has some big corporation contracts with MS and Apple. It's big NO NO to offer Creative Suite to free OS. But now that Adobe Creative Suite is sub based service anyway people will start to looking for alternatives, because the day will come when CS6 is getting old. Or the day when you can use Adobe's CS via browser or some other client no matter what OS you are running. MS is losing big time now, so don't be surprised if your average laptop doesn't run MS Windows few years from now.