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Thanks to new info spotted by Chrome Unboxed, we've seen more hints of a more powerful Chromebook coming which would make for a reasonable gaming unit.

We've known for some time now that Google has been planning to get Steam on Chromebooks properly, however most existing models would lack the power needed. In the new report it seems Google are working towards a new Intel and AMD powered Chromebook with an AMD Vega 12 discrete graphics card unit (dGPU). This would definitely change things and if it arrives in time for Google's wider Steam plans, it means there would be another Linux-based device out there from a huge company capable of Linux gaming (either native Linux games or with Steam Play Proton).

You can run Steam on some existing Chrome OS devices right now, but the experience isn't the best and having it officially done by Google would ensure good compatibility.

This doesn't mean that Valve is a partner on it though, and we're not going to jump to some big speculative conclusion that it's any part of Valve's plan. Mostly because we already know Valve has their own dedicated plan with the Linux-based Steampal handheld. Update: Valve announced the Steam Deck.

As we said before in a previous article: the question is: why is it actually 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. Part of this is because Google's Borealis uses a form of Virtual Machine that last we saw was powered by Ubuntu. Don't underestimate what that could do.

I doubt it would move mountains mind you, but Chromebooks are very popular and every little helps. I've always said hardware is what we need. Hardware on shelves in stores and in more well-known online shops, it is the missing key. There's no point having fancy marketing campaigns or extravagant plans without something to actually hook people in with. Again, it's why I think the Valve Steampal is a great idea.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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19 comments
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Mal 15 Jul
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Chromebooks are already great as they are. They're cheap and they can do everything a generalist user need for a tenth of the price of an Apple counterpart.

But if they also start to support steam libraries then there might be a case for buying the premium versions. They would still be cheaper than premium Apple counterparts and able to run more games.

If might help "pure" Linux popularity as well if Chromebooks start to educate people that you don't need to be ripped off by Apple to have a portable pc that actually works. Though, at the same time, ever since Chromebooks I find it harder to justify installing an Ubuntu on a relative's pc given their use case. As opposed to the times when you just had to replace windows with Linux to fix every issue a year old notebook could have, with Chrome OS things just works. In my opinion there are little reasons to "upgrade" to Linux from Chrome OS if your a generic user, gaming being probably the only one until borealis takes it away.


Last edited by Mal on 15 July 2021 at 2:10 pm UTC
CatKiller 15 Jul
QuoteI've always said hardware is what we need. Hardware on shelves in stores and in more well-known online shops, it is the missing key.

Not just hardware in shops, although that is very important. Getting prospective customers to already have familiarity with the product so that they'll want to buy it is also very useful. Microsoft did it with business machines, so people bought the same thing to use at home. Apple and Microsoft have both tried to get a stranglehold on the education market at various times and, at the moment, Chromebooks are dominant there. With more other reasons to use them it's more likely that the cheap Chromebook they got from school could translate into a more premium Chromebook model, or a Chromebook as their own first computer, later. Google doesn't really care if it's a premium model or a cheapie, but the manufacturers will be after the higher margins and more sales. If Chromebooks expose sufficient Linuxness then the users might not be scared away from upgrading to a full Linux machine in those circumstances, since they'll already be familiar with it.
For these "Steam on (device)" things I hope they have some sort of certification thing going so that people using Steam on these devices can easily tell which games work.
Liam Dawe 15 Jul
Quoting: CatKiller
QuoteI've always said hardware is what we need. Hardware on shelves in stores and in more well-known online shops, it is the missing key.

Not just hardware in shops, although that is very important. Getting prospective customers to already have familiarity with the product so that they'll want to buy it is also very useful. Microsoft did it with business machines, so people bought the same thing to use at home. Apple and Microsoft have both tried to get a stranglehold on the education market at various times and, at the moment, Chromebooks are dominant there. With more other reasons to use them it's more likely that the cheap Chromebook they got from school could translate into a more premium Chromebook model, or a Chromebook as their own first computer, later. Google doesn't really care if it's a premium model or a cheapie, but the manufacturers will be after the higher margins and more sales. If Chromebooks expose sufficient Linuxness then the users might not be scared away from upgrading to a full Linux machine in those circumstances, since they'll already be familiar with it.
An interesting point that, and I do agree fully that familiarity sells often and quite well so if more people end up sticking with Chromebooks and it pulls more onto the Linux version of Steam - still a net win for us overall.
Mohandevir 15 Jul
I'm wondering if SteamPal's futur OS isn't going to be ChromiumOS based... Just a tought.
Liam Dawe 15 Jul
Quoting: MohandevirI'm wondering if SteamPal's futur OS isn't going to be ChromiumOS based... Just a tought.
Nope, absolutely not. It will be a new version of SteamOS, of that I'm 100% certain ;)

Edit: told you |:P


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 15 July 2021 at 6:15 pm UTC
CatKiller 15 Jul
Quoting: Liam DaweAn interesting point that, and I do agree fully that familiarity sells often and quite well so if more people end up sticking with Chromebooks and it pulls more onto the Linux version of Steam - still a net win for us overall.
It was something that Microsoft exploited ruthlessly (as well as when they were starting out) during the netbook era, funding PR saying that Linux was too confusing for inexperienced users, and extending the life of XP and making it free, to starve of oxygen any low-cost competition to their desktop dominance.

Android is the most widely-used consumer OS these days, so Microsoft don't have the muscle that they used to, but people are still people so the same dynamics will apply. Sauce for the goose.
CatKiller 15 Jul
Quoting: MohandevirI'm wondering if SteamPal's futur OS isn't going to be ChromiumOS based... Just a tought.
Valve won't want to be beholden to Google any more than they want to be beholden to Microsoft.
Mohandevir 15 Jul
Quoting: CatKiller
Quoting: MohandevirI'm wondering if SteamPal's futur OS isn't going to be ChromiumOS based... Just a tought.
Valve won't want to be beholden to Google any more than they want to be beholden to Microsoft.

You are probably right (Liam seems to have insights that I don't ), but that's why I wrote ChromiumOS, not ChromeOS. It's the fully open source version of ChromeOS.

Edit: I tried Cloudready's version on a couple of old laptops. Quite lean, reactive and efficient, for what it does. It lacks the official Google Store support, though (for good or bad, depending on your perspective).

Edit2:
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: MohandevirI'm wondering if SteamPal's futur OS isn't going to be ChromiumOS based... Just a tought.
Nope, absolutely not. It will be a new version of SteamOS, of that I'm 100% certain ;)
Based on (SteamOS)?

To make it clearer, I still remember PLGriffais mentionning something similar to: "We are tired of dealing with Debian tooling." on his twitter feed, if I remember correctly. So what will SteamOS "3.0" be based on?


Last edited by Mohandevir on 15 July 2021 at 4:01 pm UTC
I think this is a huge win for linux gaming. To be honest i think that the chance linux have on the desktop is with on ChromeOS. It's already industry supported, comes from a recognized brand, has a bigger market-share than mac-os already, compatible with android apps and every laptop sold with it is very well optmized.
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