tile-templateDoes it feel like a special day? It should – the first beta release of Steam OS has been made available for download.

The release of the Linux-based OS, first revealed back in September, coincides with the shipping of Valve’s prototype Steam Machine to some 300 community-sourced US beta testers. Plans for commercial Steam Machines that are expected to launch in 2014 will be revealed at CES on January 6th.


This release of the SteamOS is not without caveats. Valve are advising caution, suggesting that only the “Intrepid Linux Hacker” attempt installation.

Though there was early speculation that SteamOS would be based on Ubuntu given Valve’s heavy testing of the Steam client on the Ubuntu desktop and the existence of apt repositories, the OS appears to be Debian-based – specifically on the Wheezy 7.1 release from June. In the SteamOS FAQ Valve say that Debian allowed them “to deliver a fully custom SteamOS experience” that Ubuntu ostensibly couldn’t, despite recommending it for desktop Linux users otherwise.

A desktop mode is available in SteamOS for those of you concerned about the operating system’s use outside of gaming.

The official system requirements are:

  • 64-bit processor
  • 4GB or more of memory
  • 500GB disk
  • NVIDIA graphics card (AMD and Intel coming soon)
  • UEFI boot support

There are two ways to install SteamOS.

One method will create a “SteamOS System Restore USB stick” that will restore SteamOS from the USB drive to your testing device. The second method uses a Debian installer which requires a bit more manual work to setup. Both methods will erase everything on your device, Valve caution.

The former download weighs in at 2.4GB and the latter at 960MB, so you might want to grab a book or start a long game of Monopoly whilst Valve’s servers attempt to serve thousands of eager testers. A number of unofficial torrents exist, so be vigilant and use those at your own risk (and check md5sums upon completion!). You can find the exact installation instructions in the SteamOS FAQ linked below.

We’ll be giving you our first impressions of Valve’s new OS soon. Until then, get your gaming hat on and enjoy another peek at what 2014 has in store for the future of Linux gaming!

Download the SteamOS System Restore Image

Download the SteamOS Debian Installer

Read the SteamOS FAQ

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