Valve has released a new update for the development version of its Debian-based SteamOS operating system, bringing upgrades for some of the packages and a very important fix for the compositor.The operating system from Valve didn’t receive too many updates in the last few months and it looks like it’s in a maintenance mode, which means that the developers only upgrade a few packages from time to time. No new features have been implemented and this latest version follows the same trend.
This is the Alchemist version, which means that, technically, this is where all the interesting things happen before they reach the stable branch. Unfortunately, nothing interesting has been implemented in a while and users have to contend with regular package updates from upstream.
The following packages have been upgraded with newer versions from upstream in order to implement security fixes: acpi-support, apache2, cups, e2fsprogs, iceweasel, and mysql-5.5. Other changes include some additional packages needed by XBMC, which are now available in the repositories, and a regression fix for the SteamOS compositor that would cause overlay to flicker sometimes.
SteamOS uses Debian “Wheezy” 7.1 as its base and some packages from the 7.5 release of the same distro. The custom SteamOS compositor was added a few months ago and it’s designed to provide a seamless transition between Steam, its games, and the SteamOS system overlay. Nothing found in the Debian repos could provide this precise functionality.
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.
Both SteamOS branches, stable and Beta, use the same Linux kernel, 3.10.11, numerous third-party drivers and updated graphics stacks, and eglibc 2.17 from Debian testing.
SteamOS is considered a Debian fork by its developers and it has become different enough since it was first announced the Valve developers. The final goal of the company is to have this operating system power the upcoming Steam Machines, which should be a console / PC hybrid.
Check the official announcement for more details about this release. You can download SteamOS 126 Beta right now from Softpedia and take it for a spin.
Remember that this is a development version and it should NOT be installed on production machines. It is intended for testing purposes only.