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Valve has released a native (currently x86-only) Linux client for their Steam platform available to all steam users.


The released steam installer archives only contain an installer that subsequenly downloads and installs the steam client from their servers into the user's homedir. This prevents a OS package manager from properly managing steam client updates.

Steam does not expose an api for a proper package manager to manage installation or updates of software distributed through it. Users are required to use the steam client directly for installing and updating the softwares.



Things you need in order to run steam or even the steam-installer.


If you don't plan on using the ebuild then you can create a set to conveniently manage and update the steam dependencies without changing your world file. Otherwise skip this section.

After you have created the file /etc/portage/sets/steam as shown below, run:
root #emerge --ask @steam
The following lists may be outdated, and require verification. Several of the libraries may be provided by the steam runtime, so a system-installed version would not be used


FILE /etc/portage/sets/steam dependencies for x86


FILE /etc/portage/sets/steam dependencies for amd64

needed for some games

FILE /etc/portage/sets/steam mostly source-games


You need tmpfs activated in your kernel and /dev/shm mounted.

/dev/shm should be automatically mounted by the devfs initscript, however you can do so explicitly and with additional options via fstab.
FILE /etc/fstab
# to limit the size add e.g. size=768M to opts (default is 50%)
#<fs>      <mountpoint>    <type>	<opts>		     <dump/pass>
shm        /dev/shm        tmpfs        nodev,nosuid,noexec  0 0


From debian package

Download the .deb archive found here, extract[1] and put the following files into the same directory:

  • bootstraplinux_ubuntu12_32.tar.xz (from the .deb archive. data/usr/lib/steam)
  • steam.desktop (from the .deb archive. share/applications)
  • steam (get the script here or here) [last update: 2013-03-24]

Make steam executable and run it. There are also a few icons in the .deb archive.

Manual install

See Steam/Manual_installation.


You can use the steam-launcher ebuild from the gamerlay or the github steam-overlay.

32-bit chroot on amd64

If you want to run steam in a 32-bit chroot without relying on emul-linux-x86-* or multilib packages, then run the following commands:

root #mkdir /usr/local/steam32 && cd /usr/local/steam32
root #mkdir usr/portage && mkdir usr/local/portage
root #mount --rbind /usr/portage usr/portage && mount --rbind /dev dev && mount --rbind /sys sys && mount -t proc none proc
root #cp /etc/resolv.conf etc

You'll run chroot with linux32, if you didn't have it, emerge sys-apps/util-linux first.

root #linux32 chroot .
root #source /etc/profile && env-update
root #useradd -m steam && usermod -a -G video steam && usermod -a -G audio steam

Now follow any of the above installation methods and then create a wrapper script to chroot in, su to steam user, then run steam.

FILE /usr/local/bin/steam32 Wrapper for steam32 amd64
mount --rbind /dev "${CHROOT_DIR}/dev" 
mount --rbind /sys "${CHROOT_DIR}/sys"
mount -t proc none "${CHROOT_DIR}/proc"
[ -f $CHROOT_DIR/var/run/ ] || chroot "${CHROOT_DIR}" dbus-launch --system
chroot "${CHROOT_DIR}" su steam -c "dbus-launch steam"
umount -l "${CHROOT_DIR}/dev"
umount -l "${CHROOT_DIR}/sys"
umount -l "${CHROOT_DIR}/proc"
It is possible to run steam without the use of the dbus daemon (though you will need to devise your own method to connect to your X11 server from within the chroot). However, if you elect to run steam without dbus, be sure not to check the "Remember my password" option at the Steam login screen as Steam will segfault the next time it is run. See for details. If you have checked this option and find yourself with a segfaulting Steam, you can fix the issue with a `rm -fr ~/.local/share/Steam/config`.

Client Troubleshooting

A few tricks to get things working.

Video drivers

  • nvidia-drivers: You will need to unmask latest x11-drivers/nvidia-drivers.
  • If S3TC support is missing, install media-libs/libtxc_dxtn.
  • Starting some games (TF, CS:S) on legacy ATI drivers will give this error: "Required OpenGL extension "GL_EXT_texture_sRGB_decode" is not supported. Please update your OpenGL driver." Workaround is here.

OpenGL GLX context is not using direct rendering

If steam is complaining about a lack of 3D capability and you do have a 3D drivers, libraries (eselect opengl list) all setup (glxinfo | grep "direct rendering" # direct rendering: Yes), steam is accessing the wrong libGL. This was caused by a recent update of app-eselect/eselect-opengl to version 1.3.0. Temporary workaround:

user $LD_LIBRARY_PATH="$LD_LIBRARY_PATH:/usr/lib32/opengl/nvidia/lib" ~/.local/share/Steam/ # for nvidia
user $LD_LIBRARY_PATH="$LD_LIBRARY_PATH:/usr/lib32/opengl/ati/lib" ~/.local/share/Steam/ # for ATI


Some people seem to have problems with missing fonts. A user reported it being solved by emerging media-fonts/font-bitstream-100dpi.

Sometimes Xorg does not recognize the new fonts installed. To fix this temp. run:

user $xset +fp /usr/share/fonts/100dpi/
user $./

You may also need media-fonts/corefonts if fonts don't appear to be rendering correctly.

The game Stealth Bastard Deluxe will segfault if media-fonts/font-misc-misc is not installed [2], specifically the game will request the fonts "9x15"/"9x15b", so check with x11-apps/xlsfonts if those are available, otherwise add them to the fontpath and possibly add an alias in e.g. /usr/share/fonts/misc/fonts.alias:

FILE /usr/share/fonts/misc/fonts.alias Aliases for misc fonts
9x15  -misc-fixed-medium-r-normal--15-140-75-75-c-90-iso10646-1
9x15B -misc-fixed-bold-r-normal--15-140-75-75-c-90-iso10646-1

Mouse cursor

If your WM/DE does not set a mouse pointer theme, then Steam will overwrite the default X11 cursor theme, often resulting in a reversed pointer from left to right.

To fix this, just install and enable a compatible cursor theme via your WM/DE (e.g. x11-themes/vanilla-dmz-xcursors).

You can also enable the installed theme manually with the following method:

user $mkdir ~/.icons
user $ln -s /usr/share/cursors/xorg-x11/Vanilla-DMZ ~/.icons/default
This fix will not work if you will try to symlink a KDE cursor theme (eg: Oxygen_White).

If the mouse cursor gets stuck pointing in the wrong direction after exiting steam you can work around that via:

user $xsetroot -cursor_name left_ptr

Flashplayer on amd64

Get the 32bit flashplayer from adobe and extract to your current working dir. Now run:

user $mkdir <path-to-steam-installation>/ubuntu12_32/plugins
user $mv <path-to-steam-installation>/ubuntu12_32/plugins/
user $chmod +x <path-to-steam-installation>/ubuntu12_32/plugins/

Typically the path located in ~/.local/share/Steam. Alternatively emerge www-plugins/adobe-flash with abi_x86_32 option enabled and run:

user $mkdir <path-to-steam-installation>/ubuntu12_32/plugins
user $ln -s /usr/lib32/nsbrowser/plugins/ <path-to-steam-installation>/ubuntu12_32/plugins/

Memory corruption on startup

You might get an error like this:

user $steam
*** glibc detected *** zenity: malloc(): memory corruption: 0x00000000016cf020 ***

Try to emerge x11-libs/libXi and it should work.

Hardened Gentoo

It looks like the steam binary has rwx bits in it. You will need to mark the binary with the following to get it working on a hardened system.

user $paxctl-ng -m ~/.local/share/Steam/ubuntu12_32/steam

Binaries of most games also should be paxmarked, for ex.:

user $paxctl-ng -m ~/.local/share/Steam/SteamApps/common/"World of Goo/WorldOfGoo"
user $paxctl-ng -m ~/.local/share/Steam/SteamApps/common/Uplink/uplink.bin.x86_64
user $paxctl-ng -m ~/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/common/Team\ Fortress\ 2/hl2_linux

Failure to perform these paxmarkings will result in the game failing to run with little information given. You can check if the game needs to be paxmarked by running the game's startup script or binary file (found under ~/.local/share/Steam/steamapps or ~/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/common) under a debugger. This can be accomplished with some of Valve's provided startup scripts by passing in gdb in a GAME_DEBUGGER environment variable, for ex.:

user $env GAME_DEBUGGER=gdb ./

If the binary needs to be paxmarked, gdb should output something similar to "warning: Cannot call inferior functions, Linux kernel PaX protection forbids return to non-executable pages!" and/or "Cannot access memory at address 0x80486c6."

After latest update (around Jul 2013) steam also need paxmarked sh when the openGL libraries require RWX markings or it fail to run games from steam client (see for details):

user $sudo paxctl-ng -m /bin/bash

However, this causes bash to not run. Also as it is a security issue you are strongly encouraged to try without paxmarking it. If it works for you when using proprietary nvidia drivers please report it back.

Steam runtime

By default, Valve bundles their own libraries with the steam package and uses them instead of installed system libraries. This behavior can be changed by setting the environment variable STEAM_RUNTIME=0.


It is not recommended to deactivate Steam runtime. This can lead to numerous problems, including runtime and missing 32-bit libraries.

Reset Steam client

If you want to wipe out your current steam installation which includes your installed games and reinstall steam without losing their data, you can use the --reset command line option:

user $steam --reset

Taskbar Buttons persist when Steam is minimzed to SysTray

Depending on your DE, you might have a taskbar button showing for Steam all the time, even when the main window is closed or minimized to the systray. To stop this behavior, add this to /etc/environment.

FILE /etc/environment Basic Environment Variables for all Processes

You will need to logout and back in to enact the changes.

Games Troubleshooting

If you have problems on 64 bit, it's because emul-linux-x86-* are typically very out of date.

You can try using a 32-bit chroot.

Dota 2

If you notice lots of black textures, it's because the mesa driver is out of date, until version 9.1.6 or higher is released as part of emul-linux-x86-opengl, you will have to resort to using a 32 bit chroot.

If you notice red screen, it's the libtxc_dxtn (again). (Look for it along this page.)

For the red textures in gentoo 64 bits emerge the package sys-libs/glibc with the line >=media-libs/libtxc_dxtn-1.0.1-r1 abi_x86_32 in /etc/portage/package.use

Left 4 Dead 2

If you experience black textures, you are missing S3TC texture (de)compression, add the following to package.use
media-libs/libtxc_dxtn abi_x86_32
and then emerge libtxc_dxtn

Rust (legacy)

After setting launch options in the configuration menu and clicking ok, if Rust fails to launch, then add the following Steam launch options to force Rust to use the correct binaries
LD_LIBRARY_PATH="/usr/lib:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH" %command%


Starbound's launcher may fail with the following error:

This application failed to start because it could not find or load the Qt platform plugin "xcb".

Available platform plugins are: xcb.

Reinstalling the application may fix this problem.

You may be able to work around this problem by entering this into Starbound's launch options: $(dirname %command%)/starbound

Team Fortress 2

If you only get a black screen for 1-2 seconds, try adding "-nojoy" to Game->Properties->"Set Launch Options".

X3 Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude

If you are unable to start the launcher, make sure that media-libs/libtxc_dxtn is installed. See the official Linux Support Thread.

This system DOES NOT support the OpenGL extension GL_EXT_texture_compression_s3tc

Install helper library for S3TC texture (de)compression.
echo ">=media-libs/libtxc_dxtn-1.0.1-r1 abi_x86_32" >> /etc/portage/package.use
emerge libtxc_dxtn -j3

Restart graphic system and examine if GL extension is available.
glxinfo | grep GL_EXT_texture_compression_s3tc

If there is no GL_EXT_texture_compression_s3tc try to update driver. If you are using radeon open driver, set correct value to VIDEO_CARDS variable in make.conf. For example value VIDEO_CARDS="r600" is valid for HD6310. More info about radeon cards.

If GL extension is here, but error still raises, suppress it by next command.
export force_s3tc_enable=true

01:32, 30 May 2014 (UTC) had to emerge x11-libs/gtkglarea for s3tc errors to go away under nouveau.

Further help

Before you ask anywhere else, refer to the Gentoo forum thread. Post your solutions and update this wiki page if someone confirms. Please don't remove content without Discussion unless it's wrong content.

See also

External resources