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Looks like we may see Steam properly on Chrome OS by the end of 2021

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In a move that might help boost Linux gaming numbers, it seems Google are still moving forward with their plan to get Steam running properly native on Chrome OS during 2021. This is something we've talked about before, and again and now it appears to be moving a bit quicker.

The new report comes from Chrome Unboxed, who noticed some interesting commits landing talking about project Borealis, which appears to be the code name for this huge project which includes running Steam. I should note though, that Borealis isn't just about Steam but appears to be some wider Linux push for Chrome OS to get more working on it. Last we heard, Borealis itself was based on Ubuntu too. From the new info uncovered, what's been found even mentions a "Soft Launch":

I'd bump these a bit; we'll want them in place for at least a few months into Soft Launch, which is currently slated for no earlier than Q2/Q3 2021. I set Borealis.Stability to 2021-10-01 for this reason.

With more Chromebooks coming out through 2021 that will feature more powerful processors both from Intel and AMD (not ARM), backed up by more powerful graphics - this will open them up to some more gaming.

The question is: why is that relevant to Linux and Linux gaming overall? Well, Chromebooks run Chrome OS which is…Linux under the Google branded hood. The version of Steam they will get is the Linux version, so they will be adding directly to the numbers of Linux users already on Steam. Don't underestimate what that could do.

Once we hear any more on it we will let you know.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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24 comments
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Mohandevir 11 Jan
I don't know if this could come into play, at some point:

https://www.theverge.com/2020/12/16/22179242/google-neverware-chromebook-laptops-chrome-os-software

If it becomes possible to install ChromeOS on any x86 laptop... Maybe? Not?


Last edited by Mohandevir on 11 January 2021 at 3:58 pm UTC
Nanobang 11 Jan
This reminds me. I need to install Steam's app on my new (to me) LineageOS smartphone.

Anyway, sounds like great news ... unless Google somehow begins specifically porting games over to ChromeOS using a locked down modded-Linux Steam client, and Steam adds ChromeOS to it's list of platforms and --- sigh. I'm sorry, I'm just sooooo cynical where it comes to Google.

We all knew a motto like "Don't be evil" was a bad sign.


Last edited by Nanobang on 11 January 2021 at 4:02 pm UTC
This is great indeed... with official chromeOS support Linux numbers might just got a significant bump.
Hmmm...
The codename Project Borealis make me think in HL3...
The way they're doing things sounds silly to me, but that aside this does seem like it could be significantly good news . . . unless, as Nanobang says, they pull a fast one of some sort.
Keep in mind that games running inside the Borealis VM on Chrome OS will likely be using Virgil 3D and as of now there is no Vulkan support.

Linux gaming without Vulkan (and DXVK) and a virtualized GPU for OpenGL and WineD3D on-top on integrated graphics doesn't sound great for gaming.

I have two Chromebooks but I cannot see myself wanting to game with these limitations. GeForce NOW and Stadia seem to be much better options for Chromebooks. I guess we'll see how this plays out.
sarmad 11 Jan
Google: Let's re-invent the wheel and create our own unique OS.
*later on*
Google: Ops, we need more of the standard stuff working. Let's hack things together and make our own OS look more like a standard Linux.

Seriously, why?
pseudopod 12 Jan
It would be cool if Google and Valve teamed up to challenge Microsoft's gaming hegemony. A good start would be for Google to allow Valve to distribute their Stadia native linux builds on Steam, as I'm sure using proton on relatively weak laptop hardware isn't going to be a great experience. I doubt Google is interested in being *that* cooperative, though.
3zekiel 13 Jan
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Quoting: Xaero_VincentKeep in mind that games running inside the Borealis VM on Chrome OS will likely be using Virgil 3D and as of now there is no Vulkan support.

Linux gaming without Vulkan (and DXVK) and a virtualized GPU for OpenGL and WineD3D on-top on integrated graphics doesn't sound great for gaming.

I have two Chromebooks but I cannot see myself wanting to game with these limitations. GeForce NOW and Stadia seem to be much better options for Chromebooks. I guess we'll see how this plays out.

As long as they use intel igpu (likely for such thin laptops) there is hw support (gvt-g) for gpu virtualisation. That's the kind of nice bits which continue making Intel a great choice in laptops. That and it seems igpu is better now even without virtualisation.
elmapul 13 Jan
chromeOS taking ages to do that, meanwhile microsoft WSL come out of nowhere and its running fine...
i cant undertand that
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