Valve's Steam Deck-focused SteamOS 3 operating system might be one of the best Linux operating systems designed for gaming; however, Valve has yet to release an official desktop version of the OS that is suitable for PC gamers. To remedy the issue, the Linux community has created a custom clone of SteamOS 3 called Bazzite that supports gaming PC hardware right out of the box — making Valve's SteamOS desktop experience accessible to Linux gamers.
Bazzite isn't an exact clone of SteamOS 3, but its functionality is virtually identical to Valve's operating system. On the surface, Bazzite features an identical desktop experience to SteamOS 3. Thanks to the integration of KDE Plasma — a customizable Linux desktop environment, and Valve's KDE themes from SteamOS, Bazzite shares the same desktop wallpapers, icons, and taskbar as Valve's operating system. If you didn't know any better, you'd think you were running the real SteamOS.
But under the hood, Bazzite's actual operating system is not the same, as it uses an entirely different Linux distro from Valve's operating system. Instead of using a branch of Arch Linux, which is the distro SteamOS 3 is based on, Bazzite is built using a custom version of Fedora 38, which incorporates more hardware and device support than SteamOS 3. Some of the hardware support includes baked-in proprietary Nvidia driver support for GeForce GPUs, to enable GeForce-powered systems to run Bazzite. (Sadly AMD support is unclear — but the OS does support AMD ROCm.)
One of the perks of Linux-based operating systems is that you have the freedom to build an operating system whichever way you choose, with features you want to have.
Beyond this, Bazzite has a several other features that make it stand out from SteamOS 3, including a CPU scheduler from system builder System76 to optimize CPU performance, an Android emulator called Waydroid, support for DisplayLink, and more. Bazzite is also capable of running Steam/Proton and Lutris through a virtualized compatibility layer of Arch Linux, which should improve compatibility with Steam Deck-approved titles. Even though Steam and Valve's Proton compatibility layer is already functional on Fedora 38, having a backup system that can run games through Arch Linux is good to have.
There is even a Bazzite version optimized for the Valve Steam Deck for that special niche of users who need more functionality than what Valve's SteamOS 3 already provides on the Deck. Most of the additions are highly technical, but one of the most unique additions is support for 32GB of memory for people who want to mod their Steam Deck with 32GB of system RAM. The Steam Deck version is definitely not for everyone, since the Steam Deck already comes with SteamOS 3, but it could be a good alternative for hardcore Linux power users.
The only issue right now with Bazzite is that the installation procedure is a bit complicated for normal users, to the point where the developers consider the OS installation process as incomplete. However, the installation shouldn't be too much of a problem if you're already familiar with Linux operating systems.
Bazzite is arguably one of the best efforts to get SteamOS 3's desktop experience running on anything other than the Steam Deck. There have been other attempts to get an actual copy of SteamOS 3 to work on non-Steam Deck hardware like HoloISO, but hardware support is unreliable and, in the case of HoloISO, it only really works with specific AMD GPUs.
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Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.
Thanks for covering bazzite! I'm on the universal blue team and can help answer any questions you have.Reply
I'll start with the AMD support one. AMDs drivers are already included in the linux kernel so you should be good to go. I've got hundreds of hours on my 7900XTX and things are running pretty smoothly. Bazzite also makes for a great living room HTPC as well, I use mine like a big steam deck with xbox controllers --- since most games have cloud sync it makes for a nice seamless experience between all your devices.
Does it support intel Arc?Reply
Intel's drivers are also in the kernel so you should be fine. Fedora is really good about bringing new kernels in so whatever thing you're reading about on phoronix should work.Reply
I would try SteamOS 3 on PC if Valve was serious about it.Reply
As for this, bookmarked.
There are any benchmarks comparing gaming against windows?Reply
Thanks for the confirmation.j0rge said:I'll start with the AMD support one. AMDs drivers are already included in the linux kernel so you should be good to go. I've got hundreds of hours on my 7900XTX and things are running pretty smoothly.
I was perplexed by that part of the article, but no surprised, since the media keeps showing such ignorance about Linux and worse, AMD.
Given that the SteamDeck is an all AMD system and AMD works very closely with Valve and the Linux community, their hardware simply works out of the box, unlike the media favorite company, which is actually hostile towards open source.
I am currently using ChimeraOS and except for one small issue related to a Gigabyte bug, the experience is flawless.
Have you tried ChimeraOS and if yes, how would you compare it to Bazzite?
Sorry for the dumb question, but to be honest, this is the first time that I have heard of Bazzite.
That's a game-by-game kind of thing. Some will be faster, some slower. I've been pleasantly surprised by how well nearly everything runs.vehekos said:There are any benchmarks comparing gaming against windows?
Read similar things and its interesting how it can balance itself out.Antiphonal said:That's a game-by-game kind of thing. Some will be faster, some slower. I've been pleasantly surprised by how well nearly everything runs.
Examples I have observed:
Windows 11 many processes will create stutters or latency , which Linux doesnt. But then you have the performance hit (its there, even though it can be very minimal in cases) due to the proton translation layer.
Overall, in my case, ChimeraOS has proven to be very fast, stable and responsive, compared when i had Win11 in the same system (5600x and 7900XTX).
Phoronix does that kind of testing on a semi regular basis, see here: https://www.phoronix.com/reviews/Display+Driversvehekos said:There are any benchmarks comparing gaming against windows?
If you scroll a bit you'll see articles for Intel, Nvidia, and AMD performance for linux vs Win 11 over the course of the last ~8 months.
How do I set up dual boot of Bazzite and Windows 11? I made a 100 gig partition for Bazzite, now what do I do?Reply