SteamOS – Installation

Following up on our first article on SteamOS, we are going to talk about the more manual installation method. The first, larger install image, is completely automated, assuming it likes all the equipment on your system. It seems that the smaller method we are going to talk about today is more flexible on what exactly it will support. It is also more interactive so we will cover what you can expect and what you have to run manually to get things going!

Requirements and Download
Let’s recap quickly our requirements for SteamOS and Download the version we need:

Directly from their site here, the system requirements for a “DIY” Steam box are as follows:

  • Processor: Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • Memory: 4GB or more RAM
  • Hard Drive: 500GB or larger disk
  • Video Card: NVIDIA graphics card (AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon!)
  • Additional: UEFI boot support
  • USB port for installation

And download the image we need here.

Create the Bootable Key
We have our image downloaded and now we need to create a bootable key. Grab a USB 2.0 or better 4gb+ USB key and format it with a FAT32 filesystem. Then, we need to do the following:

  • Obtain the drive letter of our USB key (in this example E:)
  • Unzip the contents of our download directly to it (use Winzip or Rarlabs Unrar)
  • Use an ISO utility (like ISO Creator or ImgBurn) to either burn to DVD or create a local ISO to use to install (if trying in VirtualBox)

Once we have that, insert the key/DVD (or attach the ISO to the VM) and select that device during boot. At that point, you should boot up and be presented with a screen that looks like this:

SteamOS Initial Boot Screen

Getting It Installed
Now we will flash quickly through some screens and, depending on whether you have NVidia or another card you may not see anything until you get to something like this below:

SteamOS Installation Progress

So far, everything is looking pretty normal if you have ever installed any modern Debian/Ubuntu based distribution except you have not had a chance to change any of the storage or partitioning options, IP addresses, etc. As we mentioned in our first article, customization is VERY limited and in fact in this install, SteamOS will take over and format the first drive it finds on your system so be prepared for that by (a) disabling all drives except the one you want to use or (b) have it installed first, then install subsequent operating systems and/or partitions and return to SteamOS and rerun the GRUB configuration to add them to your boot menu.

Once the base system is installed, you will presented with the following screen:

Installation Complete

So click on ‘Continue’ so we can reboot. At this point, you may be asked to create a ‘recovery partition’ after you make it past the GRUB menu (just wait and it will boot to the default SteamOS entry automatically), simply answer ‘Y’ when asked, this is required or your installation will not complete. If you are not asked, it should boot to a GDM login prompt and the hostname should be ‘steamos’. We have to do a couple of things before we are ready to go. First, log in. Use the account ‘steam’ and password ‘steam’ to login to the desktop which should then look like this:

SteamOS Desktop

What’s Next?
In our next article in this series, we will go through the final post installation manual steps (a couple of scripts and registration of the system along with our Steam Client setup) and then start looking at what we can do with it both as a gaming OS as well as a full Linux desktop. Check here for Part 3 or our series on SteamOS!

Terrence T. Cox

A veteran of twenty years in Information Technology in a variety of roles. He has worked in development, security and infrastructure well before they merged into what we now call DevOps. He provides training in Linux, VMWare, DevOps (Ansible, Jenkins, etc) as well as containers and AWS topics.