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It was likely no secret to most Linux users who know a bit about distributions but Valve has clarified directly that the main reason for dumping Debian Linux for Arch Linux was for faster updates.

Previous versions of SteamOS were based on Debian which has a fresh release every 2 years or so, where during that time most of the software stack is frozen in place. For a Linux gaming device, that's obviously not ideal. Gaming on Linux as a whole often needs more up to date packages because everything moves so quickly. Especially for Steam Play Proton, which has at multiple times needed updates to various packages and newer GPU drivers. Arch Linux on the other hand rolls over constantly with updates and so it gives Valve the flexibility they're needing to more easily pull them in.

PC Gamer, one of the lucky few who recently went to the Valve HQ spoke to Valve designer, Lawrence Yang:

"So, Arch Linux, one of the main reasons, there's a couple, but the main reason is the rolling updates of Arch allows us to have more rapid development for SteamOS 3.0," says Yang. "We were making a bunch of updates and changes to specifically make sure that things work well for Steam deck, and Arch just ended up being a better choice for them."

Valve upgrades the Steam Client constantly and no doubt they will be doing the same with SteamOS 3 once the Steam Deck actually rolls out. Having finer control over everything that they would get with Arch Linux is basically a no-brainer, as is the huge availability of software that comes with Arch and the AUR (Arch User Repository), something that will be a big boon for the desktop mode.

It's not likely that SteamOS 3 will just plainly update directly from Arch though, as that could end up messy. They will likely bundle updates together once they've been firmly tested. More like a Manjaro approach but with more clear QA done.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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Beeing upstream makes sense for a distributor.. But it's good they make a point release distro out of it, so they have actuality AND stability in their hands. At least for the core software...


Last edited by Nevertheless on 10 August 2021 at 10:37 am UTC
Bogomips 10 Aug
Alright, but at the moment, just 4 days to wait for Bullseye if nothing go south
BielFPs 10 Aug
Quoting: NeverthelessBeeing upstream makes sense for a distributor.. But it's good they make a point release distro out of it, so they have actuality AND stability in their hands. At least for the core software...

They're probably going the "Manjaro route" on this one
fagnerln 10 Aug
As it's more updated, it need to have a far better debugging and QA tests. I'm not sure if a gaming machine needs updated libraries.
If that's the case, how come they didn't decide to use Debian Testing instead?
Eike 10 Aug
Quoting: nobody_importantIf that's the case, how come they didn't decide to use Debian Testing instead?

AFAIK the main Linux developer at Valve doesn't like Debian's package format. While I'm on Debian's side, I don't care too much which one they use.
Arehandoro 10 Aug
Quoting: nobody_importantIf that's the case, how come they didn't decide to use Debian Testing instead?

Debian Testing also stops when main Debian freezes for a new release. If they were to use a Debian flavour, probably sid (unstable) would have been better. However, based on my experience until I moved to fedora, Debian unstable was very low on the uptake of linux-nonfree-firmware as well as Mesa. Let's also not forget that Debian did not have an AUR until recently, and that historically Debian devs are stricter about what goes into their repos.

Personally, I would have liked a rpm based distro for SteamOS 3.0 but, at the end of the day, I also hope that much tinkering won't be required on the device, so it doesn't really matter.


Last edited by Arehandoro on 10 August 2021 at 11:40 am UTC
Quoting: BielFPs
Quoting: NeverthelessBeeing upstream makes sense for a distributor.. But it's good they make a point release distro out of it, so they have actuality AND stability in their hands. At least for the core software...

They're probably going the "Manjaro route" on this one

In one of the hands on videos ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb6OWxORfY0 )
at around 9 minutes, the Valve guy shows how it's updated, and he says "system, Steamplay and Bios-updates" are updated at once in a big package for the benefit of knowing exactly whats on the device.
So I wouldn't expect anything like Manjaro..


Last edited by Nevertheless on 10 August 2021 at 12:21 pm UTC
property 10 Aug
Quoting: fagnerlnAs it's more updated, it need to have a far better debugging and QA tests. I'm not sure if a gaming machine needs updated libraries.

Valve will have to do QA for themselves anyway. They are heavily invested with a lot of upstream libraries at the moment and will probably want to use their latest features. Rolling release distributions do make sense in that regard as the tests distros like debian does would need to be redone anyways after valves changes are applied. So either go full rolling release as a base like Manjaro or do something in the line of packages with mixed recency like KDE Neon. They seem to be tryining the former now. They switch back somewhere in the future.
Keyrock 10 Aug
I dumped Fedora for Manjaro because of the Anaconda installer. I don't know what it is but that installer hates me and the feeling is mutual, quite frankly.
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