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How to run SteamOS in a virtual machine

Alex Castle | April 28, 2014
If you follow gaming news, you've probably heard of Steam OS--Valve's new operating system for dedicated gaming PCs. It's Linux-based, designed for use in the living room, and completely free.

Finally, you can boot into SteamOS. When the screen where you earlier selected recovery mode appears, choose the top option to not start SteamOS in recovery mode. This will, at last, bring you to the SteamOS desktop. It will try to connect to the internet to update Steam — if it fails, try going into the Network Settings box of your virtual machine and changing the network adapter from Bridged to NAT or vice versa.

When you successfully connect to the internet, Steam will download an update. As of publication, that update will restart your system and, essentially, reinstall the operating system all over again. Allow it to complete the automated process, and when you finally get a chance to make a decision at the very end, choose to reboot the computer.

Things finally seem to be looking up, as a brand new SteamOS splash screen loads. Unfortunately, your joy will be short-lived, as the system will now dump you on an empty black screen. To fix this problem, hit ctrl + alt + f2 to open a command prompt. You'll be asked for a login name — enter "desktop."

Next, enter the command sudo dpkg-reconfigure lightdm and hit Enter. Select gdm3 when you're given a choice. Finally, type sudo reboot and hit enter to restart.

This time, you'll have the option to log in to SteamOS. There are two options available for login — choose the top one labelled "Steam OS Desktop." You're now finally back at the SteamOS desktop, but you may notice that if you try and run Steam itself, it won't open.

To fix this final problem, just hit alt + f2, and in the dialogue box that opens up enter gnome-terminal. This will open a terminal, into which you can type the magic word steam and press Enter. This should finally, actually open Steam. Accept the EULA, download any updates, and login with your Steam account.

Finally, after much finagling, you're running Steam in SteamOS! To get the intended living room PC feeling, you can click on the Big Picture Mode icon in the upper right-hand corner to launch a version of Steam optimized for playing from the couch — the true incarnation of the much-balleyhooed SteamOS. To see your Linux-compatible games, which will work on SteamOS, open your games library in, then click the View all games button. In the library screen that appears, simply select the "Linux" option from the drop-down menu — one you won't see in Steam for Windows — to filter out the playable titles.  

SteamOS will probably be a bit laggy in the virtual machine, but you'll be able to get a solid feel for what Valve's gaming-centric operating system is all about. 


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