SteamOS beta available for download

By on December 14, 2013, 12:16 AM
valve, download, linux, steam, beta, pc gaming, steamos

Valve has opened the flood gates if you're curious or brave enough to download and try the beta version of SteamOS which is making its public debut today. Some 300 lucky recipients were also slated to receive prototype hardware, including controllers, this weekend meanwhile the rest of us can take a peek at the gaming-oriented Linux fork that Valve has been cooking for a while. If you are interested in downloading the new OS, just click here.

SteamOS is a fork of Debian GNU/Linux, with version 1.0 'alchemist' based on the Debian 'wheezy' (stable 7.1) distribution. The OS package weighs in at about 960MB, and despite of several beta warnings and hardware compatibility limitations (Nvidia graphics only), for a while it looked like Valve was having a hard time coping with download demand. More detailed information can be found on the FAQ below:

So, what is SteamOS Beta?

SteamOS Beta is an early, first-look public release of our Linux-based operating system. The base system draws from Debian 7, code named Debian Wheezy. Our work builds on top of the solid Debian core and optimizes it for a living room experience. Most of all, it is an open Linux platform that leaves you in full control. You can take charge of your system and install new software or content as you want.

The major changes made in SteamOS are:

  • Backported eglibc 2.17 from Debian testing
  • Added various third-party drivers and updated graphics stack (Intel and AMD graphics support still being worked on)
  • Updated kernel tracking the 3.10 longterm branch (currently 3.10.11)
  • Custom graphics compositor designed to provide a seamless transition between Steam, its games and the SteamOS system overlay
  • Configured to auto-update from the Valve SteamOS repositories

So, what is it not?

As an early release, much is changing, so expect rough edges. In its current state, SteamOS is definitely not a finished product ready for a non-technical user. Most importantly, it currently only supports a certain set of hardware. We are hard at work to expand this list.

That being said, we already use it in our living rooms. We are excited about what it is and what it will become. And the more of you do the same and tell us about your experiences, the quicker those rough edges will be sanded off.

Users should not consider SteamOS as a replacement for their desktop operating system. SteamOS is being designed and optimized for the living room experience.

Is all of SteamOS Beta open source software?

No. SteamOS Beta ships with our Steam Client program, which is proprietary software, in addition to proprietary 3rd party drivers. In the SteamOS Beta standard configuration, the Steam Client program serves as a user interface and provides connectivity to our Steam online services. That being said, you can still access standard Linux desktop.

What are the SteamOS Hardware Requirements?

  • 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

Where is the source for SteamOS?

http://repo.steampowered.com/steamos

How do I get fixes or new features in SteamOS?

All SteamOS machines are set to auto-update their OS from Valve's public repositories on a regular basis through the standard Debian APT package manager.

What software runs on SteamOS?

SteamOS is designed to run Steam and Steam games. It also provides a desktop mode which can run regular Linux applications. SteamOS makes use of the standard APT package manager for software updates; you can add third-party sources to your subscribed repositories to gain access to more applications. SteamOS currently provides a limited set of packages, but many Debian wheezy packages work fine on SteamOS. We plan to make a wider variety of packages vailable directly from the SteamOS repositories over time.

Can I run Microsoft Windows games and applications on SteamOS?

No, SteamOS is based on Debian GNU/Linux and is not compatibile 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.

How do I install SteamOS?

There are two different install methods for SteamOS. WARNING: Both methods will ERASE EVERYTHING on the machine. Full installation instructions are available at this location.




User Comments: 27

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Dimitriid Dimitriid said:

Quite the steep hardware requirements, certainly not because of Debian but probably to support all the functions for the tv interface thingie.

JC713 JC713 said:

Quite the steep hardware requirements, certainly not because of Debian but probably to support all the functions for the tv interface thingie.

Yeah it is interesting because Linux is meant to be run, in most cases other than preference, on older machines that cant handle Windows. Odd indeed.

3 people like this | Guest said:

I would think these requirements are hardly steep at all considering the whole point of this OS is to run games. You aren't going to be playing Bioshock on a 386 even if it will run Linux.

penn919 said:

I don't know about a 386, but I would imagine some people are more interested in the PC game streaming capabilities. You could, or at least should, be able to resurrect a 10 year old rig for that purpose.

ikesmasher said:

This is supposed to be, according to Valve, first and foremost a gaming OS, hence the required specs.

Plus I suppose the specs are supposed to help support the sales of steam machines.

ikesmasher said:

I don't know about a 386, but I would imagine some people are more interested in the PC game streaming capabilities. You could, or at least should, be able to resurrect a 10 year old rig for that purpose.

I dont think youd be able to stream 1080p through a celeron very well. Alot of older CPUs/graphics cards from 10 years ago as you mention are hardly able to render 1080p.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

How is SteamOS better than a Windows machine running Steam in Big Picture Mode?

1 person liked this | ikesmasher said:

How is SteamOS better than a Windows machine running Steam in Big Picture Mode?

Its likely in the concept of an OS optimized for gaming (whatever those optimizations are) and in the fact that you dont constantly have windows using resources.

Puiu Puiu said:

How is SteamOS better than a Windows machine running Steam in Big Picture Mode?

According to Valve SteamOS will be FREE (unlike windows) and it will offer better performance in games that support linux.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Its likely in the concept of an OS optimized for gaming (whatever those optimizations are) and in the fact that you don't constantly have windows using resources.

Ah the good ol' Windows "bloat" defense. BRB, my computer is lagging from all this bloat...

According to Valve SteamOS will be FREE (unlike windows) and it will offer better performance in games that support linux.

Meh. Free OS, but you still need to buy/build a computer to put in your living room, so basically your saving $100 on the OS to play Linux games that are not that great, and hardware support that still isn't there. Cool. Great selling point.

This is why I asked. I knew their wasn't anything groundbreaking or innovative with this product. The Madcatz MOJO has more to offer than this.

ikesmasher said:

Ah the good ol' Windows "bloat" defense. BRB, my computer is lagging from all this bloat...

never once did I mention bloat. Bloat is completely different from the OS itself. Im saying that games would perform better when an OS dedicated to many different things isnt running in the background. Like, look at JCs post:

Yeah it is interesting because Linux is meant to be run, in most cases other than preference, on older machines that cant handle Windows. Odd indeed.

Linux uses less resources. Therefore it is fairly more ideal to game on.

Also, the point of SteamOS and boxes are to be a console alternative. So you can bet many more games will be ported/made for linux/steam OS now. I would agree that RIGHT NOW, steamOS and steam boxes are pointless, but the sheer fact that they exist now is motive for more games to be released for it.

Puiu Puiu said:

Ah the good ol' Windows "bloat" defense. BRB, my computer is lagging from all this bloat...

Meh. Free OS, but you still need to buy/build a computer to put in your living room, so basically your saving $100 on the OS to play Linux games that are not that great, and hardware support that still isn't there. Cool. Great selling point.

This is why I asked. I knew their wasn't anything groundbreaking or innovative with this product. The Madcatz MOJO has more to offer than this.

It's not like we know anything yet. Valve has been fairly silent about future games and features. All I can say for sure is the next gen Source engine will work well on it (when it's ready - Valve time). Building on OS optimized just for games isn't bad considering all the hate Microsoft is getting for it's slow DirectX API. After they finish the drivers for AMD and NVIDIA (AMD has a lot of work ahead) and maybe manage to port mantle for it, we'll see big improvements.

If you can play a game at 1080p ~60FPS on it vs 30-40 FPS on windows then I say it's worth dual booting it.

PS: steam has over 400 games that work on linux and many are amazing (new or old)

Guest said:

Actually linux is slower than windows for old machines. I remember that Windows 95 ran perfectly on my 486, but I never managed to install Red Hat linux on that machine. It just hang during the installation. Maybe there is a way to rebuild the kernel and strip everything off, but if you have a 386, you're better off with DOS.

ikesmasher said:

Actually linux is slower than windows for old machines. I remember that Windows 95 ran perfectly on my 486, but I never managed to install Red Hat linux on that machine. It just hang during the installation. Maybe there is a way to rebuild the kernel and strip everything off, but if you have a 386, you're better off with DOS.

So your basing your statement of fact off of your experience. How can you even say its "slower" when you didnt even get it installed.

Puiu Puiu said:

Quite the steep hardware requirements, certainly not because of Debian but probably to support all the functions for the tv interface thingie.

Those are the requirements they are forced to announce. All games on steam must work (at least 720p) or it will be just like what happened with Windows Vista when it just didn't work well on 1GB of RAM (MS got sued).

Guest said:

Buy new hard disk drive, make dual-boot system... it's easy.

DDR3 RAM pretty cheap these days... don't bother resurrecting your old machine, it will cause you more $$$

penn919 said:

... don't bother resurrecting your old machine, it will cause you more $$$

Not if you're going to use it just for streaming.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

never once did I mention bloat.

What do you mean by less resources then? You mean bloat.

Also, the point of SteamOS and boxes are to be a console alternative. So you can bet many more games will be ported/made for linux/steam OS now.

But why Linux though? Linux isn't going to do anything for gaming in the long run. It will show Linux can play games, and so what if it can? We already have Windows PC's that can play what Linux can, and some, so why would anyone want to buy another computer to do what they can already do with the hardware they already have, or can upgrade? Hardware that has more support at that.

What would help everyone, would be a mass produced all-in-one (upgradeable?) modified Windows OS gaming machine with midrange retail/OEM hardware and a controller (kb and mouse optional). Kind of like a PC gaming starter kit.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

so why would anyone want to buy another computer to do what they can already do with the hardware they already have
Why are you making this out to be something it is not. This is adding variety to the pot, not forcing everyone to purchase additional machines. Do you go out and buy several cars, just because they come in different colors?

ikesmasher said:

What do you mean by less resources then? You mean bloat.

No. windows is by design more idio t proof and to make things idio t proof when computers require raw numbers to run you have to use more resources to make idio t proof GUIs and such. Bloat would be crap that no one wanted.

Bloat=Windows automatically scanning for crap and automatically downloading crap and automatically moving crap

Not bloat=windows and its basic functions in itself.

Even when windows ISNT doing things I left under bloat, it uses more resources than linux in most cases. Windows focuses on everything anyone might want to do on a PC (including gaming) and a OS dedicated to gaming can focus all its resources to gaming.

But why Linux though? Linux isn't going to do anything for gaming in the long run. It will show Linux can play games, and so what if it can? We already have Windows PC's that can play what Linux can, and some, so why would anyone want to buy another computer to do what they can already do with the hardware they already have, or can upgrade? Hardware that has more support at that.

What would help everyone, would be a mass produced all-in-one (upgradeable?) modified Windows OS gaming machine with midrange retail/OEM hardware and a controller (kb and mouse optional). Kind of like a PC gaming starter kit.

linux uses less resources and is much easier to modify to adapt to your needs. A linux OS for gaming as uncountably more implications than a windows app for gaming. When the OS itself is made for gaming you dont need to work your way around and through every bit of the OS to accomplish a goal like you need in an app. I don't really know my way around linux that much nor do I speak on behalf of valve, but these seem like reasonable assumptions to me.

I would agree with you to some degree that at this point making a windows PC as you described would be more ideal. I guess what valve is trying to do is make the box feel less like something youd find on a PC and more on a console, bridging a gap or something. Idk. People these days tend to get turned off whenever they think of computers (in my town, people have some sort of dillusion that they are for work only, and dont realize the all-in-one uses of the PC) and dont really understand why people would game on them. By making it feel more like a console to a person who has yet to buy it, it might be more appealing. but your guess is as good as mine.

Puiu Puiu said:

never once did I mention bloat.

What do you mean by less resources then? You mean bloat.

Also, the point of SteamOS and boxes are to be a console alternative. So you can bet many more games will be ported/made for linux/steam OS now.

But why Linux though? Linux isn't going to do anything for gaming in the long run. It will show Linux can play games, and so what if it can? We already have Windows PC's that can play what Linux can, and some, so why would anyone want to buy another computer to do what they can already do with the hardware they already have, or can upgrade? Hardware that has more support at that.

What would help everyone, would be a mass produced all-in-one (upgradeable?) modified Windows OS gaming machine with midrange retail/OEM hardware and a controller (kb and mouse optional). Kind of like a PC gaming starter kit.

PS: we already have mass produced Windows PCs ^_^ (upgradeable), but you won't find a legit "modified" gaming OS called Windows. MS won't allow it anytime soon.

1. Windows is not free --> higher total costs.

2. Windows was not made with games in mind. Valve can't change that, only MS can --> as you know they don't want to do that, they even admitted that they only focused on xbox when it came to games.

3. Linux is a proven platform when it comes to games (from the playstation to mobile gaming -- all use a modified linux os). The only thing missing was a desktop version that had good drivers.

4. Windows development is slow and has a bad track record when it comes to listening to the consumers.

All I can say is that competition is good. If SteamOS can do for Windows what Firefox did for Internet Explorer then we can only stand to win (same with Mantle vs DirectX)

1 person liked this | 9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

PS: we already have mass produced Windows PCs ^_^ (upgradeable), but you won't find a legit "modified" gaming OS called Windows. MS won't allow it anytime soon.

1. Windows is not free --> higher total costs.

2. Windows was not made with games in mind. Valve can't change that, only MS can --> as you know they don't want to do that, they even admitted that they only focused on xbox when it came to games.

3. Linux is a proven platform when it comes to games (from the playstation to mobile gaming -- all use a modified linux os). The only thing missing was a desktop version that had good drivers.

4. Windows development is slow and has a bad track record when it comes to listening to the consumers.

All I can say is that competition is good. If SteamOS can do for Windows what Firefox did for Internet Explorer then we can only stand to win (same with Mantle vs DirectX)

1. Linux is difficult to support. Steam OS isn't mature. It's not even 1st generation yet. Steam OS also streams games from your Windows or Mac OS. So it's not entirely reliant on itself for gaming.

2. Windows 8 ships with DirectX 11. That's as "made with games in mind" as it gets. But Microsoft is shutting down Games for Windows Live. So maybe MS is just focusing on console games. We'll call that a draw.

3. Linux is indeed versatile. But even so it fails to capture much market space. What it comes down to is that developers aren't interested in releasing a solid desktop experience without compensation. Without compensation, the Linux market will continue to stagnate.

4. Windows has a massive market of about 1.4 billion installations to consider. Development of this desktop OS will be slow, but it's necessary to keep the system stable. The MS Xbox division is the focus on game centric playing while Windows remains versatile but still agile enough to feature games.

If anything Steam OS doesn't compete with Windows at all. It competes with console systems.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Why are you making this out to be something it is not. This is adding variety to the pot, not forcing everyone to purchase additional machines. Do you go out and buy several cars, just because they come in different colors?

It's not adding anything.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If anything Steam OS doesn't compete with Windows at all.
It is too early to make that statement. None of us know what the future of Steam OS will be. There is a desktop mode, so at this time I'm thinking Steam OS has more than just games in mind. And I would like to think, if successful this means Steam OS will be for more than just games.

It's not adding anything.

You may not be able to see an added benefit to Steam OS, but if successful Steam OS will add to the variety people have to choose from. Whether or not Steam OS is successful, only time will tell.

1 person liked this | Mavrickx888 Mavrickx888 said:

I love all the flak that the SteamOS is drawing over this whole thing. Before we all go bashing the SteamOS, let's just take a step back and remember who the driving force behind all this is... Valve. Let's not forget that Steam went from a terrible, unsupported, unpopular digital distribution platform to the juggernaut it is today. It took years and years and I'm sure many of us disregarded them (Including myself), but now most everyone turns to Steam and Valve for PC gaming.

Is it so far-fetched to give Valve the benefit of the doubt here and see what they can do with this thing before judging them and pushing them to the side like I'm sure many of us did in the early days of Steam? Or are we all just too cynical to believe that something good for us consumers can come of this? If nothing else, be happy that there is someone trying to throw their name in the ring to mix things up.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It took years and years and I'm sure many of us disregarded them (Including myself), but now most everyone turns to Steam and Valve for PC gaming.
I started to make that very same comment. I wasn't around when Steam started. In fact I took 10 years away from gaming. It wasn't until three years ago, I started gaming again. It was even months later, that I learned of Steam. [link] . I can only imagine what the Steam OS will become. And as you say, if Steam itself is any indication, Steam OS will be a juggernaut.

Ashenraven Ashenraven said:

Microsoft charges OEMs to use their OS, which in turn affects the end user. Also, having a Steam Box operate on Windows, they might as well be giving a portion of their profits to their competitor.

Valve chose to make their own OS, so that it could move off of its competitors OS and also hope to make a more tailored OS for entertainment. More profit for Valve equals more resources for them to move along faster.

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