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lunes, 29 de junio de 2015

Steam OS DVD feedback, my 7 suggestions

I am enjoying Steam OS at my desktop computer, but not without using some tricks that avoided some disasters.


My computer has 3 discs
- 1 old 200 Gb MBR HDD   with my backup Manjaro, and 3  partitions, /, home and swap one ext4
-1 2Tb GPT HDD with 14 partitions with different sizes

( and no more than 250 Gb each one because I found is the size that in case of having to repair it because of the Valencia (Spain) Summer temperatures, it takes an affordable amount of time to do it. there are ext4, ext2, btrfs and xfs that is the best at this time for me in terms of not breaking with heat and fast repair.)

One of the partitions is my /games one where I put the steamapp folder for my 2 (now 3) Linux OSs

- 1 120 gb SDD

I decided to use the 120 gb SDD for the Steam OS

I also have a Nvidia GTX 750 Ti at a Gigabyte 880GM-HUD2H with an AMD Atlhlon X3 450, Logitech k120 USB keyboard, and MX1000 mouse plus an ASUS 23" HDMI screen and 4Gb of RAM


I tried to use Multisystem at Manjaro to create the pendrive, and it was not possible because it is not at their database, so I used imagewriter at other pendrive, and all worked fine.


You will need a blank disk and unplug the others.

I tried to install it with my 3 disks plugged in, but even in advanced mode, the installer choose (having a disk without partitions) to erase all my 2 Tb HDD and make there the install.

This is its scheme partition where at /dev/sda7 puts all the rest of the space your disk has as I was able to read at my rejected partition proposal by the installer.

But there is no option to select disk (1st  suggestion: add to the installer a select disk option, and if it is a big GPT one select free space and let the other partition be as they where before)

So I selected at the installer to undo  partition changes, as it was not clear it they have been done if I quit then, and quit, hard turn off the computer, unplug the 2 electric cables (not the data ones) from my not blank 2 HDDs  turn on, boot, and then begin the install.


It seems that at the first boot it makes a partition clone image to have a repair option, I did not investigate it, but it seems a pretty good way of repairing any future trouble.

After this you have to login with your Steam account, but as it is a "new computer" they send you an e-mail with a code. But you cannot access to a browser to read it, even in guest mode (2nd suggestion let to access the browser in guest mode in order to access your e-mail if you use a web service, and copy paste it or take note at this first login screen)

So you have to check your e-mail from other device or as I did, turn off the computer, plug again your disks, reset the disks boot priority, upgrade the grub in order to detect Steam OS, check your e-mail , take note of the code, reboot, and boot from Steam OS.

As graphic cards today has sound chips too, it choosed the Nvidia chip and it was easy to change it to the motherboard audio chip, that is my choice, at audio settings.

What it does not work well is the keyboard selection if you use a Spanish keyboard, (and I suppose any not US standard one) sometimes it works, sometimes not (as I have experience over the years I know more or less where are the special keys as @ and others) . I suppose it will be fixed soon, and it is no problem for gaming.

And what it does not exist is an "add folders menu" from partition, new disk, NFS, NAS, FTP, or whatever. (3rd suggestion: add an "add folder" to the menu)

So I went to the desktop option, that is a nice Gnome Desktop Environment one, but you are not root. As the web is copyrighted I let you the link to have root access instead of copy and paste their text. Even it says spanish at the end of the link, it is in english, there are a lot of translation work to do.

But I did it my way, I installed one free game that I did not have in order to detect the folder for games, I went to my main distro, and search for it until I found steamapps at
/home (or partition from other OS)/steam/.local/share/Steam/steamapps so at my /games/SteamApps folder as a root I copied first to it the new game folder from the Steam OS  and I made a hard link that I renamed to steamapps, I deleted the steamapps folder from the SteamOS and copy the hard link to it (I used sudo nautilus to make this, but you can use sudo thunar or thunar root from the thunar menu sudo any other or use the console)

I also added to Steam OS /etc/fstab my /games partition

I rebooted, confident, but finger crossed, and it worked, all my games there, but my configs not, and as I was satisfied enough I am re configuring my games as I play them


Sometimes you use the Steam web browser and for my 23" screen and my almost 50 years eye health the font size is unreadable, you can left click and make zoom from a menu, and it gets big enough. (4rd suggestion: put an obvious zoom button, with progressive + and -, but also add font size ones and let the setup to be fixed or remembered, as there will be all kind of user preferences and TV and monitor sizes)

The game I used to test was Civilization 5, a saga I play from  the MS DOS Civilization one including the FOSS clone freeciv, the default setup was (4:3) 1024x768, and that is a big mistake when there are almost none 4:3 screen at use this days. I can and I do play at 1080p with higher settings, but there are not a hardware detection test, and if it is there, it was wrong, and there was no option to play it at 720p, that is a great option to almost double your video performance for any game.

My 5th suggestion is to make every game to be able to be set up at 720p or 1080p - or 4k - as easy as possible, even while you are playing it.  Sooner or later, no matter how good is now your machine there will be games with low frames per second (FPS) and you will be able to play them at 720p - and not well enough at 1080p -, and when it will be the norm, then upgrade your machine.  An add-on would be to rename this resolutions to 1k (720p) 2k (1080p) as the 4k is the next gen standard name, and this way non techie people that is almost the 99% would understand it better.

This option, and even an extra 480p (1/2 k) one if it is possible, not only would help gamers to play new AAA games without having to spend money in hardware very often, it also will spread the prospect and client base for games that ask for the best and more expensive hardware to be able to play it at maximum settings, at the beginning of their sales cycle.

Some of them are next gen titles when they arrive to the market, and with this tricks of lowering the resolution you can play, and they sell, it at lower specifications machines, until next gen hardware arrives to the prices that it is affordable for main street players.

My 6th suggestion, is to not show the "install steam" button at the steam web pages, because it can lead to some error

And my final and 7th suggestion, is to not ask for passwords reporting bugs or going to the community, make it simple, if you login at your Steam Machine use that login matter for every Steam service, and of course ask for some special confirmation when the player uses the Steam money to buy something, but no more.


And all that said I use it now for Steam gaming, and it is a great and simple experience, that as it is still in beta this are very minor issues and things to polish, only the xorg setup at my early days in GNU/Linux was more painful that all I have criticised in a constructive way, because all of this is easy to fix, if they meet my criteria.