Steam is a video game cross-platform that Valve created. It was launched as a standalone software client in September 2003 as a way for Valve to provide automatic updates for their games and expanded to include games from third-party publishers and now boasts a library filled with thousands if not tens of thousands of games across all gaming consoles.
In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install Steam Launcher on your Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa desktop using the command line terminal and APT package manager utilizing the standard default Ubuntu repository or importing the official steam repository, which you can then install the stable branch, or for users that want to see the next version release of Steam’s launcher, you can install the beta branch.
Table of Contents
Before you begin, run a quick system update to ensure all packages are up-to-date to avoid any conflicts during the installation of Steam.
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
Install Required Packages
The following packages must be installed to assist in installing the software.
sudo apt install software-properties-common apt-transport-https wget -y
If you are unsure, run the command; it will not harm you.
These are the most common software packages found on nearly all Linux distributions.
Enable 32-bit Support
Use the following command for users who wish to have 32-bit and 64-bit support to play the many games of Steams library that require this.
sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
Most users should enable this for lower-end systems that can only play lower-end games that come in 32bit format more often than not, and high-powered systems will not notice any impact having the packages installed.
Install Steam – APT Method with Ubuntu Repository
The first method of installing Steam is to install the client using Ubuntu’s default repository. This is the easiest solution for most users and the Steam client self-updates internally. The only issue that may occur in the future if a major package installer update occurs, Ubuntu may be slow to update it unless it is an urgent security fix.
Use the following command to install the client.
sudo apt install steam-installer -y
Install Steam – APT Method with Steam Repository
The second method of installing Steam, which utilizes the APT package manager, is to import the official steam repository. This method is perhaps the best solution; however, it is just a little bit longer to set up, but the benefits of grabbing the packages directly from Steam mean you will always be up-to-date.
First, import the GPG key required to verify the authenticity of the Steam package installer.
wget -O- http://repo.steampowered.com/steam/archive/stable/steam.gpg | sudo gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/steam.gpg
When installing Steam from their official repository, you get the option of installing the stable branch that most users should use first and foremost, or for users who want to have the beta releases and live on the edge.
PLEASE NOTE YOU CAN ONLY IMPORT ONE REPOSITORY AT A TIME, DO NOT IMPORT BOTH AS THEY CAN NOT BE INSTALLED SEPARATELY.
Import Steam Launcher Stable (Recommended)
echo deb [arch=amd64 signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/steam.gpg] http://repo.steampowered.com/steam/ stable steam | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/steam.list
Import Steam Launcher Beta
echo deb [arch=amd64 signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/steam.gpg] http://repo.steampowered.com/steam/ beta steam | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/steam.list
Now, run an APT update to reflect the new packages that have been imported.
sudo apt update
Now install the Steam Launcher as follows.
sudo apt-get install \ libgl1-mesa-dri:amd64 \ libgl1-mesa-dri:i386 \ libgl1-mesa-glx:amd64 \ libgl1-mesa-glx:i386 \ steam-launcher
During the installation, you may be prompted to replace your sources.list with that from the original package maintainer.
Type N as you want to keep the original source you imported and press the ENTER KEY to proceed.
Note that the tutorial installed the beta version to ensure it can work on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.
Example apt-cache policy:
Note that I recommend using Steam’s stable repository over anything else.
How to the Launch Steam Client
With the installation complete from either method, you can run Steam in a few different ways.
First, while you are in your terminal, you can use the following command to launch Steam:
However, this isn’t practical, and you would use the following path on your desktop.
Activities > Show Applications > Steam
Alternatively, if you cannot find it, use the search function in the Show Applications menu if you have many applications installed.
The first time you launch Steam, you will see a notification of the installation wizard in a terminal window informing you that the launcher needs to download additional packages and what those packages are.
Press return (enter key) to proceed with the installation. Note that you will be prompted to enter your password.
Next, you will likely see a second terminal window advising you to press return (enter key), do this to proceed, and complete the required packages installation setup.
Once done, you will see a series of automatic popups of Steam performing downloading and updating. For now, sit back and wait until it is done. For most users, this takes only a few minutes.
Once complete, you will finally arrive at the Steam launcher login window.
From here, log in or create an account. At this moment, you have successfully installed Steam.
How to Update/Upgrade Steam Launcher
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, I recommend using the terminal command to check for updates, even once in a while, to ensure you are grabbing all available updates, as the command will never fail.
sudo apt update
If any Steam updates are available, use the upgrade command.
sudo apt upgrade
How to Remove (Uninstall) Steam Launcher
To remove the Steam software from your system, run the following command in your terminal.
sudo apt autoremove steam*
Note for full removals, and you can add –purge flag to the end of the command that removes all data created with Steam.
Next, remove the repository using the following command for users who installed the Steam APT repositories.
sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/steam*
Lastly, for users who that maybe switching between the Steam APT repository beta and stable, do not use the command below. Users who remove Steam completely use the following command to remove the imported GPG.
sudo rm /usr/share/keyrings/steam*
Comments and Conclusion
If you’re a Linux gamer, there are plenty of great games to keep you busy. But if you’re looking for something new to try, check out the library on Steam—it’s massive! And with Linux gaming gathering steam, it’s only a matter of time before there are just as many options for gaming on Linux as there are on Windows. So get in on the ground floor and start enjoying those sweet, smooth framerates today!