Intel's Clear Linux Is Working On Steam Support
Written by Michael Larabel in Valve on 31 December 2016 at 02:06 PM EST. 29 Comments
VALVE --
For those planning to do Linux gaming with Intel graphics hardware, you might soon have a new choice with the performance-oriented Clear Linux distribution out of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center.

Clear Linux developers are currently working on bringing up support for Steam in Clear Linux, something that isn't trivial to do as the operating system tends to be 64-bit focused while Steam still depends upon a mess of 32-bit packages, among other challenges. But Intel developer Arjan van de Ven has shared a photo on Twitter showing the basics of Steam appearing to work on Clear Linux.


It will be interesting to see how well Steam performs on Clear Linux once everything is all up and working fully. Clear does ship with the latest Mesa stack -- including Vulkan drivers. What makes Steam on Clear Linux particularly interesting is the distribution's aggressive focus on performance from compile-time optimizations, function multi-versioning, shipping various out-of-tree patches in the name of performance, and other performance tuning by the Intel Open-Source Technology Center. While Clear Linux is mostly focused on workstation/servers/data-center performance, it has shown to deliver very good Intel graphics performance. Clear also recently added a games bundle (package).

But before all Linux gamers get too excited, keep in mind that Clear Linux for now at least only offers accelerated graphics when using Intel hardware. Currently the open-source Radeon driver stack isn't packaged for this distribution (nor Nouveau for that matter) and I don't believe the NVIDIA proprietary driver works there either. So this could be good news if you are looking for a low-powered Intel Steam Linux gaming box and particularly if you are either having Skylake HD Graphics or other recent Iris / Iris Pro Graphics for being able to run Steam OpenGL/Vulkan games at sufficient speeds.

Once the Steam support is in good standing, I'll surely be firing up some benchmarks on Clear Linux to see how it compares to alternatives.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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