steamOSSteam OS, the operating system behind Valve’s upcoming Steam Machine consoles, is available for download by people interested in spending their weekend installing a new flavor of Linux developed by the Bellevue-based game company.

The launch also brings some new tidbits about the new operating system: it’s based on Debian 7.1, and it boots directly into Steam. It will be possible for users to open a Linux desktop, though that will require logging into a different user account, at least for now.

As Valve said earlier this week, at this stage, Steam OS is not for the faint of heart, or those people short on hard drives. According to Valve’s system requirements, installing the operating system requires a blank hard drive with at least 500 GB available (one installation method requires a 1TB drive), and a Nvidia graphics card. At the moment, cards from ATI and Intel aren’t supported, though Valve says that will be coming in the future.

Still, for people who weren’t among the 300 lucky souls to be included in the testing of the Steam Machine, this is the only way to get an early look at how Valve is going to try and break away from Windows with its own console.

The latest Steam OS installer can be found here, and the operating system’s source code can be found here. For more information about SteamOS’s capabilities and installation instructions, check out Valve’s FAQ.

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  • Ivan Labrador

    Excellent blog, I wonder what is the difference between and if possible explain what file is needed to install.

  • Jay Delaro

    The takes a couple of extra steps, the puts the whole system on your drive, you can use either one.

  • POThead-Profound Obvious Truth

    What a bunch of f…. idiots for not supporting ATI right off the bat.. Even Linus Torvalds has issue’s with Nvidia. And this is built from a major Linux distribution? Either way, not supporting the 2 World Wide top video cards from the start is moronic and a strong sign of possible failure in the future. (including but not limited to, hardware support.) This is not a good way to encourage future customers that you will be a successful company; all of which will be tech-savvy and ultimately will know all of this too.

    • Robby Garlitz

      Aw so sad lol. A little bit of patience goes a long way. And honestly everybody knows nvidia beats ATI. PhysX alone is reason for that.
      (Just bought myself a brand new GTX 760 to pair with my AMD FX8350. Shit is awesome. (Just so ya know, I’m no fanboy.. but cmon, nvidia graphics have always been superior)

      • Duh

        Whether Nvidia beats ATI or not wasn’t his issue. Your such a child that the first thing that came to your mind was “competition” and who beats who.. Yes you are a gamer. His point was if a company wants to get off the ground and corner the market right away they have to support at least the major players in the game.. And I don’t mean game players.

      • Borys Kaminskyy

        You paired up an Nvidia card with AMD processor…LOL

        FYI, ATI is long gone, its AMD vs Nvidia now.

        PhysX can also be enabled in a system that runs an AMD card, if you have no idea what you are talking about, don’t talk about it.

      • Jovica Lešević

        …. after this move from Valve , AMD could make decent driver for Linux … or not ?

      • jettcity

        This is a “fanboy” parody…right??

    • WaR!

      I cannot compare performance these two vendors, but for gaming you need good, stable drivers. That’s why ATI is not supported.

    • bakgwailo

      So, they do kind of support AMD – the current drivers are included. However, the (most likely) reason they said NVIDIA only is because AMD’s (and previously ATI’s) Linux driver was really, really terrible. My guess is that Valve will ‘officially’ support AMD when they finally get their drivers together, otherwise it would just make SteamOS and the Steam Box look poor. All of that said, AMD has made major strides recently in both their proprietary driver and their open source driver. So, really, don’t hate on Valve for this – mainly hate on AMD for having shit drivers.

    • Malcom

      I’m not trying to insult you but have you ever attempted to play games on Linux with an ati card ? Since it is based on Debian YOU CAN install those ati drivers but don’t expect anything good.

      • POThead-Profound Obvious Truth

        Games play perfect on my ATI Radeon with the OEM drivers installed from ATI. But thanks anyway

    • NathanMentley

      ATI’s Legacy Drivers aren’t supported.

      However, It looks like the modern ATI drivers are included.

      But I doubt you’d really want to use an ATI card on linux. Unless tings have change in the year or so I’ve been gone from linux I’m pretty sure you’d rather just run windows and steam in Big Picture Mode.

      • POThead-Profound Obvious Truth

        I have full OEM linux drivers from ATI Radeon HD for my Debian. Everything works great. My point was that a new company has to support at least the main/major most common companies if they want customers.. They can’t leave out 40 or 50% of people who have ATI’s already in their machine. Not everyone wants to have to go out and buy a new video card just so they can install Steam’s product.. But thank you for your response.

    • billy

      I agree, its not smart business.

  • Robby Garlitz

    Requires a blank hard drive, does this mean I wont be able to partition off 500 GB and use the same HDD I have windows installed to?

    • Blair Hanley Frank

      It’s unclear to me from the FAQ (linked in the story above), though it seems like that should be possible. Your mileage may vary, though.

    • NathanMentley

      Don’t attempt that.

      The install just goes. It’ll wipe your drive… What ever drive it feels like.

      Your best bet if you want to duel boot right now… is detach all your drives except the target one before installing.

      Edit: The installer is terrible.

      • Pereza0

        I don’t understand this, the thing is forked off Debian and Debian has none of these issues. Why did they mess it up?

        • Jonas Lihnell

          They didnt mess it up. The current release is beta quality, and is meant to get testers, not to be used by end-users. It only supports the hardware it happens to do but by the time they make a consumer ready release this will no longer be the case. If you’re not willing to hack away at the files and make the changes you need to get it running on your own hardware, be that nvidia or ati graphics or whatnot, then just dont bother for now. This release is for the tech-savvy people.

  • guest

    When they said this release was not ready for consumption by normal humans… they weren’t kidding.

    • Jonas Lihnell

      Yepp. This one’s for them real geeks :)

  • Tod

    It’s amazing

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