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SteamOS is now available to download

Valve’s new SteamOS software is now available to download for consumers and manufacturers, but be careful — this is an early beta release only suitable for those who want to start playing around with the operating system as soon as possible. Valve has flicked the switch on the availability of SteamOS for the benefit of the 300 beta testers who are receiving their units this weekend.

The installation procedure will erase everything currently on your machine for a start, so it’s not something you should try out on your main computer. The installer weighs in at a hefty 960MB and you can get at it through the links in the Steam Database announcement.

The Linux-based SteamOS was unveiled to the world back in September, with Valve promising an operating system for the TV and the living room. Steam Machines packaged together with the fully finished SteamOS are due to go on sale at some point during 2014.

Initially designed to get your PC Steam games running on your television set downstairs, SteamOS also features a basic desktop mode that can run regular Linux applications. The hardware requirements for this 1.0 release are a 64-bit Intel/AMD CPU, 4GB or more of memory, 500GB+ hard disk space, UEFI boot support, at least one USB port for installation and Nvidia-based graphics.

The appeal of SteamOS is that it can stream games and other applications to small, low-powered devices, with most of the heavy computational work done in the cloud. For more on the technology, read through Matt Smith’s Streaming Towards The Future post.