[dirrty]gsharp Feb 25, 2013 @ 4:46pm
Steam Live CD?
Was kicking this around with a co-worker. Say we make two Ubuntu Live CDs. One that loads AMD drivers and one that loads Nvidia drivers. The Steam for Linux client can be included in the Live CD.

The two snags we hit are:

1) getting TF2 onto the LiveCD. Is that possible? Even if we could, Steam would probably want r/w access to it, right?

2) can game binaries be kept separate from the user data?

Is this just wishful thinking or what?
Showing 1-12 of 12 comments
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Obsidian Ape Feb 25, 2013 @ 5:07pm 
Hey dirty,

You can definitely create a Live CD with steam on it. I'm not sure if its possible to switch desktop environments without full installation but you can even allow Ubuntu to log into Big Picture Mode directly without ever passing through middle desktop environment.

http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/11/how-to-login-to-steam-big-picture-mode-in-ubuntu

As for TF2, I don't think there is a way you can put it on a "CD" but if you used a 16 GB USB or SD Card perhaps? All just speculation.

Cool idea btw.
[dirrty]gsharp Feb 25, 2013 @ 5:19pm 
Originally posted by Obsidian Blade:
Hey dirty,

You can definitely create a Live CD with steam on it. I'm not sure if its possible to switch desktop environments without full installation but you can even allow Ubuntu to log into Big Picture Mode directly without ever passing through middle desktop environment.

http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/11/how-to-login-to-steam-big-picture-mode-in-ubuntu

As for TF2, I don't think there is a way you can put it on a "CD" but if you used a 16 GB USB or SD Card perhaps? All just speculation.

Cool idea btw.

The problem (ok, one of several) with putting Steam on the Live CD is how we would handle all the crap it writes out during startup -- stuff like Steam Client logs (~/.steam/steam/logs). If we put Steam in the ramdisk (or USB stick like you suggest), the user needs to have at least 16GB just to run Steam and play TF2...and nothing else.

Separating the user data from the binaries seems like a logical idea...but I'm not biting the hand that gave us Steam for Linux.

It would be ideal to get TF2 on the Live CD^H^HDVD though. Keep the user data as small as possible to ensure users with 2-4GB can use it.

Back to wipeboard. Thanks for the link!
SUSEd Feb 25, 2013 @ 10:41pm 
TF2 is >10 GiB. Better to use USB flash. Or burnl all S4L games on 1 BD.
Michael Feb 25, 2013 @ 11:11pm 
Originally posted by dirrtygsharp:
The problem (ok, one of several) with putting Steam on the Live CD is how we would handle all the crap it writes out during startup -- stuff like Steam Client logs

This is already handled by a live CD using some kind of cow ram disk - after all linux itself writes out stuff.

But, everything you write eats away at your ram - which is one reason live CDs are not particularly good if you have to apt-get update / upgrade.

Right now Steam and the linux games probably update too frequently to make this worthwhile - because you can't really not update Steam or TF2, hence your CD is going to be out of date.

They are also slow.

What is the point or purpose of the CDs? I bet there's a better solution to the problem. Having 2 CDs one for AMD and one for Nvidia suggests you perhaps don't have the technical nous to do this yet.
Last edited by Michael; Feb 25, 2013 @ 11:14pm
[dirrty]gsharp Feb 25, 2013 @ 11:20pm 
Originally posted by Yabba:
Originally posted by dirrtygsharp:
The problem (ok, one of several) with putting Steam on the Live CD is how we would handle all the crap it writes out during startup -- stuff like Steam Client logs

This is already handled by a live CD using some kind of cow ram disk - after all linux itself writes out stuff.

But, everything you write eats away at your ram - which is one reason live CDs are not particularly good if you have to apt-get update / upgrade.

Right now Steam and the linux games probably update too frequently to make this worthwhile.

That and the fact that Steam mixes binaries, libs, and user data in a home directory. Throws out all the hard lessons we learned in the past and steps on FHS[en.wikipedia.org] too. :(

Originally posted by Yabba:
What is the point or purpose of the CDs? I bet there's a better solution to the problem.

Just seeing what is possible. This idea might require too much duct tape to make work though.
Michael Feb 25, 2013 @ 11:31pm 
Originally posted by dirrtygsharp:
That and the fact that Steam mixes binaries, libs, and user data in a home directory. Throws out all the hard lessons we learned in the past

No it doesn't. It's a multiplayer game, you wouldn't be able to play it if you didn't update it.

The reasons and motives behind Steam are sound even if they differ from the reasons and motives behind other bits of software.

Again I'm sure you're confused here. Linux writes to disk. Live CDs work because it creates a ram disk which has COW - copy on write - i.e if you change something on the CD (which is, of course, not generally possible), it copies it to ram instead and changes it there.

The cow disk is overlayed in such a way that applications see changed data from ram or data from the original cd seamlessly.

Separation of data not required. Although some live cds do allow another file of user settings to be kept between boots, that's orthogonal to the way a live cd functions.


Just seeing what is possible. This idea might require too much duct tape to make work though.

But, depending upon what it's for may suggest better alternatives. If it's not for anything in particular I suppose that's moot.

With 32gb flash drives under £15 I'd have thought simply installing linux to one would work as well (i.e without all the 'live' stuff), but you do potentially have the issue that flash ram doesn't like writes to the same area over and over, so you might want to see if linux has any driver that addresses that.

This also makes it pretty simple to create, partition the stick, install linux on it, boot into it and add drivers, steam, TF2 and whatever else you want.
Last edited by Michael; Feb 25, 2013 @ 11:54pm
[dirrty]gsharp Feb 26, 2013 @ 12:45am 
Originally posted by Yabba:
Originally posted by dirrtygsharp:
That and the fact that Steam mixes binaries, libs, and user data in a home directory. Throws out all the hard lessons we learned in the past

No it doesn't. It's a multiplayer game, you wouldn't be able to play it if you didn't update it.

Sure it does. We don't put binaries and libs in user home directories because user home directories are volatile. They can change...a lot. By separating the two, we can update the apps, or in the case, the games, without stepping on user data. Likewise, users can backup their home directories without having to copy TF2. Users tend to do stupid things like delete stuff too.

Apache doesn't do it. Sendmail / Posfix / Qmail don't do it. Jboss, Websphere, and Tomcat don't do it. Even in WINDOWS, the binaries are kept separate from a user's home directory.

Originally posted by Yabba:
The reasons and motives behind Steam are sound even if they differ from the reasons and motives behind other bits of software.

Look, I'm as happy as a clam to see Steam for Linux. I'll tolerate the sloppy filesystem layout. Not a big deal. That doesn't make it right.

Originally posted by Yabba:
Originally posted by dirrtygsharp:
Just seeing what is possible. This idea might require too much duct tape to make work though.

But, depending upon what it's for may suggest better alternatives. If it's not for anything in particular I suppose that's moot.

Just a couple of tired engineers sitting around wondering "what if".

Originally posted by Yabba:
With 32gb flash drives under £15 I'd have thought simply installing linux to one would work as well (i.e without all the 'live' stuff), but you do potentially have the issue that flash ram doesn't like writes to the same area over and over, so you might want to see if linux has any driver that addresses that.

That might be an idea to explore. People would still need the 32GB USB drive but would solve this user space and updating issue.
Last edited by [dirrty]gsharp; Feb 26, 2013 @ 12:46am
Shark Feb 26, 2013 @ 1:12am 
{SCG} Sekioh Feb 26, 2013 @ 10:46am 
Or a USB/DVD that's just the steam binaries and configuration, and then package it up as a custom WUBI install, so people can pop disk in, install as a few files on their main windows partitions or whatever and still boot into it and play directly into big picture mode or however you want.
{SCG} Sekioh Feb 26, 2013 @ 10:54am 
Also I see what gsharp is talking about, and it bugged me a bit too, userspace is supposed to be a small folder of just your documents, configurations, and saves. It should be small and easy enough to back up that you can jump from distro to distro or backup for restoration and the system will be exact same. Right now the equivalent is saying that steam installs the /steam/, /steamapps/ and stuff instead of C:/Program Files/ it's dropping them in your C:/Users/%profile%/ folder instead. As like your My Documents folder.

It'd require some rewrite of the engine (or maybe steampipe can do it), since I suppose things like user mods and stuff in steamapps/%account%/ directory can have some issues if it was in a more public /var or /opt folder, meaning any other users could install or write or edit to it... You could probably do something like it yourself by manually changing the ~/.steam/ folders symlinks in it to the various locations or that ~/.steampath and ~/.steam file in userspace to do it, but it seems to me like when a new user logs in and tries to launch steam, it just writes out a new structure for them too. Would have to intercept and rewrite the shell script or launcher on it's initialization routines for setting up the structure.
[dirrty]gsharp Feb 26, 2013 @ 2:47pm 
Just to clarify, I'm not trying to make a "bash Steam for Linux thread". I'm only suggesting that Steam's current home makes it hard to create a LiveCD/DVD. That's all. Most people don't have 16 or 32GB of RAM or 32GB USB sticks. Of the last six people I converted to Ubuntu and Steam for Linux, only one even had a USB stick and it was a 2GB USB v1 model.

Now, maybe a LiveDVD is a silly idea. Perhaps. It sounded good though -- give someone a Steam LiveCD, they boot Ubuntu with Nvidia and Steam already installed. All they have to do is login and start a game. That was the starting theory.

Looks like there are still too many technical hurdles to overcome right now. So, I'll file this away.
[dirrty]gsharp Feb 26, 2013 @ 2:55pm 
Originally posted by Sekioh:
Also I see what gsharp is talking about, and it bugged me a bit too, userspace is supposed to be a small folder of just your documents, configurations, and saves. It should be small and easy enough to back up that you can jump from distro to distro or backup for restoration and the system will be exact same. Right now the equivalent is saying that steam installs the /steam/, /steamapps/ and stuff instead of C:/Program Files/ it's dropping them in your C:/Users/%profile%/ folder instead. As like your My Documents folder.

It'd require some rewrite of the engine (or maybe steampipe can do it), since I suppose things like user mods and stuff in steamapps/%account%/ directory can have some issues if it was in a more public /var or /opt folder, meaning any other users could install or write or edit to it... You could probably do something like it yourself by manually changing the ~/.steam/ folders symlinks in it to the various locations or that ~/.steampath and ~/.steam file in userspace to do it, but it seems to me like when a new user logs in and tries to launch steam, it just writes out a new structure for them too. Would have to intercept and rewrite the shell script or launcher on it's initialization routines for setting up the structure.

I'm not going to comment here to avoid the appearance of Steam for Linux bashing. I'll just say that I agree and hope there are plans to integrate Steam for Linux properly.
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Date Posted: Feb 25, 2013 @ 4:46pm
Posts: 12