Valve’s upcoming Steam Deck will be based on Arch Linux—not Debian

Enlarge / SteamOS is rebasing from Debian to Arch Linux for the Steam Deck. As long as Valve puts in plenty of ongoing maintenance work, we think it’s a smart move. (credit: Valve / Arch Linux / Jim Salter)

As Ars Technica confirmed in May, two months ahead of its official reveal, Valve is about to re-enter the hardware space with its first portable PC, the Steam Deck. This custom x86 PC resembles an XL version of the Nintendo Switch and will begin shipping to buyers by the end of 2021, starting at $399.

Like other recent Valve hardware efforts, the Steam Deck will run a custom Linux distro by default. Today, we’re going to explore how Valve’s Linux approach will transform by the time Steam Deck launches—and what that will mean for gaming on Linux as a whole.

SteamOS vs. Windows

Although the Steam Deck is capable of running Windows—currently the premiere PC gaming operating system—it won’t ship that way. Like Valve’s earlier Steam Machine effort, the Deck will ship with a custom Linux distribution instead.

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