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Distrobox can open up the Steam Deck to a whole new world

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Distrobox is a way to use pretty much any other Linux distribution in your terminal, along with full GUI apps and now it supports the Steam Deck with SteamOS too.

The update released a few days ago had some issues (#1, #2, #3), which I reported to the developer and they've since fixed up the installers and the documentation for Steam Deck. So with that in mind, I took it for a spin to see how it works and I've been thoroughly impressed with how easy it is.

It gives you a container system to install other distributions. So for the likes of SteamOS on the Steam Deck, without messing with the root filesystem, you can install something like Ubuntu and access everything it has available. Useful for software not available via Flathub (Discover) or elsewhere.

Here's a short video overview of the basic setup and running some apps from Ubuntu on Steam Deck:

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Guide (official link):

First up, run these install scripts one after the other in a terminal app (like Konsole on Steam Deck):

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sh -s -- --prefix ~/.local

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/extras/install-podman | sh -s -- --prefix ~/.local

Next up, we need to add the directories it uses into our .bashrc file, so we can run commands as normal in terminal. In your .bashrc file (found in your Home folder), open it in a text editor and add these to the bottom:

export PATH=$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH

export PATH=$HOME/.local/podman/bin:$PATH

Now you can install a Linux distribution with Distrobox, with Ubuntu as the example (in terminal again):

distrobox create -i ubuntu:20.04

Then once done, you can enter it:

distrobox enter ubuntu-20-04

This is where the fun begins. Now you can install or do whatever you like, inside Ubuntu. However, you also need to add this to your .bashrc file to run graphical applications / games on Steam Deck:

xhost +si:localuser:$USER

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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About the author -
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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31 comments
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straws 9 Nov, 2022
I'm having trouble with a portion of this installation, as described by another user here.

I've inserted the code  xhost +si:localuser:$USER  in the .bashrc file as specified but when I try to enter ubuntu in bash I receive the error  bash: xhost: command not found . I should clarify that I am able to enter the ubuntu subsystem but with said error. Leads me to believe everything is working except the UI ability (which I as a shell dummy would really like to use)

I'm a fairly new linux user going mostly by tutorial right now and trying to get my steam deck set up as a development environment for The Odin Project and I'm pretty stuck at this stage.
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