Installing Steam on Debian Wheezy 64 bit, using Debian methods

[2016/08/28] I wrote a guide for Debian Jessie now, where the installation is way more easy and safe.

[2015/05/02]The howto has been adapted to the changes required by the release of Jessie. It has been tested with current Wheezy, 7.8.0. Though I would recommend updating to the current stable version of Debian instead. If you use the howto, you do so at your own risk. Pay attention that the installing step does not remove needed packages from your system.

I want to write a short guide on how to install Steam on Debian Wheezy (64 bit). Why, you might ask, there are several good guides out there. True, but those I’ve seen stem from the early times of Steam for Linux, most even from the beta phase. They are using packages from Ubuntu, Valve or other sources. Nowadays (thanks to Michael Gilbert) there is a native Debian package for Steam. The following tries to install Steam on a pure Debian with Debian means. I wrote this (some days) before Valve announced that SteamOS is going to use Debian as its base. The guide is not using the SteamOS repository, only Debian’s.

I’m starting from a clean Debian Wheezy 64 bit (amd64) install using the default settings (like Gnome). Everything below is done as root.

Mixing in Jessie

Put a line to fetch Jessie packages into your packages source file /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb jessie main contrib non-free

Then ensure that most packages are not taken from Jessie by choosing a default release via a file (you need to create it) named like /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10defaultRelease:

APT::Default-Release "wheezy";

(Don’t forget the semicolon!)

Mixing in 32 bits

Add the architecture for 32 bit (named i386) to your Debian installation – the Debian guys allow us to use both at the same time!

dpkg --add-architecture i386
Go for it

Install Steam and a newer libc along with everything they need (but not anything more) from Debian Jessie:

apt-get update
apt-get -t jessie install libc6:i386/jessie
apt-get install steam:i386/jessie libstdc++6:i386/jessie

Now start Steam. It will download the client first. After that has been started and I’ve entered my password, it took a larger thinking break, but finally the Steam client popped up and I could play (Thomas was alone).

Graphics drivers

Of course, having the right graphics drivers installed might help things. While I did not try it myself, Juan has reported in the comments that installing one of these should be useful:

  • for ATI/AMD Cards: libgl1-fglrx-glx:i386
  • for Nvidia Cards: libgl1-nvidia-glx:i386
  • for Intel Cards: libgl1-mesa-glx:i386

Have fun!

32 Gedanken zu „Installing Steam on Debian Wheezy 64 bit, using Debian methods“

    1. Hi!

      Did you try it? Did it make your system unstable? Because I’m running my desktop system like this since Steam for Linux beta days and everything works fine. It is the system I’m using for everything I’m doing with my desktop computer…

      And would you really prefer some random binary from somewhere in the internet over an official Debian Jessie package? To be honest – I wouldn’t.


      1. Heyho,
        This can happen if you mess around with the testing and unstable repo:

        If you do not wreck your System while installing Steam, you sooner or later get problems, and you will not get any help from the debian community.

        In my tutorial the Steam binary is downloaded directly from the Steam repo and the libc6 Library got extracted from the Ubuntu repo (and is only used by steam via an bootstrap script!).

        If someone does not trust my .zip file, he can easily extract the libc6 for himself from the ubunto repo by using dpkg.

  1. Wow! Ich bin begeistert – es scheint alles wirklich tadellos zu laufen! Vielen Dank für dieses Tutorial – jetzt sehe ich wirklich keinen Grund mehr, ein Ubuntu-basiertes System zu installieren.

    Vielen Dank hierfür!

  2. This tutorial was working fine for me, Debian 7.4 without upgrading my whole system into a unstable branch – Thank you very much!

  3. Danke, die Anleitung funktioniert.
    Hab gerade steam auf meinem Laptop installiert und mich kurz auf nem Rust-Server eingeloggt :-)
    Hinweis: Trackpad ist für Rust zu empfindlich, es lösen sich ständig Schüsse :-/

  4. Hello,

    i have also installed Steam with this Guide. First Time i had the same Problem with many of you. Then i installed the new Version of Debian 7.4, added the default for apt and looked for the update manager. I saw, that apt ignored my default for updates. This is the Problem with the steam installation. In the Guide is this line wrong:
    it has to name
    Another error in architekture: its i386.
    Now its running. For my Graphics i used the driver from nvidia.

    Thank you for the Guide an please update it.

    1. Hello,

      thanks for pointing out the architecture typo! The casing of the configuration file name shouldn’t play any role, any file from this directory is parsed and used. Perhaps you had two of them?


  5. Hi,
    thanks for making this guide, I tried following it from a clean Debian install and it removed a big random chunk of my system files (I lose GNOME GUI on restart).
    Did you have gnome installed on your system?
    Here’s what I get when I attempt to run the steam install: (it a huge ol‘ wall of text, so I put it on pastebin)

    I tried agreeing to it, and it wipes my GUI and most of the basic tools that come with Debian. I was unsuccessful at restoring the GNOME gui afterwards, there were a plethora of issues with dependencies.
    From what I understand other people have also run into the this problem, but no one seems to address it. So far, I’ve tried locking the version of all GNOME related packages by using Synaptic which changed nothing as far as I can see.

    In case it helps, I’m running a clean Debian Wheezy x64 (7.40) on a kingston SSD, an nvdia GTX 275 and intel i5 CPU. I have installed no software or drivers apart from what comes with the installation DVD.

    Here’s a shorter version of the pastebin with just the packages that are to be removed during the steam install:

    aisleriot alacarte aptdaemon baobab brasero caribou caribou-antler cheese
    cups dconf-tools empathy eog evince evolution evolution-data-server
    evolution-plugins evolution-webcal file-roller gcalctool gcr gdebi gdm3
    gedit gedit-plugins gir1.2-caribou-1.0 gir1.2-clutter-1.0
    gir1.2-clutter-gst-1.0 gir1.2-evince-3.0 gir1.2-gcr-3 gir1.2-gkbd-3.0
    gir1.2-gnomebluetooth-1.0 gir1.2-goa-1.0 gir1.2-gtk-3.0
    gir1.2-gtkclutter-1.0 gir1.2-gtksource-3.0 gir1.2-gucharmap-2.90
    gir1.2-mutter-3.0 gir1.2-panelapplet-4.0 gir1.2-peas-1.0 gir1.2-rb-3.0
    gir1.2-totem-1.0 gir1.2-vte-2.90 gir1.2-webkit-3.0 gir1.2-wnck-3.0
    gkbd-capplet glchess glines gnect gnibbles gnobots2 gnome gnome-applets
    gnome-bluetooth gnome-color-manager gnome-contacts gnome-control-center
    gnome-core gnome-dictionary gnome-disk-utility gnome-documents
    gnome-font-viewer gnome-games gnome-icon-theme gnome-icon-theme-extras
    gnome-icon-theme-symbolic gnome-keyring gnome-media gnome-nettool
    gnome-online-accounts gnome-orca gnome-packagekit gnome-panel
    gnome-power-manager gnome-screensaver gnome-screenshot gnome-session
    gnome-session-bin gnome-session-fallback gnome-settings-daemon gnome-shell
    gnome-shell-extensions gnome-sudoku gnome-sushi gnome-system-log
    gnome-system-monitor gnome-terminal gnome-themes-standard gnome-tweak-tool
    gnome-user-guide gnome-user-share gnomine gnotravex gnotski gtali gucharmap
    gvfs-backends hpijs hplip iagno libaudit0 libavahi-ui-gtk3-0
    libbrasero-media3-1 libcanberra-gtk3-0 libcanberra-gtk3-module
    libcaribou-gtk3-module libcaribou0 libchamplain-0.12-0
    libchamplain-gtk-0.12-0 libcheese-gtk21 libcheese3 libclutter-1.0-0
    libclutter-gst-1.0-0 libclutter-gtk-1.0-0 libclutter-imcontext-0.1-0
    libclutter-imcontext-0.1-bin libcluttergesture-0.0.2-0 libcupsdriver1
    libedata-book-1.2-13 libedataserverui-3.0-1 libepc-ui-1.0-3 libevdocument3-4
    libevolution libevview3-3 libfolks-eds25 libgail-3-0 libgcr-3-1
    libgdict-1.0-6 libgdu-gtk0 libgnome-bluetooth10 libgnome-desktop-3-2
    libgnome-media-profiles-3.0-0 libgnomekbd7 libgoa-1.0-0 libgtk-3-0
    libgtk-3-bin libgtk-vnc-2.0-0 libgtk2-perl libgtkhtml-4.0-0
    libgtkhtml-4.0-common libgtkhtml-editor-4.0-0 libgtkmm-3.0-1
    libgtksourceview-3.0-0 libgucharmap-2-90-7 libgweather-3-0 libhpmud0
    libmetacity-private0a libmutter0 libmx-1.0-2 libnautilus-extension1a
    libnm-gtk0 libpanel-applet-4-0 libpango-perl libpeas-1.0-0 libperl5.14
    librhythmbox-core6 libsane-hpaio libseed-gtk3-0 libsnmp15 libtotem0
    libunique-3.0-0 libvte-2.90-9 libwebkitgtk-3.0-0 libwnck-3-0 libyelp0
    lightsoff mahjongg metacity mousetweaks nautilus nautilus-sendto
    nautilus-sendto-empathy network-manager-gnome notification-daemon
    policykit-1-gnome printer-driver-gutenprint printer-driver-hpcups
    printer-driver-hpijs printer-driver-postscript-hp printer-driver-splix
    python-aptdaemon.gtk3widgets quadrapassel rhythmbox
    rhythmbox-plugin-cdrecorder rhythmbox-plugins rygel-preferences seahorse
    shotwell simple-scan software-properties-gtk sound-juicer swell-foop
    task-gnome-desktop task-print-server totem totem-plugins tracker-gui
    transmission-gtk vinagre vino xdg-user-dirs-gtk xserver-xorg-video-apm
    xserver-xorg-video-ark xserver-xorg-video-chips xserver-xorg-video-i128
    xserver-xorg-video-rendition xserver-xorg-video-s3
    xserver-xorg-video-s3virge xserver-xorg-video-sis xserver-xorg-video-tseng
    xserver-xorg-video-voodoo yelp zenity

    Sorry for the huge post, but this is really unnerving and your guide seems to be the most up-to-date one I could find.
    Thanks for caring.

    1. Hello Peter,

      I had done this with an older version of Wheezy, using Gnome. I’ve just tried it again with the current state of Wheezy and Testing, and unfortunately got the same result as you: The trick didn’t work. But I was able to change it to the current situation. Please try again. I’d be interested if it works for you as well.


  6. Steam now downloading with client…but most of all deb packets (system, meida etc.) were removed…lol

    But big ty for your how to do!

    1. Eins muss ich mal sagen: Es ist schön, wenn Leser nicht nur meckern sich melden, wenn es nicht geklappt hat, sondern auch einfach mal, wenn alles funktioniert hat!

  7. hi all.
    first, sorry for my bad english, but i try to explain my error.i made all i saw to do in the console.after i installed the steam package and installed it, all is fine.but than, i started steam, steam actualized himself to the newest version.after than i must login and type in my valve steam password which was sent to my emailadress.but this windows is not coming, i only get an = “ Steam cannot connect to the Steam Servers“ error !!!!!!!!!i have debian 7 64 bit. i never had a firewall or something,can somebody help me solving this problem?
    with kind regards emil !!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Hi Emil, it might be that you were just unlucky at that moment. I get that error as well sometimes, and retrying some minutes later often makes it work.

  8. I got following Error and had to install „apt-get install libgl1-fglrx-glx:i386“ (Now all working fine):

    Running Steam on debian 7 64-bit
    STEAM_RUNTIME is enabled automatically
    Error: You are missing the following 32-bit libraries, and Steam may not run:
    [2014-03-16 11:45:26] Startup – updater built Feb 25 2014 13:44:43
    Installing breakpad exception handler for appid(steam)/version(1393366296_client)
    Installing breakpad exception handler for appid(steam)/version(1393366296_client)
    [2014-03-16 11:45:26] Verifying installation…
    [2014-03-16 11:45:26] Verification complete
    [2014-03-16 11:45:28] Shutdown

  9. Followup:

    Ok, I got the problem solved. It is needed to use the from jessie:
    „sudo apt-get -t testing install libc6“

    Now steam starts as it should.

    Can you please add this to your guideline ? I quess there should be no problem to get everything at once:
    „apt-get -t testing install steam:i386 libc6“

    Please just mail me on further questions !

  10. followup … looks like a steam-problem, since I already have the needed lib installed:

    user@maschine:~$ sudo apt-get install libc6-i386
    Paketlisten werden gelesen… Fertig
    Abhängigkeitsbaum wird aufgebaut.
    Statusinformationen werden eingelesen…. Fertig
    libc6-i386 ist schon die neueste Version.
    0 aktualisiert, 0 neu installiert, 0 zu entfernen und 5 nicht aktualisiert.

  11. Thanks alot Eike, the installation worked for me like a charm !

    Edit: Some problems on starting steam, after downloading the client. A window pops up: „Couldn’t find bootstrap, it’s not safe to reset Steam. Please contact technical support.“

    I tried to launch it from the console .. here what I get:
    user@maschine:~$ steam
    rm: Entfernen von „/home/user/.steam/steam“ nicht möglich: Ist ein Verzeichnis
    rm: Entfernen von „/home/user/.steam/bin“ nicht möglich: Ist ein Verzeichnis
    Running Steam on debian 7 64-bit
    STEAM_RUNTIME is enabled automatically
    Error: You are missing the following 32-bit libraries, and Steam may not run:
    You are missing the following 32-bit libraries, and Steam may not run:
    Press enter to continue:
    /home/schwinn/.steam/ubuntu12_32/steam: /lib/i386-linux-gnu/i686/cmov/ version `GLIBC_2.15′ not found (required by /home/schwinn/.steam/ubuntu12_32/steam-runtime/i386/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/
    Error: Couldn’t find bootstrap, it’s not safe to reset Steam. Please contact technical support.

    So it realy looks like the for 32-bit is missing.

    My system:
    user@maschine:~$ uname -a
    Linux maschine 3.2.0-4-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.2.51-1 x86_64 GNU/Linux

    1. Thanks for your bug report. Unfortunately, I could not reproduce the problems you’re having with the tutorial because you did not provide any information. When you do so, please write in English (or German) because Google Translate has been overburdened even with your single sentence.

      Of course, I did try what I wrote before I wrote it, it works and it does work for others as well. Perhaps you ignored the first sentence, „I’m starting from a clean Debian Wheezy 64 bit (amd64) install.“?

      1. Google Translate won’t do the work ‚cause what he wrote is poorly written, with orthography errors and bad punctuation.

        About the tutorial:
        Before Steam could properly work, when I tried to open it, it said that I was missing a package. I didn’t make much sense out of it, but after installing the i386 driver for my video card, it worked perfectly.
        Here the name of the packages…

        for ATI/AMD Cards: libgl1-fglrx-glx:i386

        for Nvidia Cards: libgl1-nvidia-glx:i386

        for Intel Cards: libgl1-mesa-glx:i386

        Thanks for your help, Eike.

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