SteamOS Is Finally Available, but You Should Probably Wait

SteamOS has arrived, but the initial beta release is for the technically stouthearted.

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Look, I know you want to play with it, because it’s free, and it’s Steam, and it emblematizes everyone’s favorite underdog (Linux!), and it’s almost Christmas so you want to give yourself a gift that’ll keep on giving, but, and I emphasize the but, this first of probably many, many releases isn’t for you.

By you, I mean someone more or less like me: longtime serious gamer, occasional Linux fiddler, but generally speaking, someone whose time is too hyper-allocated to tinker for the sake of tinkering. That’s what it’ll take to get the beta, capital B, version of SteamOS Valve just released tonight up and running. And okay, let’s say you do — because hey, if all it takes is a little upfront sweat, why not? — Valve says it’ll only drop future bug-squashed and better compatible versions of SteamOS every few months, whereas beta testers will get those updates “on a daily or weekly basis.” So if you’re not one of the lucky 300 identified earlier this week, and you run into a critical bug, you’re stuck for one, two or however many months, waiting for the fix to trickle out.

That’s enough to keep me away for now. I’m not curious enough to tinker, knowing I’ll be perpetually behind the curve, at least not until I hear through the grapevine, probably courtesy the beta group (there’s no NDA on talking about SteamOS), that things are looking sufficiently legit.

But if you’re intrepid, have the time and gumption to see putting a system together through and were basically muttering “pfft” (or worse) under your breath as you muddled through what I just wrote, you can get your SteamOS on courtesy the official web page (about 1.01GB) or via this unofficial torrent/magnet (thanks SteamDB).

You’ll need the following minimum hardware specs to make the magic happen (per Valve’s SteamOS FAQ):

  • Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • 4GB or more memory
  • 500GB or larger disk
  • NVIDIA graphics card (AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon)
  • UEFI boot support
  • USB port for installation

Note that the web download doesn’t appear to support resumable transfers, so you might want to go with the torrent, just to be safe, given the probable deluge of potentially connection-snapping requests right now.