Valve SteamOS: A Linux-based Gaming Operating System Announced

The year of Linux on the desktop or living room is here. Today Valve software announced SteamOS, a free Linux-based gaming operating system designed for the TV, DIY enthusiast and the living room. From the announcement page:


As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we’ve come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself. SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines.

More about SteamOS

  • Hundreds of great games are already running natively on SteamOS. More AAA titles coming natively to SteamOS in 2014.
  • You can stream games from your desktop and stream those games over your home network to your TV via a SteamOS machine.
  • You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too.
  • Stream music and video with the SteamOS media services.
  • In SteamOS, Valve have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and Valve working on audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level. Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases.
  • You can modify or replace any part of the software or hardware you want. No more lock-ins.
  • Valve are working on improving Linux kernel, drivers and debugging tools. This is a great news for both developers and users.
  • Standard parental controls for games and streaming services.

Input lag over a network… a horrible experience?

Streaming games over the internet adds the the network latency. However, SteamOS machine and TV will be in a local network. This will keep delay to minimum including encoding and decoding video between the two systems. This is just a guess and I will wait for the reviews.

I think Valve is following Android model. User will get consistent environment for all your devices or you can build your own device. SteamOS will be available soon as a free download for users and as a freely licensable operating system for manufacturers. For more information see SteamOS announcement page.

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17 comments… add one
  • Jeremy Martin Sep 23, 2013 @ 18:47

    “You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too.”

    Using what? Wine? PlayOnLinux? CrossOver (not free)? etc… I would like to know how they could make that statement and it be factual. What are they using to achieve this goal?

    after doing some googling about SteamOS i got more insight about what it can do. This device will stream your valve steam games, be it Linux,Windows or MAC, to your tv. So perhaps the wording is a bit off…not ANY Windows games…just ALL STEAM supported games can be streamed.

    • barhofesh Sep 23, 2013 @ 18:48

      Streaming to the “SteamOS” machine within the LAN

    • tfw0qe Sep 24, 2013 @ 0:02

      I’m guessing we’d have to have a separate Windows machine for the streaming. I’m also guessing that Valve would try to fit SteamOS with the Raspberry Pi computer for that whole living room experience.

      • Lukas Oct 18, 2013 @ 19:49

        I don’t think they are going to port it to ARM (Pi architecture). That’d be too much work I think. I guess they are doing x86, and maybe ARM64 later on.

  • linux-gamer Sep 23, 2013 @ 18:55

    it should be called GlaDoS

  • Phil Sep 23, 2013 @ 20:01

    SWEETNESS! I’m so freaking excited about this!!

  • Captain Obvious Sep 23, 2013 @ 21:31

    I’ve got a better solution. It’s called HDMI. ;-)

    • Chris Demetriad Sep 24, 2013 @ 12:07

      Fair enough lol.

  • Matt North Sep 24, 2013 @ 11:10

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Valve do with this.

  • thedo0der Sep 24, 2013 @ 15:15

    Steam has been porting games to linux for a while now.
    @Jeremy: Steam for Linux, no wine, no playonlinux, just steam on linux..(you live under a rock?)

    • Jeremy Martin Sep 24, 2013 @ 18:19

      Can you read? That is not what I asked. I know full well what steam is..Also i have been playing games on GNU/Linux for a very long time…ever hear of Loki Games? Ever played UT or any Quake back in the 90’s? I have. I also know gaming under GNU/Linux has taken some hits and had some positive progress as well over the last decade. WineX (now transgaming) made games such as BF 1942 play great under GNU/Linux and I played the hell out of original counterstrike as well as half life…. yes i have heard of steam before. However, admittingly, I have not been playing PC games of any sorts for a couple years now but steam has been around for a while..including when I used to play.

      Anyways with that said I was wondering how do they intend to allow you to play every Windows game on your SteamOS machine? Steam does not currently support every single possible Windows or MAC game out there so I am interested in knowing how they intend to do that. I am missing some vital piece of the puzzle with this statement….either that or I don’t fully get what SteamOS is supposed to provide. This article was the first time I read about SteamOS.

      after doing some googling about SteamOS i got more insight about what it can do. This device will stream your valve steam games, be it Linux,Windows or MAC, to your tv. So perhaps the wording is a bit off…not ANY Windows games…just ALL STEAM supported games can be streamed.

      • thedo0der Sep 24, 2013 @ 23:20

        I was only responding to your comment.
        “You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too.”..

        I did totally misunderstand, my bad.

        @disqus_8l0Ip07vON:disqus : I in no way was trying to offend or ridicule you, I was just surprised that; it appeared like, you were unaware that Steam for Linux was porting games for some time now. Which, with your last post you have clarified that you are not living under a rock.

        • Jeremy Martin Sep 25, 2013 @ 17:10

          no worries :D

  • thedo0der Sep 24, 2013 @ 23:21

    I wonder if this is all a part of the “Steambox’s” plan and the push to
    get games out of a market with “closed systems with proprietary

    In my opinion, it sounds like they are either
    streaming your games from your PC or it could be similar to other “Cloud
    Gaming” services (GAAS).

  • Liam Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:49

    Call me a cynic, but I don’t think this is nearly as exciting to FOSS advocates as it is to game enthusiasts. Show me a functional SteamOS that is actually Free Software–i.e. we all have unrestricted ability to access, use, modify, and redistribute every last byte of both source and binaries, regardless of whether it’s “available for free”–and I’ll be impressed. But as long as they use proprietary components, it’s a birthday cake with a beetle baked into the center.

  • iamtheobama Dec 12, 2013 @ 9:33

    That is why we all love Valve! ^^

  • hatef madani Oct 14, 2014 @ 7:20

    it is an awesome OS!

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