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SteamOS beta download now available

SteamOS beta download now available

SteamOS

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.

35 Comments

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Gigglebyte 14th December 2013, 14:00 Quote
Very exciting indeed, looking forward to dual booting this on a couple of machines later to take it for a spin!
Narishma 14th December 2013, 16:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigglebyte
Very exciting indeed, looking forward to dual booting this on a couple of machines later to take it for a spin!

You can't dual-boot it for the moment.
erratum1 14th December 2013, 16:48 Quote
It's interesting does cutting out windows do anything for performance?

As I don't play many games these days don't think i'll be turning my pc into a gaming machine.
Cthippo 14th December 2013, 17:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Narishma
You can't dual-boot it for the moment.

See, that's kind of the point. It's linux, YES YOU CAN dual boot it, you might just have to put in a little more effort to find the dual boot program and set it up properly. Linux doesn't limit what you can do, it just might not support it out of the box.

In this case (IIRC) you install Windows, install Gparted, and then install linux. The computer boots into Gparted and then asks you what actual OS you want to boot into. The functionality is there, it's just not always the easiest to figure out.
Glix 14th December 2013, 18:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Quote:
Originally Posted by Narishma
You can't dual-boot it for the moment.

See, that's kind of the point. It's linux, YES YOU CAN dual boot it, you might just have to put in a little more effort to find the dual boot program and set it up properly. Linux doesn't limit what you can do, it just might not support it out of the box.

In this case (IIRC) you install Windows, install Gparted, and then install linux. The computer boots into Gparted and then asks you what actual OS you want to boot into. The functionality is there, it's just not always the easiest to figure out.

He meant the installer blasts all partitions.
Tangster 14th December 2013, 18:47 Quote
Yawn. Don't care...another mediocre Linux distro.
Andy Mc 14th December 2013, 19:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangster
Yawn. Don't care...another mediocre Linux distro.

I see it didn't take long for the trolls to come out of the woodwork...
Yslen 14th December 2013, 21:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by erratum1
It's interesting does cutting out windows do anything for performance?

Yes. It makes it worse.

I'm yet to see a cross platform game that runs faster under Linux.
leslie 14th December 2013, 22:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Narishma
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigglebyte
Very exciting indeed, looking forward to dual booting this on a couple of machines later to take it for a spin!

You can't dual-boot it for the moment.
There are two installers, one is a system image which will wipe everything like a Windows restore disk, the other, I believe, is a normal Debian installer (which Steam OS is based on), that one's easy. The restore disk version either needs a separate drive or install it first, then your second OS. Regardless, you can dual boot both.
Pliqu3011 14th December 2013, 23:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangster
Yawn. Don't care...another mediocre Linux distro.
So you've tried it already and found the user experience "mediocre"?
Or is you opinion based purely on assumptions and factless prejudice towards "another" linux distro or linux in general?

Quote:
Originally Posted by erratum1
It's interesting does cutting out windows do anything for performance?
Game performance? No. Graphics drivers for Linux are generally still not as good as their Windows equivalents. Hopefully the new push to Linux by developers will encourage AMD and nVidia to put more effort into them. If your only concern is the best gaming performance, I don't think you'll want to switch anytime soon.
However, for general desktop performance you will notice an improvement, from what I've seen. Most of your experience will be based on personal preference though.
(If you're not planning on playing a lot of games, but are interested in Linux, I'd recommend to just try a well-established, beginner-friendly linux distro like Ubuntu or Linux Mint through wubi (or on a VirtualBox). It'll create a small virtual harddrive within your Windows partition and can be uninstalled just like any other program. If you like it you could later on go to a full dual-boot, or try out SteamOS when it's a bit better supported. If you don't, then you can just uninstall it with the click of a button. It's both free and risk-free, so why not give it a shot?)
dyzophoria 15th December 2013, 05:53 Quote
hope it does good for valve, though I seriously was hoping they should have just focused on developing HL3 :)
erratum1 15th December 2013, 09:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pliqu3011
Game performance? No. Graphics drivers for Linux are generally still not as good as their Windows equivalents. Hopefully the new push to Linux by developers will encourage AMD and nVidia to put more effort into them. If your only concern is the best gaming performance, I don't think you'll want to switch anytime soon.
However, for general desktop performance you will notice an improvement, from what I've seen. Most of your experience will be based on personal preference though.
(If you're not planning on playing a lot of games, but are interested in Linux, I'd recommend to just try a well-established, beginner-friendly linux distro like Ubuntu or Linux Mint through wubi (or on a VirtualBox). It'll create a small virtual harddrive within your Windows partition and can be uninstalled just like any other program. If you like it you could later on go to a full dual-boot, or try out SteamOS when it's a bit better supported. If you don't, then you can just uninstall it with the click of a button. It's both free and risk-free, so why not give it a shot?)

Thanks for the info.
SchizoFrog 15th December 2013, 10:56 Quote
I think I'll get it and hang on to it even if I choose not to install it, let alone use it. The main reason for this is the cynic in me that thinks that one day things like this may not be free and having this version already may well provide me with what is needed for a back door. I do like testing things BEFORE I hand over money for them.
Measter 15th December 2013, 11:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I think I'll get it and hang on to it even if I choose not to install it, let alone use it. The main reason for this is the cynic in me that thinks that one day things like this may not be free and having this version already may well provide me with what is needed for a back door. I do like testing things BEFORE I hand over money for them.

They're required by law to provide the source code, so the OS will always be free. Some things that come with it, such as the Steam client, are not open source, so they could still charge for that.
Cthippo 15th December 2013, 12:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Measter
They're required by law to provide the source code, so the OS will always be free. Some things that come with it, such as the Steam client, are not open source, so they could still charge for that.

"By law" is a bit of a misnomer, but the linux code that it's based on is all licensed under the General Public License and part of what that means is that all derivative products must also be open source. This is more of a contractual issue, but it is legally enforceable and has been upheld in court.
Corky42 15th December 2013, 12:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen
Yes. It makes it worse.

I'm yet to see a cross platform game that runs faster under Linux.

The performance of a game has less to do with the OS, and more to do with the drivers and optimisations done on the graphics API.

According to Valve’s own blog post testing done on L4D2, DirectX running on Windows hit 270.6 fps, OpenGL on Linux hit 315 fps, and OpenGL on Windows ran at 303.7 fps.

I found the following article informative on the differences between gaming on Windows vs Linux
http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/167541-making-sense-of-the-steam-box-windows-vs-linux-opengl-vs-direct3d-and-the-impact-of-support-from-amd-nvidia?print
DriftCarl 15th December 2013, 13:12 Quote
I installed it onto a VirtualBox image last night just to see what the fuss is about. So its no different from steam running on windows.
it IS just debian with steam installed onto it, maybe a bit of a UI change, im not familiar with debian on its own.
I don't know what I expected, maybe something a bit more customised, but its clearly just linux with steam installed, no reason why someone couldn't just install it onto their own already built linux machine.
I downloaded DOTA2, didnt run very well because, well it was a VM.
I think I would rather stick to PC gaming, my PC is in my living room anyway :)
forum_user 15th December 2013, 19:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DriftCarl
I installed it onto a VirtualBox image last night just to see what the fuss is about. So its no different from steam running on windows.
it IS just debian with steam installed onto it, maybe a bit of a UI change, im not familiar with debian on its own.
I don't know what I expected, maybe something a bit more customised, but its clearly just linux with steam installed, no reason why someone couldn't just install it onto their own already built linux machine.
I downloaded DOTA2, didnt run very well because, well it was a VM.
I think I would rather stick to PC gaming, my PC is in my living room anyway :)

My gaming PC is in my study/office. With a tidy SteamOS box in my lounge, I will be streaming games on the big lounge screen when the missus goes to bed. Lots of the oldskool adopters of Steam have grown up and gotten bigger houses and will likely be doing same as me.
theshadow2001 15th December 2013, 21:10 Quote
I haven't installed it virtually or otherwise. But from what I've seen its just debian with a few packages missing and the steam client installed. Thats about all steamOS really will be even after beta, perhaps slightly more restricted.

It's all a bit disappointing really. I was at least expecting some sort of customized desktop or interface, instead of just a bare debian/gnome combo.
[PUNK] crompers 15th December 2013, 21:14 Quote
In light of this I probably won't bother. One thing I'd like to know is if I could stream from windows to windows or whether steamOS is required
theshadow2001 15th December 2013, 21:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [PUNK] crompers
In light of this I probably won't bother. One thing I'd like to know is if I could stream from windows to windows or whether steamOS is required

Streaming seems to be a ways off yet. It certainly is something that interests me. Streaming can be achieved right now with a shield I believe. Chances are that's going to be a better alternative to whatever steam come up with for a while.

Valve have such an uphill struggle to get the whole linux gaming off the ground and established. I do hope they succeed though.
forum_user 15th December 2013, 21:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadow2001
I haven't installed it virtually or otherwise. But from what I've seen its just debian with a few packages missing and the steam client installed. Thats about all steamOS really will be even after beta, perhaps slightly more restricted.

It's all a bit disappointing really. I was at least expecting some sort of customized desktop or interface, instead of just a bare debian/gnome combo.

Is it still in beta?

I expect the SteamBox version will be the interface you want.
theshadow2001 15th December 2013, 21:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by forum_user
Is it still in beta?

I expect the SteamBox version will be the interface you want.

Yes its still in beta. Naturally the finished product won't be like it is in its current format. But really, what are they getting from this over the existing steam client being installed on debian or debian based linux distros? Between ubuntu and mint I'm pretty sure that would cover off a large amount of existing steam linux installs.

I just would have thought they would release the beta with something which is more than just debian and a steam client. Some new feature that would be worth testing out. Something that would be note worthy. Even a headline grabber from a PR point of view.
Corky42 16th December 2013, 01:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadow2001
Yes its still in beta. Naturally the finished product won't be like it is in its current format. But really, what are they getting from this over the existing steam client being installed on debian or debian based linux distros? Between ubuntu and mint I'm pretty sure that would cover off a large amount of existing steam linux installs.

I just would have thought they would release the beta with something which is more than just debian and a steam client. Some new feature that would be worth testing out. Something that would be note worthy. Even a headline grabber from a PR point of view.

SteamOS wont bring anything special over and above Steam running on any Linux distro of your choice and why should it, SteamOS and Steam machines are not intended for people that have the competence to install and setup their own machine. Its intended for OEM's to sell box's preinstalled with SteamOS so Jo blogs can buy a no hassle box to play PC games in the living room.
theshadow2001 16th December 2013, 01:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
SteamOS wont bring anything special over and above Steam running on any Linux distro of your choice and why should it.

To set it apart from other linux distro's? To give us something new or unexpected? I mean ***, at least get it to the point where it auto boots into big picture mode before releasing it (although maybe it does I've only seen 3rd party overviews of the O/S). So that PC gamers sit up and take note. Or even Joe blogs for that matter. To show intentions of making steam O/S to gaming what Backtrack is to hacking (or network penetration depending on your hat)

I'm not looking for a full finished O/S but just a little something to give us a taste of what is to come. It just feels like they spent five minutes pulling out a few default programs and whacking on steam and going: "there, thats our beta http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=2258&pictureid=35524".

What I would've really liked to have seen, would be a complete desktop layer replacement that integrated with steam , so no gnome or xfce or whatever. Even if it was basic and buggy as all hell. Just, something!
dyzophoria 16th December 2013, 03:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadow2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
SteamOS wont bring anything special over and above Steam running on any Linux distro of your choice and why should it.

To set it apart from other linux distro's? To give us something new or unexpected? I mean ***, at least get it to the point where it auto boots into big picture mode before releasing it (although maybe it does I've only seen 3rd party overviews of the O/S). So that PC gamers sit up and take note. Or even Joe blogs for that matter. To show intentions of making steam O/S to gaming what Backtrack is to hacking (or network penetration depending on your hat)

I'm not looking for a full finished O/S but just a little something to give us a taste of what is to come. It just feels like they spent five minutes pulling out a few default programs and whacking on steam and going: "there, thats our beta http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=2258&pictureid=35524".

What I would've really liked to have seen, would be a complete desktop layer replacement that integrated with steam , so no gnome or xfce or whatever. Even if it was basic and buggy as all hell. Just, something!

Wasn't really expecting alot of ground breaking stuffs from this, to be fair, Developing Operating Systems are not Valve's strong point.
GuilleAcoustic 16th December 2013, 12:22 Quote
SteamOS will probably, and I hope it will, be like XBMC on Linux, i.e. a desktop replacement with silent boot and autologin. That's what makes XBMC so much better on Linux than on Windows.

It's only a beta and I prefear to have everything in place, stable and working than having silent boot / login at the begining at the cost of broken core functions.

I do not expect SteamOS to be a brand new distro. I see it as a light distro, with all unecessary packages / services removed and with Steam as a desktop manager.
StoneyMahoney 16th December 2013, 13:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
SteamOS wont bring anything special over and above Steam running on any Linux distro of your choice and why should it, SteamOS and Steam machines are not intended for people that have the competence to install and setup their own machine.

What it brings is exactly what any new flavour of Linux should bring - it's own particular set of optimizations and design choices for it's chosen audience. I can't think of any other Linux distro in particular that's aimed at gamers, and having Valve behind it gives me far more hope that it'll succeed than anyone else could.

The main optimizations that stand out are the custom graphics compositor, based on xcompmgr with a 4200 line patch, and the decision to use the realtime version of the 3.10 kernel - obviously you weren't paying attention or you wouldn't have written this off as a mere package selection&config job. Of course, there's still a lot of work to do; although it has Catalyst and Mesa built in, only Nvidia is officially supported at this time and the X.org server without Mir or Wayland will likely be changed once a hard decision is made on which way to go.

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTU0MzY

And besides, now that Valve are pushing Nvidia and AMD to get their graphics game on, maybe this might actually get the 100% graphics support that every Linux user has been praying for over the decades. I've got a Phenom2/Radeon based machine not doing a lot right now after a hard drive failure, I'll be giving this a look-over very soon.

Valve have given themselves a very steep mountain to climb, there's no question about that. Trying to get support from both hardware manufacturers and software developers for something like this is as easy as herding cats (big ones, not domestic) but I can't see anything bad coming from this attempt and certainly can't think of anyone better to give it a shot.
Corky42 16th December 2013, 14:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneyMahoney
The main optimizations that stand out are the custom graphics compositor, based on xcompmgr with a 4200 line patch, and the decision to use the realtime version of the 3.10 kernel - obviously you weren't paying attention or you wouldn't have written this off as a mere package selection&config job. Of course, there's still a lot of work to do; although it has Catalyst and Mesa built in, only Nvidia is officially supported at this time and the X.org server without Mir or Wayland will likely be changed once a hard decision is made on which way to go.
Sorry if it came across i was saying SteamOS isn't worth it, i was merely trying to point out that if people are expecting the second coming with the first beta release they would be better using another distro.
Yes eventually it maybe worth running a dual boot with SteamOS for an extra few FPS, or for some must have feature but as it stand at the moment i feel valves main attention is on getting the basic done, like drivers, streaming, media play back, etc, etc.

Nice article of details on the innards of SteamOS BTW, thanks
Fruitloaf 16th December 2013, 15:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneyMahoney
Trying to get support from both hardware manufacturers and software developers for something like this is as easy as herding cats.

Call in the experts then! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8
StoneyMahoney 17th December 2013, 00:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Sorry if it came across i was saying SteamOS isn't worth it, i was merely trying to point out that if people are expecting the second coming with the first beta release they would be better using another distro.
Yes eventually it maybe worth running a dual boot with SteamOS for an extra few FPS, or for some must have feature but as it stand at the moment i feel valves main attention is on getting the basic done, like drivers, streaming, media play back, etc, etc.

Nice article of details on the innards of SteamOS BTW, thanks

No problem, thanks for not letting me turn into a SteamOS fanboi blowhard ****head. ;)

I've tried running a Linux system as my primary OS before, but the lack of support for key games in my repertoire and blunted gaming performance using compatibility layers ruined it, not to mention some wifi driver issues. If Valve can get the graphics drivers running smoothly, if the Linux native games selection improves and if the desktop stays accessible and usable, it stands a good chance of unseating Windows as my gaming OS.

But, to quote Jayne: "I smell a lot of "if" coming off this plan."
theshadow2001 17th December 2013, 00:25 Quote
Quote:

I stand very much corrected
StoneyMahoney 17th December 2013, 09:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadow2001
Quote:

I stand very much corrected

You really shouldn't have to - Valve aren't exactly crowing that information from the rooftops and that's exactly what they should be doing to differentiate SteamOS from the 'Debian+bundled SteamApp' impression so many people around net have picked up already. Let's hope the benchmarks that are doubtless to emerge are good enough to grab some attention.
Corky42 17th December 2013, 10:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneyMahoney
Let's hope the benchmarks that are doubtless to emerge are good enough to grab some attention.

Sadly the benchmarks done so far found generally the NVIDIA Linux graphics driver can deliver comparable performance to that of the Windows.
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=steamos_windows8_linux&num=1
Although for a beta to be comparable with Windows makes the future look promising, no ?
StoneyMahoney 17th December 2013, 11:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Sadly the benchmarks done so far found generally the NVIDIA Linux graphics driver can deliver comparable performance to that of the Windows.

Pity it's only 1 game benchmark and it's OpenArena. I suspect, with all the real-time kernel tuning, the Fps is far from the full story. I'd be interested in testing network latency, server ticks per second under load, input lag, all that jazz.

Looks like the rest of my week just got filled.
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