I have a living room computer running XBMCbuntu, which is essentially a streamlined version of Ubuntu geared towards running XBMC (and so it boots directly into XBMC).

The machine it's installed on is pretty weak from a gaming standpoint, but I have a few indie titles that it should be able to run and I am very curious to see if it would be able to handle in-home streaming of games.

Since, to my best understanding, XBMCbuntu has some Ubuntu bits missing to keep it lightweight, I was wondering if it is at all possible to install the Steam client on it. A simple Google search did not yield anything reliable/conclusive, and so I turn to the expertise of you fine gentle-persons.

Have any of you had any experience with installing Steam on a plain XBMCbuntu machine? If so I would love to know how to get started. To be clear, the machine is more or less at the state one would get to by following the installation instructions on fresh machine.

  • To the best of my knowledge, unless XBMCbuntu blocks the usage of ppas, you should be able to install any missing things for Steam to run. Also, I would think this might be best suited for AskUbuntu or SuperUser. Sep 4, 2014 at 19:01
  • I was debating whether to ask this elsewhere, but I believe this site has the largest population of people who would be trying to install Steam on various configurations.
    – Aubergine
    Sep 4, 2014 at 19:06
  • I still think either sites would be best fit as this is about installing Steam on a variant of Ubuntu, which isn't the focus of Arqade. Not flagging it, just letting you know you might get faster and better help elsewhere. Sep 4, 2014 at 19:09
  • My recommendation would be to install SteamOS, and then XBMC on top of that. To me that would be the easiest route.
    – MBraedley
    Sep 4, 2014 at 23:25
  • @MBraedley That would be possible, but I am not the sole user of that machine, and having XBMC be the first thing to greet you makes usage super simple for the less tech savvy residents of my house.
    – Aubergine
    Sep 5, 2014 at 5:27

2 Answers 2


I am not familiar with XBMCbuntu, but if you can get to a terminal and have sudo and apt installed, you should be able to:

sudo apt-get install steam

to install it.

Steam was added in the 12.04 repositories, so if XBMCbuntu uses the standard repos or clones of them, it should be as easy as just entering that command.

If XBMCbuntu doesn't allow you to get to a terminal or doesn't have sudo or apt installed, it may have synaptic installed by default and you can get it from there by searching for "steam".

If it isn't there, I think the official valve repo is: http://repo.steampowered.com/steam/ "release version"/steam

  • Definitely worth a try, thanks! I'll give it a spin and report back.
    – Aubergine
    Sep 5, 2014 at 5:26
  • I hope it works out for you. I don't have 50 rep yet so I can't add a comment above to your question, but, one of the commenters above suggested installing SteamOS and then XBMC on top of that. That also seems like a good idea, however, I looked it up and I encountered a few people saying that doing that will limit you to stereo output only. I think it may be a bug with SteamOS.
    – Cavaticus
    Sep 5, 2014 at 17:58
  • So turns out I can install it, but it won't run as it needs a window manager and XBMCbuntu eschews that in favor of being light. I'm still trying to figure out what is the most painless way to get around that.
    – Aubergine
    Sep 6, 2014 at 16:30
  • If XBMC uses a display manager to allow you to log in, you could possibly install xorg and then under usr/share/xsessions you could make a custom session (in the form of a .desktop file) that only runs steam on login. The file's contents would look something like this: [Desktop Entry] Type=Application Exec=steam Name=Steam Comment=Runs steam on login. Please note that I am not completely sure if this will work, it's just the next thing that I would personally try if I was attempting to do this.
    – Cavaticus
    Sep 6, 2014 at 17:46

You can do things like this, as Xbmcbuntu does indded have ubuntu at it's core. it will read from the standard repositories and you can add new ones.

however, there are a few things to know. first, sound will be troublesome, unless yo uinstall pulseaudio and have it mix everything, as XBMC does not expect to share the sound device. there are some apt pinning done to prevent ubuntu updates from accidentally installing pulseaudio if you upgrade. you need to delete two files to release these apt pins.

second, you'll need a launcher script to set up and teardown the environment yo uneed.

somethign like:

openbox &
NameOfProgram -flagsYouNeed
kill %1

this is a basic one, it launches the openbox window manager, then nameofprogram, then when Nameofprogram ends it kills openbox.

thisd script can be called via the advanced launcher script. i'm actually typing this on an XBMCbuntu computer in my livingrom, with chromiuym launched with a similar script.

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