How to Install a Native Version of Steam on Linux [3 Proven Methods]

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Last updated: June 28, 2024

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TL;DR

To install a native version of steam on Linux, follow these steps:

  1. Open Terminal: Press Ctrl + Alt + T.
  2. Enable Multiverse Repository: Run sudo add-apt-repository multiverse and sudo apt update.
  3. Install Steam: Run sudo apt install steam.
  4. Launch Steam: Type steam.
  5. Complete Setup: Follow the on-screen instructions.
  6. Verify Installation: Log in and access your game library.

Are you a Linux user who wants to play your favorite games on Steam but isn’t sure how to get started? Installing Steam on Ubuntu can be simple, and I’m here to guide you through the process. In this guide, I’ll explain three easy methods to install Steam, from using the Ubuntu Software Center to the Terminal and the official Steam website. You’ll also find solutions for common installation issues and tips to optimize Steam for the best gaming performance. By the end, you’ll be all set to enjoy your favorite games seamlessly on Linux.

What is Steam?

Steam is a digital platform created by Valve Corporation. It lets you buy, download, and play video games on your computer. Think of it as an online store where you can find thousands of games. Steam also offers tools to make gaming more enjoyable and social.

Key Features

  1. Huge Game Library: Steam has a vast collection of games, from big-budget titles to indie games. You can find almost any game you want.
  2. Regular Sales and Discounts: Steam offers frequent sales and discounts, allowing you to buy games at lower prices. These sales happen during events like the Summer Sale and Winter Sale.
  3. Automatic Updates: Steam keeps your games up-to-date automatically. You don’t have to manually download patches or updates.
  4. Cloud Saves: Steam saves your game progress in the cloud. This means you can continue playing your games from any computer with Steam installed.
  5. Cross-Platform Support: Steam works on multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can play your games on different platforms.
  6. Steam Play: With Steam Play, you can play Windows games on Linux and macOS using a compatibility layer called Proton.

Prerequisites

Before installing Steam on Ubuntu, you need to make sure your system meets certain requirements and is properly set up. Here are the key steps to prepare your system:

System Requirements

  • Operating System: Any modern Linux distribution (e.g., Ubuntu 18.04+)
  • Processor: You need a 64-bit processor (Intel or AMD).
  • Memory: At least 4GB of RAM is recommended.
  • Storage: Make sure you have at least 5GB of free space for Steam and game installations.
  • Graphics: A graphics card that supports OpenGL 4.1 or better.

How to Install a Native Version of Steam on Linux

To install a native version of Steam on Linux, first ensure your system is up-to-date by running sudo apt update and sudo apt upgrade. Next, enable the Multiverse repository with sudo add-apt-repository multiverse and sudo apt update. Then, install Steam by running sudo apt install steam. After installation, launch Steam by typing steam in the terminal and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.

For the detailed step-by-step guide for this method and 2 more methods to install a native version of steam on Linux, read this guide:

1. Install Steam via Ubuntu Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center provides a graphical interface to easily install software on your system. This method is ideal for users who prefer a simple, point-and-click.

  1. Click on the Ubuntu Software icon in the dock or search for it in the Activities menu.
launching ubuntu software center
  1. Use the search bar at the top of the window to type Steam. Click on the Steam application from the list of results.
searching for steam application in ubuntu software center
  1. Press the Install button to start the installation process.
starting installation process for steam
  1. You may be prompted to enter your password to authenticate the installation.
authenticating installation process
  1. Once installed, you can find Steam in your applications menu.
launching steam from application menu
  1. Open Steam and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup. Steam will likely download and install updates upon first launch. Allow these updates to complete.
steam updating on first launch
  1. Ensure Steam is properly installed by logging in to your account and accessing your game library.
ensuring steam is installed successfully

2. Installing Steam via Terminal

Using the Terminal provides a more direct and flexible way to install software. This method is suitable for users comfortable with command-line operations and those who prefer precise control over the installation process.

  1. Press Ctrl + Alt + T to open the Terminal.
  2. Ensure the Multiverse repository is enabled by running:
sudo add-apt-repository multiverse

sudo apt update
enabling multiverse repository 1
  1. Use the following command to install Steam:
sudo apt install steam
installing steam through terminal 1
  1. Once the installation is complete, launch Steam by typing:
steam
launching steam through terminal 1
  1. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the initial Steam setup. Steam will download and install any necessary updates.
  2. Ensure Steam is properly installed by logging in to your account and accessing your game library.
logging into steam account

3. Installing Steam via Steam Package from Official Website

Downloading the Steam package directly from the official website ensures you get the latest version of Steam. This method is beneficial for users who want to ensure they are using the most up-to-date version available.

  1. Open your web browser and go to the official Steam download page.
opening web browser
  1. Click on the Install Steam button to download the steam_latest.deb package.
downloading deb package for steam
  1. Open your Terminal. Change to the directory where the downloaded .deb file is located. For example:
cd ~/Downloads
navigating to directory
  1. Use the dpkg command to install the package:
sudo dpkg -i steam_latest.deb
installing steam through deb package
    1. Once the installation is complete, launch Steam by typing:
    steam
    installing steam through terminal 2
    1. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the initial Steam setup. Steam will download and install any necessary updates.
    2. Ensure Steam is properly installed by logging in to your account and accessing your game library.

    Optimizing Steam Performance on Ubuntu

    Optimizing Steam performance on Ubuntu can significantly enhance your gaming experience. This guide will walk you through adjusting Steam settings, applying system tweaks, enabling Game Mode, and benchmarking performance improvements. By the end, you’ll be able to enjoy smoother gameplay and better system responsiveness.

    Adjusting Steam Settings for Better Performance

    Fine-tuning Steam settings can directly impact the performance of your games. By adjusting these settings, you can ensure that Steam runs more efficiently on your system.

    1. Launch Steam from your applications menu.
    launching steam from application menu 1
    1. Click on Steam in the top-left corner of the window and select Settings from the dropdown menu.
    opening steam settings 1
    1. Go to the In-Game tab.
    selecting in game tab in settings
    1. Disable the Steam Overlay by unchecking Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game.
    disabling steam overlay option
    1. Go to the Downloads tab.
    selecting in downloads tab in settings
    1. Limit the bandwidth for downloads if you experience slow performance during game updates.
    limitting bandwidth for downloads
    1. Change the download region to the nearest server for faster download speeds.
    changing download server
    1. Go to the Library tab. Disable Low Bandwidth Mode and Low Performance Mode if they are enabled.
    disabling low bandwidhth and low performance mode

      Using Game Mode to Enhance Gaming Experience

      Game Mode is a tool designed to optimize your system’s performance while gaming. It adjusts system settings to prioritize gaming performance over background tasks.

      1. Open Terminal with Ctrl + Alt + T.
      2. Install Game Mode using the following command:
      sudo apt install gamemode
      installing game mode on ubuntu
      1. Create a configuration file if it doesn’t exist:
      mkdir -p ~/.config
      
      nano ~/.config/gamemode.ini
      creating a configuration file
      1. Add the following lines to configure Game Mode:
      [general]
      
      reaper_freq=60
      
      [gpu]
      
      governor=performance
      editing configuration file
      1. Open Steam and go to your game library. Right-click on a game, select Properties.
      opening properties of a game in steam
      1. In the Launch Options section, add:
      gamemoderun %command%
      adding gamemode launch option in game properties

        Common Installation Issues and Fixes

        When installing Steam on Ubuntu, you might run into some problems. Don’t worry, though—most issues are easy to fix. Here are three common installation issues and how to resolve them:

        • 🚫 Steam Won’t Install: Ensure your system is up-to-date by running sudo apt update and sudo apt upgrade in Terminal. Install missing libraries with sudo apt install libgl1-mesa-dri libgl1-mesa-glx libc6.
        • 💥 Steam Crashes During Installation: Remove Steam with sudo apt remove steam and then reinstall it using the Software Center or Terminal. This often fixes crashes that occur during the installation process.
        • 🔄 Dependency Errors: Fix dependency errors by enabling the Multiverse repository with sudo add-apt-repository multiverse and running sudo apt –fix-broken install. This ensures all necessary dependencies are correctly installed.

        Wrapping Up

        In this guide, I walked you through three step-by-step methods to install Steam on Linux, ensuring you can choose the approach that best fits your comfort level—whether it’s using the Ubuntu Software Center, the Terminal, or downloading directly from the Steam website. 

        For further learning, you might want to explore:

        • How to install Proton for Steam on Linux, which allows you to play Windows games seamlessly on your Linux system.
        • Fixing the “You Have Held Broken Packages” error on Linux, which helps resolve dependency issues that can prevent successful installations.
        • Resolving the “No Wi-Fi Adapter Found” error on Ubuntu to ensure your network connectivity is stable for downloading and playing games.

        Frequently Asked Questions

        1. Can I install Steam on other Linux distributions besides Ubuntu?

          Yes, you can install Steam on various Linux distributions such as Fedora, Arch, and Debian. The installation process may vary slightly depending on the distribution. Generally, you need to enable the required repositories and use the package manager specific to your Linux distribution to install Steam.

        2. Can I move my Steam games to another drive?

          Yes, you can move your Steam games to another drive by creating a new Steam Library Folder on the desired drive. Go to Steam > Settings > Downloads > Steam Library Folders, add the new location, and then move your games there. This helps manage storage space more efficiently.

        3. How do I use a controller with Steam on Linux?

          To use a controller with Steam on Linux, connect your controller to your computer and open Steam. Configure your controller in Steam’s Big Picture Mode or through Steam > Settings > Controller. Steam supports various controllers, including Xbox, PlayStation, and generic gamepads, making it easy to customize your setup.

        4. Why are some games not available on Linux?

          Some games are not available on Linux because not all game developers support the Linux platform. However, you can use Proton, a compatibility layer integrated into Steam Play, to play many Windows-only games on Linux. Proton allows you to run these games as if they were native to Linux.

        5. Can I backup my Steam games on Linux?

          Yes, you can backup your Steam games on Linux by going to Steam > Backup and Restore Games. Select the games you want to backup and choose a location for the backup files. This feature helps you save your game data and restore it easily if you reinstall Steam or move to a new system.

        Ojash

        Author

        Ojash is a skilled Linux expert and tech writer with over a decade of experience. He has extensive knowledge of Linux's file system, command-line interface, and software installations. Ojash is also an expert in shell scripting and automation, with experience in Bash, Python, and Perl. He has published numerous articles on Linux in various online publications, making him a valuable resource for both seasoned Linux users and beginners. Ojash is also an active member of the Linux community and participates in Linux forums.

        Akshat

        Reviewer

        Akshat is a software engineer, product designer and the co-founder of Scrutify. He's an experienced Linux professional and the senior editor of this blog. He is also an open-source contributor to many projects on Github and has written several technical guides on Linux. Apart from that, he’s also actively sharing his ideas and tutorials on Medium and Attirer. As the editor of this blog, Akshat brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to provide readers with valuable insights and advice on a wide range of Linux-related topics.

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