GAMES PUBLISHER Valve has released its long awaited Steam operating system (OS).
The Steam OS has been designed to appeal to those who want to hook up their living room TVs to a PC games playing experience.


Based on Linux, Steam OS is free to download and free to license for game developers and manufacturers, which has led to the announcement of a number of dedicated Steam OS machines including the Jetpack, which we profiled recently.


Valve has an obvious advantage for launching a new games oriented OS, as the existing Steam ecosystem already has thousands of games available that are cross-platform, meaning that anyone who wants to try it will be starting with a full fledged games library from day one.
Valve has also confirmed that it is working with media providers to offer multimedia content. It has not announced any names yet but we expect to see music and movie streaming, as well as catch-up TV in the future.


Steam OS features include full parental control, the ability to stream Steam games from a Windows machine, and for the first time, the ability to play all the games in a household, no matter whose account they belong to, but with individual user profiles to earn achievements.
In addition to the Steam OS release, 300 beta testers will take delivery of prototypes of the Valve’s Steam Machine today, a powerful and upgrading games machine set for release next year.

Valve admits that its prototype is still a bit rough and recommends that a knowledge of Linux is helpful to install it at this stage, with more convenience and polish to be added in the new year. µ

Steam OS, the operating system behind Valve’s upcoming Steam Machine consoles, is available for download by people interested in spending their weekend installing a new flavor of Linux developed by the Bellevue-based game company.


The launch also brings some new tidbits about the new operating system: it’s based on Debian 7.1, and it boots directly into Steam. It will be possible for users to open a Linux desktop, though that will require logging into a different user account, at least for now.
As Valve said earlier this week, at this stage, Steam OS is not for the faint of heart, or those people short on hard drives. According to Valve’s system requirements, installing the operating system requires a blank hard drive with at least 500 GB available (one installation method requires a 1TB drive), and a Nvidia graphics card. At the moment, cards from ATI and b Intel aren’s supported, though Valve says that will be coming in the future.


Still, for people who weren’t among the 300 lucky souls to be included in the testing of the Steam Machine, this is the only way to get an early look at how Valve is going to try and break away from Windows with its own console.

The latest Steam OS installer can be found here, and the operating system’s source code can be found here. For more information about SteamOS’s capabilities and installation instructions, check out Valve’s FAQ