If the rumors are true, Valve and Google are currently working on full-blown, native support for the Steam gaming platform on Chrome OS. For a gamer like myself that spent many an hour playing Half-Life, DoD, Portal and a variety of others, this news is exciting and it makes perfect sense given the fact that Chromebooks now support Linux applications. Since Crostini first landed on the Chrome OS scene, I have made multiple attempts to install Steam and run games on my Chromebook but my success rate hasn’t been the best. For a time, Steam would install just fine but games simply wouldn’t run because Crostini wasn’t able to leverage what little GPU Chrome OS devices have to offer. That issue has been addressed but the process for installing Steam has still been hit or miss at best.
In previous versions of Chrome OS, I’ve been able to download the .deb package for Steam and install it with no problems whatsoever and all of the necessary dependencies came along for the ride. Even then, games were unplayable because Crostini failed to lock the mouse to the bounds of the display. That too has been resolved thanks to a feature flag that enables pointer lock. So, it looks like all of the pieces are in place for Steam to run well on a Chromebook but now I’ve found that simply downloading and installing the .deb package no longer works on Chrome OS because of a number of missing dependencies. However, with a few, simple terminal commands, you can have Steam up and running on your Chromebook.
For starters, you will need a Chrome OS device that supports Linux applications and you will have to enable Linux and get your device up to date. You can read all of the ins and outs on how to do that here. Next, you will need to head over to the Steam downloads page and grab the .deb package. You can find it directly below the Windows button and to the right of the macOS icon. Download that and open your Linux terminal. We have a little prep work to do before we install Steam. First, you will need to enable Multi-Arch support for the 32-bit libraries that are needed for Steam to run properly. Failure to do this will result in an error when you attempt to launch Steam. In the terminal, paste the following command. There won’t be any output. That is the expected behavior.
sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
Next, you will need to update all of your packages now that the i386 architecture has been added. Run the following command to do so.
sudo apt update
Now we need to add the appropriate drivers and libraries. Paste this command to install these and then we will be ready to install Steam.
sudo apt install libgl1:i386 mesa-vulkan-drivers:i386 mesa-vulkan-drivers
Oh yeah. One more thing. Remember the pointer lock flag I mentioned at the beginning of the article? You’ll need to enable that if you want your mouse to work properly in-game. To do so, head to chrome://flags/#exo-pointer-lock and enable that flag. Restart your browser and then you can install Steam. Open your Downloads folder and find the .deb file you picked up from Steam. Double-click that and when prompted, click install. Wait for the process to complete and then, you should find the Steam app icon in your launcher. Once you’ve launched it, you should be able to sign in and start downloading games from your library.
Just a heads up. Game play is still a bit janky depending on the title. I have loaded multiple Source games and they run well enough to enjoy but I am also running a 10th Gen Core i3 with 8GB of RAM. Individual mileage may vary and due to the nature of the Linux container, some games may not work that well. Steam on Chrome OS is definitely still a work in progress but the fact that I can actually play some games right now is a good indicator that a stable experience isn’t too far off. (They do need to figure out how to get Proton working.) If you’re a DoD player, look for me in GunGame matches. My IGN is Nephilim. Frag ya later.