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Revision as of 21:30, 30 October 2018 by Headkase (talk | contribs) (Add new subsection for a tip to use Steam Controllers in non-Steam and native Linux games)
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Steam is a popular game distribution platform by Valve.

Note: Steam for Linux only supports Ubuntu LTS.[1] Thus do not turn to Valve for support for issues with Steam on Arch Linux.


Enable the multilib repository and install the steam package.

The following requirements must be fulfilled in order to run Steam on Arch Linux:


Install steamcmdAUR for the command-line version of the Steam.

Note: This package installs files under root, so you must run SteamCMD as root.

Alternative Flatpak installation

Steam can also be installed with Flatpak as com.valvesoftware.Steam from Flathub. The easiest way to install it for the current user is by using the Flathub repo and flatpak command:

 flatpak --user remote-add --if-not-exists flathub
 flatpak --user install flathub com.valvesoftware.Steam
 flatpak run com.valvesoftware.Steam

The Flatpak application currently does not support themes. Also you currently can't run games via optirun/primusrun, see Issue#869 for more details.

The Flatpak application has some known issues with Steam Auto-Cloud so game progress may not be synced unless you create some symlinks by hand for affected games.

By default Steam won't be able to access your home directory, you can run the following command to allow it, so that it behaves like on Ubuntu or SteamOS:

flatpak override com.valvesoftware.Steam --filesystem=$HOME

Directory structure

The default Steam install location is ~/.local/share/Steam. If Steam cannot find it, it will prompt you to reinstall it or select the new location. This article uses the ~/.steam/root symlink to refer to the install location.

Library folders

Every Steam application has a unique AppID, which you can find out by looking at its Steam Store page path.

Steam installs games into a directory under LIBRARY/steamapps/common/. LIBRARY normally is ~/.steam/root but you can also have multiple library folders (Steam > Settings > Downloads > Steam Library Folders).

In order for Steam to recognize a game it needs to have an appmanifest_AppId.acf file in LIBRARY/steamapps/. The appmanifest file uses the KeyValues format and its installdir property determines the game directory name.


steam [ -options ] [ steam:// URL ]

For the available command-line options see the Command Line Options article on the Valve Developer Wiki.

Steam also accepts an optional Steam URL, see the Steam browser procotol.

Launch options

When you launch a Steam game, Steam executes its launch command in a Bash shell. To let you alter the launch command Steam provides launch options, which can be set for a game by right-clicking on it in your library, selecting Properties and clicking on Set Launch Options.

By default Steam simply appends your option string to the launch command. To set environment variables or pass the launch command as an argument to another command you can use the %command% substitute.


  • only arguments: -foo
  • environment variables: FOO=bar BAZ=bar %command% -baz
  • completely different command: othercommand # %command%

Tips and tricks

Big Picture Mode without a window manager

To start Steam in Big Picture Mode from a Display manager, you can either:

  • Install steamos-compositorAUR
  • Manually add a Steam entry (but you lose the steam compositor advantages: mainly you can't control Big Picture mode with keyboard or gamepad):

create a /usr/share/xsessions/steam-big-picture.desktop file with the following contents:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Steam Big Picture Mode
Comment=Start Steam in Big Picture Mode
Exec=/usr/bin/steam -bigpicture

Steam skins

The Steam interface can be customized using skins. Skins can overwrite interface-specific files in ~/.steam/root.

To install a skin:

  1. Place its directory in ~/.steam/root/skins.
  2. Open Steam > Settings > Interface and select it.
  3. Restart Steam.

An extensive list of skins can be found in this Steam forums post.

Note: Using an outdated skin may cause visual errors.

Creating skins

Nearly all Steam styles are defined in ~/.steam/root/resource/styles/steam.styles (the file is over 3,500 lines long). For a skin to be recognized it needs its own resource/styles/steam.styles. When a Steam update changes the official steam.styles your skin may become outdated, potentially resulting in visual errors.

See ~/.steam/root/skins/skins_readme.txt for a primer on how to create skins.

Changing the Steam notification position

The default Steam notification position is bottom right.

You can change the Steam notification position by altering Notifications.PanelPosition in

  • resource/styles/steam.styles for desktop notifications, and
  • resource/styles/gameoverlay.styles for in-game notifications

Both files are overwritten by Steam on startup and steam.styles is only read on startup.

Note: Some games do not respect the setting in gameoverlay.styles e.g. XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

Use a skin

You can create a skin to change the notification position to your liking. For example to change the position to top right:

$ cd ~/.steam/root/skins
$ mkdir -p Top-Right/resource
$ cp -r ~/.steam/root/resource/styles Top-Right/resource
$ sed -i '/Notifications.PanelPosition/ s/"[A-Za-z]*"/"TopRight"/' Top-Right/resource/styles/*

Live patching

gameoverlay.styles can be overwritten while Steam is running, allowing you to have game-specific notification positions.

sed -i "/Notifications.PanelPosition/ s/\"[A-Za-z]*\"/\"$1\"/" ~/.steam/root/resource/styles/gameoverlay.styles

And the #Launch options should be something like:

~/.steam/ TopLeft && %command%

In-home streaming

Steam has built-in support for in-home streaming.

See this Steam Community guide on how to setup a headless in-home streaming server on Linux.

Steam Controller

Steam has a desktop configuration for Steam Controllers. If the Steam client is running then it can use that configuration to give generic support to non-Steam and native games such as GOG titles. Just configure the Desktop configuration to be a generic XBOX controller and that will appear in non-Steam native Linux games.


See Steam/Troubleshooting.

See also