SteamOS gets support for AMD, Intel graphics

When Valve released the first SteamOS beta to the public last month, folks with AMD GPUs and Intel integrated graphics were left out in the cold. The beta supported only Nvidia graphics.

Well, that’s now changed. The freshly released "alchemist" update to SteamOS adds support for both AMD and Intel graphics solutions. Only Optimus graphics setups (i.e. Nvidia discrete plus Intel integrated graphics with dynamic switching) remain unsupported, but those are pretty much only found in notebooks—not in the home-theater PCs and couch gaming rigs that Valve is targeting with SteamOS.

How do you install the alchemist update? You don’t. "Existing SteamOS installs should update themselves automatically," says Valve. Folks who haven’t downloaded SteamOS yet can do so through this page. Do note, however, that the operating system still has certain hardware requirements. A 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB of hard-drive space, and support for UEFI booting are all needed.

The SteamOS "alchemist" update includes AMD’s Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.9 graphics drivers for Linux, which are also available as a separate download here. AMD’s release notes for those drivers mention a couple of "open issues:" some games suffer from screen tearing even with v-sync on, and the SteamOS overlay can respond sluggishly if opened over a game. Those don’t sound like deal breakers, though, especially considering that SteamOS still isn’t ready for prime time.

Comments closed
    • NarwhaleAu
    • 7 years ago

    I have played PC games recently and am not a troll… and I’m not entirely sure what SteamOS brings to the table for me. For those of you running SteamOS, what are the benefits you are seeing?

    I’m vaguely aware that it should make it easier for me to play PC games on my couch, could take off as a development platform with Windows languishing and comes with a new controller, but beyond that it hasn’t really sparked my interest completely (I’m reading the article though and asking questions, so my interest isn’t negligible)

    I have an e6000 series CPU laying around that I could probably boot steamos up on, but not sure I have UEFI boot capability.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]For those of you running SteamOS, what are the benefits you are seeing?[/quote<] 1) Better performance then Windows. 2) Customization 3) Stability 4) Expandability 5) Hacker friendly 6) Free as in beer 7) minimal footprint

        • NarwhaleAu
        • 7 years ago

        Thanks!

        I had Bodhi linux installed last year, but after trying to get my wireless internet up and running via a USB that was supposedly compatible with linux, I gave up. I did reach out to the forums – a very nice gentleman offered to help me, if I also bought him a wireless USB…

        I started reading this after my post: [url<]http://www.informationweek.com/mobile/mobile-applications/why-valves-steamos-could-be-revolutionary/d/d-id/899846[/url<]

    • tipoo
    • 7 years ago

    Are there any good performance tests vs Windows out yet? I’d love to see TR do that, as well as see how the Linux GPU drivers do in frame pacing and image quality and whatnot. I see in videos there’s less fine grained control (I saw Metro had a slider for graphics quality in Linux, nothing else), but there’s a file in there you can see the exact settings of the game. Something to look out for to make sure comparisons are apples to apples.

    • Airmantharp
    • 7 years ago

    So, how long until SteamOS gets put into our TVs? Is that reaching too far?

      • Reuel
      • 7 years ago

      Do you want to pay $500 more for your TV?

    • jdaven
    • 7 years ago

    That was so fast it begs the question why Valve didn’t just wait until support for the other two major GPU vendors was ready. It is a gaming OS after all. So GPU support is pretty important.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      They would rather be debugging and refining the OS then waiting for AMD / Intel to be ready. They had a good base config with Nvidia so why not release it. A majority of linux users that do gaming on it are running nvidia cards anyways.

        • jdaven
        • 7 years ago

        SteamOS is NOT catering to Linux users. If they did, it would be a failure out of the gate. It’s catering to Windows/Mac users so that they SWITCH to SteamOS. Not supporting major architectures out of the gate is a sure way not to encourage switchers.

          • slowriot
          • 7 years ago

          1) SteamOS is a console competitor. It is not designed to become your new PC OS. The current goal isn’t to get people to ditch their Windows/OSX systems right now.

          2) SteamOS is still in very active development. The current releases to the public are beta. It hasn’t left the gate yet, so not having the full feature set or full hardware support is not a big deal yet. Now would be a horrible time for “switchers” to try SteamOS, again its in beta.

          It’s exactly as Deanjo said. Valve cannot wait for AMD to fix their drivers when Valve is ready to start public testing of other components of SteamOS. And this is 100% fine since (again) SteamOS is in early beta.

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]Not supporting major architectures out of the gate is a sure way not to encourage switchers.[/quote<] You apparently are not aware what a beta is. Do you think that MS and Apple wait for all vendors to have support for their beta versions before releasing a preview? If it was a final release then you may have some merit (although even then hardware vendors are often behind in having their support ready for the newest MS OS.) But it is not, it is a beta release that is still heavily under development and even carries the warning that it is currently only suitable for Linux hackers.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      That was so fast because Valve released the hardware and compelled Intel and AMD to fix the remaining bugs rapidly to avoid an ugly session of PR if they didn’t.

      If Valve had waited, AMD would likely have waited, too. The urgency was created by Valve and made them work faster. Plus, Valve doesn’t need AMD or Intel support to test out the early pieces of a beta (or alpha) version of their OS.

    • odizzido
    • 7 years ago

    Vsync doesn’t work for every game on windows either on both AMD/Nvidia. If it does on steamOS it will already be ahead of windows gaming.

      • Reuel
      • 7 years ago

      Vsync “working” is a bad thing, so it won’t be ahead at all, if that is your criteria.

        • Theolendras
        • 7 years ago

        Bad thing for some many games, not for others, don’t pretend your game taste are universal.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    When people wonder what the big deal about SteamOS is, then they should realize that hardware support and competition for Windows gaming is the biggest reasons for the consumer. For Valve, it’s as simple as ensuring they can’t get locked out by a future version of Windows and/or OSX that prevents installation of applications not installed from the Windows or Apple app stores, respectively.

    SteamOS is a big deal because it’s going to lead to massive improvements in the state of Linux gaming. It’s going to lead to a LOT of games coming to Linux as a whole, not just Steam. It’s also going to lead to a lot of hardware support becoming excellent that once was lacking.

    Suddenly, Linux will be a very real option for the PC gamer. Suddenly, Microsoft won’t have the PC gamers by the short ‘n curlies. Suddenly, Microsoft will have to fight to keep us on their OS.

    They’ll have to get down in the mud and scrap, struggle to make us stay, and not at all believe us a given audience that won’t ever leave like they did when they released OS’s like Vista or especially Windows 8/8.1.

    If you release an OS that breaks gaming mice across the board and then implements a registry fix that requires you to go in and manually add games via registry as your fix rather than implement a REAL fix, then I believe you did not QA your OS around one of (if not) the only remaining growth niche in all of PC sales: gaming PC’s.

    SteamOS matters because SteamOS is going to light a fire under a lot of companies to get their support up to snuff, Microsoft included. I’m glad Valve is doing this even if I’m not going to use SteamOS for a while unless they can get some cheaper alternatives out there or beef SteamOS itself up to something closer to a full OS.

    I would consider something like Ubuntu or another derivative if more of the games I own on Steam were Linux-friendly or could be run through WINE (or possibly streamed from a dedicated Windows gaming box for older games).

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      you hope, anyway.

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 7 years ago

        Well, I’d argue that AMD and nVidia having a sudden focus on getting their Linux drivers better than they’ve ever been is already a benefit from SteamOS and that’s just it barely out the gate in beta (or is it alpha?).

        Plus, I think Linux has more games being ported by the original developers right now than in the history of the OS. That’s also a win.

        These wins cannot be understated. Whether Microsoft is smart enough to sense the threat growing on the doorstep of one of their remaining cashcows, well that’s a question for another day. 😉

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          You’re right there are more games, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right games, or even good ports. I have a buddy who has been working with aspyr for 8 months to get his copy of civ v to work on OSX. Finally got it a week ago. If this is the quality of cross platform gaming, its not up to snuff.
          buddy is looking at win 8 now, and he was rabid apple before. Used to mock me constantly for my pleb os.

          edit: – 2? have you tried civ v on mac? it’s trash. at least have a counter point.

      • anotherengineer
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://memeguy.com/photos/thumbs/-tldr-46983.png[/url<]

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]SteamOS matters because SteamOS is going to light a fire under a lot of companies to get their support up to snuff, Microsoft included.[/quote<] It may/should also force hardware vendors (such as motherboard manufacturers) to start fixing their ACPI/BIOS/UEFI/Firmware bugs. A lot of them have been "worked around" in windows but those sloppy coded BIOS's won't be hidden for long in linux. If those vendors want to have their product in the Steam Boxes then they have to step up and make sure their boards are properly supported in linux.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        the six steamboxes they sell will have ROCK SOLID UEFI!

      • stmok
      • 7 years ago

      *Never mind*

      • Theolendras
      • 7 years ago

      You’re basically picturing a best case scenario before admitting, you won’t be one of those pressuring Microsft and hardware vendor… This battle is not won, it hasn’t even begun yet. I’ll assemble one now that I presumably can use that old 5700 card. Still enough for lite or older titles and it should be fine for streaming once that feature is enable.

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    One thing they’ll have to perfect if they wanna really well this is stability and simplicity. Part of the reason Linux doesn’t have mainstream acceptance is because of its complexity compared to OSX or Windows, in the eyes of a layperson. These need to be as simple and stable as consoles (excluding the 360 of course) in order to actually make an impact in the console market. If someone can only afford one device under their TV, they’ll be looking for the best value they can get for their dollar

      • Reuel
      • 7 years ago

      Simple like Steam is?

        • internetsandman
        • 7 years ago

        Yes, but I’d imagine the simplicity and stability is much harder to accomplish when it’s an entire OS and not just an application on the most widely used operating system out there

    • the Lionheart
    • 7 years ago

    Remind me again what use does SteamOS have? What’s the purpose of this whole project? A stripped down Windows 7 to play L4D and other outdated Valve games on a high end PC?

    I’m not saying the Valve’s games are the only outdated ones. Most games today are unplayable. You have games with crappy mechanics ,flamboyant bad visuals and Marxist Leftist anti-Western narratives.
    How bad can it get?

      • Byte Storm
      • 7 years ago

      I must ask, have you even played games recently?

      You seem to be completely out of touch with the reality of PC Gaming.

        • internetsandman
        • 7 years ago

        Don’t feed the trolls. I’m sure you’re aware of the phrase ‘nobody can be that ignorant’ and if they’re visiting a site like this they ought not to be ignorant

          • ALiLPinkMonster
          • 7 years ago

          Unfortunately that phrase stopped applying to society a while ago. Plenty of people are in fact that ignorant.

        • the Lionheart
        • 7 years ago

        Yes, I have actually.

      • Reuel
      • 7 years ago

      Which games are Marxist? I can’t think of any that I’ve played.

        • Voldenuit
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Which games are Marxist? I can't think of any that I've played.[/quote<] Maybe Tropico rubbed him the wrong way? Or Papers, Please? 😛

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 7 years ago

        “that I’ve played.” Doesn’t mean they don’t exist. There’s been a few that kind of [i<]lean[/i<] in that direction, as I've heard the new bioshock might, and then there's games like the new rainbow six that was postponed until who knows when. I dunno. I'm not sure on all the details, because I avoid a lot of those games too. Modern shooters in general have started to be really touchy on normally taboo concepts, like spec ops and those cod games where you kill civilians and torture people, and that just seems like either propaganda placement, or really insensitive game developers who don't care that you wasted $60 on whatever mindscrew on rails garbage they push out. Ooh soo edgy. Not. I'll stick to more arcadey games like BL2, tx.

          • Spunjji
          • 7 years ago

          By the new Bioshock, do you mean infinite? If so that’s about as Marxist as the first was Libertarian.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 7 years ago

            I’ve not played it, so you’ll have to elaborate. If anything, I’d say the first was a hit piece on libertarianism/objectivism, as they were making libertarianism out to be some distopian failed state. I didn’t find it to be particularly in good taste, or vaguely reminiscent of any sort of “spiritual successor” to system shock, as the game was advertised. Dead Space was much closer, and they didn’t make such claims.

            Agenda Shock+ just seemed to be a rails propaganda piece masquerading as a game, with promises of never before seen fancy water shaders (not that great), and being some “spiritual successor” to a classic game, which of course it was pretty generic in retrospect.

            Infinite just seemed like it was copied straight out of MSNBC, with the racist overtones and mocking the founding fathers as bad guys. The promos alone were enough to keep me from playing it, let alone the reviews of it being another generic rails game. Hard to see it as anything but some sort of narrative with crappy mechanics, which is what the TR staff reviewed it as being, in which case I figured it not to be worth my time or money.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            It wasn’t worth the money, but would you mind a game that presents socialism as a failed state? Or a game that had Hitler as a racist?

            in either case, buy the copy I’m selling!!!!

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 7 years ago

            Your copy? Which one? Mein Kampf? The Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital?

            I don’t know man, you might want to hold onto those personally autographed original copies, they might be worth some money on ebay.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            BIOSHOCK INFINITE!
            I don’t own the others, though i’ve read some of them.
            and if I had personally autographed originals, they’d be worth a FORTUNE.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 7 years ago

        Maybe he meant [i<]Maxis[/i<] games. That Sim City game last year was pretty bad.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          i thought that the consensus was the actual game wasn’t that bad, just the rest of it sucked.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]A stripped down Windows 7 to play L4D and other outdated Valve games on a high end PC? [/quote<] OK, a comment like that is proof of one of two things: 1. You are an egregious troll who sadly lacks my patented blend of sarcastic humor (which is usually based on quoting back exactly what some fanboys say seriously in just the right sarcastic context). 2. You're a monumental idiot on a level that makes Spigzone look like a contender for the Fields Medal.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        Why can’t he be both?

          • chuckula
          • 7 years ago

          Touche!

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    w00t! Glad to see additional hardware support coming in. If Valve can light a fire under Intel & AMD to come up with better Linux drivers, then that just makes SteamOS even more awesome.

      • Andrew Lauritzen
      • 7 years ago

      The Intel driver is open source, so why don’t you help make it better? /opensourcetroll 😛

        • keltor
        • 7 years ago

        Open source and heavily maintained by Intel guys oddly enough …

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]Open source and heavily maintained by Intel guys oddly enough ...[/quote<] THOSE BASTARDS!!! HOW DARE THEY?!?

            • smilingcrow
            • 7 years ago

            To some that’s like finding out that on the weekends Darth Vader bakes cakes and makes lemonade to raise money for orphans.

            • Milo Burke
            • 7 years ago

            I’ve heard Vader knits scarves for his loved ones on his days off.

          • stmok
          • 7 years ago

          Not really odd when you think about it.

          They want to guarantee things work well as part of the experience when you buy their hardware products. Even on open source platforms! So customers know who to turn to if they run into issues. (There’s always a friendly Intel engineer you can contact if you run into a bug under Linux.)

          Seriously, would you want to talk to someone in the community OR a paid Intel guy who actually has direct access to Intel hardware, documentation, and a team to address your concerns or issues? (Its certainly more re-assuring if you’re a commercial or academic customer.)

          This is why Intel spent a couple of million on their Open Source Technology Center in China. (Which specialises in anyone who needs to use Linux and Intel solutions.)

    • codedivine
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<] 500GB of hard-drive space [/quote<] That is a rather odd requirement. The OS itself isn't that large. What if I only want to install and play a few games? Why would I need 500GB of free space?

      • sjl
      • 7 years ago

      Well, a quick poke around on a local (Australian) computer parts retailer shows that the smallest capacity I can get nowadays in a 3.5″ hard drive is 500 GB. For a laptop hard drive, 320 GB is as low as it goes, and a 500 GB job isn’t much more expensive (we’re talking, literally, a couple of dollars. $3-6. Depending on the brand, to be exact.)

      So I don’t think it’s so much a case of needing that much hard disk space as it is of saying “why bother testing with less, since we can probably safely assume that the end user will have at least that much available?”

      Now, an SSD, yes, you’ll have lower capacity on one of those. But seriously, it isn’t that hard to set up a dual drive system – an SSD for boot, and rusty spinning iron for data.

      There’s probably also an element of “make sure they have more than enough space so they’re less likely to call about it” in there as well.

        • Disco
        • 7 years ago

        Maybe… but the size does exclude almost anyone with a SSD as their primary drive.

          • sjl
          • 7 years ago

          Pretty sure that Steam these days lets you store the game data files wherever you want, rather than just on the main volume. Plus, since SteamOS is a Linux variant, it isn’t exactly hard to mount the data storage volume at the appropriate point in the tree (although I’ll grant you that that isn’t something that is likely to be possible with a “turnkey” design, unless the Valve guys have specifically allowed for it.)

            • Sahrin
            • 7 years ago

            SteamOS is very finicky about installation volumes, according to the reviews I’ve read.

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      I’m pretty sure that “requirement” means to be only a recommendation.

      • Suleks
      • 7 years ago

      It’s because they’re distributing the OS as a disc image instead of an installer

      • tipoo
      • 7 years ago

      People have installed it on smaller VMs. Probably just a guideline. Not much good having a gaming dedicated OS if you can only fit a few games on it.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      Some of the space is dedicated for the encrypted HL3 resources they’re spreading out on computers all across the world running SteamOS. Half-Life 3 is so epic, so fantastic, so massive, so awesome they had to find a way to get people to give them more space. Then they realized, “Hey, we could put some of the data on OTHER PEOPLE’S COMPUTERS! They like to download our stuff anyway!”

      But Gabe was like, “Dude, that’s a great idea, but people might crack our encryption key. 333 isn’t a great key, you know.”

      And the rest of the team thought on it for a time. It was Gabe who realized the truth. “We could offer an OS. We say we need 500gb’s of space and then we divert some of it for HL3 resources. They’ll never know because they’ll be too busy being dazzled by the awesome of Linux to know what we’re doing… until it’s too late!”

      “Diabolical.”

        • smilingcrow
        • 7 years ago

        Seems reasonable to me.

      • Theolendras
      • 7 years ago

      What if you’re mostly interested in the in home streaming !

        • rahulahl
        • 7 years ago

        Edit: nvm. Wrong thread.

        • smilingcrow
        • 7 years ago

        Then buy a home sauna kit!

      • Theolendras
      • 7 years ago

      As weird as it comes indeed. Also when they enable the streaming feature, I sure hope this requirement goes out of the way, because I would like to have a passively cooled with a very small ssd, home made steam box…

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