For many years, Valve has been focused on making Linux a great operating system for Steam, and suffice to say, it’s managed to succeed. It’s the default operating system for the Steam Deck, and it can easily run non-native games with the Proton compatibility layer. But you can also get Steam on your Linux PC. However, while Steam can easily be installed on some Linux distros, the process is more obscure on others.
Generally speaking, the best way to install Steam is either through Valve’s own provided installation software or through a repository. There are app stores like Snap and Flathub that host Steam installations, but at the time of writing, it seems that installing Steam this way results in a lot of glitches and, sometimes, makes it completely unusable. So we’ll teach you how to install Steam the old-fashioned way. Don’t worry, you’ll only need to do this once, and you won’t have to manually install updates afterward.
Installing Steam on Debian distros like Ubuntu, Mint, and Pop!_OS
For Debian distros like Ubuntu (which is what pretty much all the best Linux laptops run), it’s best to get Steam directly from the source. You may also install Steam through the Ubuntu Software app, but it seems a recent update has rendered this version more or less unusable, or buggy at best. Though, given how easy it is to install Steam on a Debian-based distro, it’s not a big deal.
- Head to the Steam website and click the green Install Steam button at the top of the page.
- Click the blue Install Steam button in the center of the page. You should receive a file named steam_latest.deb.
- Run steam_latest.deb and select Software Install.
- The Ubuntu Software app will then open automatically and show you the page for steam-launcher. Click Install.
- Click Show Apps in the bottom left corner of the taskbar and open Steam.
- If you need to install the required files before you start using Steam, an installer will pop up. Just press Enter and say yes through the installer.
Installing Steam on Fedora and Fedora-based distros that use DNF
DNF is the package manager used by Fedora and other distros, and it’s how you’ll install Steam since the installation Valve provides is only usable on Debian-derived distros. Like with Ubuntu, Fedora has a software app simply called Software, but its version of Steam is seemingly broken, starting with Fedora 38, just like the one on Ubuntu Software.
- Click Activities > Show Apps on the taskbar.
- Find the Terminal app and run it.
- Type this command into the Terminal:
sudo dnf install https://mirrors.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-$(rpm -E %fedora).noarch.rpm
- Press Enter to run the command. Whenever you’re asked for permission during the installation, say yes.
- Once the installation is complete, run this command:
sudo dnf install steam
- Whenever you’re asked for permission during the installation, say yes. Once it’s complete, you’ll see Steam pop up in your apps.
Installing Steam on Arch Linux and Arch-based distros
Arch Linux uses the Pacman repository, which is where you’ll be getting Steam from, as the installer from Valve’s own website will only work on Debian distros like Ubuntu.
- Open the terminal and enter this command:
sudo nano /etc/pacman.conf
- You’re going to have to edit the pacman.conf file to remove three # characters from the beginning of the following lines:
#[multilib]#SigLevel = PackageRequired#Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist
- Save the file.
- Open the terminal again and run this command:
sudo pacman -Syu
- Then run this final command to install Steam:
sudo pacman -S steam
Even manually installing Steam isn’t too difficult
At least for Ubuntu and Fedora, installing Steam isn’t that big of a deal without a centralized app store, thanks to Valve making an installer for Debian distros and thanks to Fedora’s relatively simple installation that only requires a couple of commands. On Arch Linux, though, it’s a bit more of a hassle since you have to edit a text file, but that’s par for the course on Arch Linux anyway.
In the future, hopefully, Valve, Ubuntu, and Fedora will figure out what’s going on with Steam and why it has such critical bugs right now that prevent the version on app stores from being reliable. For now, you’ll just have to get Steam the traditional way, which is a bit more involved but not terrible either. You’ll get updates automatically either through a popup whenever one is available or you can check manually by clicking Steam in the top left corner and then clicking Check for Steam Client Updates.
As for actually running games, lots of them on Steam already have ports for Linux that run great, which you can find on the Steam storefront under the Steam OS + Linux category. You can even run Windows games using Proton, which just comes with Steam and doesn’t even require a separate download.