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How to install Steam on any Ubuntu-based Linux distro so you can play a world of games

Steam is one of the best things to come along for gaming on Linux. Here's how you can easily install the Steam application on any Ubuntu or Debian-based distribution.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on
Person playing video games

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

Marko Geber/Getty Images

Games are a huge part of the computer industry. In fact, many would say that the gaming industry helps to inspire innovation on the desktop

For the longest time, Linux had very little to offer gamers. Sure, there were a few cutesie games (such as one of my favorites Frozen Bubble) but not much more. Then came Wine, which allowed users to play a fairly good number of Windows games on Linux. I remember the first time I was able to get Diablo running on Linux with Wine. I felt as if I'd accomplished something special.

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 Battle Bit Remastered, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, Starfield, Street Fighter 6, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Stray, 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. Do note that you can also install Steam via Snap (with the command sudo snap install steam). However, I've found the Snap version of Steam to be a bit unpredictable. For example, the only way to get it to properly run is from the command line using the -vgui option (as in, steam -vgui). So if you prefer to install the traditional method, here's how.

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

First you'll be prompted for your sudo password. Once you've successfully authenticated, you'll then 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

5. Run the app

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: Linux distro hopping is a fun way to find the perfect desktop operating system

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 successfully 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 with the open-source operating system. 

Also: How to use the scp command in Linux

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

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