The SteamOS beta has been released by Valve as the company just shipped prototype Stream hardware and the SteamOS to 300 select users for testing. SteamOS is available for download by individual users and commercial original equipment manufacturers, as the release date was December 13.
The new operating system is custom-built by Valve for use in the Steam machines.
“SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen,” the company said on its website. “It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines.”
It added: “Finally, you don’t have to give up your favorite games, your online friends, and all the Steam features you love just to play on the big screen. SteamOS, running on any living room machine, will provide access to the best games and user-generated content available.”
Other benefits of the operating system include better graphics processing and audio performance. It allows in-home streaming and easy sharing of games with family and friends. Privacy controls for each system are also planned, while Valve is also working with media services to deliver music, tv shows, and video on the operating system.
Here’s the thing: if you’re not one of the 300 beta testers, then you need to get your own hardware to test Steam OS on.
Ars Technica has published a guide for how to install SteamOS on your computer.