Valve has made available for download a beta of its much anticipated gaming operating system, SteamOS.
Based on Linux, the system aims to cut out the middleman and bring Steam gaming straight to your living room or desktop, with no need for Windows or any other OS.
SteamOS has been built primarily for use on the company's upcoming Steam Machines games consoles. These are essentially conventional gaming PCs which will be built by both Valve itself and by partner manufacturers and will offer a console-like, plug and play gaming experience. However, Valve has also made the OS available for download for anyone to install.
Installation of the OS is not for the faint hearted, though, with Valve saying, "Unless you're an intrepid Linux hacker already... we're going to recommend that you wait until later in 2014 to try it out."
If you do fancy taking on the task, the download link for the 960MB file is here
. There's also an unofficial torrent of the file here
and instructions for installation here
Valve is also shipping prototype Steam Machines to 300 lucky testers.
Eventually accompanying the Steam Machines will be Steam's own games controller
which uses two trackpads instead of thumbsticks, which it claims makes the pad suitable for traditional gamepad-controlled games as well as more mouse/keyboard centric titles like RTS.