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steam-os

Steam OS available for download, based on Debian 7.1 not Ubuntu

Valve Software has made available images for Steam OS, it’s GNU/Linux based gaming distribution. Valve has also released more information about the operating system. Unlike popular belief Steam OS is not based on Ubuntu; it’s based on Debian 7.1 Wheezy. Steam OS is using Gnome as it’s default desktop environment.

It’s a pretty reasonable decision considering Ubuntu’s own struggle with developing in-house technologies like Mir and many others. There may be other issues as Linux Mint founder recently said in an interview that Canonical is using binary licensing to restrict what derivative can and can’t do. Valve is a much bigger company than Canonical and it certainly won’t rely on a company which is not known for having very good relationship with the free software community.

How to install Steam OS
If you are able to download Steam OS (looking at the huge amount of traffic the site is getting) then there are two ways of installing it. Just keep in mind that it will format everything on that machine so be very very careful, it’s not like installing Debian on your system. Since we have not yet seen the installation process we are not sure if there will be any option of partitioning. So better get a dedicated system for testing.

Here you can see Steam OS running in a Virtual Machine (it’s Gnome 3 Shell)

Method 1:

The easiest method is an image-based install using CloneZilla. You will need to create a SteamOS System Restore USB stick to perform this install. The image provided here requires at least a 1TB disk.

  • Format a 4GB or larger USB stick with the FAT32 filesystem. Use “SYSRESTORE” as the partition name
  • Unzip the contents of SYSRESTORE.zip to this USB stick to create the System Restore USB stick
  • Put the System Restore USB stick in your target machine. Boot your machine and tell the BIOS to boot off the stick. (usually something like F8, F11 or F12 will bring up the BIOS boot menu).
  • Make sure you select the UEFI entry, it may look something like “UEFI: Patriot Memory PMAP”
  • Select “Restore Entire Disk” from the GRUB menu.
  • System Restore will proceed automatically. When it is complete it will reboot into your freshly re-imaged SteamOS

Method 2

  • Unzip the SteamOSInstaller.zip file to a blank, FAT32-formatted USB stick.
  • Put the USB stick in your target machine. Boot your machine and tell the BIOS to boot off the stick. (usually something like F8, F11, or F12 will bring up the BIOS boot menu).
  • Make sure you select the UEFI entry, it may look something like “UEFI: Patriot Memory PMAP”
  • Pick “Automated Install” from the next menu.
  • The rest of the installation is unattended and will repartition the drive and install SteamOS.
  • After installation is complete, log onto the resulting system (using the Gnome session) with the predefined “steam” account. The password is “steam”. Run steam, accept the EULA, and let it bootstrap. Logoff the steam account
  • Log on with the “desktop” account. The password is “desktop”
  • From a terminal window, run ~/post_logon.sh. This will prompt for a password – enter “desktop”. This script will perform the post-install customizations, delete itself, then reboot into the recovery partition capture utility.
  • Confirm “y” to continue and the recovery partition will be created. When it is finished, reboot into your freshly installed SteamOS
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You can download Steam OS from this link.

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Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

20 Comments

  1. Um… “Keep in mind that we are not affiliated with Valve!”
    Did somebody **** up? Because this is not SteamOS, its a copycat (as far as I can tell – or just a duplicate self hosted image – either way, sketchy seeming).

    Why not just get it from STEAM?
    http://store.steampowered.com/steamos/buildyourown

    • SteamDB is a legitimate site. I think people are linking there because the steam servers are getting hammered. The SteamDB torrent is being far more reliable for me, anyway.

  2. So, they’re getting it from the source, no pun intended. Good for them. Debian is crystal clear water.

    • I really don’t think it is that much of a surprise, they may have considered the idea Ubuntu but Debian just seems to be the most practical choice for the long haul.

  3. So does Steam OS use GNOME 3.4 like Debian 7 uses, or does it actually use something newer, like 3.10?

    On a side note, I’m pretty sure Steam OS uses a custom GNOME Shell theme to give it that futuristic Holo-like look which I’m sure is exactly what the gamers are into…

    • I would have thought that its just a Steam Big Picture Mode session, without any DEs started.

      • Yeah, I just saw that GNOME shell was launched as well… But the Steam client itself isn’t using any GNOME technologies or anything (although we wouldn’t know as its proprietary).

    • It’s Gnome 3 Shell…so you get pure Gnome with terminal and Gedit stuff and can use it as a Gnome desktop.

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