Valve releases both Steam Machine and SteamOS

Dec 16, 2013 by Bob Yirka report

( —Video game maker Valve Corporation has officially made SteamOS available for download for anyone who wishes to do so. At the same time, the company announced that it has also shipped Steam Machines to 300 preselected beta testers.

With all the advertising for Xbox and PlayStation game consoles this , it might be easy to overlook a relative newcomer to the home game console: the Steam Machine, which runs SteamOS, an operating system based on Linux.

Executives at Valve have been vocal about their disappointment with Microsoft's (closed) Windows 8 operating system as it pertains to gamers, suggesting that open source is the better way to go. With this latest move, the company appears to be backing up their words—SteamOS can be downloaded (960MBs) for free. What this means is that anyone that wishes to do so, can download the OS and begin writing games for Steam Machines. And that's not all, Steam Machines won't be proprietary either—the company has made specs for the console available to anyone that wants them—also free of charge. The idea, the company says, is to get the gaming industry to move away from proprietary systems to those based on .

The company does have a word of caution however, SteamOS is still in beta, which means that not only is it a little shaky, but it's in a form that requires a great deal of knowledge of Linux. That's going to change, of course, the company says, so those that aren't quite so hard-core may want to wait till a more mature front end has been developed and released, hopefully sometime next year.

In the meantime, those that are more hardcore—the lucky 300—will be installing the OS on their new consoles, testing prewritten code and of course, writing new code, some of it games, some of it most likely code intended to improve SteamOS itself. If all goes well, at some point in the future, a commercial version of Valve's Steam Machine will go on sale to the public, as will such machine's by other makers, all running SteamOS. Once that happens, it's possible non-professionals may begin writing games for the devices, similar to what has happened with apps makers writing for smartphones. And the gaming world will hopefully be better for it.

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User comments : 11

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1 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2013
Seems like this is about the fourth PhysOrg editor in two weeks, who doesn't know the difference between "a dog, two dogs" and "a dog, two dog's".

I am considering my alternatives here. One of them is terminating my account.
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 16, 2013
I am checking this os out. open source gives the power to the people. now, where's that shell?
not rated yet Dec 16, 2013
But what happens if we switch away from Windows 7/8? Wouldn't there be less compatibility?
1 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2013
i just checked the site, and you may want to wait untill they have better support before you try putting this on a machine. it does however look like they are working on intel and amd.
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 16, 2013
I've been an MCSE for going on 14 years now. Windows has been frustrating at times (SBS, Vista) but I've never seriously considered changing OS's until the launch of Windows 8 and 8.1. From the loss of a true start menu to apps that still fail to work properly (netflix and amazon streaming) to a model that seems to be moving in the google direction where my privacy doesn't matter, I've never felt so ignored as a customer.

Maybe gaming is just the start for SteamOS. I've always upgraded hardware wanting to incresse my framerate, not to run winword faster. I would think hardware manufacturers would be motivated to see this OS work. Maybe they'll dedicate a little more time in developing drivers. Maybe Valve will grow to fill the developing void I see in the market. Reliability, privacy, compatibility, productivity, these are missing.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2013
try installing it to a vmware machine.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 17, 2013
Has anyone figured out how to make money with pure, open source, other than through support agreements and donations? <- serious question, by the way.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 17, 2013
Maybe gaming is just the start for SteamOS. I've always upgraded hardware wanting to incresse my framerate, not to run winword faster. I would think hardware manufacturers would be motivated to see this OS work. Maybe they'll dedicate a little more time in developing drivers. Maybe Valve will grow to fill the developing void I see in the market. Reliability, privacy, compatibility, productivity, these are missing.

Even though it's not all open, it's good to see the underlying OS is. Being closed gives Microsoft the luxury to do all sorts of dreadful things. And they have many conflicting motivations that result in not-in-my-best-interest effects. Like performance degrading DRM support. Or gratuitous "enhancements" seeking only to lock in users and developers. Or flawed initiatives like having one unified user interface across all computing devices.
1 / 5 (2) Dec 17, 2013
to k m;

the key to making money with open source is in the individuals willing to make connections with money. You take pre-existing code and improve upon it to the point that investors become interested. open source is essentially research that does not start at ground zero. the caveat here is that you lose some control over your code. many companies steer clear of it because of code rights-it can be a legal nightmare. in the end, you will have to realize that the code should remain free to the public. protect your personal code with binaries. for steam, they have protected themselves by piggybacking separate software onto a debian operating system.

My hope is that open gl gets some attention here as it still needs improvement to catch up with direct x.

What I do not get is that steam is presenting the software as it is for computers. are they using thier own special binaries for those consoles the article talks about? I wouldn't mind finding a download for that...
3 / 5 (2) Dec 17, 2013
Whatever, ....just get half-life3 done :)
1 / 5 (1) Dec 17, 2013
Steam OS sounds nice, but the best part about it is the effort they are putting into getting games to work with Linux and Windows. Now if they could just get AMD to give a crap and actually make Linux Drivers for their Video Cards? Well, AMD barely makes drivers for Windows as it is now, so maybe that will never happen.
I love the idea of no more exclusive games, to keep you from buying a console that you don't want to play a game that you do want (example: anything Nintendo makes). I would be a whole lot happier if there were no consoles, just computers and tablets and peripherals for them, and all the big video game companies just made games.

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