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Steam is a content delivery system made by Valve Software. It is most known as the platform needed to play Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2 based games (Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, etc), but now offers many other games from other developers. For more information, please see

This article will describe how install and run it on Arch Linux using WINE.


If you have an old ~/.wine/ directory, you may consider deleting it completely or back it up. Old settings from previous installs may mess things up and things may not work correctly. If you do not have WINE installed yet, install it with pacman (you need the extra repository enabled in your /etc/pacman.conf file):

pacman -Sy wine

Now run the wine configuration program once to create an initial ~/.wine/


Install Mozilla ActiveX Controls

cd ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/
tar zxvf mozcontrol.tgz
cd mozcontrol/ 
regsvr32 mozctlx.dll 

Install Fonts

Steam requires the Tahoma font. You will have to get this from a Windows install or somewhere online.

mv tahoma.ttf ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/fonts/

Steam uses the Marlett font for the minimize/close/etc buttons. It's not absolutely required, but it will make it look nicer. Again, get this font from a Windows install or somewhere online.

mv marlett.ttf ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/fonts/

Download Steam and Install

wine SteamInstall.exe

After it goes through the install procedure, it will automatically update itself and appear to shutdown and restart itself numerous times. Just be patient. Eventually it will ask you to create an account or login to an exisiting account.

You cannot type text in the fields of the login box in Steam by default. In order to get keyboard focus, right-click on the text areas first, then type in your username and password. You may want to check "Remember my password" so you don't have to go through this hassle everytime Steam starts.

After you login, it will update some more and finally bring up the Steam main menu and you should be able to operate Steam without problems.

Starting Steam

In order to start Steam again later, you need to first change to the Steam directory, and then run

wine steam.exe

Giving WINE a path to steam.exe will not work. Do not do this:

wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Steam/steam.exe

You should make a small startup script to start Steam, for example,


# WINE binary

# Steam directory
STEAMDIR="$HOME/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Steam"


$CDLOADER_WINE "steam.exe" -- "$@" &

Using a Pre-Existing Steam Install

If you have a shared drive with Windows, or already have a Steam installation somewhere else, you can simply symlink the Steam directory to ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Steam/ . However, be sure to do all the previous steps in this Wiki. Confirm Steam launches and logs into your account, then do this:

cd ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/ 
mv Steam/ Steam.backup/   (or you can just delete the directory)
ln -s /mnt/windows_partition/Program\ Files/Steam/

Known Issues

Besides not being able to type in the login window, here are some other issues:

  • The Steam windows do not respect WM desktop workspaces. All Steam windows will appear on all workspaces (confirmed on Openbox only)
  • The system tray icon may not be placed in your WM's system tray. Instead it will be in a floating window, named "WINE System Tray Adapter". It still works as expected, however. (confirmed on Openbox only)
  • When trying to run HL1-based games, switching the Audio Driver in "winecfg" from OSS to ALSA causes the game to hang.