Full SteamOS Ahead!

Although its timetable may not always be ideal, Valve has come through for Linux users lately. Not only has it released a native Linux version of Steam (with many native games!), it also has expanded its Linux support as the basis for its standalone SteamBox. The first step toward a Steam-powered console is the operating system. Thankfully for nerds like me, Valve released its operating system (SteamOS) to the public.

SteamOS is in beta testing right now, and unfortunately at the time of this writing, it supports only NVIDIA graphics cards. That limits who can test the OS, but releasing the operating system at all is extremely exciting! Geeks have been creating their own XBMC boxes for years, and now we'll be able to create our own gaming consoles too.

(Image from http://www.steampowered.com)

If you haven't tried SteamOS yet, and if you have an NVIDIA graphics card, I urge you to go try it out (http://store.steampowered.com/steamos/buildyourown). Will the SteamBox finally bridge the gap between PC gaming and console gaming? Will its open-source roots help SteamOS become the dominant living room device? It's been a number of years, but Valve definitely has invested into the Linux community. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go shoot some zombies.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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I built a SteamOS box last

John Grafton's picture

I built a SteamOS box last weekend on a non UEFI system with an ATI 5700 based video card. Steam ran without a hiccup and many of the games worked perfectly. My son and I are still playing through X3 Terran Conflict.

Modern Cards

Ross Larson's picture

Yep, the modern drivers support the 5000 series and up on AMD and the 8000 series and up on the NVIDIA side. I hear that there are some intel graphics options, but I haven't checked into them in depth.

Linux rocks!
Personal blog: zootlinux.blogspot.com

RE: Nvidia only

Flux's picture

Um. If the time of writing is, in fact, February 13th, 2014 - then the information displayed above is incorrect.
Valve released an update sometime around half a month to a month ago which added support for other graphics cards(or at least ATI/AMD)
Less than 24 hours after that update was released, I personally set up a machine that had an ATI Radeon HD 6750, which was detected and installed accordingly, and was reported correctly.

This "article" introduces zero fresh news, and the writer hasn't even done their research before writing it. Absolutely thumbs down.

I'm sure Shawn had it right

Robert Thiem's picture

I'm sure Shawn had it right at the time of writing.

This article was in the February magazine. That issue would be covering news from mid-December to mid-January and then selected, edited, going to digital typesetting, then uploading/distribution etc by the beginning of February.

Legacy Video Cards

Ross Larson's picture

For those without UEFI boards, there has been some work done to create a bootable DVD instead of having to use the original install instructions. It's available here:

There's also Ye Olde SteamOSe, a community re-spin of the build-your-own image which provided much of the groundwork for Steam's unofficial DVD release:

I'm really looking forward to checking out the Steam Controller, which is more or less only available to SteamBox beta people at this point.

Have you had any luck getting SteamOS to install on older video cards? It appears that the OS is pretty tightly integrated with the latest nvidia and AMD binary drivers, and I'm not in possession of a video card that's new enough to qualify, since the NVIDIA 7000 series was "legacied" in the most recent driver release.

I have an XFX Fata1ty 7600GT, a 7600GS, and a Radeon X1900Pro. They're all to old to ride the SteamOS train. Boo.

Linux rocks!
Personal blog: zootlinux.blogspot.com