My next train of thought was how horrid it would run on my laptop so I decided to hit two birds with one stone and try SteamOS
I had a Intel NUC lying around which made the perfect candidate. The NUC has 8GB ram, an Intel i3 and a SSD with around 20GB storage.
The process of getting steam on to the NUC was pretty similar to installing any OS, download the installer files then paste onto a FAT32 USB drive and your good to go.
What the EFI
After installing StreamOS, the machine restarted but no bootable media could be found. In my daze of excitement I hastily Googled the problem which led me to an article suggesting a BIOS update should fix the problem
As I was too impatient I didn’t read the the BIOS warning that stated:
The memory reference code in BIOS version 0046 and later was updated as a part of the changes made in the BIOS to meet Microsoft Windows 8.1* requirements. This new memory code no longer supports 1066 MHz memory modules. Please review the Release Notes for more information.
Of course I was running some 1066Mhz RAM that was now no longer support. So I had to do some backtracking to an older version and I was back to square one.
More Googling led me to this article which suggests the there is a bug in the NUC’s UEFI which means its looking for the EFI file in the wrong place.
this article tells you want to type in the recovery mode: http://t.co/rFc0H7CEZ1
— Josh (@joshbro90) March 7, 2015
Using the article mentioned above but adapting for SteamOS, I first had to boot from the SteamOS Installer but in the “recovery mode”. After selecting language and then loading a shell from the options provided. I then typed the following into the shell:
A reboot later and I had SteamOS running.
No sound though
All was dandy except there was no sound. I turned on the desktop mode and tried a number of tricks via the terminal to try and get it to work, but had no luck. If anything I had made it worse as no sound card was getting detected at all. I proceeded to do the only thing I could do which was to try and reinstall again. It did the trick! my theory was that when I first installed I didn’t have a network connection, so when it went through the “detecting hardware” stage it couldn’t get the drivers it needed? If anyone has a different theory let me know.
The UI is exactly the same as Steams “Big Picture Mode” which is totally effective for a more console like experience. I found that in the games section it was a little annoying to have all the servers and utilities show up in the “games I can play” section but that was easily changed by changing the filter to “games”. I also found the store experience a little limiting, however you can always browse via the built in web browser.
Half Life 2 downloading on steamos…
— Josh (@joshbro90) March 7, 2015
So considering that the whole point of this exercise was to play some Half Life 2, I booted the game up (The full game is only 2GB! those were the days!). What I wanted from SteamOS was the stability (most of the time) of consoles but with the keyboard / mouse input and SteamOS was able to provide this. There were a few glitches in the game but none that ruined the gameplay experience and I can imagine that porting the game from Windows to Linux wouldn’t have been a trivial experience.
Have a spare machine around and want to give SteamOS a try? I would say “go for it!” the installation process is simple but its still new and in development so do expect some issues along the way.