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From Wikipedia:

Steam is a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications platform developed by Valve Corporation. It is used to distribute games and related media online, from small independent developers to larger software houses.

Steam is best known as the platform needed to play Source Engine games (e.g. Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike). Today it offers many games from many other developers.


  • Arch Linux is not officially supported.
  • Because the Steam client is a 32-bit application, you will need to enable the multilib repository if you have a 64-bit system. It may also make sense to install multilib-devel to provide some important multilib libraries.

Steam can be installed with the package steam, available in the official repositories. If you have a 64-bit system, enable the multilib repository first.

Steam is not supported on this distribution. As such some fixes are needed on the users part to get things functioning properly:

  • If you have a 64-bit system, you will need to install lib32-alsa-plugins to enable sound in 32-bit games.
  • Several games have dependencies which may be missing from your system. If a game fails to launch (often without error messages) then make sure all of the libraries listed in Steam/Game-specific troubleshooting are installed.


Note: In addition to being documented here, any bug/fix/error should be, if not already, reported on Valve's bug tracker on their GitHub page.

The close button only minimizes the window

Valve GitHub issue 1025

To close the Steam window (and remove it from the taskbar) when you press x, but keep Steam running in the tray, set the environment variable STEAM_FRAME_FORCE_CLOSE to 1. You can do this by launching Steam using the following command.


If you start steam with the .desktop file, you need to replace the Exec with following line:

 Exec=sh -c 'STEAM_FRAME_FORCE_CLOSE=1 steam' %U

Flash not working on 64-bit systems

Steam Support article

First ensure lib32-flashplugin is installed. It should be working at this point, if not create a local Steam Flash plugin folder:

$ mkdir ~/.steam/bin32/plugins/

and set a symbolic link to the global lib32 flash plugin file in your upper new folder

$ ln -s /usr/lib32/mozilla/plugins/ ~/.steam/bin32/plugins/

Text is corrupt or missing

The Steam Support instructions for Windows seem to work on Linux also: Simply download and install them (copying to /usr/share/fonts/ or ~/.fonts/ works at least).

SetLocale('en_US.UTF-8') fails at game startup

Uncomment en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8 in /etc/locale.gen and then run locale-gen as root.

The game crashes immediately after start

If your game crashes immediately, try disabling: "Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game" in game Properties.

OpenGL not using direct rendering

Steam Support article

You have probably not installed your 32-bit graphics driver correctly. See Xorg#Driver installation for which packages to install.

You can check/test if it is installed correctly by installing lib32-mesa-demos and running the following command:

$ glxinfo32 | grep OpenGL.

libGL error when running certain games

If you receive an error like the following Failed to load libGL: undefined symbol: xcb_send_fd, it could be due to an outdated steam runtime library. Deleting ~/.local/share/Steam/ubuntu12_32/steam-runtime/i386/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ will force Steam to load the library version installed by pacman.

No audio in certain games

If there is no audio in certain games, and the suggestions provided in Steam/Game-specific troubleshooting do not fix the problem, #Using native runtime may provide a successful workaround.

Launching games with custom commands, such as Bumblebee/Primus

Steam has fortunately added support for launching games using your own custom command. To do so, navigate to the Library page, right click on the selected game, click Properties, and Set Launch Options. Steam replaces the tag %command% with the command it actually wishes to run. For example, to launch Team Fortress 2 with primusrun and at resolution 1920x1080, you would enter:

primusrun %command% -w 1920 -h 1080

If you are running the Linux-ck kernel, you may have some success in reducing overall latencies and improving performance by launching the game in SCHED_ISO (low latency, avoid choking CPU) via schedtool

# schedtool -I -e %command% other arguments

Killing standalone compositors when launching games

Further to this, utilising the %command% switch, you can kill standalone compositors (such as Xcompmgr or Compton) - which can cause lag and tearing in some games on some systems - and relaunch them after the game ends by adding the following to your game's launch options.

 killall compton && %command%; nohup compton &

Replace compton in the above command with whatever your compositor is. You can also add -options to %command% or compton, of course.

Steam will latch on to any processes launched after %command% and your Steam status will show as in game. So in this example, we run the compositor through nohup so it is not attached to Steam (it will keep running if you close Steam) and follow it with an ampersand so that the line of commands ends, clearing your Steam status.

Using native runtime

Steam, by default, ships with a copy of every library it uses, packaged within itself, so that games can launch without issue. This can be a resource hog, and the slightly out-of-date libraries they package may be missing important features (Notably, the OpenAL version they ship lacks HRTF and surround71 support). To use your own system libraries, you can run Steam with:


However, if you're missing any libraries Steam makes use of, this will fail to launch properly. An easy way to find the missing libraries is to run the following commands:

$ cd ~/.local/share/Steam/ubuntu12_32
$ LD_LIBRARY_PATH=".:${LD_LIBRARY_PATH}" ldd $(file *|sed '/ELF/!d;s/:.*//g')|grep 'not found'|sort|uniq
Note: The libraries will have to be 32-bit, which means you may have to download some from the AUR if on x86_64, such as NetworkManager.

Once you've done this, run steam again with STEAM_RUNTIME=0 steam and verify it's not loading anything outside of the handful of steam support libraries:

$ cat /proc/$(pidof steam)/maps|sed '/\.local/!d;s/.*  //g'|sort|uniq

Skins for Steam

The Steam interface can be fully customized by copying its various interface files in its skins directory and modifying them.

Steam skin manager

The process of applying a skin to Steam can be greatly simplified using steam-skin-managerAUR from the AUR. The package also comes with a hacked version of the Steam launcher which allows the window manager to draw its borders on the Steam window.

As a result, skins for Steam will come in two flavors, one with and one without window buttons. The skin manager will prompt you whether you use the hacked version or not, and will automatically apply the theme corresponding to your GTK+ theme if it is found. You can of course still apply another skin if you want.

The package ships with two themes for the default Ubuntu themes, Ambiance and Radiance.

See also