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You should give Ubuntu and Steam a chance: Evaluation and howto.

ubuntu-steamLinux  has over the years consistently proven itself to be a worthwhile alternative on the desktop and has even become the champion in mobile space in the form of Android. For a long time though its inability to bring about the much advertised Year of the Linux desktop has been blamed, at least partly, on its pathetic gaming support but since the inception and release of Steam for Linux, that is all changing.

Since the release of the Beta version of steam a lot of improvements have been implemented. Recently steam released a major update that reportedly made the release much more stable and easy to use. This fact and the fact that more titles have been added to Steam while more are coming prompted me to give Steam another try and I believe it is ready for the prime time.

One of the problems that Zimbabweans face is  that they often lack legitimate access to Game software at reasonable prices. Most disk vendors at places like Avondale shopping center sell their game disks at prices well north of $100 for popular titles like FIFA. The rest of us have to make do with pirated copies which sometimes do not work as expected. Some of these so-called crack versions contain malware. In order to encourage adoption of Steam for Linux, Steam has been giving away a lot of popular gaming titles for massive discounts some as high as 60%. Given the Shoe string budgets that Zimbos live on it might be wise to take advantage of these discounts on Linux titles. In any case it is generally cheaper to buy your games online.

Installing and Configuration.

Like all geeks, I dream of owning cute Alienware devices with loads of RAM and other mind blowing specifications. Reality however is something else and the requirements for Steam are quite modest:Ubuntu 12.04 or newer on a dual-core system with 2GBs or more of RAM running at least 2.8GHz. You’ll also need an nVidia GeForce 8500/9600GT or an ATI/AMD Radeon HD 2500/3600 or better graphics and their latest drivers. It is possible to run Steam on other versions of Linux just visit the Community forums for your distro. For those with Ubuntu distros you can download the .deb file here. Please bear in mind that the specification requirements vary for each game.

Installing Steam for Linux is not very different from installing software in Ubuntu. The steam package can be installed from the Ubuntu Software Centre. What they do not tell you however is that the little package that is installed this way is the Steam installer not Steam itself.To complete the installation of Steam you need to launch the installer. For those with capped Internet packages be warned that the installation is a bit large. Sometimes if you have a slow connection, which is not an uncommon thing here, the installation might take a long time (hours) to complete or not complete at all. It would be nice if Steam had an offline installer for folks with snail paced networks.

Once installation is complete you can launch the store and start buying games. You will note that some of the most popular Windows Game titles do not have their Linux counterparts that is changing everyday. My recommended games are: Counter Strike and Left 4 Dead.


  • Gives affordable access to games.

  • Take advantage of the massive discounts.

  • Wide variety of titles for Linux

  • Allows you to play games on your favorite distro without dual booting

  • A lot of bugs have been swatted and the current version is very usable.

  • Native game support, you will be spared those sleepless night of debugging Wine.


  • Requires fast internet connection

  • You will need access to a credit card to buy games from the store

  • The client can eat a huge chunk of your data bundle during installation. Most good games are more that 1 Gig in size and depending with your package your service what savings you make during the purchase phase might be wiped by internet costs or your connection might be reduced to a crawl under your ISP’s ToS.

  • Limited number of titles for Linux. Fans of Sports games will be most affected.

If poor gaming support was the reason why you cited for not using Ubuntu I can assure you that those days are gone now. However if you are a Sports fan like me, you will be very disappointed with the game selection. Please give Steam for Linux a try and share your experience and rants with us.

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15 thoughts on “You should give Ubuntu and Steam a chance: Evaluation and howto.

  1. Steam is the best app to have, i have been using Steam for a year now & i can buy any original games using my zimbabwean visa card. they aslo have free to play games like Planetside 2 which is my fav game. Im currently using an Africom dongle to play online games but i recommend the Econet $50 bundle.

  2. Steam sales are great. Steam itself, not so much. It’s the random, non-optional updates that really grind my gears. You: “I feel like playing X”, steam: “If you say so… Only after I finish downloading & installing this 142MB update first”, at which point you forget that you wanted to play at all.

  3. Speaking of Ubuntu: Garikai, it’s been about a year since you publicly named and shamed a local Ubuntu translation volunteer for nor replying your emails fast enough. What have you done for the (Ubuntu) community in the intervening time?Would *you* want to be called out in public in the manner that you called them out?

    1. 😉 I had almost forgotten that one. But for all my failings I wrote this article now didn’t I?

      1. I’m glad you took my admonishment in good grace. I’m sure you’ll make a better decision next time.

        1. 😀
          By any chance is your totem Zhou? or Killer Whale? Quite an associateive memory you have there.

          1. Nope :-), I just strongly dislike injustice and believe in the capacity of people to learn & improve. At the time I read the article, I promised myself to hold the author accountable. As the cliché goes: “great power comes with great responsibility”.

  4. Using Steam on my Ubuntu system about 9 months now, I’ve discovered many fantastic games, usually for great deals too. For the uninitiated, two that are worthwhile checking out are Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2. They are widely popular (they are considered e-sports), gorgeous, and have recently been made free-to-play. Another great source for deals on awesome Linux games are the Humble Indie Bundles. Although unrelated to Steam, they often provide Steam keys anyway. With the Steam Box coming out soon, it seems like Valve (and Linux) are really pushing ahead of Xbox and Playstation as far as openness and innovation. I’m from Canada, and it would be great to see more players from Zimbabwe connect!

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