Let the Linux gaming begin! Beta Steam Machines are shipping and SteamOS is ready

Let the Linux gaming begin! Beta Steam Machines are shipping and SteamOS is ready

Summary: Valve's Linux-based Steam Machines gaming console starts shipping today to a few beta testers. SteamOS, it's Linux for gamers, is scheduled to be released to everyone at the same time.

TOPICS: Hardware, Linux

If you're very, very lucky, and live in the United States, you may be one of 300 selected beta testers who will soon receive Valve's Steam Machine and its Linux-based SteamOS for beta testing.

Steam Machines, dedicated Liniux-powered gaming consoles and SteamOS, a dedicated gaming Linux operating system, are on their way.

If you're not that lucky, you'll still be able to download Valve's SteamOS Linux distribution sometime in the next few days. It is believed, but not certain, that this Linux for gamers will be available on December 13th.

Greg Coomer, who works in design and communications at Valve explained on the company Web site that, "We’ve had to make the difficult decision to limit our beta to the U.S. only, because of regulatory hurdles. This was not our original plan, and it means we can’t collect beta feedback from Steam customers worldwide, which is pretty unfortunate. All things considered, we’re sure it was the right decision, because the alternative was to delay the whole beta beyond the point when we’d be able to incorporate any feedback into the 2014 products. This decision only affects Valve’s 300 prototype units; the commercial versions of Steam Machines that are for sale in 2014 won’t be affected by this. More information on those will be announced at CES on January 6."

Coomer continued, "SteamOS will be made available when the prototype hardware ships. It will be downloadable by individual users and commercial OEMs. (But unless you’re an intrepid Linux hacker already, we’re going to recommend that you wait until later in 2014 to try it out.) We’ll post info soon about that. Oh, and stay tuned for the in-home streaming beta to begin soon, too!"

What Valve hasn't said, but we can surmise from previously released information, is that you're going to need a very, very fast desktop to run SteamOS successfully. The Steam Machines are believed to use Intel Core processors. The only CPU we know for certain that will fully support SteamOS is Intel's quad-core Core i7-4770.

SteamOS also appears to need a lot of memory. The Steam Machines are supposed to come with 16GBs of RAM.

You'll also need a mid-to-high-end Nvidia graphics card. We know the top of the line Steam Machines will use Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan with its thousand-dollar price tag. Fortunately, you'll also be able to use the more affordable Nvidia GeForce GTX 660, GTX 760 or GTX 780 cards.

Valve's Steam games originally ran on Ubuntu but Valve has gone its own way with its Linux distribution. So, in addition to having some seriously well-muscled hardware, you'd be wise to listen to Coomer when he said that SteamOS in its early days will be for Linux hackers, rather than someone who just wants to play a game.

Still, I have no doubt, come SteamOS's release, I'll be joined with many others who will want to see what a Linux for gamers created by a top gaming company looks like.

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Topics: Hardware, Linux

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  • Looks like a decent dual-boot option.

    However, I still need Windows for work-related tasks, as well as Origin for EA games.

    Doesn't seem like it'll become my primary operating system, but since it'll be free on launch, it can't hurt to try it.
    • Steam Machines: Very very fast, but also very expensive

      If you need a home office machine with Microsoft Word and other Microsoft stuff, you might be better getting a regular PC.

      These Steam Machines are like the Porches of gaming machines. Very fast, dedicated gaming boxes, but I imagine they'll be very expensive when they come out. Porches are good if you can afford one.
      • Porches?

        Cold, drafty and providing a quasi airlock into the house?
      • Porche or Porsche

        I guess you meant Ferdinand Porsche's designes, not a pig or a hall, did you? By the way, if so, the "e" at the end is pronounced.
    • Desktop?

      I don't think SteamOS is aiming to be a viable replacement for a PC OS. Since it is supposed to boot into Steam Big Screen Mode I'm not even sure if it has a desktop environment. That's not a problem since a fully functional Desktop Environment would just needlessly consume resources on a dedicated game machine.

      But Linux Desktop distributions and the larger ecosystem will definitely benefit from increased developer and hardware support.
      • Gnome Desktop

        Looking over the repo-list and I'm noticing a lot of gnome desktop packages. Maybe this could be a fully functional Desktop OS.

        My excitement index just went up.
  • The OS doesn't matter squat

    Steven keeps talking about Linux, Linux, Linux for a gaming console. So what? Linux, Windows, OSX, whatever Sony uses for an OS doesn't matter squat.

    The games matter. The gamers will play whatever OS the game they want runs on. If they want Halo, guess what gaming system they'll use? It ain't Steam.

    Steam seems to be producing good quality, but non-descript games that don't own any market share that worries Sony or MS.

    I guess it gives Steven something to yap about, but you gotta wonder how long he can keep this tripe up. Pushing Steam only because they support Linux instead of working to see that Steam has major blockbuster games that will take market share from the leaders.

    Seems Steven has a long history of pushing Linux vendors that don't have products that appeal to the public. Typical Steven.
    • The OS affects performance

      An OS that is highly optimized for gaming can outperform a game on a general purpose OS. I know of one general purpose OS (I don't need to mention which one) which is bloated and full of cludge.

      The other reason is political. Steam OS frees developers and users from the tyranny of proprietary OS's walled gardens. That is, those proprietary OSes try to lock in users and developers and prevent them doing what they want to do.

      So there could be two advantages with Steam. Better performance and freedom to do it how you want.
      • Performance, Freedom and Agility

        At the programming level Linux and Unix can be contorted in wield ways. When ever, as a programmer, you have a thought, maybe I can solve it this way, with Linux, you can probably do that.
        Tim Jordan
        • You really don't get it

          nor did you understand the comment. Everything you've said is about your own world, not the average gamer that spends money on these systems.

          Until Steam creates a blockbuster title, like Halo, they will be a secondary system that few play.

          Goes back to why Linux failed on the desktop. Great OS, but the applications were substandard, and not accepted by the general public. A few hard-cores kept it alive, constantly claiming how wonderful it was, but the general public never bit.

          The OS doesn't matter, it's the applications that matter.

          History always repeats itself because people refuse to study and learn from it.

          Now, if Steam were to put their games on an Android platform and use a model that is succeeding, that would be different. But to enter a market that is about to implode anyway really shows poor decision making (the dedicated game console is about as mature as it gets and is probably due for major changes in the near future.)
          • I hope they dont

            put Halo on it, wouldnt want to complicate a great idea with windows users with little or no idea what they are on about
          • @Cynical99, you're 'tearing'

            First you state (twice) that the "OS doesn't matter, it's the applications that matter", which btw I agree with.

            Then you state that "if Steam were to put their games on an Android platform and use a model that is succeeding, that would be different".

            And regarding "models that are succeeding", Sony based the OS used for its PlayStation 4 on FreeBSD. Note that BSD has even fewer desktop users than GNU/LInux (which is why I assume that Steven constantly ignores BSD).
            Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Do gamers play BSD or games?

            that's the point. In the Sony case, BSD is only a vehicle to play the game. Same goes for Linux or whatever bastardized version of Windows runs the Xbox. No gamer seriously cares about the OS, it's the game.

            People can play all the semantics they want with words, but in the real world, the OS doesn't matter.

            As for Android, that was mentioned only because the marketing model for Android seems to be working.

            Since Steam's current marketing model seems to be mediocre games, but a lot of them priced so gamers can try lots and lots of them instead of a small stable of blockbuster games that develop a dedicated following that are willing to buy the related hardware.

            This means that hard core gamers will spend the money for a console that plays the games they want (PS4 or XBOX One) instead of the Steam console.

            Semantics aside, gamers play games, not operating systems. Maybe Steven will realize that in another life. Lets see, Tull had a song out many years ago, "Thick as a Brick". Maybe Steven fits the title.
          • Goes back to why Linux failed on the desktop

            It didn't fail on the desktop, even you admitted it was a success in a previous article, you keep forgetting that.

            "but the general public never bit."

            That's because they weren't given the chance, the general public walks into a retailer and buys a PC, and that PC almost always comes with windows installed, that's the reason, not because the applications were substandard.
          • I see the master of twisting is back

            Funny how people learn to ignore your rabid posts. Twisting and shall we say, substituting for what was really said.
          • I see the master of twisting is back

            What have I twisted? please explain.

            Do you deny admitting that Linux is a success on the desktop in a previous article?

            Do you deny admitting to being a troll who uses numbers you KNOW to be incorrect just to get a rise out of Linux users?

            And if people have ignored my post then why are you replying?

            Also do you notice how many flags your posts get? what does that tell you?
          • Until Valve creates a blockbuster title??

            Hello? have you ever heard of this franchise called Half-life? Left 4 Dead? Portal? Counter-strike? Team Fortress?
          • Those were blockbusters a few years back....

          • Pretty sure you are the one who doesn't get it.

            There's plenty of room for more OS' in gaming consoles. You'll be surprised how developers flock to free platforms. And you're right if i want to play Halo I go to a Linux OS and run it under Wine. I'm not your general gamer though and I'm not nearly alone. However if that were easier I'm sure more people would do it that way. Android was just a twinkle in the eyes of some Google thinkers and tinkers ten years ago. By your arguments it'd have been better for everyone if we'd all stuck with the current monsters of the mobile phone OS market Motorola, Nokia, Windows, Palm, and RIM. Where are they now? Now with Android there are more developers for it and more users/consumers of it than any other smartphone OS. A close second belongs to the other smartphone OS that also didn't exist at the time and is also based on a UNIX variant. You may remind us that this is a conversation about gaming consoles. It was astute of you to bring Android into the conversation. Unfortunately for you being cynical pays very low wages because it's based on the lowest of expectations.
            James Philpott
          • Still stuck on the OS I see

            Go out and ask a hard core or average gamer if they play the OS and let us know what the answer is.

            As I said, the OS doesn't matter. ten thousand operating systems, including Linux, could be available to the gamers and they will still play the games, not the OS.