It’s been a good few months since Google announced the launch of Steam Linux Alpha. It gave you the ability to install the Linux app created by Steam on your Chromebook, so you could play games locally. Because it was in Alpha only a few Chromebooks were able to use it, as you needed a pretty powerful Chromebook.
It’s still the case that you will have to have a decent-performing laptop to get the best from the Steam Linux app. That being said, now that it’s available in beta there are more ChromeOS computers that are supported.
Now that Steam Linux is in beta means you’ll no longer have to enter the developer channel. I’ve used the developer channel on a few occasions to check out Steam Linux Alpha. It was pretty stable to be fair, but it’s considered less stable than the beta channel. To try Steam you will have to enter the beta channel and ensure you enable the borealis flag.
How to install the Steam app on the beta channel
Once you’ve changed your Chromebook to the beta channel you will want to enable the borealis flag. To do this simply follow the instructions below:
- Open a Chrome browser
- In the address bar type chrome://flags and hit return
- search for borealis-enabled and change it to Enabled
- Hit the restart button to restart your computer
Once your Chromebook has restarted the above flag will now be enabled on your system. You can then install Steam provided your Chromebook is supported.
Chromebooks supported by Steam Linux beta
The list of devices that are now supported has increased. This is great news if you were unable to try Steam Linux Alpha because you did not own the selected few devices that were previously supported. Below is a list of all the ChromeOS devices now supported by Steam Linux beta.
- Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-1W)
- Acer Chromebook 515 (CB515-1W)
- Acer Chromebook 516 GE
- Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (CP514-3H, CP514-3HH, CP514-3WH)
- Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)
- Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (CP714-1WN)
- Acer Chromebook Vero 514
- ASUS Chromebook CX9 (CX9400)
- ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500)
- ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5601)
- ASUS Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip
- Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition
- HP Elite c640 14 inch G3 Chromebook
- HP Elite c645 G2 Chromebook
- HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
- HP Pro c640 G2 Chromebook
- IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook 16
- Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook
- Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook 14
- Lenovo ThinkPad C14
This new list also includes the three new cloud-gaming Chromebooks recently announced by Google.
Before you install Steam you will need to ensure you have switched to the beta channel. Once you’ve done that installing Steam is easier than it was when it was in Alpha. Providing you have switched to the beta channel and followed the instructions above to enable the borealis flag. You can then install Steam directly from your ChromeOS App launcher.
Your ChromeOS App launcher is the menu that you access from the bottom left of your ChromeOS desktop. Open that menu and you will see a search bar at the top, which is where you should search for Steam. You should then see a list of results for Steam, and you want to click on the top search result.
The installation process for Steam should now start. Follow the instructions until Steam has been installed on your Chromebook. You can then log in to Steam using your User ID and password.
Games the ChromeOS team has tried and work
The list of games below has been tried by the ChromeOS team and they’ve had relatively decent success at playing these games. It’s still the case that you may get some errors, and I’d recommend giving feedback on any errors that you find. This will help Steam and the team at ChromeOS iron out any errors still being reported.
When you log in to your Steam account all of the games you have previously bought will be available to play. Some of these games may be compatible with Linux. If this is the case you can try installing these locally and check out whether the game works on your Chromebook.
If the game was originally made for Microsoft Windows and a Linux version isn’t available. Then you will need to use Proton, which is a compatibility tool that allows you to play Windows games on a Linux platform. I’ve used this for games when I’ve had issues, and it’s a case of trial and error.
There are different Proton types you can use, but it’s recommended to try Proton Experimental first. If a game doesn’t work with Proton experimental I would strongly suggest searching Google and checking if anyone has had success with a particular game and what Proton version they installed. For more information check out this article on chromium.org.