SteamOS thoughts

I was having a philosophical day today.

First, let’s make one thing clear, I love Valve. I loved the original client, even though I had to run it on Windows. I love all the quality games they produce and will probably spend most of my life sending my CV to them. But, most of all, I love that they brought gaming to Linux. Then, they made their own Linux based OS and I’m not sure if I love that.

Let’s kick the ball off with the installation, actually, not even that far; making a bootable medium. There’s no ISO or IMG, only a zip file. You need to paste this on to a USB drive and hope your box supports UEFI, otherwise you need the help of someone awesome like Stephenson’s Rocket. Then, you’re in the hands of the Gods as to whether it runs, or not and if the graphics work in the installer. I’ve seen lots of people who can’t even get that far. If you do, you need 1TB of disk for the all consuming OS, there’s no choice of partitioning (I think this is fixed in the Rocket ISO).

Then, if you get this far, there’s the OS. I think that Debian was the best choice, I do. In the same shoes, I’d have chosen it. But why do you need it? I’m more than happy with the Steam client on Fedora and have run it fine on openSUSE, Elementary, Arch and Mint. If I want the “big picture”, I can get it from the client and the selection of games are all the same. So what’s the point? What do you guys think?

As far as I’m concerned, SteamOS is built to be the thing that runs on Steam Machines. The fact that you can download it and run it on your own machine if you want is nice, and testament to Valve’s dedication to it being open source, but it’s not the point of it. If you want to build your own machine and have it run Steam, then stick Ubuntu or whatever on it and install the Steam client. That’s not what SteamOS is for.


@sil you, sir, have destroyed my argument :slight_smile:

Yep, you’re right, I’d completely forgotten that they, and others, are making the Steam boxes. However, they could make the process (especially installation) better.

I wonder if they will in time, for now they are focusing all their attention on the specs for their boxes. But, then, if they made it easy to put it on any machine, why would one want to buy a Steam Machine?

Probably, and doubtless they will, but their goal is to make it easy for some firm to put SteamOS on a hundred thousand machines at the end of a production line, not for you to download an ISO :slight_smile: Nonetheless, I suspect they are working on this; Valve are good eggs. I found out today from @directhex that Valve mandate that all the hardware (except nVidia/AMD graphics card) in a Steam Machine is driven by in-kernel open source drivers, too, which is very cool.

Good news, indeed!

I still wonder though, how it would come off for them if they do make it easier for one to install, and then the machine specs are not quite up to the job and so does not work well, how will that be for PR? Maybe, for their own sake, they will make it a bit difficult to see to it that, if you are up to the task, then you will make sure that your machine will be sufficient.

I agree with the first remark of @sil. SteamOS was released for testing. I doubt they will ever released an ISO. There’s no point. They will have to deal with complaints from people who could not install it, due to graphical supports, unsupported hardware, etc. Get your Linux box running it, and then run the Steam client. That’s the way it should be.

Just take a look at the versions. I’m not sure if they have a regular release cycle for SteamOS zip files. The Linux client upgrades quite frequently. Those zip files are mostly novelties. The real SteamOS will be running on the official Steam Machines from Alien Ware and similars

I am with @sil on this. Valve are not creating SteamOS for general consumer use - investment in a simple to use installer would be a waste of resources. In much the same way, there will never be a consumer-facing installer for Ubuntu for phones…it is designed to be deployed by OEMs and in some cases, developers.

I admire Valve for their openness, but I also see your point, @joe - I little purpose for installing SteamOS unless you are a hardware gamer who wants to build your own steam box…similar to the MythTV boxes many of us built many moons ago.

So they do have to improve the installer because they know that people want steam OS without having to buy a whole new box, and looking at /r/steamOS you can tell theres miss understanding about what steamOS is and that you’ll have a similar experiance on Ubuntu!

There are many people who want to install SteamOS though, and a lot of people who don’t know what a Linux or an Ubuntu is, that being said, I see SteamOS as a Playstation or Wii-U OS but with a desktop option, gaming first and desktop as a second option, I think the steamOS should be on a console like device, I recomend if anyone wants a steamOS experiance but also wants to use the desktop alot, then get Ubuntu as its what Valve supports, its easy, and has lots of help if theres any issues!

Yeah, but people wanting that does not mean that Valve have to provide it, because that’s not what SteamOS is for. I want loads of stuff, but that doesn’t mean people have to give me it. :slight_smile:

but if they didn’t want you to install it why would they give you .zip files and .iso to install it, I think if they dudn’t want people without a partnershiip to use it, they would keep the installer to themselves!

“Beta testing.” Because there is still a number of people that don’t mind jumping through hoops to do this, and these folks are typically also those that will report bugs and not just run off to social media to moan. Well that is my theory :smile:

Speaking of Ubuntu phones – any Idea when they are likely to be reality for normal users. At the start of the year I saw numerous reports of them being available during the second half of this year but have heard nothing recently. Do you think this target will be met?

You were at Canonical until quite recently so I’m hoping you have better idea than than the rest of us of how it’s going, but if not – no worries.

Because there’s no reason not to. We’ve been saying for years to companies, hey! Instead of having to have a reason to open source stuff, you should have a reason not to open source it, and otherwise just give us the software. But one big reason is “if we give you this thing, you’ll demand that we support it and fix it when, frankly, we just gave it to you because there was no reason to keep it secret”. You are busy proving that point. It’s not that they don’t want people without a partnership to use it, it’s that they thought, well, no reason why everyone shouldn’t have it, so why not give back to the community?


No worries, happy to help. :smile:

Two Ubuntu phones are due to ship later this year - one from Meizu and one from bq. These phones will have a complete and finished version of Ubuntu installed (in terms of a 1.0, still plenty of future plans ahead).

These devices are primarily aimed at the Ubuntu enthusiast market (as some popular apps won’t be there). I think this is a wise strategy: it will provide an opportunity for these companies to sell these phones at volume to demonstrate the ROI while also demonstrating to ISVs whether they should port their apps to Ubuntu. I just hope the messaging is clear that these phones are not intended to compete with an iPhone/SGS5, but really are intended to show what a first cut of a device truly looks like.

I can’t wait to see them hit the market, and I am looking forward to seeing what they look like in terms of the completeness of Ubuntu and the hardware integration. :smile:

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