How to Install Steam on Debian 11/10

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. It 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 Debian 11 or 10 desktop using the command line terminal and APT package manager utilizing 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.

Important Notice

The following tutorial was done with a Debian 11 Bullseye release and example images taken, but it was tested on Debian Buster and Sid. In the future, if Debian makes any changes to break the tutorial for one of the distribution versions, please place a comment for me to investigate so I can update the tutorial.

Recommended Steps Before Installation

Before proceeding with the tutorial, ensuring your system is up-to-date with all existing packages is good.

sudo apt update

Optionally, you can list the updates for users who require review or are curious.



sudo apt --list upgradable

Proceed to upgrade any outdated packages using the following command.

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 dirmngr ca-certificates gnupg2 curl -y

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 – Steam Repository Method

The best 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.

curl -fsSL http://repo.steampowered.com/steam/archive/stable/steam.gpg | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/steam.gpg > /dev/null

When installing Steam from their official repository, you can install 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 – Use this version first and always)

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 – Not updated when no Beta available (Use Stable First)

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.



Example:

example of changing or keeping sources list for steam on debian linux

Type N as you want to keep the source you imported, and press the ENTER KEY to proceed. If you press yes, you will encounter issues with APT key depreciation notices, and you will need to remove the source and re-import it as in the previous step.

How to Launch the Steam

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:

steam

Desktop users can find the Steam application icon by the following path.

Activities > Show Applications > Steam



Example:

launch steam on debian linux from application menu

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.

Example:

debian linux steam installation first prompt of packages to install

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 package installation setup.

Example:



debian linux steam installation second prompt of packages to install

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.

Example:

debian linux steam download binary

Once complete, you will finally arrive at the Steam launcher login window.

Example:

debian linux steam login gui screen

From here, log in or create an account. At this moment, you have successfully installed Steam.

Example:



debian linux steam example launched

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, 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 Steam

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 the –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, do not use the command below for users who may switch between the Steam APT repository beta and stable. Users who remove Steam use the following command to remove the imported GPG.



sudo rm /usr/share/keyrings/steam*


Not what you were looking for? Try searching for additional tutorials.

7 thoughts on “How to Install Steam on Debian 11/10”

    • Hi, thanks for the message.

      Overall that’s an interesting bug, I just re-tried it on a fresh Debian 11 install that is up to date and works fine.

      Did you install Debian 11 fresh or was it upgraded from 10?

      Custom Kernel or any alternative desktop environment or better yet display manager?

      Overall, I may update this and include flatpak, this is a better alternative compared to snap and its packages if you cannot get it to work this way.

      Thanks.

      Reply
      • $ sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386
        dpkg: error: need an action option

        Type dpkg –help for help about installing and deinstalling packages [*];
        Use ‘apt’ or ‘aptitude’ for user-friendly package management;
        Type dpkg -Dhelp for a list of dpkg debug flag values;
        Type dpkg –force-help for a list of forcing options;
        Type dpkg-deb –help for help about manipulating *.deb files;

        Options marked [*] produce a lot of output – pipe it through ‘less’ or ‘more’ !

        Reply
        • Try sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386

          it was missing two —

          I will update the command in the tutorial, thanks for pointing out.

          Reply

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