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Steam for Linux can now run games in a special container

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In the latest Steam Beta Client for Linux, Valve have added a new way to run Linux games through a special container.

This is something that was being hinted, as we noticed when the new Steam Library was rolled out (noted at the bottom) you could briefly install the Steam Linux Runtime from the Tools menu before it was hidden again. Now we know why!

It's a new experimental feature, allowing you to better isolate games from the host system as detailed in a post on Steam from developer Timothee Besset. As the post from Besset states, it can help Valve support older titles on newer distributions, allow developers to test directly against it reducing QA time, other runtimes can be added using newer compilers and libraries, allow you to isolate your Home folder and a whole lot more.

How to use it

In the Tools menu on Steam, make sure you have the Steam Linux Runtime installed:

Then force it onto a game in the Properties. The same way you would force a particular version of Proton. Right click a game, Properties, then at the bottom you will see this:

Note: You will probably need to restart Steam to have it show up

Seeing issues? Not all games will run, if they don't open a bug report here. See the full post for all the details.

Hat tip to dumpBikes.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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32 comments
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vildravn 10 November 2019 at 10:37 pm UTC
Could this be another hint towards the rumoured cloud service?
Schattenspiegel 10 November 2019 at 10:50 pm UTC
vildravnCould this be another hint towards the rumoured cloud service?
I'd assume it is more a let's-kill-32-bit (see e.g. ubuntu) fail-safe. Thoughts?


Last edited by Schattenspiegel on 10 November 2019 at 10:50 pm UTC
buckysrevenge 10 November 2019 at 10:52 pm UTC
vildravnCould this be another hint towards the rumoured cloud service?
My thoughts exactly
pb 10 November 2019 at 11:19 pm UTC
> allow you to isolate your Home folder

I hope it will finally allow users on SteamOS have separate game/achievement progress even if the game saves it to $HOME instead of e.g. steam cloud. Also good for the sake of keeping $HOME tidy, although that I've already accomplished by other means (`HOME=~/saves steam`).
shorberg 10 November 2019 at 11:41 pm UTC
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Schattenspiegel
vildravnCould this be another hint towards the rumoured cloud service?
I'd assume it is more a let's-kill-32-bit (see e.g. ubuntu) fail-safe. Thoughts?

Reading the announcement it seems likely that you are spot-on.

Also likely to try and deal with games that have peculiar dependencies that they did not consider bundling with the game and breaks on newer version of libs etc.
shorberg 10 November 2019 at 11:43 pm UTC
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pb> allow you to isolate your Home folder

I hope it will finally allow users on SteamOS have separate game/achievement progress even if the game saves it to $HOME instead of e.g. steam cloud. Also good for the sake of keeping $HOME tidy, although that I've already accomplished by other means (`HOME=~/saves steam`).



How come I've never thought about such a simple solution to keeping games from cluttering up my home? Any gotchas you've found with that solution so far?
MayeulC 11 November 2019 at 12:02 am UTC
shorberg
pb> allow you to isolate your Home folder

I hope it will finally allow users on SteamOS have separate game/achievement progress even if the game saves it to $HOME instead of e.g. steam cloud. Also good for the sake of keeping $HOME tidy, although that I've already accomplished by other means (`HOME=~/saves steam`).



How come I've never thought about such a simple solution to keeping games from cluttering up my home? Any gotchas you've found with that solution so far?

I do the same on one of my systems. Be sure to symlink .config/pulse, so that your default audio device is respected. There might also something to do with default browser, etc. And of course, don't forget to always launch it that way
Thankfully there is an EULA that's displayed if I run it off the wrong path, so I can just discard that.

I've been having more and more concerns about isolating proprietary software and the RCE tools that are multiplayer games from my system. Nowadays, I run steam inside a flatpak, which works pretty well (only the binding of Isaac doesn't like it, but there is the steamplay version, even if I have to cope with slowdowns). This also has the added benefit of uncluttering my $HOME.

This development is interesting, though (a shame they're not using ostree/flatpaks). From what I understood, you cannot enable both tis and SteamPlay globally?

Edit: maybe they are using flatpaks, looking at the naming convention?

Edit 2: likely!
QuoteThe unofficial flatpak distribution of the Steam client is not compatible at this time.

The flatpak solution wraps the entire Steam client, whereas Valve's approach is to wrap individual games first. Both approaches rely on the same technologies and we are looking into improving compatibility in the future.
That's a bummer. I'm looking forward to their improvements!


Last edited by MayeulC on 11 November 2019 at 12:07 am UTC
Shmerl 11 November 2019 at 3:07 am UTC
Is it using lxc?


Last edited by Shmerl on 11 November 2019 at 3:07 am UTC
pb 11 November 2019 at 3:13 am UTC
shorbergHow come I've never thought about such a simple solution to keeping games from cluttering up my home? Any gotchas you've found with that solution so far?

I had to move or symlink some stuff in .config and .local/share but I've done it along the way when something didn't work etc. One example is .local/share/vulkan, the other is .config/pulse already mentioned by MayeulC. Also symlinked .config/godot so that I can run it either from steam or directly and have the same stuff. And of course it took some time to move all the clutter from $HOME because games can save their stuff in the most obscure places...


Last edited by pb on 11 November 2019 at 3:15 am UTC
Nevertheless 11 November 2019 at 3:53 am UTC
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pb
shorbergHow come I've never thought about such a simple solution to keeping games from cluttering up my home? Any gotchas you've found with that solution so far?

I had to move or symlink some stuff in .config and .local/share but I've done it along the way when something didn't work etc. One example is .local/share/vulkan, the other is .config/pulse already mentioned by MayeulC. Also symlinked .config/godot so that I can run it either from steam or directly and have the same stuff. And of course it took some time to move all the clutter from $HOME because games can save their stuff in the most obscure places...

Another solution is starting Steam with firejail --private=/another-directory steam, which then uses "another-directory" as home dir for Steam. Or you could use the Flatpak Steam install.
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