SteamOS, a Debian-based distribution developed by Valve to be used in its hybrid PC / console, has just received an update for the Beta branch.
Valve has two branches for SteamOS. One is a stable version (sort of) and the other one is a Beta. As you might expect, the developers implement big changes into the development branch first, and later into the stable one.
It’s not unusual that the Valve developers update only the Alchemist branch (Beta) of SteamOS, but it’s curios that the number of updates for the distributions have been dropping at larger and larger intervals. It’s been almost a month since the previous update, and there is no indication that the stable versions will also get some improvements soon.
One of the biggest improvements is the addition of a new AMD Linux driver, 14.1 Beta 1, from Debian testing (Jessie). Even if it’s still a development version, the driver didn’t show any problems on other Linux distributions and it is the latest one available.
“AMD graphics users, please make sure to reboot as soon as the ‘SteamOS reboot required’ notification pops up after the driver update is applied. Otherwise you most likely will be unable to play any games until you do,” said Valve engineer Pierre-Loup.
Another important improvement is a fix that has been implemented for a critical APT bug resulting in packages sometimes being erroneously erased during updates. The apt-get command is one of the most important in a Linux distribution, so getting this fixed is actually more important than it seems.
Also, support for detecting hybrid configurations and using the driver corresponding to the primary VGA output by default has been added, a bug where “Preparing hardware drivers...” would be erroneously printed during startup has been fixed, and all the languages that are supported by Steam client have been preinstalled to enable a localized SteamOS desktop.
Lightdm has been fixed and the Region and Languages control panel can change the language used for each user, and the “Metro: Last Light” game is now working on Intel graphics. This has been achieved by backporting the GLX support for ARB_create_context from newer X servers.
Remember that this is a development version and it should NOT be installed on production machines. It is intended for testing purposes only.