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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 Steam.

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 cannot run games via optirun/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 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

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

Start Minimized

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

Fsync patch

Valve has released a special kernel patch that should help increase FPS in massively-threaded applications. There are few methods to get and use this patch:

Proton Steam-Play

Valve developed a compatibility tool for Steam Play based on Wine and additional components named Proton. It allows you to launch many Windows games (see compatibility list).

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 > General > 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 with protonAUR or proton-gitAUR, 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 steamos-compositorAUR
  • Alternatively, install steamos-compositor-plusAUR, 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):

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%

Steam Remote Play

Note: Steam In-Home Streaming has become 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.

Steam Controller

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 Using Proton / Other Compatibility Layers

With the addition of Proton compatibility for games has increased thanks to Valve, you can use custom forks such as Proton GE or others, to increase the amount of games that will work with it, you can extend this further to create a steam library on an NTFS volume containing your games, the only thing you ideally will have to force the uid and gid of the user you are currently logged in as so Steam may write files as needed, you will also need to make sure not to have the noexec option in your fstab or Steam will not be able to detect your games.


See Steam/Troubleshooting.

See also