Not sure this belongs here or super user, but Steam recently made it to official release status for Linux. Are there any distributions yet of an instantly bootable Flashdrive image or something with Steam? Something like Ubuntu or something but with Steam and it's dependencies prepackaged and ready to either be installed or can be used directly from a flashdrive?

I ask this because I normally use Arch Linux. Steam apparently can work for it, but it's not supported and there are a million different hoops I'd have to jump through to get it to work. It'd be nice to just put an image on a thumbdrive and be able to try out Steam For Linux without touching my actual OS

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    Looks like there is an official Arch package. "pacman -S steam" doesn't work?
    – Cory J
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 16:13
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    If Windows 7 is truly the last Windows that Valve wants to officially support, this will become useful to Windows gamers too as Valve and Microsoft part ways. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 16:23
  • I can guarantee you that Windows 7 will not be the last Windows that Valve supports.
    – Alan B
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 13:11
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    This will need an update once SteamOS is released. Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 14:13
  • @AlanB - Reluctant support might be more apt. Depending on where Windows goes, Valve may not necessarily be following right behind but that doesn't mean it won't still work. The fact that Win8 was/is so horrible might be all the deterrent Valve needs to step slightly further away from Windows - slowly of course. Not to mention, most gamers wouldn't be caught dead on Win8 anyhow.
    – Enigma
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


Update: Steam ISO

One could have such an iso with Steam with very little effort. If you would like an iso with a lot more than just Steam added, you will have to wait a little while longer.

In the mean time and for your purposes simply installing Steam will suffice. Steam is after all available in the Ubuntu store and automatically installs its own dependencies. Since Ubuntu/Debian is where Steam is essentially made to work the best, it makes the most sense to use such a distro. You could grab any of the numerous already existing Debian based distros most of which incorporate the Ubuntu store and install Steam from there. It's really that easy. You could also download the .deb from steampowered.com and install it through the store that way.

There are other things that one using a Steam distro might also like to have such as controller support to which I cannot comment on existing support but I imagine most USB/USB dongle based controllers will work fine out of the box. Other than that, there might be various aesthetic things that one might like to see in a Steam distro such as icons/theme/wallpaper/login customizations. Thankfully that's all super easy to do on any Debian OS provided someone has already created something to your liking.

More specific to the question, you can make a persistent Ubuntu flash image that is bootable and simply install Steam on it. Plug it into any computer, boot it, install graphics drivers on host machine and load up Linux Steam.

If you have a 4-8+GB drive, you're all set. The larger than 4GB drive would help if you wanted to install games in the spare space for steam. If you had a 32GB drive, set the 4GB to linux persistent install and the rest is game space.



Steam can be set to run automatically at start like anything else once installed.

Alternatively, you could partition out ~30GB with GParted and install Ubuntu alongside your existing OS for testing purposes. There is the added benefit of the previous option being completely portable.

Even with the eventual arrival of SteamOS, it still holds true that it is extremely simple to set up nearly any Linux OS (primarily debian) with Steam though most would likely opt in for using the SteamOS instead (as would I - presumably - since it's not out yet) since it will have more features than simply distro + Steam.

SteamOS will be available for free as a Linux-based OS and will do everything you could need it to do including some claims of being able to play Windows/Mac games as well via a NVIDIA Shield-like streaming feature.


  • You can easily add steam to start up with X (infact steam itself offers to do this however I've not tested it on gentoo). It's likely you could pass some fullscreen option to it also however I've not verfied this. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 9:03
  • I think the question is "has someone already created such an image?" Obviously it's possible to create one. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 16:24
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    There is no pre-made image for something like this; it wouldn't make sense. You can use a Ubuntu CD ISO to create a USB Live installer and then make that USB Live installer persistent using the casper tool. Steam is just one of a million+ things you can do with a persistent bootable linux distro. You can also install the distro to a machine HDD from Live USB boot. You can add the PPA's for the graphics drivers (nvidia/ati) but there is no one driver that works on every machine and each machine would need to have it configured to work.
    – Enigma
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 17:01
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    You underestimate both the history of live CDs and the variety of things that geeks create. Flexible driver configuration is a long-solved problem – that's a core part of what makes a live CD distribution work, and graphics drivers are not particularly special or hard in that regard. There is no technical nor common-sense reason for a Steam Live CD to not exist, except for simply not having been done yet. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 23:57
  • For it to exist with that sole purpose just seems limited IMO. Consider you are really only adding 2 drivers (probably just one) that can be added with a PPA very easily in addition to Steam itself which also adds a PPA. Both of these things can be achieved with a boot up script on any live CD or written in only a few lines. You certainly could make a distro just for this but it's so easy to just do this.
    – Enigma
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 0:22

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