SteamOS Drops Proprietary AMD Drivers


As you know, I am not as much interested in SteamOS as I used to be (long story short: my patience grew thing when I ended up hitting the same issues over and over again, and drivers not being updated on a regular basis, etc…), but it’s still nonetheless worth checking out what they are up to.

The new SteamOS beta is introducing major changes in their distribution (good catch GOL), by dropping completely the AMD proprietary driver and moving to the open-source Mesa one instead (specific release notes: steamos-packages - Drop amdgpu-pro dependency, add xserver-xorg-video-amdgpu and mesa-vulkan-drivers).

Other key changes include:

  • moving to Debian 8.8 base
  • moving to 4.11 kernel
  • mesa - update to 17.0.4
  • nvidia-graphics-drivers - update to 381.22
  • wayland - latest version to support mesa
  • vulkan - Update to the 1.0.46 Vulkan loader

Moving to 4.11 kernel brings a lot of improvements, such as better Skylake architecture support, better Intel DRM driver support, new hardware support, improved networking stack, and more…

For nVidia drivers the 381.22 is pretty much the latest stable version from nVidia and as far as I know no game requires it for now (latest Feral ports require 375.x at least) so Valve is being pretty aggressive there compared to the early days of SteamOS, where ancient drivers were the norm…

Mesa 17.0.4 is not the latest version of Mesa, but it’s still very recent (April 2017) and it’s great to see that you can get this in SteamOS without a sweat. Most distributions are far from being there by default, unless you are using a rolling release distro like Arch.

Let’s not forget that despite all the major changes, this is a beta version and it’s still not clear when these changes will land in the stable version of SteamOS.

Great to see Valve is not forgetting about SteamOS, and still actively developing it, while it’s true we don’t hear about it as much as we’d like to.