Valve releases SteamOS Brewmaster preview build

June 26, 2015 // 12:08 p.m.

Tags: #alchemist #brewmaster #gabe-newell #linux #linux-gaming #steam #steam-box #steam-machine #steamos #valve

Valve has released a new preview build for its SteamOS Linux-based gaming-centric operating system, dubbed Brewmaster, but warns that users of the previous Alchemist build will need to perform a fresh install.

Part of Valve's vision for the future of gaming, and seemingly born of Gabe Newell's distaste for Windows 8, SteamOS takes the long-running Debian Linux distribution and tailors it for gaming. The operating system, designed to be pre-installed onto the company's licensed Steam Machine console-style-PCs either in place of or alongside Windows, boots directly into the Steam user interface in gamepad-friendly Big Picture mode for an experience closer to that of an Xbox or PlayStation than a PC - but with the advantage that you can switch out to a more traditional Linux desktop to run traditional applications and non-Steam games, should you so desire.

Although Valve is being cagey about what has changed in the new Brewmaster build, stating only that 'there are a lot of changes under the covers' and confessing to basing it on Debian 8.1 stable, the company is eager for gamers to test out its latest version of the free OS. 'We are especially interested in any regressions in hardware compatibility or Steam games,' the company explained in its release announcement. 'If it worked in alchemist and doesn't work in brewmaster, let us know!'

Before rushing off to give the new build a go, however, there are a few caveats - the main one being that there's no way to upgrade from Alchemist to Brewmaster. 'We are investigating options here,' the company claimed, 'but for now you will need to completely reinstall.' Other issues to watch out for include a complete failure of desktop mode on AMD hardware along with an error message during the second boot section of the installation process which can be safely ignored, and a black splash screen when booted on a system with both Intel and Nvidia graphics processors present.

Valve has confirmed plans to retire Alchemist and move support exclusively to Brewmaster in the future, but for now will continue to update Alchemist with security updates. Download links for legacy BIOS and UEFI hardware are available from the official announcement post.
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