Valve SteamOS is available for download right now

It's alive!

And just like that, Valve's SteamOS is upon us.

Valve's new operating system has headed into the wild, available for consumers and OEMs alike to download and take for a ride.

But be warned - Valve advised earlier this week that for now only the most dedicated Linux users should download SteamOS, which is still in beta. The rest of us are best left waiting till 2014 to access a more finished version.

Valve isn't joking either; a SteamOS FAQ warns both the system's install methods "will erase everything on the machine," meaning only the truly committed should saddle up.

Several reports indicate there are currently issues downloading SteamOS, potentially do to a rush of eager users. If you feel competent and confident enough to give the system a spin, you can download the 960MB installer by following the link provided by Steam Database or through the instructions in the FAQ.

What we know about SteamOS

The release of SteamOS falls on the same day Valve's Steam Machine prototypes are making their way to 300 beta testers, who via email instructions can go about installing the software.

Designed to port PC games to the TV (thus bringing Linux to the living room), the OS runs Steam and Steam titles. It does include a desktop mode that supports regular Linux applications.

According to the same SteamOS FAQ, the system is a fork of Debian GNU/Linux. SteamOS 1.0 - what we have today - is based on Debian stable 7.1 ("wheezy") distribution.

The hardware requirements for SteamOS 1.0 include an Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor, 4GB+ memory, a 500GB or larger disk, UEFI boot support, a USB port for installation and Nvidia graphics.

Intrepid tinkerers could even go so far as to build their own rudimentary Machines thanks to Valve's specs.

The company noted that AMD and Intel graphics support is on the way soon.

Windows games and apps are not playable or runnable on SteamOS, the FAQ was sure to point out, however it does support streaming games from a Windows computer.

What's to come

We're not seeing mention of the functions specifically yet, but SteamOS is also meant to stream music, TV and movies while having family sharing features.

OS updates carrying security and bug fixes are due "as we are comfortable shipping them," and while the beta channel will funnel fixes on a weekly or even daily basis, the released channel will see them "every few months."

Commercial Steam Machines along with Valve's nifty Steam Controller are due to land next year. We will see plenty from the company as well as its partners at CES 2014, so keep an eye out for much more.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.