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Well today is the big day. Valve has now formally revealed the Steam Deck, a portable handheld gaming console powered by a new version of their Linux-based SteamOS operating system.

"We think Steam Deck gives people another way to play the games they love on a high-performance device at a great price," says Valve founder Gabe Newell. "As a gamer, this is a product I've always wanted. And as a game developer, it's the mobile device I've always wanted for our partners."

Since it's based on Linux, we now know a big reason why Valve has been investing in Linux gaming with the likes of Steam Play Proton. It will play your Linux native titles, with support boosted by Proton. Not only that, Valve said "we're vastly improving Proton's game compatibility and support for anti-cheat solutions by working directly with the vendors". This is pretty amazing, as anti-cheat was the big missing piece. In their FAQ, they make it clear that they are working directly with BattlEye and EAC to get support for Proton.

Anti-cheat support is coming too! That's huge!

The new SteamOS has been optimized for handheld and touchscreen gaming, while it will also have a desktop mode for those who want it. SteamOS 3.0 is also being based upon Arch Linux, with the desktop mode being powered by KDE Plasma.

We also know why Valve has been heavily investing in AMD GPU drivers for Linux too now then. It's a custom APU they partnered with AMD on for Zen 2 + RDNA 2.

Quick specs:

  • Powerful, custom APU developed with AMD
  • Optimized for hand-held gaming
  • Full-sized controls
  • 7" touchscreen
  • WiFi and Bluetooth ready
  • USB-C port for accessories
  • microSD slot for storage expansion
  • 3 different storage options available

The Steam Deck will also have a dock, much like you see with the Nintendo Switch with more ports to play with like USB, wired networking and enabling external displays. More tech info can be seen here.

It's an open system too, since it's basically a PC in your hands. Valve said "you can install third party software and operating systems".

Valve also did a session with IGN where they answered some questions. IGN also has hands-on video to give a better look at the device.

Steam Deck starts at $399, with increased storage options available for $529 and $649. The two higher models have bigger storage space, plus the two higher models actually use an NVMe drive for faster loading time and the top end has an anti-glare screen too.

Reservations open July 16th at 10 AM PDT; shipping is slated to start in December 2021. Currently it's limited to United States, Canada, European Union, and the United Kingdom with more regions becoming available in 2022.

For developers, Valve put up a video overview:

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See more on the Steam Deck website and the Steam Deck store page.

Is this the holy grail of Linux gaming? Could be.

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Quoting: Appelsin
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: Eike
Quoting: damarrinTo rain a little on everyone's parade (mine included), people on another gaming website I go to have been saying en masse how it's an instant Windows install for it to be even remotely useful. That's what the "general public" thinks, unfortunately :-(

Well, while I fear too many will, taking loud people on the net for the "general public" might also lead to the impression that most people wouldn't like to have a Covid vaccination...

Or that the earth is flat! :P

Yeah, I don't see a whole lot of people buying it just to format and install Windows on it. There are plenty of Windows Mobile PCs out there. Windows could potentially also stink for the controls that the Valve guys have been tweaking and perfecting to run under Linux. Windows' game input can consume a full satchel of richards as far as I'm concerned. Only Windows would force me to disable drivers in device manager because it can't figure out that my mouse is not a game pad, or even allow me to re-order the game controllers it does detect, so that I can actually get the controller to work. This happens on a lot of games in Windows... Never had such an issue in Linux.

I think it would be beneficial for Valve to not be too loud about "you can install Windows". If it runs like a console, most people won't care that it's Linux on it. Unless you say "it's Linux" and some go "ugh, Linux?! That's for nerds, I'm installing Windows".
Most poeple don't care that the PS4 is technically running a version of FreeBSD (afaik).
Ha, yeah... but installing an OS is for nerds too... I'm betting far less people install Windows over Linux on this than a bunch of the uneducated console videos I've seen say. Most of them outright are like 'Linux is for servers and stuff, no one uses it on their desktops' Or 'just install Windows, we know it works.' Or similar. Most of them have no idea what Linux is outside of 'that text thing'.

Hell, I remember there were videos of people showing off KDE to randoms in the mall, back before Windows 7 was released, and people actually thought it WAS Windows 7.
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