X
Tech
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

How to install Steam and start gaming on most any Linux distro - now it's a Snap

There are two ways to install the Steam application on any Ubuntu- or Debian-based distribution. One method is incredibly easy - and the other is even easier.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
happygamer-gettyimages-1465846608

Steam brings the world of gaming to Linux with great simplicity and choice.

Ivan Pantic/Getty Images

According to Gaming Today, US gaming industry revenue reached $17.67 billion in Q1 2024. On top of bringing in huge sums of money, the gaming industry helps to inspire innovation on the desktop

Over the years, Linux has had little to offer gamers. Sure, there were a few cutesy games (such as one of my favorites, Frozen Bubble) but not much more. Then came Wine, which allowed users to play a decent number of Windows games on Linux.

Also: The best Linux distros for beginners

Now…there's Steam.

Steam brings the world of gaming to Linux with great simplicity and choice. All you have to do is sign up, install the Steam app, and start purchasing games or playing free games. You'll find tens of thousands of games to choose from, including new and popular titles such as Manor Lords, Songs of Conquest, Hellblade II, Hades II, Mech Engineers, A Tower Full of Cats, Survival: Fountain of Youth, The Witcher 3 REDkit, Rasant, and so many others.

Fortunately, installing Steam on Debian and Ubuntu-based distributions is incredibly simple. Let me show you how it's done.

How to install Steam

What you'll need: The only things you'll need for this are a running instance of a Debian or Ubuntu-based Linux distribution and a user with sudo privileges. Once you get beyond the installation, you'll also need a Steam account, so you can download/purchase games. There are two different methods of installing Steam on a Debian-based distribution. I'll show you both.

1. Open a terminal window

The first thing to do is log in to your Linux desktop and open a terminal window. 

2. Add the Multiverse repository

Next, add the Multiverse repository, which is a repository that includes non-free software titles. 

Also: Game console showdown: PS5, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and more

To do this, issue the command:

sudo add-apt-repository multiverse

You'll be prompted for your sudo password. Once you've successfully authenticated, you'll be prompted to hit Enter on your keyboard.

3. Update Apt

Once the Multiverse repository has been added, update apt (the Advanced Packaging Tool for installing software) with the command:

sudo apt-get update -y

4. Install Steam

With apt updated, you can now install Steam with the command:

sudo apt-get install steam -y

How to install Steam with Snap

There's an even easier method of installing Steam that only requires running the following command:

sudo snap install steam

Running Steam

After the installation completes, open Steam from your desktop menu. On its first run, Steam will download and apply a full update, so allow that to complete. 

Also: 5 quick tweaks make your GNOME desktop so much easier to use

Once it does, the Steam account sign-in window will open, where you can either log in with your account credentials or create a new account.

The Steam login window.

You can either log in with your credentials or with the QR code.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

After logging in, you can start playing all the games you want, right on the Linux operating system.

Steam running on Ubuntu Budgie.

Steam is ready to help you dive into the world of gaming on Linux.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Whoever said Linux would never be a valid gaming environment back in the day couldn't predict Steam would arrive to herald a new dawn for the open-source operating system. 

Also: The best budget gaming laptops: Expert tested

Give Steam a try and see if it doesn't open a world of fun for you on Linux. 

Editorial standards