Late last year, I built myself a custom Steam Machine from spare parts of computer builds gone by. It was running the first pre-alpha release of SteamOS, Valve’s in-house, Linux-based operating system, designed specifically for living room gaming PCs. It’s been roughly a month since then, so I have some updates on the project.

For a few weeks leading into the holiday break, I kept up with updates made on the Valve forums, and breakthroughs made on the SteamOS subreddit. I opted into what I’ll call the “Beta beta” which is even more whimsically not-even-ready-for-beta-testers beta updates for SteamOS. In a nutshell, anyone who owns a Steam Machine of their own that they built, or a designated beta machine recipient from Valve, gets updates to SteamOS, codenamed “alchemist.”

There’s an “alchemist_beta” repository (a resource/asset hub) that can be opted into if you’re silly enough to build a machine and run with this little SteamOS song and dance, and it gets you updates a few weeks or days ahead of their official release under regular alchemist. It’s encouraged by Valve for the hardcore nerds out there that understand some Linux — but it’s also potentially risky, as you may have to wipe your machine over and start fresh — which can take roughly and hour and a half out of your day.

That happened to me when Valve released AMD catalyst update drivers into alchemist_beta. It knocked a few people’s machines out of whack, but largely wasn’t an issue. I basically just had to reinstall from the old build of SteamOS, and then reset it up in the living room. I had trouble getting back into alchemist_beta once I reinstalled SteamOS (and recustomized my applications on Debian/Wheezy (a linux distro)), but thanks to a few sudo apt update commands I’d forgotten about, all seems to be well and good in the neighboorhood now.

I’m updating the machine as we speak, and hopefully I’ll be using in-home streaming soon. Just waiting on good ol’ Valve to flip the switch. Any day now…

But while you’re waiting with me, you can check out this Steam Machine-related video I produced for a tech site. It goes into detail over the recently announced Steam Machine hardware coming out this year from different manufacturers like Alienware, Gigabyte, Digital Storm, CyberPowerPC, iBuyPower, etc.

Let me know what you think!

Edit: Here’s another video (not the new one mentioned above, but still related) of my first experiences with SteamOS.