Here's How To Setup Clear Linux For Intel Steam Linux Gaming

Written by Michael Larabel in Clear Linux on 17 January 2017 at 11:00 AM EST. 26 Comments
A few weeks back we learned of Intel's Clear Linux distribution working towards Steam support. While Clear Linux is a performance-oriented workstation/server/cloud distribution, repeatedly in our tests it performs among the top Linux distributions even when it comes to Intel OpenGL Linux gaming, so being able to game with it isn't a far stretch with Steam support -- there is also Vulkan support now too.

If you aren't familiar with Clear Linux for OpenGL/gaming performance, see some of our past tests like in Clear Linux With Mesa 13 Is A Strong Match For Intel Linux Performance or Clear Linux Continues To Have Graphics Performance Advantage Over Ubuntu. Clear Linux on Intel graphics systems can even outperform Ubuntu and other more popular desktop distribution alternatives. Though this is just for Linux gaming with Intel graphics -- AMD/NVIDIA graphics aren't currently supported by this Intel Open-Source Technology Center project.

With the latest Clear Linux builds, Steam can now install on the platform and games are running. It's not a trivial, one-step process at this point but the setup steps aren't bad.

Assuming you have an updated Clear Linux install on an Intel box and have already done a swupd bundle-add games (or if doing swupd bundle-add os-testsuite-phoronix to get the whole stack ready off a clean install), the steps for setting up Steam basically come down to:
(as root)

cd /tmp
curl -O
ar xf steam.deb
cd /
tar --keep-directory-symlink -axf tmp/data.tar.gz

(as user)
rm ~/.local/share/Steam/ubuntu12_32/steam-runtime/amd64/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libX1*
rm ~/.local/share/Steam/ubuntu12_32/steam-runtime/amd64/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libxcb*
rm ~/.local/share/Steam/ubuntu12_32/steam-runtime/i386/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libX11*
rm ~/.local/share/Steam/ubuntu12_32/steam-runtime/i386/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libxcb*

So do Steam games on Clear Linux run faster than Ubuntu, similar to what we've seen out of past standalone Linux games? Those results are coming up soon; I'm still running into a library issue (Update: if anyone tries and hits a libc issue, there is also a bit more to fix that) and then the lengthy benchmark process is still ahead but figured I'd pass along these rough instructions for anyone else wanting to toy with Clear for Linux gaming. Clear Linux is currently using the Linux 4.9 kernel, xorg-server 1.19.1, and Mesa 17.0-devel. Those interested can grab the latest rolling-release build from
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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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