SteamOS, a Debian-based distribution developed by Valve to be used in its hybrid PC / console, has been upgraded and features a series of important changes and improvements.
Valve has two builds 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. This time it was a little bit different.
A few of the latest new versions of the operating system didn't go through the regular update process and the changes were implemented in both branches. Right now, both the Beta and the Stable versions of SteamOS are pretty much identical, with very few differences, which practically defeats the purpose of having them.
According to the changelog, a number of Iceweasel browser security updates have been implemented, the AMD driver has been updated in order to match latest one released (14.4), a script has been added to retrieve the system's serial number to enable hardware promo scenarios, and the underlying system has been updated to Debian 7.5, which includes the base-files, debian-installer, lcms2, libquvi-scripts, libsoup2.4, libxml2, samba, and dpkg packages.
Also, unzip, git, cgdb, and rsync have been added to the repository, a missing SSL certificate authorities package has been added, the Realtek r8168 driver has been implemented, and support has been added for more Intel Wi-Fi adapters.
The update to the latest version of Debian 7.5 “Wheezy,” coupled with the AMD driver update, is probably the biggest change in this release and users should see a definite improvement, especially if they have AMD hardware.
The systems requirements for Steam OS haven't changed and they have been pretty much the same since the beginning: an Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor, 4GB or more memory, a 250GB or larger disk, NVIDIA, Intel, or AMD graphics card, and a USB port or DVD drive for installation.
Very soon, SteamOS will be ready for daily use, making it easier to install new packages that are not part of the original OS. That day is not yet here, but it's a lot closer than you might think. The desktop mode is still not really functional, but SteamOS was not designed to be a normal Linux distribution for everyday use.