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SteamOS 'Alchemist' Enters Public Beta

  • December 16, 2013
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

Perhaps no other single Linux distribution release in recent memory has caught the attention of more people than Valve's Steam OS

SteamOS was first hinted at in the summer and is now a public beta codenamed 'Alchemist', available in a free download letting users see first hand the future of Linux gaming.

Instead of leveraging Ubuntu as its foundation, Valve developers have decided to go upstream. The initial SteamOS release is based on Debian Wheezy and is mostly an open-source operating system

"SteamOS Beta ships with our Steam Client program, which is proprietary software, in addition to proprietary 3rdsteamOS party drivers," the SteamOS FAQstates. "In the SteamOS Beta standard configuration, the Steam Client program serves as a user interface and provides connectivity to our Steam online services. That being said, you can still access standard Linux desktop."

Valve developers have also opted to got with the Linux 3.10 kernel longterm branch instead of the Linux 3.2 kernel that typically is part of Debian Wheezy. As is to be expected from a graphics intensive operating system, Valve also has its own custom graphics compositor in SteamOS. As well the system is set to auto-update from the Valve SteamOS repositories.

At the outset for Beta users the pace of updates is likely to be fast and furious with updates that could be coming on a daily or weekly basis initially. Valve notes in its FAQ that it is still evaluating what the best release cadence will be for SteamOS.

The initial Alchemist release requires an NVIDIA graphics card as well as UEFI boot support on the system motherboard. Valve expects to have AMD and Intel graphics support at some point in the near future.

Valve co-founder bolded declared during the LinuxCon USA 2013 event that Linux is the future of gaming and with SteamOS, he's made a concrete step on delivery on that promise.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Linux Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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