Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Dec 2013 00:14 UTC

As promised, Valve has released the first test release of SteamOS. From the FAQ:

SteamOS is a fork (derivative) of Debian GNU/Linux. The first version (SteamOS 1.0) is called 'alchemist' and it is based on the Debian 'wheezy' (stable 7.1) distribution.

The major changes made in SteamOS are:

  • Backported eglibc 2.17 from Debian testing
  • Added various third-party drivers and updated graphics stack (Intel and AMD graphics support still being worked on)
  • Updated kernel tracking the 3.10 longterm branch (currently 3.10.11)
  • Custom graphics compositor designed to provide a seamless transition between Steam, its games and the SteamOS system overlay
  • Configured to auto-update from the Valve SteamOS repositories

You need to have an NVIDIA card for it to work, since Intel and AMD graphics are currently not yet supported (work is underway).

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I don't think Valve is competing against custom built pc. Rather they are creating a platform where people can either go with a custom built pc or a pre-configured pc.

Valve has not created a new platform. They took Debian, bolted on a few minor changes, and set minimum SteamOS requirements. Nothing new to see here. If anything, it's less than impressive on its best day. This isn't about custom pc vs. pre-configured pc. It's about non-Linux gaming vs. typical Linux gaming.

SteamOS is not about making another competition in the industry but rather destroy the concept of competing hardware/console.

Nothing Valve is doing, or SteamOS provides, has any potential to destroy competition with hardware & consoles. SteamOS is an attempt to make Linux gaming more attractive to Joe Average because Valve believes there is a lot of untapped gaming profit to be had there.

Their main focus is the Steam store which is the platform they will use to generate revenue. The Steam Boxes themselves and the controller may yield small profits but the main attraction is the platform itself. If anything, this looks like Valve is employing a Blue Ocean strategy as they call it in Business.

Building a pc with certain minimum hardware requirements in mind, and installing SteamOS Debian Linux on it instead of Windows, is not exactly groundbreaking territory.

Gamers don't care if their console, or their Windows box, or anything else is "locked down". When I hear gamers complain about something, it's never about system lock down and proprietary drivers/blobs. The only way for Linux gaming to ever take off is by giving the masses what they want and doing it at a competitive price. And it's going to take some blockbuster titles to do it, not simply an endless list of indy games where only a sliver are worth playing.

I'm no stranger to Linux. I'm used to the big promises accompanied by big let downs year-in year-out. I'm not convinced what Valve is attempting will in any way make any kind of dent, and if they did it will only happen after a long slow uphill climb. There's no reason or evidence to believe otherwise. In the end I hope Valve and SteamOS are successful but I'm not willing to declare it so until it has actually happened.

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