Steam for Linux

Steam for Linux

 This topic has been pinned, so it's probably important
Update on Steam, Ubuntu, and 32-bit support
There has been a lot of news and discussion over the weekend on the topic of Steam on Linux and officially supported and recommended distributions. For those not in the loop, last week the Ubuntu project announced their intent to change how they're approaching 32-bit library support for future Ubuntu versions[]. Following that announcement, we made a statement that Ubuntu 19.10 wouldn't be officially supported or recommended to our users going forward. As the Ubuntu project indicated, they let us know of their intent and walked us through the details earlier this month, which was much appreciated. We don't think it is unreasonable that they would want to take steps that are in the best interests of the project. That being said, we don't think it's an especially positive move for Steam and gaming-oriented customers who rely on this support.

To provide some background, support for 32-bit libraries is required in order to run not only the Steam client, but also the thousands of games available on Steam that only support 32-bit environments. Enabling the Steam client to run in pure 64-bit environments, while feasible, would leave the vast majority of the current Steam library inaccessible to such users without an additional compatibility layer. Ensuring that all games a user owns remain fully playable wherever possible is a core principle of Steam, and we don't believe any solution that arbitrarily splits a user's library would be acceptable.

To that effect, Steam already bundles a lot of the dependencies needed by 32-bit games, but it currently relies on some key components being available on the host system: a 32-bit glibc, ELF loader, Mesa and NVIDIA graphics driver libraries, to name a few. We've been investigating ways to avoid these system dependencies for a while now, by looking into light containerization and other approaches. The announced change by Ubuntu would have required us to fully complete such a system in the 19.10 release time frame, as it would be required there to maintain functionality without requiring users to reinstall Steam through another method. A significant portion of our Linux users are on the latest version of Ubuntu and upgrade as new versions become available. Requiring such a fundamental change in Steam's runtime environment in that time frame would have been very risky for these users, and would likely not have resulted in a seamless experience.

Our response also mentioned not recommending Ubuntu to Steam users in the future. Currently, the Steam Linux installation instructions and system requirements call out Ubuntu specifically as the best-supported path for desktop users. When we originally came to the decision to make this recommendation to Steam users, we considered the entire desktop and gaming experience, not just how well Steam itself would work. There is a large amount of older third-party games and desktop software that lives outside of Steam, and therefore does not use the Steam runtime environment. This new scheme would have broken such 32-bit non-Steam games and tools, unless the user was savvy enough to know that they needed to run them in a compatibility environment. It would be quite unfortunate if all pre-existing documentation around installing and running older binary software on Ubuntu became invalid or obsolete due to such a change, and this added caveat to using the existing ecosystem caused us no small amount of concern.

There's a lot more to the technical and non-technical reasons behind our concerns, but the bottom line is that we would have had to drop what we're doing and scramble to support the new scheme in time for 19.10. We weren't confident we could do that without passing some of the churn to our users, and it would not solve the problems for third-party software outside of Steam upon which many of our users rely.

In response to the concerns raised by ourselves and the wider community, the Ubuntu project recently discussed a more conservative approach[] wherein a selection of 32-bit libraries would still be available on the host system, through at least 20.04 LTS. We're still not particularly excited about the removal of any existing functionality, but such a change to the plan is extremely welcome, and will allow us to continue to work towards improvements in the Steam distribution model without causing new headaches for users. Given the information we have on this new approach so far, it seems likely that we will be able to continue to officially support Steam on Ubuntu.

The Linux landscape has changed dramatically since we released the initial version of Steam for Linux, and as such, we are re-thinking how we want to approach distribution support going forward. There are several distributions on the market today that offer a great gaming desktop experience such as Arch Linux, Manjaro, Pop!_OS, Fedora, and many others. We'll be working closer with many more distribution maintainers in the future. If you're working on such a distribution and don't feel your project has a direct line of contact with us, by all means, have a representative reach out directly.

That all being said, we don't have anything specific to announce at this time regarding what distribution(s) will be supported in the future; expect more news on that front in the coming months. We remain committed to supporting Linux as a gaming platform, and are continuing to drive numerous driver and feature development efforts that we expect will help improve the gaming and desktop experience across all distributions; we'll talk more about some examples of that soon.
Last edited by Pierre-Loup; Jun 26 @ 3:21pm
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Showing 16-30 of 152 comments
I appreciate the candidness. I never thought I'd have to pick a distribution based off of where I can run Steam, but here we are. It's not a bad place to be. Say the word and that's my next distro!
Thank you very much for all of your support, Valve! can't wait for more to come.
Askannz Jun 26 @ 4:37pm 
Valve, you rock ! I'll never be thankful enough for what you are contributing to the community. Keep up the good work !
x_wing Jun 26 @ 4:40pm 
Thanks for the update.

Hope Ubuntu improves their communication skills in the future, way too many good desktop distros are based on their distro so the Linux community should not embrance the idea of see them as a enemy, because they aren't.
Thanks for the update and your excellent and continued Linux support! All pro and con discussion aside, we can't thank you enough for the role you played and play in helping linux surpass windoze in the last remaining segment :D
Opensuse have a company behind and they are interested in be the main platform gaming in Linux
It has a LTS version (opensuse leap)
It has a rolling release version (opensuse Tumbleweed)

IMHO you should value this great opportunity and ally with them



for other way, opensuse is the distro with best GUI for do anything (services, Raids, and in general, config all the system thanks to yast2) and it is really nice for the users

edit1: Thanks to the user ADL for support my comment
Last edited by toye[Linux]; Jun 26 @ 4:54pm
Rogue Jun 26 @ 4:50pm 
Thanks for the update, and for continuing to support Linux!

:steamhappy: :signix:
Last edited by Rogue; Jun 26 @ 7:35pm
cybik Jun 26 @ 5:06pm 
Thank you for everything you are doing for the Linux community at large :)
Thank you so, so much for such an incredible support to GNU/Linux. First the native Steam application and then Proton, things are just going to be better.

We may be few, but we all thank you so much for not letting us all behind.

Things like this is what makes the difference between Steam and other platforms.
Thank you for your unwavering support for Linux, and your continued efforts to make it the best Desktop/Gaming OS it can be!
So long as you support linux, I'll be a customer. It is appreciated, the resources and time you invest into our platform.
rhqq Jun 26 @ 5:43pm 
I hope this also brings updates to these old old video/encoding/decoding libraries that make hardware acceleration for Remote Play (streaming games to other device) impossible...
Last edited by rhqq; Jun 26 @ 5:44pm
There are many amazing linux distros out there. Instead of supporting many distros officially why don't you support flatpak packaging format?
Flatpak is a cross-distro containerized packaging format that works well on most popular linux distros.
There is already a flatpak package for Steam created by the community. So it is already feasible.
I suggest you take flatpak into consideration.
Last edited by HopeAndDespair; Jun 26 @ 5:53pm
Originally posted by Gothwilm:
Excellently written. Thanks for updating us. The "light containerization" story will be interesting to follow, if it plays out at all.
it will be interesting to watch rather then follow. I don't want any extra layers between my OS and my game if my OS fully supports 32 bit libs. it's only Ubuntu issue so I'd prefer to have old steam app without containers.
Tulk Jun 26 @ 6:27pm 
Thank you again for your amazing dedication, guys! I really, really appreciate being able to use Linux essentially full time. :) You guys are awesome.

I can personally vouch for Debian as a potential candidate. I know you guys already have SteamOS so it's not like you're unfamiliar with it. The "Testing" release of Debian is superb. It's still super stable despite being a rolling distribution. Debian is now extremely easy to install and the drivers for all sorts of devices can be found in their repos. I've been having a fantastic gaming experience on Debian Testing. :)
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