How to Install Steam on Debian 12/11/10

Welcome to the fascinating universe of Steam gaming! As a Debian user, you might be wondering why you should consider installing this exceptional gaming client on your system. Look no further, as we are about to explore the captivating world of Steam and its myriad of benefits tailored just for you.

Why Debian Users Should Consider Steam:

  • 🎮 Vast Gaming Library: Steam boasts an extensive collection of games, including popular titles and hidden indie gems. With thousands of games at your fingertips, Debian users will never run out of entertainment options.
  • 🔄 Automatic Updates: Keeping your games updated is a breeze with Steam. It automatically downloads and installs the latest updates and patches for your games, ensuring you always have the best gaming experience.
  • 🤝 Community and Social Features: Steam’s vibrant community brings gamers together. Connect with fellow Debian users and gamers worldwide, engage in discussions, share content, and even create or join groups based on your interests.
  • 🛍️ Frequent Sales and Discounts: Steam is well-known for its seasonal sales, weekend deals, and bundle offers, allowing Debian users to grab their favorite games at unbeatable prices.
  • 🌐 Multi-platform Support: Steam’s multi-platform support makes it possible to enjoy your favorite games on Debian, Windows, macOS, and even some consoles. The Steam Play feature allows you to purchase a game once and play it on any supported platform.
  • 🔧 Steam Workshop: A treasure trove for creators and modders alike, the Steam Workshop allows Debian users to access and share game mods, custom content, and other creative works with the community.
  • ☁️ Cloud Saves: Never worry about losing your game progress. Steam’s cloud save feature ensures that your game saves are securely backed up and accessible across multiple devices.
  • 💼 Steam Big Picture: Transform your Debian system into a console-like experience with Steam Big Picture. It’s designed to be used with a TV and game controller, offering a more immersive gaming experience.

Now that you’ve discovered the enticing features of Steam, you must be eager to install it on your Debian system. The following guide will demonstrate how to install Steam on Debian 12 Bookworm, Debian 11 Bullseye, or Debian 10 Buster using two methods with CLI commands: Debian’s default repository or by downloading and installing the latest version from Steam’s APT, which is much more recommended.

Section 1: Pre-installation Steps

Step 1: Update System Packages

Before diving into Steam’s installation process, ensuring your Debian system is up-to-date is essential. This will help prevent any package conflicts during the Steam installation. To do this, follow the steps below:

Open a terminal window and run the following command to update all your system packages:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Step 2: Install the Necessary System Packages

Next, you need to install some additional packages that will assist in installing Steam on your Debian system. These packages are widely used and are commonly found on most Linux distributions. To install them, run the following command in your terminal:

sudo apt install software-properties-common apt-transport-https dirmngr ca-certificates curl -y

These packages provide essential functionality like secure APT, certificate management, and HTTPS support, ensuring a smooth installation process.

Step 3: Enable 32-bit Support (Optional)

For gamers who want to ensure compatibility with 32-bit and 64-bit games in Steam’s extensive library, enabling 32-bit support is helpful. This can be particularly useful for lower-end systems that often play 32-bit games, while high-powered systems won’t experience any negative impact from having the additional packages installed.

To enable 32-bit support on your Debian system, execute the following command in your terminal:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

By enabling 32-bit support, you can enjoy various games on your Debian system, regardless of their requirements. This ensures a more inclusive and versatile gaming experience.

Section 2: Install Steam on Debian

Option 1: Install Steam with the Default Repository

The first approach to installing Steam on your Debian system is to use the standard default repository. While this method is commonly recommended, it might not provide you with the most recent stable release of the Steam client. You can opt for the second method if you prefer the latest version.

To install Steam using the default repository, execute the following command in your terminal:

sudo apt install steam-installer steam-devices -y

This command installs the Steam installer and required device packages from the Debian default repository.

Option 2: Install Steam with Steam Repository

The second method of installing Steam on your Debian system involves importing the official Steam repository using the APT package manager. While this approach requires a few more steps, it ensures that you always have the latest and most up-to-date version of Steam directly from the source.

Follow the steps below to install Steam using the official repository:

Step 1: Import the GPG Key

First, you need to import the GPG key that verifies the authenticity of the Steam package installer. Run the following command in your terminal:

curl -s | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/steam.gpg > /dev/null

This command securely downloads the GPG key and stores it in your system’s keyring.

Step 2: Add the Official Repository

Next, add the official Steam repository to your system by executing the following command:

echo deb [arch=amd64,i386 signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/steam.gpg] stable steam | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/steam.list

This command adds the official Steam repository to your APT sources list, ensuring that you can install packages from it.

Step 3: Update APT Package Information

Now, update the APT package information to recognize the newly imported repository:

sudo apt update

This command updates your system’s package information to include packages from the newly added Steam repository.

Step 4: Install the Steam Launcher

Finally, install the Steam Launcher and its required dependencies with the following command:

sudo apt install \
  libgl1-mesa-dri:amd64 \
  libgl1-mesa-dri:i386 \
  libgl1-mesa-glx:amd64 \
  libgl1-mesa-glx:i386 \

This command installs the Steam Launcher and the necessary OpenGL libraries for both 64-bit and 32-bit architectures.

Step 5: Verify the Installed Version

Check the version that was installed using the apt-cache policy command:

apt-cache policy steam-launcher

This command displays the installed version of the Steam Launcher, allowing you to verify that the installation was successful.

Example of apt-cache policy confirming Steam APT repository on Debian:

Section 3: Fix Steam Extra Sources List

During the installation, Steam might have added two extra new sources.list files for the stable and beta client. These need to be removed, or you will not be able to update and upgrade your packages in the future.

Step 1: List Extra Sources Lists

Run the following command to list all current Steam sources lists in your /etc/apt/sources.list.d repository:

ls /etc/apt/sources.list.d/steam*

This command will display the Steam sources lists present in your /etc/apt/sources.list.d directory. The example output below shows the extra imported Steam sources on Debian:

Step 2: Remove Extra Sources

Now you see three files. At the beginning of this guide, you imported the “steam.list”, which is the correct one. The others are not necessarily incorrect but are redundant. While some users may think of using the beta version, it often lags behind the latest Steam stable version. Do not install Steam from beta unless a real beta is available and announced.

In your terminal, run the following command to remove the excess sources:

sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/steam-beta.list
sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/steam-stable.list

This command will remove the unnecessary Steam sources lists from your system.

If you accidentally delete all three, re-import the sources list from this guide at the beginning of the section.

Next, run an APT update to ensure your package list works correctly now:

sudo apt update

This command updates your system’s package information to reflect the removal of the extra Steam sources lists.

Now your Debian system is set up correctly with the appropriate Steam sources list, and you can continue to update and upgrade your packages without any issues.

Section 4: Launch Steam Client

Once you have successfully installed the Steam Launcher using either method, there are several ways to start the Steam client on your Debian system.

Method 1: Launch Steam from the Terminal

If you’re already working in your terminal, you can quickly launch Steam with the following command:


This command will initiate the Steam client, and you’ll see the application’s window opening on your screen.

Method 2: Launch Steam from the Desktop

While the terminal option is useful for quick access, most users prefer launching Steam directly from the desktop. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Click on the “Activities” or “Applications” menu, depending on your Debian desktop environment.
  2. Search for “Steam” in the search bar.
  3. Click on the “Steam” icon to launch the application.

The Steam client will open, allowing you to log in or create an account, manage your game library, and enjoy gaming on your Debian system.

Example of Steam Application icon on Debian Linux:

First-time Setup

Step 1: Download and Update Steam Components

Once launched, you will observe a series of automatic pop-up windows showing Steam downloading and updating its components. Now, all you need to do is sit back and wait for the process to finish. For most users, this update should take only a few minutes.

Example of Steam client updating itself on Debian:

Step 2: Log in or Create a New Steam Account

Upon completing the updates, you will be greeted with the Steam Launcher login window. Here, you can either sign in with your existing Steam account or create a new one if you don’t already have one.

Example of sign-in or creating an account on Debian:

Step 3: Enjoy Gaming on Steam

At this point, you can either sign in with your existing Steam account or create a new one if you haven’t already. Once you’ve logged in or registered, you have successfully completed the Steam installation process and are ready to enjoy the vast array of games and features available on the platform.

Example of Steam client logged in ready to go on Debian:

Section 5: Getting Started with Steam on Debian Linux

Once you have installed and launched the Steam gaming client on your Debian system, there are several tips and tricks to enhance your gaming experience. This section will cover general tips, customization options, and other useful advice to make the most out of Steam on Debian Linux.

General Tips

  • Enable Steam Play: Steam Play allows you to run Windows-only games on your Debian system using Proton, a compatibility layer based on Wine. To enable Steam Play, go to Steam > Settings > Steam Play > Check Enable Steam Play for all other titles > Select the latest Proton version from the dropdown menu > Click OK.
  • Monitor System Performance: While gaming, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your system resources. Use system monitoring tools like htop or glances to track CPU, RAM, and GPU usage. Install htop with the command sudo apt install htop or glances with sudo apt install glances.
  • Optimize Game Settings: Make sure to adjust in-game settings to match your hardware capabilities for the best performance. Consider lowering graphics settings or resolution if you experience performance issues.


  • Change Steam Skin: Personalize your Steam client by applying custom skins. Download Steam skins from trusted sources, then navigate to Steam > Settings > Interface > Select the skin you wish Steam to use > Click OK and restart Steam.
  • Steam Big Picture Mode: For a console-like experience, switch to Big Picture Mode by clicking on the gamepad icon in the top-right corner of the Steam client. This mode is particularly useful for navigating Steam with a game controller.

Other Tips

  • Backup and Restore Games: To save bandwidth and time, you can backup your installed games by right-clicking on the game in your library > Backup Game Files. To restore a backup, go to Steam > Backup and Restore Games > Restore a previous backup > Locate the backup folder and follow the prompts.
  • Family Sharing: Share your Steam library with friends or family members by enabling Family Sharing. Go to Steam > Settings > Family > Check Authorize Library Sharing on this computer > Select the user accounts you want to share with.

By following these tips and customizations, you can improve your Steam experience on Debian Linux and enjoy a vast array of gaming titles tailored to your preferences and hardware capabilities.

Section 6: Additional Commands & Tips

How to Update Steam

For the most part, Steam can self-update itself, but desktop users should see notifications of upgrades due to all methods using the APT package manager if set up correctly in your system settings. However, we recommend using the terminal command to check for updates occasionally to ensure you are grabbing all available updates, as the command will never fail.

Step 1: Check for Updates

sudo apt update

If any Steam updates are available, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Apply the Updates

sudo apt upgrade

How to Remove Steam

To remove the Steam software from your system, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Uninstall Steam

Run the following command in your terminal to uninstall Steam:

sudo apt autoremove steam*

Step 2: Remove the Repository

For users who installed the Steam APT repositories, remove the repository using the following command:

sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/steam*

Step 3: Remove the Imported GPG Key

Lastly, for users who remove Steam and may switch between the Steam APT repository beta and stable, use the following command to remove the imported GPG key:

sudo rm /usr/share/keyrings/steam*

Following these steps, you can update or remove Steam from your Debian system as needed.

Conclusion: Installing Steam on Debian Linux

In conclusion, installing the Steam gaming client on Debian Linux is a straightforward process that enables you to access a vast library of games and features on your system. Following the instructions and commands in this guide, you can seamlessly install, update, and remove Steam as needed. Embracing the power of the Linux platform, you can now enjoy gaming on your Debian system with ease while benefiting from the stability and flexibility of your Linux environment.

Additional Resources and Links

To further enhance your knowledge and understanding of Steam and Debian Linux, we have compiled a list of official resources and links. These resources provide comprehensive information on various aspects of Steam and Debian, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience.

  • Official Steam website: Visit the Steam website for the latest news, game releases, and updates related to the Steam gaming platform.
  • Steam for Linux Documentation: The Valve Developer Community page provides a wealth of information on using Steam under Linux, covering various topics such as troubleshooting, game development, and more.
  • Debian Linux Official Website: The Debian website is your primary source of information on Debian Linux, including detailed documentation, support resources, and the latest news and updates.
  • Debian Linux Wiki: The Debian Wiki is an excellent resource for in-depth information on various Debian-related topics, such as system administration, package management, and troubleshooting.

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