SteamOS is Valve's free Linux operating system

Valve has revealed the first of its big three Steam-related living room announcements of the week: a custom Linux operating system intended for living room PCs with big screens, named SteamOS. It'll even support streaming Windows and Mac games from your gaming PC. Valve's working on new multimedia and family features for Steam too.

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Valve has revealed the first of its big three Steam-related living room announcements of the week: a custom Linux operating system intended for living room PCs with big screens, named SteamOS. It'll even support streaming Windows and Mac games from your gaming PC. Valve's working on new multimedia and family features for Steam too.

"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," Valve said in this morning's announcement.

It says it's beefed up Linux's graphics-pushing power, and is also tuning audio performance and input latency. Supposedly native Linux versions of more AAA games will be announced "in the coming" weeks, but for everything else there's streaming anyway. If you don't have a powerful PC sitting by your TV, though, that's not necessarily a problem as SteamOS can stream games from your bigger, faster gaming PC over a home network.

Valve's working on more general living room features too. Along with Family Sharing, it's bringing family options to customise who exactly sees which games on shared accounts.

Steam and SteamOS are integrating support for and music and video "media services" too.

SteamOS will be a free download released "soon," and Valve is offering it to PC manufacturers too. Valve says it'll announce when "in the coming days" as it continues its big living room reveals. The next will come at 10am Pacific on Wednesday.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 23, 2013 10:15 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Valve announces Linux-based SteamOS.

    Valve has revealed the first of its big three Steam-related living room announcements of the weeks: a custom Linux operating system intended for living room PCs with big screens, named SteamOS. It'll even support streaming Windows and Mac games from your gaming PC. Valve's working on new multimedia and family features for Steam too.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 10:25 AM

      Next announcement coincides very closely with AMD's next-gen GPU reveal:

      1. http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/
      2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHfmM6QYWNM

      Two hours apart.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 10:30 AM

      Wonder what "significant performance increases in graphics processing" actually means, since SteamOS is a linux distro that are not exactly game friendly/ready.

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        September 23, 2013 10:48 AM

        Hopefully it means that Linus Torvalds won't have to say, "NVidia, fuck you!" anymore, since Gabe Newell can apply pressure.

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        September 23, 2013 10:54 AM

        They are speaking to their own gains seen between the Windows version of the Source Engine, and the Linux version. There was a big write-up awhile ago by the Source Engine guys that basically said they saw crazy numbers coming out of the Linux version of their engine once they put some stick time in it.

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          September 23, 2013 11:13 AM

          I didn't see that piece, but I'm guessing it boils down to Windows having so much bloated code that probably adds quite a bit of overhead to any game written with DirectX. But, drivers probably have nearly as much to do with it as well.

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            September 23, 2013 11:18 AM

            I wouldn't phrase it as Windows being bloated; I'd phrase it as Linux lacking support for all but Nvidia and AMD's newest devices.

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              September 24, 2013 1:26 AM

              The linux and windows drivers from nv and amd are almost the same now and support the same range of hardware. The open-source drivers are slower (sometimes much slower heh) and have a more limited range of supported cards, perhaps you're thinking of them.

              The speedups come from a faster graphics API, better network stack, better filesystem and better memory system.

          • reply
            September 23, 2013 11:40 AM

            The overhead associated with DirectX vs. OpenGL is one of the things they mention IIRC.

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        September 23, 2013 12:46 PM

        If it's dedicated to Steam there will be signifigantly less OS to get in the way of your game which will give further performance boosts.

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        September 24, 2013 3:59 PM

        Couldn't tell you why, but the evidence shows as much as double the FPS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pdEftFFG_I

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 11:16 AM

      This is an interesting play, especially the small mention about media

      'Music, TV, Movies
      We’re working with many of the media services you know and love. Soon we will begin bringing them online, allowing you to access your favorite music and video with Steam and SteamOS.'

      So, they may have thought ahead a few steps and are wanting to make sure to position their un-fully-announced Steambox to be that universal set-top box that Sony and MS are currently fighting for. As well as the ecosphere.

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        September 23, 2013 11:24 AM

        Hmm. now that I wrote that, it just hit me that without a mobile component the media partnerships don't seem like they'd be worth the headache Valve would have to go through to land those distribution deals.

        So, an expansion to the app to include media streaming? That could be the first service that offers paid owned content to stream across both iOS and Android (since Apple, Amazon and Google won't do it).

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          September 23, 2013 11:28 AM

          Is Valve anywhere near a position to be negotiating that?

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            September 23, 2013 2:36 PM

            Well, they're certainly the heavy weight in PC digital distribution. From that perspective, yes. But without an ecosystem that allows their customers to take that media with them, it would be of limited use. So, I'm thinking they're also going to make some kind of mobile play as well. At the least some kind of media stream component to a mobile app. If anyone could make a kind of play into the iTunes arena, it would probably be Steam since they already have the install base and software catalog.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 11:46 AM

      [deleted]

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      September 23, 2013 11:47 AM

      Aldo, this could solve my problem of having to buy Windows 7 for the next gaming PC build (as opposed to having to almost rearchitect Windows 8.2 to not be obnoxious). The Id Software catalogue that has had engine source GPL'd could realistically get up and running on SteamOS. I'd have to part with all the games whose developers don't have time for SteamOS ports, or don't exist anymore.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 11:51 AM

      O = OS
      [O ] = OS in a Box
      O+O = Steam Sharing launch

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 12:27 PM

      So linux native games stream directly to the tv...and windows steam directly to the tv. But if you want to play both, both will have to be set up to steam to the tv with somekind of toggle?

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 12:57 PM

        Presumably the linux compatible games will run natively/locally on your SteamOS set-top-box, Windows only games will have to be streamed to it from your Windows desktop

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 12:31 PM

      I've been looking to build a couch-gaming PC.

      Is SteamOS going to be distributed as an independent OS, or will it only be available with licensed Steam "boxes"? In other words, could I go ahead and build my couch-gaming PC and load Windows on it, but also install a dual boot of SteamOS if I wanted?

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 12:33 PM

        "Downloadable soon. Free forever!
        SteamOS will be available soon as a free download for users and as a freely licensable operating system for manufacturers. Stay tuned in the coming days for more information."

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 12:38 PM

      I will probably install it on my gaming box I have hooked up to my TV, but I don't see it replacing Windows for gaming anytime soon unfortunately. Maybe if I had a different setup the streaming option would be appealing with a smaller/quieter official Steambox.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 12:41 PM

      If this OS can't run windows games, at least wine style; probably it won't go very far.

      But if it can... and makes using linux easier too... it can make a huge impact.

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 12:48 PM

        It looks like it is using a local OnLive-like system using another Windows/Mac machine to run the unsupported game then stream it over the network to the SteamOS box.

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 12:53 PM

        It can't. However, there are 200 Steam games on Linux, and you can stream your entire Mac/Windows library from another computer on the network.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 12:55 PM

      This might be the beginning for not needing to upgrade your PC every year or at least make it more affordable by being modular

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 1:00 PM

        aren't PCs pretty modular right now?

        • reply
          September 23, 2013 1:02 PM

          Yes, and the frequency of needing hardware upgrades, especially CPU upgrades, has decreased significantly over the last decade or so. I don't know what hanged_man is talking about.

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 1:02 PM

        i don't know of anyone who upgrades their PC every year, save for the super-super select valcan crowd, probably one half of one percent of PC gamers.

        with smart purchases you can spend $1,000 on a system and get 3-4 years of good, highend graphics.

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 1:03 PM

        How does this change that at all? The only thing this would cut out is paying for OS upgrades.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 12:59 PM

      Next Half-Life. Only for the Steam OS.

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        September 23, 2013 1:02 PM

        I really doubt it.

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        September 23, 2013 1:07 PM

        People need to get over Half-Life. It aint gonna happen

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          September 23, 2013 4:30 PM

          Nope, never

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          September 23, 2013 5:14 PM

          I love your complete confidence in your own speculation.

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            September 23, 2013 5:49 PM

            It isn't really that I'm sure, I'm just so damn tired of hearing about it with no actual information. Until we hear different, let it go

            http://i.imgur.com/Zzf0G6j.jpg

            • reply
              September 23, 2013 5:55 PM

              Why does it bother you that people are excited about another entry in a beloved game franchise?

              • reply
                September 23, 2013 6:04 PM

                It comes up in EVERY FUCKING THREAD that has anything to do with valve, steam, or anything else even remotely connected. It's tiresome. If people brought up Lost Vikings every time anyone talked about WoW or Diablo it would get annoying too.

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                  September 23, 2013 6:17 PM

                  Lost Vikings isn't Half-Life.

                  • reply
                    September 23, 2013 6:43 PM

                    both are games that no devs have talked about or apparently been working on in a very long time.

                    • reply
                      September 23, 2013 6:59 PM

                      Are you serious? If Lost Vikings were as important as Half-Life, you'd see the same number of people begging for a new title. The franchise hasn't solid over 20 million copies.

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 1:24 PM

        Valve would never risk pissing off Windows and now Mac players.

        I have windows 7, have 500+ games on my account, and have no issues (other than what can be expected with gaming) so that would just be a low blow to me and the many many others like me.

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          September 23, 2013 1:28 PM

          With all that being said, the streaming games from PC to Box sounds awesome. Have wanted to play games like Outlast on my big screen but never want to go through the pain of moving my pc upstairs.

        • reply
          September 24, 2013 3:44 PM

          What if SteamOS could solve those "what can be expected with gaming" problems?

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 2:26 PM

        Sounds about right. Think Steam's original exclusivity with HL2. Oh how people cried foul. Then they got over it...

        • reply
          September 23, 2013 3:50 PM

          *Little* bit different... just a little. Though I am on the linux side of the fence, it's just not there yet. Being an early adopter of this would likely just be painful.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 1:07 PM

      Excite. I've been holding out on making an HTPC for a while. Now I don't have to anymore.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 1:28 PM

      Second announcement: SteamOS's native controller.

      Third announcement: Steam box.

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        September 23, 2013 1:30 PM

        Cant wait to play cs:go with a pad !!

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          September 23, 2013 2:38 PM

          I really want to give a gamepad with a trackball a try

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      September 23, 2013 1:48 PM

      Fuck the haters, sign me the fuck up. I was thinking of having a Roku and cut cable TV but if Valve makes a decently priced Steam Box I will get that instantly. Hell, better yet, make two models Valve. One that's $150 or so that does Netflix, etc, and also streams any game from your library from your main computer and one that's, like, say $600 - $1000 (ballpark estimate, a little cheaper than a medium to high-end PC since they don't have to worry about Microsoft and licensing and stuff) and comes packed with a good GPU and a decently sized hard drive for people who want to play the games natively.

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        September 23, 2013 3:14 PM

        You just gave two fucks in your first sentence.

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      September 23, 2013 3:49 PM

      Third Announcement: O + O = Orange Box 2. This is why they have the first O be Portal blue.

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        September 23, 2013 4:04 PM

        you might be on to something...
        and that would be insane. im ready for a big video game announcement

      • reply
        September 24, 2013 3:39 PM

        Interesting thought....I like this a helluva lot better than the split screen theory. Split screen would be great, however I don't think it warrants such a highly publicized announcement.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 4:13 PM

      1:26 PM: Slashdotter makes an "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of them!" joke about SteamOS. http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4252825&cid=44925729

      Six-digit UID, too.

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 4:24 PM

        In Soviet Russia, OS Steams you lmao

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 4:47 PM

      Will convert my living room media center box to this... i hope it will support xbmc as well

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      September 23, 2013 5:00 PM

      This is all very exciting and interesting even though I have no interest in gaming on my living room TV.
      By the looks of it, it seems like SteamOS won't be on desktops...? Seems it's a strictly 'big screen mode' OS. Surely they can implement a desktop mode.
      And streaming doesn't exactly solve the issue with playing games on Linux but I guess it's the only solution. I think...

      • reply
        September 23, 2013 5:14 PM

        There's been no mention of that yet, only people guessing.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 5:09 PM

      Nothing but GOODNESS will come from this. I'm excited.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 5:38 PM

      [deleted]

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      September 23, 2013 6:06 PM

      I want more information on the linux pieces.

      What distro is this built off of? Is this Valve's method of rolling their own? If its their rolled distro, how much are they stripping out of the kernel? While the OS is free, it's unlikely that "SteamBox" stickers would be free (Valve should protect that IP) and what would it take to get the certification/sticker?

      If there is *one* company that can put linux in the living room, it would be a consumer focused company like Valve.

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        September 23, 2013 6:11 PM

        Probably Ubuntu; that's what they've had success with previously.

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          September 23, 2013 6:16 PM

          Ubuntu is the larger end-user distro, but I'm not so certain it would make for a good choice for their use. Perhaps their distro is Debian based (would be easy for them to do)? Seriously, I can't wait for details.

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            September 23, 2013 6:56 PM

            it's totally up in the air. my bet is using ubuntu lts releases with a soft real time kernel built/modified in house

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        September 23, 2013 6:55 PM

        Certainly Ubuntu. It's the officially supported distro for the Linux client.

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          September 23, 2013 7:37 PM

          Valve could have gone with Ubuntu because of the sheer install base and community support. A large chunk of what's being used/setup in Ubuntu is (likely) unnecessary for their end goals.

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        September 23, 2013 11:57 PM

        I really really really hope it's debian

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 6:13 PM

      I think GTA V might be one of the titles coming considering rockstar already has a linux team porting gta titles to Android.

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 6:40 PM

      Is it a Steam OS box or a Stream OS box?

    • reply
      September 23, 2013 10:09 PM

      If you take both the original universe background and line it up next to SteamOS background, and then cross your eyes "magic eye" style to essentially create a 3d image.

      Well, lets just say you should try it yourself...

    • reply
      September 24, 2013 12:12 AM

      Am I the only one seeing O+O as glasses? Valves virtual reality thing

      • Ziz legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
        reply
        September 24, 2013 6:48 AM

        With a steel rod jabbed into one eye.

    • reply
      September 24, 2013 1:23 AM

      It better have Netflix (and other streaming services) and a nice YouTube app

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        September 24, 2013 2:26 AM

        I want local streaming. If this box could replace my XBMC for streaming media and let me stream my Windows games, then I'd be really interested.

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          September 24, 2013 4:18 AM

          This. It would be nice if it streams video games + media.

        • reply
          September 24, 2013 6:22 PM

          Netflix, Amazon and local = total market dominance.. oh yeah and it plays games. plus has it's own media ecosystem.

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