The release of SteamOS was right on time, as promised by Valve. SteamOS is an Operating System designed to play your (Steam) games on a TV. The accompanying “Steam Box“, which will be running the SteamOS and which is supposed to be a hardware platform as open as the Operating System designed for it, is still in Beta but 300 prototype devices (running the SteamOS) have been sent to eager testers together with a purpose-built Steam Controller.
Apparently the Steam Box will also allow you to play your games on your regular (Windows?) computer and “stream” the game’s display to the TV connected to the Steam Box (or any homebrew computer running SteamOS). I don’t know if that will deliver a perfect gaming experience (PC and TV must be close to each other) but I guess that this is how Windows users can still profit from the Steam Box (since it runs a Linux OS, Windows games are out of the question).
You can already download the slightly less than one gigabyte large archive of the OS. It is still a beta release, so not advised for “inexperienced Linux users”. Well, we Slackers do not fall into that category.
From the SteamOS FAQ:
Q: What is SteamOS?
SteamOS is a fork (derivative) of Debian GNU/Linux. The first version (SteamOS 1.0) is called ‘alchemist’ and it is based on the Debian ‘wheezy’ (stable 7.1) distribution.
The major changes made in SteamOS are:
- Backported eglibc 2.17 from Debian testing
- Added various third-party drivers and updated graphics stack (Intel and AMD graphics support still being worked on)
- Updated kernel tracking the 3.10 longterm branch (currently 3.10.11)
- Custom graphics compositor designed to provide a seamless transition between Steam, its games and the SteamOS system overlay
- Configured to auto-update from the Valve SteamOS repositories
I think it is a positive message to all Open Source fans that Debian has been chosen as the base for SteamOS and not Ubuntu, which was the initial target for the Linux Steam Client. I have been watching the threads discussing issues with Steam on Ubuntu and was always glad that running Steam on Slackware was so much easier 🙂
I downloaded the OS image and despite online warnings that the download server was overloaded, it arrived at 6.5 MB/sec which is the maximum bandwith of my own Internet link. I have not yet tried it, but somewhere this week I will certainly dress up a Virtual Machine to see what it looks like. I wonder what will happen, as SteamOS expects Nvidia graphics hardware to be present, although the FAQ mentions “(AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon)“.
Exciting times for Linux gamers. Ever since Gabe Newell’s public statement at LinuxCon 2013 that the future of gaming was on Linux, not on Windows, his company has been porting Steam games to Linux at a frantic pace, with other Open Source software profiting from their efforts (LLVM, X.Org drivers are examples). A year before that speech, Gabe Newell already called Windows 8 “a catastrophe” at a videogame conference in Seattle. Valve, a big thumbs up!