How to Install Steam on Pop!_OS

As the gaming landscape evolves, many are choosing to install Steam on Pop!_OS to unlock a vast library of games. Valve, the powerhouse behind Steam, has championed Linux gaming, ensuring that Pop!_OS users enjoy a seamless and immersive gaming experience.

Key Attributes of Steam on Pop!_OS:

  • Expansive Game Library: Steam boasts a vast collection of native Linux games, ensuring gamers have many choices without relying on emulators.
  • Proton Integration: With Steam Play and Proton, even Windows-exclusive games become accessible, broadening the horizons for Linux gamers.
  • Intuitive Design: The user-centric interface of the Steam client facilitates easy game management, purchases, and navigation.
  • Community Engagement: Integrated community tools, such as chat, friend lists, and groups, foster interaction and camaraderie among gamers.
  • Modding Capabilities: The integration of Steam Workshop empowers users to share and access custom mods, elevating the gaming experience.
  • Big Picture Mode: Tailored for home theater PCs, this mode offers a console-esque experience, navigable via game controllers or TV remotes.
  • Consistent Updates: Automatic updates ensure that gamers always have the latest features and game versions at their fingertips.
  • Cloud Syncing: Steam Cloud guarantees a continuous gaming journey, allowing users to sync game progress across devices.

Steam’s robust features and adaptability make it an indispensable tool for Pop!_OS users passionate about gaming. This guide will elucidate the steps to install Steam on Pop!_OS, detailing methods from the default repository and Steam’s official APT repository. Dive in and elevate your gaming adventure on Pop!_OS.

Steam Pre-installation Steps on Pop!_OS

Step 1: Refresh Pop!_OS Packages Before Steam Installation

To embark on the journey of installing Steam on your Pop!_OS system, one must start by ensuring the system’s packages are up-to-date. The importance of this step is twofold: it ensures that the system has the latest features and security patches, and it aids in preventing potential package conflicts during the Steam installation process.

Begin by opening a terminal window. This is usually achieved by navigating your system’s applications or using a keyboard shortcut. Once the terminal window is active, input the following command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

This command refreshes your Pop!_OS system, ensuring all installed packages are updated to their latest versions.

Step 2: Install Initial Packages For Steam on Pop!_OS

With the system updated, we now venture into installing additional packages essential for a smooth Steam installation experience. These packages, namely software-properties-common, apt-transport-https, and curl, form the bedrock of many Linux distributions due to their widespread use and functionality.

Again, head over to the terminal window and input the following command:

sudo apt install software-properties-common apt-transport-https curl -y

Even if you’re uncertain about the necessity of these packages, running the command won’t cause any harm. These packages provide foundational functions such as secure APT, certificate management, and HTTPS support, all contributing to a seamless installation process.

Step 3: Enable 32-bit Support (Optional) For Steam on Pop!_OS

For those who wish to unlock the full potential of Steam’s library by ensuring compatibility with 32-bit and 64-bit games, enabling 32-bit support is advisable. This is particularly useful for systems with lower specifications that frequently run 32-bit games and won’t negatively impact the performance of more powerful systems.

To enable 32-bit support on your Pop!_OS system, revisit the terminal window. Here, execute the following command:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

Install Steam on Pop!_OS

Option 1: Install Steam on Pop!_OS via Default APT Repository

The traditional and most straightforward method of installing Steam on your Pop!_OS system uses the default repository. Although commonly endorsed due to its simplicity, this approach may not provide the absolute latest stable release of the Steam client. Therefore, if you’re interested in accessing the most recent version of Steam, you might want to consider the second method detailed below.

Begin the installation process by launching a terminal window. In this command-line interface, type the following command:

sudo apt install steam-installer steam-devices -y

Upon executing this command, the Steam installer and required device packages are fetched from the Pop!_OS default repository and installed on your system.

Option 2: Install Steam on Pop!_OS via Steam APT Repository

The second method of installing Steam on your Pop!_OS system involves leveraging the APT package manager to import the official Steam repository. Although this method involves a few more steps, it guarantees you’ll always have the most recent and stable version of Steam directly from the source.

Step 1: Import Steam GPG Key on Pop!_OS

The initial step in this process involves importing the GPG key, a digital signature that confirms the authenticity of the Steam package installer. This can be achieved by running the following command in your terminal:

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

This command securely downloads the GPG key and stores it in your system’s keyring, ensuring the integrity and authenticity of the Steam package you’re about to install.

Step 2: Add Steam APT Repository on Pop!_OS

Next, you must add the official Steam repository to your system’s sources. This can be done by executing the following command:

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

This command effectively adds the official Steam repository to your APT sources list, enabling your system to recognize and install packages from this repository.

Step 3: Update APT Packages Cache After Steam PPA Import

With the official Steam repository added, it’s time to update your system’s APT package information to include the packages available in this newly added repository. This is achieved by running the simple command:

sudo apt update

Upon execution, your system’s package information is updated to acknowledge the packages from the newly integrated Steam repository.

Step 4: Install Steam Launcher on Pop!_OS via APT Command

Finally, it’s time to install the Steam Launcher and its required dependencies. This is achieved by executing the following command:

sudo apt-get 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 64-bit and 32-bit architectures, thus preparing your system for an optimal Steam experience.

Rectifying Extra Steam Sources List in Pop!_OS

If you installed Steam using the default APT repository and did not import the Steam APT repository, this can be skipped, as it will not apply to you.

As you navigate installing Steam via the PPA method, you might encounter the addition of two extra new sources.list files catering to the stable and beta clients. Although these additional source files may seem harmless initially, they can pose significant challenges when updating and upgrading your packages in the future. Therefore, these extra sources must be removed from your system to ensure a smooth and seamless user experience.

Pinpointing Extra Sources Lists

The first task at hand is to identify the presence of these additional Steam sources lists in your system. This is achieved by executing the following command in your terminal:

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

This command scans the /etc/apt/sources.list.d directory of your system and displays all the current Steam sources lists present.

Elimination of Redundant Sources

You might notice three files in your directory when you run the above command. During the initial phase of this guide, you imported the steam.list file, which is the correct and required one. The other two files, although not incorrect, are redundant and might create unnecessary clutter.

While it may be tempting for some users to retain the beta version for experimental purposes, it’s crucial to understand that it often lags behind Steam’s latest stable version. Therefore, it’s advisable to refrain from installing Steam from the beta version unless a real beta version is available and officially announced.

To discard the excess source files, execute the following commands in your terminal:

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

These commands effectively eliminate the unnecessary Steam sources lists from your system, ensuring a clean and uncluttered environment.

In case of an accidental deletion of all three source files, don’t panic! You can easily re-import the sources.list from the guide provided at the beginning of this section.

After removing the extra sources, updating your APT package information to reflect these changes is crucial. This is accomplished by running the following command:

sudo apt update

Executing this command updates your system’s package information, considering the removal of the extra Steam sources lists and ensuring your package list’s seamless functionality.

Initiating Steam Client on Pop!_OS

Upon successfully installing the Steam Launcher, using either of the methods provided in the previous sections, you are now equipped to start the Steam client on your Pop!_OS system. There are multiple routes to get this done, and we will explore the two most common ones in this guide.

CLI Method to Launch Steam on Pop!_OS

If you are already engaged with your terminal, initiating the Steam client directly from it can be an efficient and quick way to get started. The following command is all you need to enter:


The Steam client springs into action upon executing this command, and the application window promptly appears on your screen. This method is beneficial when you have the terminal readily accessible and wish to quickly jump into your gaming world without navigating away.

GUI Method to Launch Steam on Pop!_OS

While the terminal method provides quick access, many users find comfort in the traditional approach of launching applications directly from the desktop. If you count yourself among these users, the following steps will guide you to do just that:

  1. Depending on your Pop!_OS desktop environment, you must navigate to the “Activities” or “Applications” menu. This can usually be found in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Once you’ve accessed the menu, locate the search bar – where you’ll type in “Steam”. As you begin typing, the system will dynamically filter applications to match your search, making it easier to find what you’re looking for.
  3. As “Steam” appears in the search results, click the corresponding icon to launch the application.
Steam icon in the Pop!_OS application menu.
Steam’s recognizable icon as seen in the Pop!_OS application menu.

Navigating Steam Initial Setup Process on Pop!_OS

Step 1: Install Required Packages for Steam on Pop!_OS

When you initiate Steam for the first time on your Pop!_OS system, you might observe a terminal window popping up, gently guiding you to install additional packages crucial for the client’s smooth running. You should attentively follow these on-screen instructions and proceed with the installation.

Prompt for essential Steam packages installation on Pop!_OS.
The first step in setting up Steam: Installing necessary packages on Pop!_OS.

It’s important to note that if your system has 32-bit support enabled, you might be met with two separate rounds of prompts, each asking you to install the required packages. This routine part of the setup ensures that Steam has everything it needs to operate optimally on your system.

Step 2: Download and Update Steam Components on Pop!_OS

As you successfully launch the Steam client, you’ll notice a series of automatic pop-up windows. These windows display the client diligently downloading and updating its internal components. During this phase, your job is to relax and let Steam work its magic. This process typically takes just a few minutes for most users.

Steam client self-updating process on Pop!_OS.
Witness Steam’s automatic update mechanism in action on Pop!_OS.

Step 3: Logging in or Establishing a New Steam Account

After all updates are successfully installed, the Steam Launcher login window will greet you. This is the portal through which you can access your existing Steam account. Alternatively, you can create a brand-new account from here if you are new to the platform.

To establish a new account, click the “Create a new account” button and follow the on-screen instructions diligently. You will be asked to provide information to set up your account. If you’re returning to Steam and already have an account, enter your account credentials and click “Log in.”

Login window for the Steam gaming client on Pop!_OS.
Enter your credentials and dive into the world of Steam gaming on Pop!_OS.

Step 4: Delving into the World of Gaming with Steam

Once you’ve logged in or completed your registration, you have effectively crossed the finish line of the Steam installation process. Now, you’re ready to dive into Steam’s vast ocean of games and features.

Within the Steam store, you can explore new games, search for your favorite titles, and interact with other gaming enthusiasts. You can join communities, engage in online multiplayer games, and share your achievements. Steam is more than just a gaming platform; it’s a comprehensive gaming experience that caters to diverse interests and gaming preferences.

Steam gaming client interface on Pop!_OS post-login.
Your gaming universe, now accessible on Pop!_OS with Steam.

Tips for Steam Gaming Client on Pop!_OS

To help you make the most of your Steam experience, we’ve compiled a series of tips and tricks you can apply to your Steam client on Pop!_OS Linux. These suggestions aim to improve your gaming experience, streamline interactions, and even help you discover new games.

Optimizing Your Steam Experience with Steam on Pop!_OS

Steam’s vast array of features can sometimes be overwhelming. However, knowing a few tricks can help you navigate and optimize your Steam experience more effectively. Here are a few tips:

  1. Big Picture Mode: If you’re gaming on a large screen or are used to console gaming, try using Steam’s Big Picture Mode. You can access it by clicking on ‘View’ and selecting ‘Big Picture Mode’.
  2. Family View: Secure your Steam library by enabling Family View. This feature allows you to restrict access to certain parts of your Steam account, making it family-friendly.
  3. Steam Guard: Enable Steam Guard for additional security. Steam Guard provides an extra layer of security to your Steam account by requiring a unique code whenever you log in from a new device.
  4. Community Market: Utilize the Community Market to buy, sell, and trade items with other players. You can access the Market from your Steam client’s ‘Community’ tab.

Discovering New Games with Steam on Pop!_OS

Steam offers a multitude of ways to discover new games. Here are a few methods you can use:

  1. Discovery Queue: Use your Discovery Queue to find new games based on previous purchases and gameplay. You can find your Discovery Queue on your Steam Store page.
  2. Wishlist: Add games you’re interested in to your Wishlist. Not only does this make it easier to purchase them later, but Steam will also notify you when games on your Wishlist go on sale.
  3. Curators: Follow Steam Curators with similar game tastes to discover new titles. Curators are gamers or gaming communities who recommend games they’ve enjoyed.

Improve Game Performance with Steam on Pop!_OS

To ensure your games run smoothly, here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Game Settings: Depending on your hardware, you might need to adjust game settings for optimal performance. This usually involves balancing graphic settings with game performance.
  2. Steam Play: Utilize Steam Play to run Windows-only games on your Pop!_OS Linux. It uses a compatibility tool called Proton to enable you to play a vast range of Windows games on your Linux system.
  3. Beta Participation: Steam often releases Beta versions of their client or games you can opt into. This can give you access to new features or improvements earlier, but remember that Beta versions may also have bugs.

Additional Commands with Steam on Pop!_OS

In this part of our guide, we’ll delve into the crucial aspects of maintaining your Steam installation on Pop!_OS Linux, namely updating and removing the software. Understanding these procedures is essential to ensure you’re running the latest Steam version or removing the application if needed.

Update Steam on Pop!_OS

Steam, by default, handles its updates automatically. While this feature is convenient, it’s still beneficial to manually verify and apply updates to your Steam client. This is an extra step to ensure you enjoy the latest features, security patches, and performance enhancements with the newer versions.

Identifying Available Updates For Steam on Pop!_OS

Initiating an update process begins with checking for available updates for your Steam client. To do this, you’ll have to interact with the Pop!_OS terminal, which you can access by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T. Once the terminal is open, you can type in the following command:

sudo apt update

Running this command will request your system to fetch the latest information about available software updates from the repositories, including the one for Steam.

Implementing the Updates For Steam on Pop!_OS

If there are updates available for Steam, the next logical step is to apply them. This step will ensure that your Steam client is updated to the latest version, providing you with the latest features and security enhancements.

To upgrade your software, you need to input the following command into your terminal:

sudo apt upgrade

This command will upgrade all software on your system, including Steam, with available updates.

Remove Steam from Your Pop!_OS System

There might be instances when you need to uninstall Steam from your Pop!_OS system. Whether you’re troubleshooting or simply no longer require the software, here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you remove Steam from your system.

Uninstalling the Steam Software on Pop!_OS

To uninstall Steam, you need to input the following command into your terminal:

sudo apt remove steam*

This command will remove the Steam software from your system.

Remove the Steam APT Repository on Pop!_OS

The next step for users who have installed the Steam APT repositories involves removing the Steam repository. You can do this by inputting the following command into your terminal:

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

Delete Steam Imported GPG Key on Pop!_OS

Finally, if you’ve added the Steam APT repository and imported the GPG key during the initial installation, you’ll need to remove the imported GPG key as a last step. You can do this by entering the following command into your terminal:

sudo rm /usr/share/keyrings/steam-archive-keyring.gpg

Closing Thoughts

We’ve journeyed through installing and setting up the Steam gaming client on Pop!_OS, discussing all the necessary steps from installation, first-time setup, and maintaining your Steam client. We’ve also addressed how to uninstall the software completely when necessary.

By following this guide, you’ve equipped yourself with the knowledge to effectively manage your Steam client on Pop!_OS, ensuring a smooth and up-to-date gaming experience.