steam for linux with tux

Well, this is interesting: it looks like Steam for Linux is now available to install as a Flatpak app.

The Steam Flatpak is even being distributed through Flathub, a centralised repository for app developers to host their apps in. My expectation is that Flathub will become the de-facto app storefront for Flatpaks later this year.

‘I just installed [Steam Flatpak] and then World of Goo, both ran just fine’

As noted by Alexander Wilms in an on-going thread on the Steam for Linux Github issue tracker, Steam is available to install as a Flatpak via the Flathub repo.

“I just installed it and then World of Goo, both ran just fine,” he adds.

Not having had chance to install it and play around with it myself I can’t personally attest to how well it works (if it works at all!).

But, regardless of its current state, it’s super promising to see big-name software like Steam being made available through modern app distribution methods like Flatpak.

Steam for Linux is proprietary software, which makes its availability via Flatpak a little more notable.

To get around some of the issues in redistributing or repackaging non-FOSS software (like Spotify and Discord, which are also available via Flathub) the repo does not host Steam’s proprietary code itself (though its installer is redistributable).

Instead, as explained by the uploader TingPing on Reddit, it “downloads data at runtime so users download them directly from the official website and Flatpak bundles them up” — think of it as being a kind of recipe.

Install Steam Flatpak on Ubuntu

Want to install the Steam Flatpak before me? You can, and you can install it alongside the regular version of Steam for Linux without running in to any issue — bar not being able to tell which Steam icon will launch which version!

First, you need to make sure you have the latest version of Flatpak installed on Ubuntu. For avoidance of doubt just add the official Flatpak PPA below to your software sources, and then update, install or upgrade Flatpak:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alexlarsson/flatpak
sudo apt update && sudo apt install flatpak xdg-desktop-portal

Next, add the Flathub repo using the following command:

sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub

Finally, install the Steam Flatpak from Flathub:

sudo flatpak install flathub com.valvesoftware.Steam

Patience is critical here as it can often take several minutes for Flatpak to download everything it needs to. In this case it has to go out and fetch the (rather large) Steam runtime and any runtime dependencies it has. Pay close attention to the Terminal throughout this process as it may prompt you to add additional remotes from which it can fetch dependencies.

Once everything has finished up you will be able to launch Steam for Linux through the Unity Dash, GNOME Applications, or whatever app menu you use on your desktop.

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