The very first public beta iteration of the SteamOS, which is based on the Debian 7 version of Linux, has officially launched. The zip file is a very meager 960 megabytes (that's right, megabytes) and offers gamers the first look at the new generation of a PC-centric gaming OS. However, there's a bit of a catch.
Earlier today WCCF Tech announced that the SteamOS would be arriving today and provided some new screenshots of the UI in action. It's a sleek, clean bit of graphics user interface that annexes the current Big Picture Mode UI.
While the OS is lean and clean and is less than a fraction of the OS size of its console competitors found on the Xbox One and PS4, the early beta comes with some rather uncomely roadblocks.
As noted on a Reddit post and the SteamOS community forum, you can't dual boot the SteamOS. That's right, you CANNOT dual boot. If you try to install the SteamOS it will clean wipe the main hard disk it's being installed on.
Right now the process of getting the SteamOS installed is not necessarily an easy one, either. A 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM are the minimum requirements to get you started. You'll also need a spare hard disk with about 1TB worth of free space and a 4GB USB stick if you plan to use the SteamOS image restore method to install the operating system. The alternative method you can use is slightly more complicated, but you'll only need a 500GB hard drive instead. You'll also need to follow the steps on the official SteamOS page to get it properly installed.
Additionally, an extra link to the OS download was made available on the SteamOS database website, where you can get the free torrent or HTTP download, just in case Valve's official download outlet gets over flooded.
In addition to the complications above, as noted in the Reddit post, the SteamOS iteration available for download right now is not compatible with AMD GPUs. So yeah, scratch that off the list if all you have is an AMD card at the moment.
As mentioned earlier in the week, Valve is rolling out the early iterations of the SteamOS alongside the actual prototype betas of the Steam Machines, and they're doing so for feedback and testing purposes. So for anyone looking to get in on the SteamOS and just have fun, you'll be doing so at the expense of a spare hard drive and plenty of glitches, bugs and no proper AMD GPU support.
Of course, Valve has plans to fix all this up and when it's time for the OEMs to roll out their own iterations of the Steam Machine, such as iBuyPower or Digital Storm, the SteamOS should be up to scratch to better support more GPUs, installation compatibility as well as the ability to dual boot... or at least, we can hope.
We'll keep you posted on additional updates and information on the SteamOS as the Steam Machines prep for release in early 2014.