How to install the Steam Linux Alpha App on a Chromebook

If you love gaming then I’m sure you’ve heard of the Steam Linux App. It’s been talked about for a couple of years and it has finally been released. Before you get too excited it’s worth pointing out that it’s currently in Alpha mode and is only available on some Chromebooks.

In this article, I’ll explain how to install Linux Alpha on your Chromebook and the devices that are currently supported. One thing you need to remember is that the Steam Linux App is a work in progress. This is what Alpha means, so you should not expect a perfect experience.

I would still strongly recommend giving it a try. At the moment after you’ve finished playing each game Google will ask you to complete a short form. This form populates some of the data for you, and you just need to explain whether there were any issues. Doing this provides Google and Steam with valuable data, which will help them deal with any gaming issues.

Chrome OS developer channel

The first thing you need to do is to change to the developer channel. Most of us use our Chromebooks on the stable channel. The stable channel is the OS Google has released and is confident there are no known bugs.

The developer channel is totally different. By using the developer channel you need to accept you may come across issues. This is why it’s extremely important that you back up any of the data you want to keep before switching to the developer channel.

Supported Chrome OS devices

At the moment there is only a handful of Chromebooks that are supported. This is totally understandable because playing games locally needs a decent processor. In the future, more Chromebooks should be released that are capable of playing Steam games locally.

  • Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-1W)
  • Acer Chromebook 515 (CB515-1W)
  • Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)
  • Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500)
  • Asus Chromebook CX9 (CX9400)
  • HP Pro c640 G2 Chromebook
  • Lenovo 5i 14 Chromebook

Although the models above are compatible it will depend on the processor and RAM. Your Chromebook needs 8GB of RAM, so 4GB versions will not work. Also, not all models may work as it depends on the processor. The Asus CX5, which is the Chromebook I’ve used comes with an Intel i5 processor, which works fine. The Asus CX5 with the Intel i3 is not currently compatible.

How to install Steam Linux Alpha on Chrome OS

The steps below are what you should follow to install the Steam Linux Alpha app on your Chrome OS computer:

  • 1 – Switch to the developer channel

The first thing you need to do is switch to the developer channel. To do this go to settings>About Chrome OS>Additional details>Change channel

Ensure you back up any essential data before switching channels. You’ll not lose any data when switching to the developer channel. However, if you switch back to the stable channel at a later date you’ll lose all your data and all users will be removed. Therefore, it’s wise to do a backup first.

  • 2 – Install Linux on your Chromebook

If you’ve not yet installed Linux on your Chromebook then you’ll want to do this now. Again, you can do this from the settings menu. settings>Advanced>Developers>turn on

Turn on Linux development environment Chrome OS
  • 3 – Enable two Chrome OS flags

You need to enable two Chrome OS flags. You do this by visiting the following web address from your Chrome browser.

chrome://flags

From there enable both #borealis-enabled and #exo-pointer-lock flags. You don’t need to restart after enabling the first flag. You can enable the second flag first before clicking on the restart button, which will automatically show at the bottom right of your screen.

  • 4 – Open a Crosh Terminal

You can open a Crosh terminal by pressing ctrl+alt+t on your keyboard.

Once you’ve opened the Crosh terminal type in the following line:-

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Press the return key and you should see something similar to the image below confirming the command has been successful. You can now close the terminal.

The Crosh terminal after you have entered the command for the Linux Steam Alpha app
  • 5 – Follow the steps to install Steam

You’ll now be presented with an image similar to the one shown below. You simply need to follow the instructions to install Steam. This can take up to five minutes to complete.

Steam Linux App welcome page on Chrome OS
  • 6 – Log in to your Steam account

You can now log in to your steam account. The steam icon will stay in your Chrome OS app launcher for later use.

Watch the video to see how games work on the Steam Linux Alpha App

If you want to know more and look at how games play when you’ve installed the Steam Linux Alpha app. Then you may be interested in the video below. In this video, I go over the installation instructions and the Chromebooks that are supported. I also show you a game being played on my Chromebook using the Steam Linux Alpha App.

Summary

It’s great to see the Steam Linux App for the Chromebook is finally here. You just need to remember it’s in alpha mode, so don’t expect all games to work straight away.

If you do play games and encounter any issues. Then I would recommend completing the short form Google requests when you exit the game. By completing the form you’ll help Google know about any issues, and this should hopefully fix any concerns you have about the game you’ve just played.

It will take some time before the Steam Linux App is where it needs to be. I’m very confident that it will be a great addition to Chrome OS for gamers. We just need to be patient whilst the app is continually developed in alpha.

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