Make your own SteamBox with Sabayon, now.

So, this started as a personal project. One of the projects you start during a rainy day. Actually, it did not rain at all, but I wanted to take a day off from my readings (just completed this btw).

You cannot really stop hobbyists from doing what they’re best at, after all. You cannot even stop enthusiasts from being enthusiasts when, eventually, somebody puts some love into the Linux ecosystem.

So, my question is, while we wait for the official SteamBox (and perhaps Half-Life 3…), why don’t we make our own? And this is what I did.

I want to share with you a (personal but publicly available) Sabayon image called: “Sabayon SteamBox Edition (md5, torrent)“.

What is this?

Sabayon SteamBox Edition is a remastered 64bit only Sabayon live image that contains Steam. This image can be either run off USB storage or DVDs or installed, like any other Sabayon image. The difference is that, once booted, Steam is automatically started in Big Picture mode.

How does it work?

Well, as written above, Steam is automatically started in Big Picture mode at boot. However, you can exit Steam and logout through an application running in background called “Steam Manager” and then, log into GNOME and use the system as a normal Sabayon distro. This allows you to make changes to it, like for instance, setup a wireless connection, configure Steam the way you want or just update the system, and then dive back into the “SteamBox” mode.

This is pretty much the way I converted my Windows Steam (gaming) machine into a Sabayon SteamBox, and I’m sure that some of you may want to do the same.

What hardware, or better, what GPU?

Seriously, get a NVIDIA GPU. If you really want to play complex games that’s the easiest solution. However, I also managed to run Steam off open source radeon and even intel drivers, but I got the best experience when using the nvidia ones. Sabayon SteamBox also experimentally supports NVIDIA Optimus (it uses optirun, but I will migrate to primusrun soon) if you boot the system appending “optimus” to the kernel command line.

How to transform your current Sabayon into a SteamBox?

Simple, just “equo install sabayon-steambox“, enable the “steambox” service (with systemd: systemctl enable steambox), append “steambox” to the kernel command line and reboot.

Thanks Valve.



Several things in my agenda, maybe too much

Here are the upcoming events in Sabayon-land (just a public TODO before going to sleep):

  1. Sabayon 5.5 XFCE, LXDE, E17, ServerBase, OpenVZ releases, in a week or so
  2. interface rewrite, from scratch, it will blow your mind! At the same time, I just wrote this, guess where I’m going to plug it in…
  3. HAL free repository, yeah, HAL is dead and now that KDE 4.6 is out, is even more dead.
  4. GCC 4.5, Python 2.7 upgrade plan (I’m currently studying the upgrade path)
  5. Sabayon Website major redesign (now that all the parts of the original portal have been modularized, this will be very straightforward)

And that’s just the next two months.

    How to deal with exploding codebases?

    Every FLOSS developer knows what I’m talking about. You start with a small tiny project, defining a simple architecture and in general, setting some main goals.

    Then you realize that in order to keep up with the rest of the world, or in order to feel the coolest developer on Earth, you should “raise the bar” and do more.
    Then you start to write code and code and code and code.

    During a summer vacation day, when everybody else is on holiday and no neighbors are around, you eventually realize that your “tiny and innocent” app became a Seven-headed beast able to make coffee over IPv4. Making another “feature” fit into that monster is just impossible.

    Oh noes! What to do then? Romans said (latin): “dividi et impera”, which is really close to the “unix-style” saying “do one thing and do it right”. So yeah, time to start thinking about a massive refactoring and application splitting. Sooner or later your application is going to damage your health.

    But don’t feel alone and afraid, people laziness is everywhere! So, if you decide to just move on and ignore the problem, you should know that also some important codebases are not even split at build system level, which is something really really bad. I’m not talking about apps like foo-app or cowsay, I’m pointing the finger to OpenOffice build system, the worst I’ve ever seen in my whole life. You wonder why downstreams (like Sabayon) don’t split openoffice packages into (say) openoffice-base, openoffice-calc, etc. It’s impossible! Distributions doing that (ubuntu, fedora) have written fugly hacks in their packaging system code, like MANUALLY splitting stuff, that is, really really error-prone. At the same time, a downstream like Gentoo is also suffering of its own pain: USE flags abuse (but I’ll talk about it in my next blog post).

    So, don’t be afraid if your code sucks and it looks like a fat kid with a lollipop. You can always forward the complaints to OpenOffice codebase (“see, OOo is worse!”).

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