Steam is a popular game distribution platform by Valve.
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.
- If using systemd-networkd for network management, install in order for Steam to be able to connect to its servers.
Install the command-line version of Steam.AUR for
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 cannot run games via
primusrun, see Issue#869 for more details.
Steam installed via Flatpak is not able to access your home directory and overriding this will cause Steam to not run because it is not safe. However, you can freely add directories outside the home directory. If you want to add an external library, run the following command to add it:
flatpak override --user com.valvesoftware.Steam --filesystem=/path/to/directory
Asian Font Problems with Flatpak
If you are having problem getting Asian fonts to show in game, it is because org.freedesktop.Platform does not include it. First try mounting your local font :
flatpak run --filesystem=~/.local/share/fonts --filesystem=~/.config/fontconfig com.valvesoftware.Steam
If that does not work, consider this hack: make the fonts available by directly copying the font files into org.freedesktop.Platform's directories, e.g.
# replace ? with your version and hash /var/lib/flatpak/runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform/x86_64/?/?/files/etc/fonts/conf.avail /var/lib/flatpak/runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform/x86_64/?/?/files/etc/fonts/conf.d /var/lib/flatpak/runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform/x86_64/?/?/files/share/fonts
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.
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
It is possible to have Steam start minimized to the system tray, rather than taking focus. Simply add
-silent to the list of arguments in the autostart file.
... Exec=/usr/bin/steam -silent ...
Valve's fsync patches offer performance improvements to massively-threaded applications running via Proton or Wine. Since Linux kernel version 5.16, this has been merged into the vanilla kernel, with no further action necessary other than using a recent Proton build, or a patched Wine build. Earlier kernel versions with fsync support are available via one of the following methods:
- Install  kernel that includes the fsync patches since the 5.2 release
- Install AUR or AUR kernel.
It is open-source and available on GitHub. Steam will install its own versions of Proton when Steam Play is enabled.
Proton needs to be enabled on Steam client: Steam > Settings > Steam Play. You can enable Steam Play for games that have and have not been whitelisted by Valve in that dialog.
If needed, to force enable Proton or a specific version of Proton for a game, right click on the game, click Properties > Compatibility > Force the use of a specific Steam Play compatibility tool, and select the desired version. Doing so can also be used to force games that have a Linux port to use the Windows version.
You can also install Proton from AUR withAUR or AUR, but extra setup is required for them to work with Steam. See the Proton GitHub for details on how Steam recognizes Proton installs.
Big Picture Mode without a window manager
To start Steam in Big Picture Mode from a Display manager, you can either:
- Install AUR
- Alternatively, install AUR, which hides the annoying color flashing on startup of Proton games and adds a fix for games that start in the background
- Manually add a Steam entry (but you lose the steam compositor advantages: mainly you cannot 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 Remote Play
Steam has built-in support for remote play.
See this Steam Community guide on how to setup a headless streaming server on Linux.
Normally a Steam controller requires the use of the Steam-overlay. In non-Steam native Linux games however the overlay may not be practical. For that, while the Steam client is running it will maintain a "desktop configuration". With your Steam controller, configure the desktop configuration for it as a generic XBOX controller. As long as the Steam client is running you can then use your Steam controller in other games, such as GOG games, as an XBOX controller. Make sure to select your type of controller to map to in "general controller settings".
Sharing Games With Windows when using Proton
If you use Proton (Steam Play) for launching your games, and still keep a Windows installation for some reason (for example, if some game has problems with anti cheat or if you want to make a comparison tests with Windows), you may want to store your games in a common partition instead of keeping two copies of game one per OS. See https://github.com/ValveSoftware/Proton/wiki/Using-a-NTFS-disk-with-Linux-and-Windows for more information on how to configure that.
To add another folder for library, click on Steam → Settings → Downloads → STEAM LIBRARY FOLDERS, then on the ⊕ button.
Compatibility layers other than Proton
There are compatibility tools other than Proton/Wine.
- Luxtorpeda — Run games using native Linux engines.
- Boxtron — Run DOS games using native Linux DOSBox
- Roberta — Run adventure games using native Linux ScummVM.
You can also useAUR to manage them:
- Close Steam
- Install AUR
- Open protonup-qt and install desired tools
- Start Steam
- In the game properties window, select "Force the use of a specific Steam Play compatibility tool" and select the desired tool.