Steam is a popular game distribution platform by Valve.
- 1 Installation
- 2 Directory structure
- 3 Usage
- 4 Launch options
- 5 Tips and tricks
- 6 Troubleshooting
- 7 See also
The following requirements must be fulfilled in order to run Steam on Arch Linux:
- Installed 32-bit version OpenGL graphics driver.
- Generated en_US.UTF-8 locale, preventing invalid pointer error.
- The GUI heavily uses the Arial font. See Microsoft fonts. An alternative is to use or fonts provided by Steam instead.
- Install to add support for Asian languages.
Alternative Flatpak installation
flatpak --user remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://dl.flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo 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
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
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.
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 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
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.
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
- only arguments:
- 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 AUR
- Manually add a Steam entry (but you lose the steam compositor advantages: mainly you can't control Big Picture mode with keyboard or gamepad):
/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 TryExec=/usr/bin/steam Icon= Type=Application
The Steam interface can be customized using skins. Skins can overwrite interface-specific files in
To install a skin:
- Place its directory in
- Open Steam > Settings > Interface and select it.
- Restart Steam.
An extensive list of skins can be found in this Steam forums post.
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
When a Steam update changes the official
steam.styles your skin may become outdated, potentially resulting in visual errors.
~/.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
resource/styles/steam.stylesfor desktop notifications, and
resource/styles/gameoverlay.stylesfor in-game notifications
Both files are overwritten by Steam on startup and
steam.styles is only read on startup.
gameoverlay.stylese.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/*
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/notifpos.sh TopLeft && %command%
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 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 while the Steam client is running.