How to Install Steam Within Elementary OS

steam engine

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In our review of Elementary OS, we noted that one area that could be improved upon is the Software Centre which is used to install applications. Specifically noted is the fact that if you search for "Steam" within the Software Centre you get two results of which neither makes it possible to install Steam.

The first link within the Software Centre simply shows an error message whereas the second link shows a "Buy" button which when clicked takes you to Ubuntu One which is next to useless.

Steam is free and can be downloaded from the software repositories already on your computer. This guide will show you two ways to install Steam. The first way is via the command line but because you are using Elementary you will probably prefer to use a graphical tool and so the second way will show how to install a different graphical package manager which has a working link to Steam.

How to Install Steam Using the Terminal

The tool used within Elementary OS for installing software from the command line is called apt.

To search for software in the apt repositories use the following syntax:

sudo apt-cache search programname

sudo, when used in the instance above, elevates your privileges to the administrator account. A common misconception is that sudo is only used to let you run programs as a superuser but in reality the sudo command can be used to let you run applications as any user on the system. It just so happens that the administrator account is the default.

The apt-cache segment lets you perform actions against the repositories such as search them which is the next word in the command above.

The program name can be either the name of a program or a description of the program you want to search for.

sudo apt-cache search steam

The returned output is a list of applications which match the description you entered.

If you search for steam using this method then you will see the Steam application from Valve software appear, which is exactly what you want to install.

To install steam using apt type the following command:

sudo apt-get install steam

A list of dependencies will scroll up the screen and you will be asked to enter Y to continue installing Steam.

When the install has finished, use the menu within Elementary to find the Steam icon and click on it.

An update box will appear which will download around 200 megabytes of data. You will then have Steam installed.

How to Install Steam Using Synaptic

Long term you will want to replace the Software Centre with something fit for purpose. Synaptic doesn't necessarily look as pretty as the Software Centre but it works.

  1. Open up the Software Centre and search for Synaptic.

  2. When Synaptic appears in the list of packages click the install button.

  3. Use the Elementary OS menu to search for the Synaptic icon and click on it when it appears.

  4. Search for "Steam" using the search box.

  5. An option for "Steam:i386" will appear. Click into the checkbox next to "Steam:i386" and when the menu appears to click on "Mark for installation". Click the "Apply" button.

  6. The software will download and begin to install. Halfway through a license agreement will appear. Select "Accept" from the drop-down list and continue.

  7. After the installation has finished, click on the Elementary OS menu and search for Steam. When the icon appears to click on it.

  8. An update box will appear which downloads about 200 megabytes of updates. Steam will then be installed.

You can also use Synaptic instead of the Software Centre for all of your downloads.