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How to Dual-Boot SteamOS

Partitioning and final steps

10. Create the first of four partitions: the SteamOS base partition. Select Free Space, then click Continue. On the next screen, titled "How to use this free space," select "Create a new partition."

Valve recommends you use 10GB of space for the SteamOS base system, so on the next screen, where it asks you to set a partition size, type in "10 GB" and click Continue again. Next, you'll be asked whether you want this partition to be at the beginning or the end of the available space. Select Beginning, and click Continue.

The next page you see will be Partition Settings. Under "Use as," select "Ext4" and for "Mount point," select "/". Then, select "Done setting up the partition," and click Continue.

Now, you're back at the main Partition Disks menu. You're done setting up your first partition!

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11. Create the SteamOS swap partition. This partition is a "swap" partition, in which SteamOS will temporarily write data that it doesn't have room for in RAM. All operating systems do this, but Linux (and Mac OS X) set aside a separate partition for it.

Select your free space again (which should be 10GB smaller than it was before you finished step 10), and click Continue. Again, Valve recommends you use 10GB for this partition, so enter "10 GB" again, and then select Beginning again.

Now, in the Partitions Settings menu, select "Use as," and set it to "swap area" instead of "Ext4." Then, select "Done setting up the partition," and click Continue.

Now, you're back at the main Partition Disks menu — this time, with your free space another 10GB smaller in size.

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12. Create the SteamOS recovery partition. This partition is for SteamOS' recovery disk, which will be used if the main OS becomes corrupted or otherwise damaged. You know the drill — select the free space option again, and choose to set this partition's size as 10GB. Then "Use as" should be "Ext 4." This time, for the Mount Point, select Enter Manually, and then type in "/boot/recovery" and then Continue.

13. Create the SteamOS data partition. This last part is where Steam will save your games and the other files you make and store on this OS. Select the free space again, click Continue and then select "Create a new partition."

This time, you can use the default size that appears in the text box, since you'll want this space to be as large as possible. We've used 244.0GB of space to make this partition.

For "Use as," select "Ext4 journaling file system," and for Mount Point, select "/home." These should be the defaults. Then, select "Done setting up the partition."

14. Confirm your partitions, and begin setup. The four partitions you've created in steps 10-13 haven't actually been created yet. Once you're done setting up your last partition and are back at the Partition Disks menu, select "Finish partitioning and write changes to disk" at the bottom of the screen, and click Continue. Now, you should see a pink loading bar. SteamOS is being set up on your computer, and after it's finished, you won't need the USB or DVD installer anymore. This process will take a few minutes.

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15. Make a software selection.

In the middle of the SteamOS setup process, this screen should appear:

The two options, "Debian desktop environment" and "Standard systems utilities," are optional collections of Linux software. If you're a beginning Linux user, select both; they'll make it easier to use the Linux environment. Once you've chosen, select Continue. The pink loading bar will reappear, and you'll have to wait for a few more minutes.

16. Install the GRUB boot loader on a hard disk. When the loading is done, the SteamOS installer will ask if you'd like to install the GRUB boot loader. This piece of software will let you choose which OS to boot into each time you power on your computer. You absolutely want this. Click Yes, and then click Continue.

17. Finish installing SteamOS. When we installed SteamOS, after the installation was finished, we were returned to the main screen (the one that asks if you'd like to do an Automated Install, Expert Install or Rescue Mode). Don't select any of these — we're already done installing! Just remove the USB stick or eject the DVD, then restart the computer.

18. Boot your computer from SteamOS. When your computer starts, you should see something like this screen:

This shows the different boot options you now have with two operating systems on your hard drive. Choose the first SteamOS option (not Recovery Mode). Note that if you don't choose one within a few seconds, the computer will automatically boot SteamOS.

You're not done yet, but you're close!

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19. Agree to Valve's Steam Install Agreement. Now you should see a desktop, but before you can interact with it, you need to finish setting up SteamOS. First, when the Steam Install Agreement pops up, read and agree to it. If the user agreement doesn't pop up, try clicking on the Steam icon on the desktop.

20. Connect to the Internet. Next, the computer will tell you it needs an Internet connection to finish the installation. SteamOS does have a built-in Wi-Fi driver, so you can connect to a Wi-Fi network. We simply plugged in an Ethernet cable to ensure a persistent connection. When we did, the computer rebooted itself.

21. Approve the final installation process. You'll see a stream of text, and then some yellow text that requires you to approve the final installation step. Do so by typing the letter "y" and then the Enter key.

You'll see a loading screen, and then this screen:

Choose Reboot. Your computer will reboot.

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23. Sign in to Steam. You'll see the Steam logo appear on your screen, and yet another loading bar (this one blue and gray, like Steam's colors).

You'll be prompted to enter your preferred language. Then, you'll get to this screen, that asks you whether you'd like to log in to an existing Steam account or create a new one.

If you already have a Steam account, enter your username and password. You won't be logged in yet, though — Steam will email a secondary verification code to the email address associated with your Steam account. Go check your email — it'll probably be easier to do this from a separate computer, smartphone, tablet or other device — and enter in the code. Then, you're logged in to Steam!

24. You're done — time to play a game to celebrate!

Now, you have a different problem: SteamOS is based on Linux, and even though Steam has more than 2,000 games in its catalog, only 502 of them — mostly small indie titles — currently offer Linux versions. Yes, SteamOS cannot play most Steam games, at least right now. But there are still a lot of great games you can play on SteamOS.

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We chose to download "Bastion," as you can see from the image below. Not the most graphically exacting of games, but it still ran beautifully on SteamOS.

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  • mf Red
    Nice little guide! I think I might try this on my GFs PC :]
  • grendelsfather
    "One of SteamOS' biggest advantages is its ability to run games faster than other operating systems. You should notice a big improvement in performance on the games you play via SteamOS, even with the same hardware. " -- source for that claim? Maybe it will be some day, but right now SteamOS beta is no faster than Windows nor other Linux distributions.
  • itookmypills
    ...Maybe it will be some day, but right now SteamOS beta is no faster than Windows nor other Linux distributions.
    Any source for that claim?
  • grendelsfather
    ...Maybe it will be some day, but right now SteamOS beta is no faster than Windows nor other Linux distributions.
    Any source for that claim?
    Widely-cited source:
  • Br4veSirRobin
    I just used this and put steamOS on a separate hard drive from Win 8.1. The Linux partition menu has always been a little squirrely so this guide helped. I used GRUB even though my win 8 is on another drive and it dual boots perfectly. I don't actually care if it's quicker I just like the fact that SteamOS probably won't be looking for JAVA updates while I'm getting my butt kicked in BF4. I want a gaming OS.