Steam OS review – from a Linux user’s point of view

Steam OS images were made available for free download yesterday. I grabbed the images, created an ISO and booted a high-end system on it (it was a working Windows 8 desktop). Instead of automated install, I chose advanced install so I could see what was going on. It was a pure Debian installer experience.

Once you installed everything successfully and rebooted your system, you will be greeted with typical Grub and Gnome login screen and there are four option – default Xsession, Steam OS, Gnome 3 Shell and Gnome Classic. I chose Gnome Shell just for the sake of checking it out.

Steam OS comes with some basic apps pre-installed which includes a browser – IceWeasel (Firefox re-branded), terminal, disk utility, the Steam app and Valve bug tracker along with some more.

So you are good to browse the web with the default set of applications.


How to get complete desktop experience

It’s extremely easy to install the applications that you need (only condition is that they should be available for Debian 7.1). The default images have ‘desktop’ as user and password so you can’t do any administrative jobs. But you can change the password to your liking by running the simple UNIX command in the terminal:


It will ask for the current password and then you can enter the new password. Once the password is set you can perform administrative tasks like adding Debian repos to install more packages as ‘sudo’.

Adding Debian repositories

Steam OS comes with its own repositories enabled so that users can get automatic updates and apps. But you can add Debian repositories to install more apps.

You can open source list with vi or nano and add following lines to it:


nano /etc/apt/source.list

and add these lines

deb wheezy main
deb-src wheezy main
deb wheezy-updates main
deb-src wheezy-updates main
deb wheezy/updates main
deb-src wheezy/updates main

I went ahead and installed few things that I needed such as Chromium browser, Gedit and other such applications.

Jono Bacon photobombed this screenshot :P
Jono Bacon photobombed this screenshot :P

What’s working

Everything including HDMI out, sound, video and bluetooth. Yes, wireless was not working out of the box as it needed firmware to be installed, I din’t try to get the driver as I was connected with ethernet port.

So with Steam OS you get pure Gnome Shell 3 and Debian experience – both stable and mature. You can download every software that is available for Debian 7.1, including Chromium and Dropbox. So, one can do everything that you can do on typical PC.

Valve has said that they are working on bringing more applications to Steam OS so we may also expect services like Netflix and many other popular (even though) proprietary applications on Steam OS.