SteamOS Is Out! Don’t Download It Yet

By Graham Smith on December 16th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

But can I rub Tux's eyes to control games?

Last week, Valve sent out the first 300 prototypes of their Steam Machines. That’s exciting, but unless you were one of the few randomly chosen, you can’t get involved. They also released the first version of their SteamOS for everyone to download, which is exciting but you should not get involved. Even Valve don’t think so.

The SteamOS is a Linux-based operating system designed to free Steam and the running of games through Steam from Windows. It should ultimately provide a faster, smoother experience for those wanting to build dedicated games machine, and there are interesting planned features such as in-home streaming. I’m looking forward to that, so I can ping games from my desktop machine to my giant TV on occasion.

This early beta is very early though, so none of those features are working yet. There is no in-home streaming. There is no dual booting. Both of the two install instructions provided by Valve will wipe everything currently on the machine, including all partitions, in the process of giving itself over to Valve. There’s a reason why the SteamOS download page isn’t a fancily designed website but an exposed file structure.

If you’re the intrepid Linux hacker that Valve suggests the beta is aimed at, then make sure you read the SteamOS FAQ before you get started. There’s still plenty of reasons that it might work for you, from your ability to boot from UEFI to whether you’ve a 64-bit machine. It’s also a surprise that the OS is based on Debian and not Ubuntu, when it’s the latter that Valve recommends developers aim for when porting Steam games to Linux.

There are reports beginning to trickle out from those who’ve started using the OS, too. Ars Technica were quietly impressed by the instant support for XBox 360 controllers, though I’d imagine that won’t matter soon when we’re all pressing our thumbs comfortably against the sensitive eyes of Valve’s owl controller.

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96 Comments »

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  1. Stripe says:

    Best tag ever.

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      Anthile says:

      And yet, staring eye(s) is missing. It seems like RPS is getting sloppy with that tag.

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      Gap Gen says:

      VowlV.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      Eye couldn’t agree more.

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        particlese says:

        Well, that was corny. A pun thread will now ensue, I presume?

        • kael13 says:

          I can see it happening.

          • moew33 says:

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      • Scumbag says:

        Well look at that! I see what you did there.

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        Ashrand says:

        these threads are always a hoot!

  2. Retro says:

    Rub ‘Til It Bleeds

  3. evilbobthebob says:

    Come on now Graham. Ubuntu is a Debian-based distro. Gosh.

    • Spad says:

      Something which, for some reason, they don’t mention in the FAQ when it seems like it would avoid a lot of confusion.

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      Joshua says:

      However, Ubuntu packages are incompatible with Debian, so games that are made compatible with Ubuntu’s way of doing things are not entirely gauranteed to work on Debian’s way of doing things.

      • nld says:

        I believe, the games ported with Steam Linux SDK are working through Steam Runtime, a compatibility layer of sorts. So the stuff that was developed for Ubuntu 12.10 (as recommended) should be fine.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Ubuntu do seem to be trying to avoid diverging from Debian where possible at a package level these days, at least.

        Now, as for the likes of Mir…

      • Tams80 says:

        Well Ubuntu, is a branch of probably another branch of Debian. SteamOS is probably the same number of branches away as Ubuntu from plain Debian, with the only difference really depending on if SteamOS accepts .deb packages. There’s a diagram of it all out there somewhere.

      • enderwiggum says:

        Not exactly. Ubuntu and Debian are more like siblings these days. I don’t think the Debian/Ubuntu thing is an issue. In any case the Ubuntu people are helping out ;)

        If SteamOS takes off, it will have more users than Ubuntu and Debian combined… Win-win for Linux.

      • Annandul says:

        Not quite. Steam for Linux features the Steam Runtime, which ensures that any game written for Steam for Linux will work for any Linux distro. Here’s the bit from the FAQ:

        Q: Didn’t you tell me to develop for Ubuntu? Do I need to install Debian to build for SteamOS?
        All Steam applications execute using the Steam Runtime which is a fixed binary-compatibility layer for Linux applications. This enables any application to run on any Linux distribution that supports the Steam Runtime without recompiling. As long as your development environment targets Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with the Steam Runtime, it will run without change on SteamOS.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      And x86 processors have been 64-bit since the dawn of modern gaming (which dawned in 2003, obviously). Seems a bit like SteamOS is just a program running on top of Debian. Not that that’s an inherently bad thing, just feels a bit simple.

      • Optimaximal says:

        It’s a program running on top of Debian in the same way that Ubuntu is…

        All Linux and Unix variants are essentially forks and repacks of modules running on top of the standard OS kernels.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Best too keep it simple really. :)

      • Lord Byte says:

        Thank you, came here to say that. Stop buying 32-bit OSes dammit, so they stop supporting that crap and everything will properly support glorious 64-bit computing!

  4. Rapzid says:

    It comes as no surprise to people familiar with Linux going ons that Valve is opting to go straight to the source for their base.

    Honestly though, and I know this is a beta, but WHY. It’s currently just a poor man’s debian installer with… Steam included? Why do we need a “new” debian flavor? Why can’t valve just release the beefed up Steam client with the features on linux when it’s ready? Linux is all about choice, but Valve want to cram their skinned OS down everyone’s throats? Will the standard Steam Linux client have streaming support?

    • mukuste says:

      They are patching the kernel, the compositor, doing this kind of hacking on internals. You can’t get that on a vanilla Debian.

      • Teovald says:

        Not to forget that debian base UI is not really what I think that Valve want to use to push games to users.

      • Rapzid says:

        You can when the bugs they have pointed out to Nvidia have been fixed upstream and they are either back-ported to your distro’s kernel line or you run a custom patched kernel.

        • mukuste says:

          It’s not only bugs. For instance, they have set the PREEMPT_RT_FULL flag as well as applied heaps of patches to get a realtime version of the Linux kernel. That’s not something you want on a general desktop system.

          More technical info: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTU0MzY
          Follow that site if you want bleeding edge updates on Steam OS, the guy is running Steam OS vs Windows benchmarks right now.

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            particlese says:

            I’m not fond of the way information is presented there (the graphs make me rage-quit), but the information’s usually good when it comes to hardware+linux, so thanks for the heads-up! I’ll have to keep half an eye on this…

      • LionsPhil says:

        If they’re fixes or new features, they should be going upstream.

        If they can’t be accepted upstream, then you provide alternative packages. You still don’t need to roll a whole new distro. That’s a branding exercise, not a technical one.

        • dorn says:

          You’re getting way too caught up in the fact that there aren’t a lot of changes yet. The end goal is something far different from GNU/Linux.

          Stallman and his zealots will have no sway here. It only makes sense to fork right away.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Stallman and his zealots don’t have a huge amount of sway in popular Linux distros anyway. Even Debian’s militant adherence to the DFSG is still far more practical and problem-oriented than Stallman’s fantasy world. For example, although they cannot distribute Flash, they have a package you can install which will automatically fetch and install (real) Flash. gNewSense, a Stallman-ier distro, eschews even open-source clones of the Flash plugin, because you shouldn’t be running proprietary code within the Flash application itself.

            By and large, open source (eventually) forks away from out-and-out disruptively defective people: see eglibc, for example.

            If Valve honestly want to rip out the GNU userland they’re kinda idiots. Not because it’s perfect, but because it’s somebody else’s problem, and I don’t think they have the willingness and immense technical resources to handle their own platform while still being first and foremost a publisher and game development studio.

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      stahlwerk says:

      Choice goes both ways. Debian offers tried and true configurability and one of the best package management infrastructures, where critical parts of the system can be swapped out easily, so why should valve put up with any half-baked part of the linux game stack if they can choose to roll their own packages?

      Addendum: I don’t see why Valve should not keep the standalone client identical to the part that’s integrated in Steam OS. The streaming however might need some lower level system tinkering, but I don’t think there’s enough information out to even speculate about it.

    • frightlever says:

      I read a brief review of Steam OS that suggests what Valve are doing is akin to Google’s Chromebooks. Steam OS is Debian, but once you run the Steam application the overall functionality increases eg you can watch Youtube videos through the Steam application that won’t run on the Mozilla variant browser (without tweaking, I’d imagine). I would assume Valve wants Steam OS users to spend most or all of their time in the Steam application, and eventually that may even be the base option – for it to boot straight into the Steam application.

      So in much the same way that Chromebooks are basically a Chrome delivery system, the Steam OS is all about getting people to run Steam – which makes sense.

      • mukuste says:

        Steam OS already does boot directly into Steam (Big Picture mode, basically). To get a standard desktop, you have to enable it in some options dialog.

    • Kinch says:

      Simply because they’re developing their Steam Box OS, not just a regular app that would run on exisiting distros (Steam Linux app is already out and working mostly fine).
      SteamOS is intended for Steam Boxes, not PCs (although I imagine it will be possible to set it up on regular desktops later on).

      • ahmedabdo says:

        +1

      • waltC says:

        Valve said months ago in their FAQ that you could build a “Steam Machine” from off-the-shelf x86 computer components–last thing to do is to kid yourself that this something “new”…:) The only thing Valve is “building” is a very narrow set of *existing* off-the-shelf hardware the company will support with SOS’s (SOS, get it?) equally narrow hardware driver support. I honestly think the world needs another Linux desktop OS distribution like it needs a hole in the head…:)

        Q:Why do you think a pay-for OS like Windows has done so remarkably well against “free” (even though somebody pays the tab to develop them) Linux distros?

        A: Windows supports a truckload more hardware ROOB (more than any OS ever developed) is one powerful reason–superior developer tools and software support & backwards compatibility are the other reasons. People who think it’s only a race between “free” OS’s and a pay-for OS have missed the “big picture” completely (pun intended.) That’s why they’re still waiting on the Linux “Year of the Desktop.” What they’ve categorically resisted understanding from the start is that companies that give free OSes to their customers have very little left in reserve to do things like making superior developer tools, developing hardware drivers, etc. ad infinitum. Yet, without those things a desktop OS essentially goes nowhere.

        I’m a Valve customer myself–I have nothing against Steam as I use it and like it as well. But I think Gabe has practically gone off his rocker here. He’s trying to throw something together on the cheap just to light a fire under Microsoft’s tail, if you ask me, just to try and manhandle Microsoft into a direction he deems more Valve friendly. The rest of Steam OS I see as a publicity stunt–and in that regard SteamOS should be everything Newell intended it to be…;)

        As long as Valve is giving stuff away there will be some momentum here, no doubt. But that can’t last forever, can it? Linux desktop distributions have been given away for years and still the number of Steam’s own Windows titles dwarfs their current Ubuntu 12.03+ game collections by maybe 10x. Who’s he kidding? Like so many other companies that owe their existences and bulk revenues to Windows (which ironically was also true for Netscape), without Windows Valve is a dead man walking…;) Newell knows it, too.

  5. King_Rocket says:

    I was tempted as i had a spare machine, but 18 games didn’t seem worth the effort.

  6. Lobotomist says:

    To late. I installed it and it wiped all files on my system ! Valve is to blame for releasing such unfinished pos !
    J/K

  7. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    IMO Valve need to address the dual boot problem as soon as possible, if they want to get any meaningful number of people to stick their toes into this particular pond. And it’s not like this problem hasn’t been solved for other debian flavors. Until then, no, I will not put this onto my living room PC.

    Edit: If the delay however is because they are working on an alternative to the abomination that is grub, I say they should be granted all the time in the world. Valve time even.

    • LionsPhil says:

      There are worse things in the world than GRUB.

      The whole UEFI mess it now has to deal with, for example.

    • Kitsunin says:

      What’s wrong with GRUB? My current PC doesn’t dual boot, but for my old laptop it’s pretty much just a simple keyboard operated menu to pick either windows or linux, no atrocities or confusion there.

      • LionsPhil says:

        GRUB2’s got a pretty hideous case of Second System Syndrome. Even GRUB Legacy has its unpleasantness, like assuming it could stash its Stage 1.5 image within unpartitioned space (fixed in GRUB 2 by demanding a special partition type for it, even on non-EFI systems). And the legacy codebase is…let’s just say it has a 1TB limit after which it can start bugging out because it’s C code written by someone with an apparent total disregard for appropriate or consistent use of numeric types.

        Still beat’s LILO’s hard-coded offsets.

        From an end-user perspective, you mostly should not ever have to care about it beyond “it’s the menu I pick an OS from”. And for that, it’s basically fine (and, again, better than LILO’s little prompt).

        • MrStones says:

          Cheers for the rundown, I’d never heard of the unpartitioned space req, what happens if you have no unpartioned space? Not a lot I’m guessing)

          And now i’m wiser in another thing that I’ll probably never ever need to know, you gotta love RPS comments :)

          • LionsPhil says:

            GRUB Legacy boots like this:
            Stage 1 is the tiny bit that fits in the MBR, and is very stupid. It looks for, by hardcoded offset…
            Stage 1.5, which is big enough to understand filesystems, so it can tolerate things moving around in…
            Stage 2, which has the bootloader proper with its nice menu and configuration file and such.

            If it can’t embed stage 1.5 for some reason, GRUB Legacy will make stage 1 load stage 2 via fixed offset, like with LILO. This means that if your GRUB files move around on disk (e.g. because they’ve been updated), GRUB needs to be reinstalled in the MBR to update those offsets, like with LILO.

            GRUB 2, I’m fuzzier on. From the Arch wiki, apparently it can still embed its core image; on the thing I work on, we did it “right” and gave it its special magic partition to use. I can’t remember if that turned out to be from necessity or just wanting to do things better.

      • Optimaximal says:

        The problem is less the Boot UI part of GRUB, more with reliably programming it and picking through the mess that is its config file(s) – Accidentally making a typo can hose the entire OS making it unbootable*.

        * – yes, I know this is the case with most operating systems, but GRUB is incredibly temperamental.

    • MrStones says:

      What’s wrong with GRUB? I’m genuinely curious, been using it myself for dual-booting for the last couple of years and it’s never given me any reason to dislike it, bar occasionally getting distracted and booting into the wrong OS but i can hardly blame it for not being psychic.

    • staberas says:

      Dont be afraid they will fix that definitely

  8. Nim says:

    Somebody should start a rumour saying that installing SteamOS alpha gives you free access to all existing games on steam due to some bug, feature, glitch, whatever.

    • King_Rocket says:

      Installing SOS grants access to the HL3 beta, or so I hear…

      • Nim says:

        Quick, post it on a disreputable message board with an affinity for cats and pranks.

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          Llewyn says:

          Ah, the Institute of Chartered Accountants’ “Weekenders” forum? I like the way you’re thinking.

          • cmsd2 says:

            Ah. not mumsnet then.

            Maintaining so many multiple identities must be the downfall of many a super-villain.

  9. BarryK says:

    It’s a great idea that’ll let OEMs sell “steam machines” (essentially a glitzy re-branding of HTPCs) a few quid cheaper than ones that come with Windows installed, but since all the fancy features (like in-home streaming) are coming to the regular desktop clients too I don’t really see the point in it.

    Linux might get a few more games ported over to it if they’re offering developers incentives etc but if they aren’t lack of a gamepad friendly front end would be way, way down on the list of reasons a certain game didn’t get a Linux port.

    If there were cheap ARM boxes that handled the streaming they’d go down well with PC gamers that already have big gaming PCs and just want to enjoy the odd game in the living room, but if you’re going to be buying a gaming pc (or a second gaming PC) you may as well just stick Windows on it.

    • Thrippy says:

      Steam OS /home folder = 2.6 GB

      My currents /Windows folder = 38.GB comprised of 123,095 files in 26,422 folders. That’s after I regularly strip anything and everything out of Windows that isn’t required for Windows to boot and function semi-normally. Doesn’t matter, every version of Windows inexorably grows over time.

      Next come the gaming benchmarks. No other consideration matters as much to most gamers. Those benchmarks will be witnessed by two generations of hard core gamers who typically spend considerable money and time to realize any performance increase for their favorite resource beast game of the moment.

      All Valve has to do is modestly optimize wherever possible instead of making mistakes in the name of accessibility and compatiblity at every opportunity, like Microsoft. Microsoft’s great failure is to underestimate the gaming culture, its power to dictate trends, the extent of its influence on the market. No less a lack of vision than when Bill Gates wondered why home users would ever want to use the Internet.

      Should be no contest since Steam OS is free. Believe it or not, all Valve needs is a few extra frames per second, across the board, for every game. We’ll see.

      • Rapzid says:

        The obvious conundrum there being all the games don’t run on Linux, across the board. “Will it run Crysis?”, they will ask. No, no it won’t.

  10. LionsPhil says:

    Sadly within the five minutes of coffee break I’m willing to spend on it, can’t get it booting under VirtualBox at the first shake. Made an ISO of the USB key contents but it’s choking and dropping to a GRUB prompt.

    Seems to be a stub of a thread for it here; I expect someone will persevere enough before too long. Useless for gaming, obv., but means you can have a nose around.

    • sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

      Bah I was just about to try this too.

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      daphne says:

      I was able to get SteamOS to run in VirtualBox using the instructions here:

      http://www.reddit.com/r/SteamOS/comments/1su461/steamos_virtualized/ce1b2t7

      One thing this comment doesn’t mention is the generation of the ISO: On linux, use genisoimage with options -U -R:

      $ genisoimage -U -R -o steamos.iso /path/to/unzipped/folder

      (You’re right about -o, fixed it. Shouldn’t rely on memory for exact instructions)

      And the VirtualBox guest additions are not optional, so do install them.

      Note that if you want to see it in its full Big Picture mode glory, you will need to enable 3D acceleration for the Virtual Machine you’re using (and allocate some video RAM). If you’re not interested in the Big Picture mode, then don’t run the post_logon.sh script after you install — it automatically sets the default session to the Big Picture mode, and without 3D acceleration you’ll boot to a black screen.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Do you not want something more like
        $ genisoimage -U -R -o steamos.iso /path/to/unzipped/folder
        ?

        But, yeah, cheers, booting now. I’m guessing the name-mangling of (not using) -U is the killer. Serves me right for being lazy and using xfburn.

        (Edit: Right. The -V SYSRESTORE version isn’t going to be workable because it’s a CloneZilla-based blind image and expects a half-terabyte drive. Dur.)

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          stahlwerk says:

          Maybe someone could reimage it, put it on a torrent… but I guess legally thats the darkest grey.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I have a nice ‘clean’ OVA export of it which should import into VirtualBox and maybe some others, but aside from it being 2.7 GB, there’s the problem that to get this far I had to accept the EULA, and that’s probably a no-no for redistribution.

            (Also, do you really trust typing your Steam login details into a random image some guy uploaded on the Internet? Because that’s a good way to lose all your precious hats.)

            Mostly, once the CD image is working, it’s follow-the-instructions. A few pointers:
            * Black screen on boot is a lack of VBox drivers. ACPI shut it down gently, then hammer the arrow keys on boot to get into recovery mode and install them from the guest additions CD image. Be warned that the post_logon.sh step dutifully uninstalls them again, so will have to do this twice. Given past experience turning off 3D passthrough until you’re done installing might avoid this problem. (Reddit also claims not having the OS set to Debian 64-bit can cause a black screen.)
            * VirtualBox’s EFI implementation is forgetful, so create /boot/efi/startup.nsh containing FS0:EFIsteamosgrubx64.efi. (If you get stuck at the yellow EFI prompt, just type that latter line for now.)

    • mukuste says:

      In addition to the Reddit link above, here are some more instructions:

      https://gist.github.com/voltagex/7955961

  11. Guvornator says:

    “It’s also a surprise that the OS is based on Debian and not Ubuntu, when it’s the latter that Valve recommends developers aim for when porting Steam games to Linux.”

    To answer your question, Graham…
    From the SteamOS FAQ:

    “Q: Didn’t you tell me to develop for Ubuntu? Do I need to install Debian to build for SteamOS?
    All Steam applications execute using the Steam Runtime which is a fixed binary-compatibility layer for Linux applications. This enables any application to run on any Linux distribution that supports the Steam Runtime without recompiling. As long as your development environment targets Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with the Steam Runtime, it will run without change on SteamOS. If you are a Steam partner, see the Linux development page for more details on creating Steam applications for Linux and SteamOS.”

  12. Metalhead9806 says:

    I don’t like how this is nothing but Steam client on a basic version of linux. It makes the entire thing look cheap.

    Imo they need to take away the desktop option and make the whole system boot into Big Screen mode as the only option. If they want PC features like Media streaming and browsing Valve could partner up and make a media tab within big picture mode similar to consoles with their entertainment suites.

    Right now Steam Machine looks too much like a cheap PC. Why would i bother with this? when i could connect my current PC to my TV, use the steam client and have ten times the available games through windows?

    • Optimaximal says:

      It does boot straight to Big Screen Mode.

      • Metalhead9806 says:

        Yes but to use any of the non-steam features u need to use the desktop. I would prefer it if everything was integrated into the steam client. Have a Games, Software, Media and system tab. Have everything linked into the steam client so no one needs to look at that ugly desktop UI.

    • mukuste says:

      > If they want PC features like Media streaming and browsing Valve could partner up and make a media tab within big picture mode similar to consoles with their entertainment suites.

      It’s an early preview release. All these things will happen. In fact, the desktop mode was added as an afterthought since many people asked for it and it’s easy to do. The desktop won’t be required to access the core functionality.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s bit amusing, from what I’ve heard of it (yet to see it running):
      * Gabe hates how Windows 8 has this big launcher UI whose apps are tied to a curated store by default, and the desktop under it like an afterthought
      * Valve create SteamOS in response
      * SteamOS has this big launcher UI whose apps are tied to a curated store by default, and the desktop under it like an afterthought

      (Yes, the big difference being that Win 8 is supposed to be for desktops all day every day, whereas SteamOS is just for media centre/games console boxes.)

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        Cinek says:

        Yep.
        You got it right.

      • djbriandamage says:

        Thank you for finally being the one to mention this!! I do believe Gabe has mentioned adding compatibility for non-Steam linux games but we’ll have to see whether his generosity extends to installing other stores on SteamOS as well.

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          frymaster says:

          His generosity has nothing to do with it – SteamOS is literally just a custom-tweaked version of Linux designed to delivery the steam client. You have complete freedom to install any software package you want.

          As indeed you have on windows 8 – sort of. The catch isn’t that win8 bundles an app store, it’s that apps written to use the new shiny GUI can only be distributed via the store.

          Come to think of it, I don’t think you can make use of steam friends etc. if you aren’t distributed via the store either, but there’s a difference in scope here.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I’d say that that difference isn’t; your app can’t be part of the Big Screen system it’s not on Steam, can it?

        • sophof says:

          Well, since blocking other stores would effectively kill steamOS (why not just install Ubuntu that boots straight into big picture in that case?) I doubt this is a concern. It would undermine the very thing they want to do for no gain whatsoever. Gabe is a lot of things, he might even be a hypocrite, but I doubt he is stupid.

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        basilisk says:

        Yep. It fits nicely with this theory I’ve had for some time now that Gabe feels sorry he has left Microsoft and is trying to build his own instead.

    • XhomeB says:

      I think the “WHY” question is exactly something Valve needs to address, and quickly. Otherwise, I can’t imagine this thing – both the OS and the Box – being even moderately successful. Not without providing some Steam-exclusive games (which Valve said they won’t do) or some expanded functionality.

      • LostInDaJungle says:

        Why? Because Windows 8+ is moving to the “app store” model. At this time they are still delusional enough to think that they’re going to get rid of the desktop entirely at some point.

        Part of the app store model says that you have to split revenues from “In-App” purchases. There is also a limit on how many “In-App” items you have for sale. I believe it’s 200. Also, I would assume that long term validation might be an issue if you look at how the GetProductReceiptAsync function works.

        As a developer, I can tell you that the in-app purchasing model has a ton of drawbacks, any one of which could have sent Gabe into a fit of pique. My guess is that he said “F this. I’m taking my ball and going home.”

        Remember that Gabe thinks video games are powerful. He got into it after a MS study showed Doom was on more computers that Windows. And I don’t think he’s wrong. “Games” are the biggest reason that people I know don’t switch away from Windows. Angry Birds certainly helped the iPhone and Android.

        I’ll be honest and tell you that I have some serious reservations about Valve’s ability to pull this off. This is the same “team” that can’t ship HL games on schedule. Steam is the only program I’ve seen that can require MULTIPLE updates every day. A “good” Steam OS is going to require a lot of polish, and polishing is always the hard grunt work that no one wants to do. Someone has to stand over the coders with a whip and make them do it. It’s one of the reasons that Linux and it’s apps still lack polish. Everyone wants to write new filters for GIMP, no one wants to fix the Windowing bugs.

        So, that’s the why.

  13. RDG says:

    Built me an old Q8400+8800GT on a GA-P35C-DS3R motherboard from spares lying around. First attempt failed due to no UEFI compatibility, then stumbled upon this thread. Tried numerous times, played around with partitioning the USB stick with GPT or MBR all to no avail, kept getting an error message: “Failed to load ldlinux.c32″.

    Then decided to use my current UEFI enabled PC to bootstrap the installation onto the other hard drive (since they are both Intel+Nvidia), and I could not get it to work on my modern PC either. At first the furthest I got was a BASH right at the USB boot, then I repartitioned the USB stick with MBR and I got the Steam screen where you select to restore the installation (or something) which was followed by another BASH.

    Gave up and installed Windows 8 to try out 8800GT performance with modern games, which is surprisingly good… Will probably give SteamOS another go at some point, when it is more RDG friendly.

  14. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    I spent an hour or so fiddling around the other day and installed it on a spare harddrive. Got it working but it boots to a blank screen with a misformed mouse pointer which I suspect is something to do with either the R9 290 I’m trying to use or the 560Ti that’s also in the system.
    Damn you Valve for not supporting my weird setup! ;)

  15. Premium User Badge

    jezcentral says:

    I’m amazed that I’m so entertained and excited by stuff I really don’t understand.

    Entertain and excite me further with your tech gibberish!

  16. XhomeB says:

    So, SteamOS actually DOES have a desktop mode. With some (massive?) effort, Valve can make it a proper Windows competitor – but they don’t seem to want to.

    • Ocki says:

      Why should Valve do this? If you want a proper desktop-OS, just install one of the other Linux-derivatives. The big thing is not that Valve is developing a new OS, it’s the “side effect” that hardware- and software developers will support the other Linuxsystems as well.

  17. big boy barry says:

    Im gonna grow me a neck beard and then il install it.

  18. Enso says:

    I’d just like to note that I am filled with so much glee right now that valve have decided to opt for a text wheel. http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/steamos-controllerinput-640×359.jpg

    Although rather than selecting each individual letter with a stick, it separates it into 8 segments with each letter being assigned to a face button. The single letter version was the first thing I envisioned when I first booted up an Xbox 360. And with each subsequent update I was disappointed and infuriated that it was never implemented (and it wasn’t even a QWERTY!). It’s such an obvious choice, a glaring, trout to the face-slap, hair pullingly, obvious choice.

    It’s little details like this that have a massive effect on how I view a company/developer because it shows a mindset that is passionate and insightful about games/technology and inspires my confidence in those people to continue to produce things I enjoy.

    It’s also one reason I sold my Xbox and I doubt I’ll ever bother with consoles again.

  19. johnnyboy101 says:

    Not knowing much about Linux… My question is this: will steamos eventually be able to be installed on anything currently running a Linux based OS ( such as one running chromeos)? My goal is to repurpose a chromebox with steamos and use it as a media frontend (xmbc) and game streaming station. Any insight appreciated!

    • Keyrock says:

      Yes. Anything that can run Linux, which is to say, pretty much any x86 based PC, and theoretically ARM based systems, to some degree, too, can run SteamOS, and right now. Despite Valve’s warning that only systems with nVidia cards are supported right now, there have been reports (I can’t attest to this, this is purely hearsay) that AMD Radeon and Intel GPUs work also. Be advised that it’s a rough experience at the moment, very rough.

  20. Keyrock says:

    I gave it a shot over the weekend. It’s in pretty rough shape right now, both the installer and the system itself. Valve have a lot of work to do. The thing that had me scratching my head the most is the installer. Why Valve chose to use a highly gimped version of the Debian installer is beyond me. I know they are basing their system on Debian, which is a fine choice, but why not fork the installer from Ubuntu (also Debian based) or Linux Mint (Ubuntu based, therefore ultimately Debian based) or even Fedora (not based on Debian) and modify it to meet their needs. The installers from those distros are all a billion times more robust and feature complete than the current SteamOS installer, and they’re all completely free, readily available, and open source. Why not just fork one of those installers then modify it to suit their needs from there rather than start with a stripped down Debian installer?

    Anyway, I’m sure Valve have their reasons for the choices they made and in time they will make SteamOS into a good distro. I have faith in Valve. For the time being, though, SteamOS is truly not ready for mainstream consumption. Like Valve wrote, only try this if you are one of the 1337 Linux haxorz.

  21. Moraven says:

    You can get the same thing that SteamOS offers if you just install Ubuntu/Windows and boot up into Steam Big Picture.

    The primary users of this will be for boutiques to sell Steam Boxes. There is no compelling reason for anyone else to install this other than saving money on an additiona Windows license or do not want to install Ubuntu.

    • Baines says:

      SteamOS allegedly will eventually offer better performance than regular Linux, I guess? The quotes about better performance were kind of vague in reference to what they were better than. But if Gabe wants to beat Windows, then he’ll also presumably be out to beat other Linux distros in the process. Some of that might get fed back into Linux at large, but likely not all of it (because Linux itself isn’t trying to be optimized around only gaming.)

  22. CoolgyFurlough says:

    About the instant support for Xbox 360 controllers. The Linux kernel has support for x-input built in to it. In theory, an Xbox controller should work on any Linux system that doesn’t have the driver specifically patched out.

    People for some reason think of Linux as this hellish nightmare realm when it comes to driver compatibility, but compatibility with drivers is actually one of its strong suits. About the only instances where Linux has problems with drivers is when it is for a device that is littered with proprietary code (such as some graphics cards and some wifi cards).

    • TechnicalBen says:

      But “should work” and “no driver compatibility problems” only apply as the actual successful integration comes from “writing your own drivers”*. ;)

      *Or just looking up lusb, getting the chipset detail, compiling the driver and something or other. Still not figured out how to get usb wifi working in Linux. And no, it does not “just work” for every one/hardware configuration.

  23. CookPassBabtridge says:

    That bloody creepy penguin looks like it belongs in an SCP vault