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Valve's SteamOS Not a Replacement for Windows 8

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November 9, 2013 5:15:19 PM

Makes no sense to not have basic command line access which gives access to an alternative desktop, wine, Windows apps, and everything else linux does.
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4
November 9, 2013 5:22:39 PM

Well, that's a bit of a letdown, but no big deal. I was considering using SteamOS as my main OS once it comes out, but I guess I'll have to go with Arch or Manjaro after all.
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2
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November 9, 2013 5:32:03 PM

I'm not entirely surprised, but it certainly is a disappointment. I figured I would dual boot to test it out, and perhaps make an HTCP later on down the road. I doubt it would have replaced Windows one way or another, and obviously that's not their goal.
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4
November 9, 2013 5:43:01 PM

The beauty of open source is that even though Valve might not officially support traditional PC applications on SteamOS, that doesn't mean they won't be available. If users want media functionality, productivity apps, or what have you, I'm sure someone will step up to the plate to make that happen. For example, I would bet money on XBMC coming to SteamOS.
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November 9, 2013 5:50:35 PM

As expected, and mostly as hoped for. The real question about SteamOS is how much better performance is than with Windows. Windows has an awful lot of needless overhead, SteamOS theoretically won't. But games are not optimized for Linux, so it's hard to say if there will be any performance gains over Windows at all.

That's the big problem with SteamOS, really. If it doesn't run DirectX (or incorporate something like Wine), it can't play most of the games on the market anyway.
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a b 4 Gaming
November 9, 2013 6:07:32 PM

AnUnusedUsername said:
As expected, and mostly as hoped for. The real question about SteamOS is how much better performance is than with Windows. Windows has an awful lot of needless overhead, SteamOS theoretically won't. But games are not optimized for Linux, so it's hard to say if there will be any performance gains over Windows at all.

That's the big problem with SteamOS, really. If it doesn't run DirectX (or incorporate something like Wine), it can't play most of the games on the market anyway.


It wont have DirectX as DirectX is MS and they wont allow it on any other OS, if they did Linux would have had it years ago.

But that overhead you speak of, its pointless as the hardware these days is well over what games utilize. A clean Windows 8/8.1 uses maybe 800MB of RAM at startup and most systems have a minimum of 4GB, most gaming systems have 8GB and some 16GB.

Most games still use a 32bit exe which can only access up to 2GB unless they use PAE which gives up to 3GB. Very few use more than that.

That's all thanks to the current consoles as they are still very old technology. Even with the new consoles I don't think a system like mine, 2500K 16GB of RAM HD7970, will have much to worry about since it is still far ahead of the new consoles in computer power.

If you optimize it enough, DX and OGL games will run very similarly. Of course it also depends as OGL is sometimes behind in what features are available for it so you have to try to put them on equal footing which is hard since DX may support one feature and have it run that OGL does not and vice versa.
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November 9, 2013 6:17:39 PM

AnUnusedUsername said:
As expected, and mostly as hoped for. The real question about SteamOS is how much better performance is than with Windows. Windows has an awful lot of needless overhead, SteamOS theoretically won't. But games are not optimized for Linux, so it's hard to say if there will be any performance gains over Windows at all.

That's the big problem with SteamOS, really. If it doesn't run DirectX (or incorporate something like Wine), it can't play most of the games on the market anyway.


Windows really doesn't have a lot of overhead. There's a lot of stuff loaded in memory which isn't strictly necessary for a gaming console, but this manifests itself mostly in the form of a fixed memory footprint rather than as a relative impact on some other performance metric.

Windows 8 has a memory footprint of around 300MiB, about a quarter less than Windows 7 which weighs in at around 400MiB.

Even if all the stuff unrelated to gaming were to be stripped away, the total memory footprint would be reduced to around 200MiB; this is negligible on systems that are sporting 8GiB-16GiB on average if not more. Stuff that is sitting in memory as part of a service or some other operating system component is doing just that, sitting there until it's needed.

That said, there's very little difference between an OpenGL game running on Windows and an OpenGL game running on Linux. Benchmarks have shown that there's almost no difference between them and that's to be expected. A properly coded application won't care what platform it's running on as long as the libraries that it needs are present and the APIs/ABIs remain the same. As long as the libraries and OS are reasonably efficient (and they are) the microprocessor will spend the bulk of its time inside of the OS neutral application code, as it should.

So how will SteamOS perform compared to Windows? Exactly the same
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10
November 9, 2013 6:27:03 PM

No surprise there. It's always been touted as a Steam Big Picture Mode front end and nothing more.

Anyone interested in a replacement will likely look to Ubuntu 12.04LTS or Mint and just run Steam for Linux. It should play the entire Linux / Steam OS library and provide a replacement for Windows 8 (such as it is).

IB
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November 9, 2013 6:28:28 PM

xaephod said:
Makes no sense to not have basic command line access which gives access to an alternative desktop, wine, Windows apps, and everything else linux does.


It's Linux. Of course you can do that. You can do whatever you want with it.

sublime2k said:
Well, that's a bit of a letdown, but no big deal.


Surely you didn't actually expect that Valve was planning on replacing an incumbent OS of 2 decades with the first release of what is really nothing more than another Linux distribution.
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a b 4 Gaming
November 9, 2013 7:51:51 PM

I am sure there is a workaround to access the console where you can then install lots of other functionality.
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November 9, 2013 8:21:32 PM

Innocent_Bystander said:
Anyone interested in a replacement will likely look to Ubuntu 12.04LTS or Mint and just run Steam for Linux. It should play the entire Linux / Steam OS library and provide a replacement for Windows 8 (such as it is).


We've always been able to do that, if we wanted to give up half our standing game libraries and jump through hoops. The same goes for user-modification of SteamOS—sure, it may prove possible, but without official support its just going to be the same Linux experience we already have.

The hope was that it might be different this time if Valve could get the other industry heavy-hitters in the same room and convince them that its no longer in their collective best interest to stake their businesses on how much effort Microsoft puts into their OS and graphics API.

randomizer said:
Surely you didn't actually expect that Valve was planning on replacing an incumbent OS of 2 decades with the first release of what is really nothing more than another Linux distribution.


With the first release? Of course not. But the Windows business model of today is structured around why we need it, not why we want it. I think Microsoft is complacent and vulnerable, and if someone with some industry clout threw money at it and tried for a few iterations, its entirely possible that we could've ended up with a practical (if imperfect) alternative to Windows.

Now, even after all their statements about how terrible Windows is, I guess Valve's only interested in a basic functionality game library UI for tech-apathetic console gamers. Which wouldn't have been such big news if they'd just told us what it would and wouldn't do to begin with.
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November 9, 2013 8:39:17 PM

Then Valve better made this OS "moddable"...
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November 9, 2013 9:06:09 PM

" I think Microsoft is complacent and vulnerable, and if someone with some industry clout threw money at it and tried for a few iterations, its entirely possible that we could've ended up with a practical (if imperfect) alternative to Windows. "

For the life of me I can't figure out why Google won't release an X86 desktop version of Android. Sure it's imperfect, but man, at least that would give Microsoft a run for their money.
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November 9, 2013 9:17:58 PM

Damn I hoping someone will integrate XBMC so it can be a HTPC as well as a gaming machine.
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November 9, 2013 9:53:47 PM

Google.Please I BEG YOU TO RELEASE ANDROID ON DESKTOP.Would get it in a heartbeat and would uninstall this Windows shit which I am compelled to use for gaming
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a b 4 Gaming
November 9, 2013 10:32:52 PM

oxiide said:
Innocent_Bystander said:
Anyone interested in a replacement will likely look to Ubuntu 12.04LTS or Mint and just run Steam for Linux. It should play the entire Linux / Steam OS library and provide a replacement for Windows 8 (such as it is).


We've always been able to do that, if we wanted to give up half our standing game libraries and jump through hoops. The same goes for user-modification of SteamOS—sure, it may prove possible, but without official support its just going to be the same Linux experience we already have.

The hope was that it might be different this time if Valve could get the other industry heavy-hitters in the same room and convince them that its no longer in their collective best interest to stake their businesses on how much effort Microsoft puts into their OS and graphics API.

randomizer said:
Surely you didn't actually expect that Valve was planning on replacing an incumbent OS of 2 decades with the first release of what is really nothing more than another Linux distribution.


With the first release? Of course not. But the Windows business model of today is structured around why we need it, not why we want it. I think Microsoft is complacent and vulnerable, and if someone with some industry clout threw money at it and tried for a few iterations, its entirely possible that we could've ended up with a practical (if imperfect) alternative to Windows.

Now, even after all their statements about how terrible Windows is, I guess Valve's only interested in a basic functionality game library UI for tech-apathetic console gamers. Which wouldn't have been such big news if they'd just told us what it would and wouldn't do to begin with.


The Windows model is based around add-value and has been for a while. Windows 7 is a great OS and Microsoft developed themselves into a corner. It's hard to monetize a product that's defined by periodic upgrades when there's no incentive to upgrade.

Companies have been throwing money at every attempt to dethrone Microsoft in the consumer OS and productivity software market segments for decades with no luck. The Office suite, Visual Studio, and Windows are well entrenched incumbents and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Competitors have managed to keep Microsoft at bay in the workstation and server segment (although the incredibly lucrative Windows Server has made huge gains in the past couple of years) and largely shut Microsoft out of the mobile segment (again, Windows Phone is making slow but steady gains). Microsoft knows how to defend their market position and serves their developer base very well so don't get fooled into thinking that a handful of small publishers with no incentive to bite the hand that feeds will start throwing money at a problem that doesn't exist.
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November 9, 2013 11:21:10 PM

I can't understand why Linux is not more popular. I can't understand why people with $500 dollar graphics cards wouldn't want to use the better operating system. It really is not any more user unfriendly. It certainly has fewer glitches. I mean the latest Windows 8.1 update still has problems with mouse movement!!!!
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November 9, 2013 11:22:53 PM

krelob said:
I can't understand why Linux is not more popular. I can't understand why people with $500 dollar graphics cards wouldn't want to use the better operating system. It really is not any more user unfriendly. It certainly has fewer glitches. I mean the latest Windows 8.1 update still has problems with mouse movement!!!!


I do hope that you're being sarcastic
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November 9, 2013 11:33:29 PM

Pinhedd, what do you mean? I have several high end computers running Linux and Windows, and Linux is fundamentally better... Direct X is the only thing propping up gaming on Windows.
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November 9, 2013 11:36:07 PM

No one expected Steam OS to allow them to do CAD and word processing. It doesn't need to "replace" Windows in every market it's in. The question to begin with is whether or not Steam OS can replace Windows in the segments it has relevance in. If it can't, then what relevance does it have at all? If I already have Windows installed, then what's the point in installing a dual boot when Windows allows far more options with DX? If they don't allow out of the box functionality for at least media and streaming services they aren't even up to par with current console OS'. I still don't see a purpose in this product at all. A product with no purpose is DoA.
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November 9, 2013 11:43:37 PM

OK, so I was right, Valve fanboys were wrong... you can leave your apologies under this message and I'll forgive you.
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a b 4 Gaming
November 9, 2013 11:51:10 PM

Linux's deficiency is lack of software support compared to windows.
The kernel itself is actually superior in may ways to the NT kernel

Another issue is X11 sucks :p 
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November 10, 2013 12:40:44 AM

I loled at "it's not based on Ubuntu... so it's not a spin-off". Right....

Looks like Dead On Arrival, really. BUSINESS driven thing, that offers next to nothing to the customers.
Major drive behind this move was getting away from Windows.
Which, I think, is impossible, unless you make OpenGL attractive to the game developers. A point, which Valve didn't address at all.

@krelob
Because most games are Win only and WINE doesn't really cut it (a hassle to setup, some games do not run at all, those which run are often buggy AND you get a HUGE performance hit too).
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November 10, 2013 1:19:44 AM

@kartu

It's really not about OpenGL vs D3D, the differences there are so minor functionality-wise, that no one cares. But DX is more than D3D, and with good documentation. The biggest hurdle still is the lack of motivation for developers to target other platforms than Windows. That might change with cross-platform games being/becoming the majority, and if Valve is able to offer good, well documented, open source solutions to replace the rest of DirectX.
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November 10, 2013 2:40:17 AM

I loled at "it's not based on Ubuntu... so it's not a spin-off". Right....

Looks like Dead On Arrival, really. BUSINESS driven thing, that offers next to nothing to the customers.
Major drive behind this move was getting away from Windows.
Which, I think, is impossible, unless you make OpenGL attractive to the game developers. A point, which Valve didn't address at all.

@krelob
Because most games are Win only and WINE doesn't really cut it (a hassle to setup, some games do not run at all, those which run are often buggy AND you get a HUGE performance hit too).
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1
November 10, 2013 2:40:22 AM

I loled at "it's not based on Ubuntu... so it's not a spin-off". Right....

Looks like Dead On Arrival, really. BUSINESS driven thing, that offers next to nothing to the customers.
Major drive behind this move was getting away from Windows.
Which, I think, is impossible, unless you make OpenGL attractive to the game developers. A point, which Valve didn't address at all.

@krelob
Because most games are Win only and WINE doesn't really cut it (a hassle to setup, some games do not run at all, those which run are often buggy AND you get a HUGE performance hit too).
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November 10, 2013 2:50:37 AM

It's good in of to be used on super computers. It runs on basic Arm V6 socs. Its very scalable in turns of hardware power & architectures. It runs on Space station, server of all yours providers & your smartphone. Bat it's not good in of for your PC?
You know that there is only one logical explanation for this funny verdict of so called common users!
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2
November 10, 2013 2:51:25 AM

Bloob said:
@kartu

It's really not about OpenGL vs D3D, the differences there are so minor functionality-wise, that no one cares..


Check this out:
Carmack: Direct3D is now better than OpenGL (2011)
http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2011/03/11/carmack-...

I think you underestimate D3D advantage, but in any case, whatever makes it more attractive to game devs, needs to be addressed and there seems to be no changes in that direction. (on top of it Microsoft decided to cripple OpenGL on

And as for Windows Store competing with Steam, I couldn't care less and don't get why any consumer would... Or in fact, I'd rather welcome it... Steam having no serious competition as PC distribution platform isn't good for the customers...
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1
November 10, 2013 3:22:09 AM

I actually quiet like the idea of making my pc a console
yep, I said that. and why?
Name 3 AAA FPS PC exclusive
Name 3 AAA Casual Driver racing games (not hc simulator) PC exclusive
or just name any kind of AAA title that is PC exclusive. Even Diablo 3 s not PC exclusive anymore
PC is the weird, nerd kid with its RTS and MMOs behind consoles. Sadly.
But maybe Valve can lift PC-s up to console level, to make them a nice way of playing loads of new games like on consoles
It seems like more and more console gamer is coming to pc, or getting a pc as well. It might be the push we need
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November 10, 2013 3:39:25 AM

I'm sure at some point file management etc is on the list (you have to get the game crap working first, it is the main goal for now). Then again you can run linux and steamos as a dual boot anyway (and tri boot your old windows if desired). So it's not like a person can't get around this. IF you're attempting to DUMP windows, you just dual boot ubuntu or something for the stuff steamos won't do for now. It's not hard.
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November 10, 2013 3:45:16 AM

Nefos said:
I actually quiet like the idea of making my pc a console
yep, I said that. and why?
Name 3 AAA FPS PC exclusive
Name 3 AAA Casual Driver racing games (not hc simulator) PC exclusive
or just name any kind of AAA title that is PC exclusive. Even Diablo 3 s not PC exclusive anymore
PC is the weird, nerd kid with its RTS and MMOs behind consoles. Sadly.
But maybe Valve can lift PC-s up to console level, to make them a nice way of playing loads of new games like on consoles
It seems like more and more console gamer is coming to pc, or getting a pc as well. It might be the push we need


Agreed...I think a ton of people that had ONLY a console when they bought their xbox360/ps3 (or earlier ones) now have a PC 7-8yrs later after buying those. So a ton of people have seen the power of PC's now that before thought you could only REALLY game on a console...As ignorant as that sounds, a lot of people STILL think that LOL. I say IGNORANT because they haven't been shown.

I experienced this with my uncle about ~15yrs ago. Once I showed my PC games to him, he wanted to know how to get them on his PC. I rebuilt it for gaming and he never looked back (pretty much a cpu and vid card update). He was quite shocked a PC could do this stuff (and that was years ago). Needless to say his missed a lot of sleep since ;) 
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November 10, 2013 3:58:32 AM

Lots of people only have windows to game, imagine if something like mantle would work with steam OS!
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November 10, 2013 3:59:58 AM

Windows 8 Not a Replacement for Windows 7
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November 10, 2013 5:21:02 AM

Innocent_Bystander said:
For the life of me I can't figure out why Google won't release an X86 desktop version of Android. Sure it's imperfect, but man, at least that would give Microsoft a run for their money.


There is a x86 port of Android, but there are already better options available (Google themselves run a customized Ubuntu in-house)

Just because Microsoft (ironically) wants to abandon windows on desktop, doesn't mean other OS vendors should.
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November 10, 2013 9:16:17 AM

Since its Linux, whats to stop anyone from creating their own distro that incorporates SteamOS?
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November 10, 2013 9:44:20 AM

If it allows internet browsing, file browsing, notepad, and maybe even audio file support, then I'm fine with it.
However, there should be a way to switch between between windows and steamos quickly and easily.
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November 10, 2013 9:53:10 AM

The Valve community is better than "Officially Supported"... Anyone who needs the kind of support offered by current consoles or Microsoft can stay where they are.
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November 10, 2013 9:53:35 AM

This thing will not sell mark my words. Valve is just burning money and will learn what the masses want (Xbox one and PS4. The rest of us are not going to buy something that dose less then our PC's can already do. If some moron dose buy this there going to shocked to learn that Most PC games wont run on it.
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November 10, 2013 10:32:05 AM

egilbe said:
Since its Linux, whats to stop anyone from creating their own distro that incorporates SteamOS?


Ironically, the biggest threat to this is Valve itself. Valve is a company that, ultimately, likes control. Steam itself, their bread and butter service and the namesake of SteamOS, is based on controlling each and every thing that happens on the service. Every piece of software and every update on Steam gets run by Valve and has Valve's DRM incorporated into it when it actually goes on Steam.

The thing is, with a company that's as focused on creating a controlled environment as this one, and makes an OS where their controlled, officially supported DRM/marketplace is central to the OS, they control the terms by which that controlled environment central to the OS will start working. Linux is open source, so fiddle with it as much as you will, but all it takes is one update from Valve to make Steam - the core of SteamOS - incompatible with modified versions of SteamOS. Then you've got... What? Another version of Linux which you can't use the core features of that got you there in the first place.

Say you don't believe it can happen because Steam has such a great sales and Valve is so in-touch with the gaming community, but... There is a reason why Valve is the ultimate judge and jury of everything on Steam, and everything on Steam has their DRM. They have spent years building an environment where they control what software goes on it. With the efforts they've gone to making Steam something Valve controls, do you really think they're going to sit there and let SteamOS Steam games work uncompromised with a significantly modified OS? Maybe, but I doubt it. Open platform has not been Valve's modus operandi for the past decade and a bit, and I think people see Linux and figure that Valve is going to let people do anything they want for it. The reality is, Valve has the "off" switch they can click at any time they want... "Oh look Gabe - some guy released a SteamOS distro that allows for a whole host of non-Steam games and software to be used, and people are playing a lot of games that aren't running Steam DRM and we don't get a cut of." Gabe's response? "Put out an update that makes Steam not work on this modified SteamOS for security reasons. Done."

Steam is not about openness. Steam is about Valve getting a cut and controlling any and all software on their platform. SteamOS? We'll see. I could well be wrong, but do not pretend like the above scenario isn't not only possible, but quite likely, giving Valve's drive for controlling all on Steam.
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November 10, 2013 10:59:19 AM

Any chance of a Surface 2 and S Pro 2 review? You're now, pretty much, the only tech site to ignore the amazing devices.
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November 10, 2013 11:05:53 AM

Seems logical, they can only do so much for a start, so they are focusing on what is important, not to mention that they are covering their bases in order to not get sued. Some software people use on Linux has codecs which might require licensing depending on country. A single user downloading a Linux distribution is one thing, Valve making it officially available could get them in trouble, so it's best to keep things as they are.

Besides, as Valve claerly stated before, you can install whatever OS you want on the Steambox, including another variant of Linux like Ubuntu or Mint and install the Steam for Linux client. You'll get the best of both worlds. Nothing to worry about here.
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November 10, 2013 11:07:53 AM

coolitic said:
However, there should be a way to switch between between windows and steamos quickly and easily.


You would have to shut down one operating system to run the other (you could hibernate Windows to save time switching between the two)

You're better off just running Steam under Windows if you want to run both.

Honestly I think most people excited by SteamOS aren't particularly interested in running it, rather hoping it would encourage more game developers to release Linux versions of their games.
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November 10, 2013 12:53:41 PM

As a custom mini-ITX PC builder, I love the idea of SteamOS, the problem is that it is unecessary. If you're building a mini-ITX PC with an i7 CPU and full-length, double-slot graphics card, you're wasting your time and money by not putting a real OS on it. For one, a $130 dual core CPU with hyperthreading will game just as well as that i7 at a much lower TDP. Just dropping down to a 3570K will save you more than enough money to buy Win7 Ultimate. Do that and it becomes more than just a steam box, it becomes a real computer.

-Without streaming, SteamOS is completely worthless. They mention it enough that we have to assume it will be available by the time the devices launch.
-Slim BluRay drives exist and are not that expensive. Including one would be a big step towards making the machine an all-in-one home entertainment system. This was a big advantage for the PS3 for a long time. I hope third party vendors understand this.
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November 10, 2013 1:10:25 PM

Being that SteamOS is really for the living room, I understand why they went this route. Up until this announcement I had planned on using SteamOS as my main OS on my desktop, but I'll just keep on chuggin' with Ubuntu and hope we get more dev support for Linux. It is odd that we're left *hoping* for streaming content.
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November 10, 2013 4:26:45 PM

Colour me unsurprised, the money saved not paying for Windows seems pointless now. People for for functionality and just as consoles are adding extra functionality to what they do, SteamOS is trying to convince people to buy PC hardware and remove functionality they have been used to with Windows. Gabe, you will always be respected for Steam games, but even you have to admit this was a brainfart.
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November 10, 2013 5:17:57 PM

Well there goes that... moving on to the next thing I guess.
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a b 4 Gaming
November 10, 2013 8:32:56 PM

back_by_demand said:
Colour me unsurprised, the money saved not paying for Windows seems pointless now. People for for functionality and just as consoles are adding extra functionality to what they do, SteamOS is trying to convince people to buy PC hardware and remove functionality they have been used to with Windows. Gabe, you will always be respected for Steam games, but even you have to admit this was a brainfart.


Bingo. The cost of Windows is pretty negligible considering that it's used constantly for several years straight and new releases are generally coupled with an affordable upgrade path. Those who are too lazy to buy Windows just pirate it anyway.
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a b 4 Gaming
November 10, 2013 8:53:49 PM

Until Linux gets more native games I just can't see SteamOS or Steam on Linux going any ware really. And I am not trying to slam Linux or SteamOS but I know from my 300+Steam Library there are a total of 7 games that I can install on the Linux version 99 on my Hackintosh. Some of my games have Linux versions but they are not done on Steam so can't be added and I would have to re-buy them for Linux same holds true for a few OS X games. With money as tight as it is now I can't just re-buy them for a different platform.
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a b 4 Gaming
November 10, 2013 9:18:26 PM

If you are going to alternative OS, you would probably be better off with a regular Linux distro and have full functionality.
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