How to: install Steam on Linux (Debian 7.0)

Today I’ve successfully, and without much trouble, installed Steam on my Debian Wheezy PC.

Steam working on Debian
Steam working on Debian

This goes without saying, but honestly, I never thought I’d see the day. Running Half Life nice and smooth… On Linux. Wow.

Although there were really no actual problems with the installation process, there were some annoyances, so I’ve decided to compile a short list of solutions to issues that you might encounter. Please note that these are only solutions to problems which I myself encountered, and that they are usually solved for you if you use Ubuntu.

The list is quite short, but I’ll keep adding more items to it. Make sure you read through all of them though, because they might not be in the order of occurrence!

First, download the Steam package: steam_latest.deb.


There will be issues with installation, please refer to that the issues section which addresses them.

After you have downloaded “steam_latest.deb” into your ~/Downloads directory or wherever, open up a terminal, execute cd ~/Downloads and then just invoke the Debian package manager in order to install it: sudo dpkg -i steam_latest.deb.


Missing dependencies

The installation will probably fail, and complain about missing dependencies. In order to fix issues like this one, not just with Steam but with any package you’re installing manually, run sudo apt-get -f install.

Wrong architecture

It’s quite possible that you’re running a x64 (64 bit) system, like I am. The current Steam Debian package only supports the x86 (32 bit), and you will have to enable i386 (fancy Intel name for 32 bit) packages. Don’t worry, Linux handles both architectures flawlessly, and your 64 bit programs will keep using 64 bit versions the libraries.To add the i386 arch execute: sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386 && sudo apt-get update and wait for it to finish. You should now be able to install Steam.

Missing GLIBC_2

This is quite an annoying one, that I encountered just after the installation.

  1. cd
  2. mkdir steamlib
  3. nano .bashrc
  4. Add the following lines:
  5. wget
  6. dpkg -x libc6_2.15-0ubuntu10.2_i386.deb /tmp/libc/
  7. mv /tmp/libc/lib/i386-linux-gnu/* ${STEAMLIBS}

No sound in game

When I first started Half Life, it was muted. I’m using ALSA as the sound server, however, so this fix will not work for PulseAudio users (who shouldn’t have the problem in the first place).

  1. Quit Steam.
  2. Execute sudo nano /usr/bin/steam.
  3. Get to the bottom of the page, and add export SDL_AUDIODRIVER=alsa before the last comment (line starting with a ‘#’).
  4. Run Steam again and your games should have audio.

Running Steam from a desktop launcher (at least in Xfce)

  1. Right click on desktop
  2. Create launcher…
  3. Start writing “Steam” into the name box, and then select it from the suggestion.
  4. Create
  5. Try to run it! It doesn’t work, does it? Well, neither did mine, but I’ve figured out how to fix it:
    1. sudo mousepad /usr/bin/steam
    2. After the line that begins with a ‘#!’ (shebang) add:
    3. Completely quit Steam.
    4. Try your new launcher.

Uninstalling Steam

If it just so happens that you don’t want Steam on your computer anymore, you can uninstall it with sudo dpkg -r steam. This will not remove the previously added i386 arch, to do so, execute sudo dpkg –remove-architecture i386.


  1. Q: does Steam run background processes even after I quit it? A: No! If you want to check, do this: ps aux | grep steam.

13 thoughts on “How to: install Steam on Linux (Debian 7.0)

  1. Just checking…
    Did you mean “Steam” instead on Linux?
    “Today I’ve successfully, and without much trouble, installed Linux “

    1. I’m glad it worked for you, as I’ve said, Ubuntu solves many of these problems.

      At the time I was using Debian, and wanted to continue using it alongside having Steam. So I made this list to help others with similar problems.

      If switching to Ubuntu was an option, I’m sure they’d consider it.

  2. Capsuleer – you do realize that ubuntu is built from unstable versions of Debian?? technically you are running debian ^-^

  3. Following your instructions (but using the package from instead of the “latest” that I’m unable to install), it works perfectly !

    Thank you for your workaround, it saved me hours of researches !

    FYI: I did it on Linux Mint Debian Edition (which seems to be based on wheezy still) and had no sound problem whatsoever, only the GLIBC issue.

  4. It means that either ${STEAMLIBS} doesn’t point to a directory (did you set the environment variable and then export it, then reload bash?), or the directory doesn’t exist.

  5. There is a little mistakes. Otherwise path will not befound:

    false: 2. mkdir steamlibs
    right: 2. mkdir steamlib

    # without ‘s’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *