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SteamOS up for download now, strictly for the hardcore

SteamOS is available now, though if you do want to download it, you'd better know what you're doing.

Valve's SteamOS -- the Linux-based operating system that'll power Valve's Steam Machines gaming platform -- is available now. But if you're going to download it, you'd better know what you're doing.

"Unless you're an intrepid Linux hacker already, we're going to recommend that you wait until later in 2014 to try it out," Valve said in an update earlier this week. "In its current state, SteamOS is definitely not a finished product ready for a non-technical user," Valve added in its post announcing the beta was available.

If you are thinking about braving it, you'll need the the following requirements: an Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor, 4GB or more RAM, and a 500GB or larger disc. You'll also need an Nvidia graphics card (though SteamOS will soon support AMD and Intel graphics cards too), and a USB port for installation.

But beware, installing will erase everything on your computer. So don't say we didn't warn you.

SteamOS is Valve's attempt to move gaming PCs out of the bedroom and into the lounge. It's based on Linux, so you won't need a pricey Windows-running PC to get gaming. In the same week it unveiled SteamOS, Valve took the wraps off its games control, called the Valve Steam Controller, and the Steam Machine prototype. 300 of these games machines and controls have been sent out to the selected participants taking part in tests. Though sadly they're limited to the US only.

Valve has said it'll announce more info on the commercial Steam Machines at CES in Las Vegas, which starts on 6 January. It won't be short of competition in the games sphere. The Xbox One is vying to be the ultimate home media machine, and then there's the games-focussed PS4, and the new wave of Android-powered consoles about to liven up the lounge. So 2014 should be a great year for gamers.

Have you tried SteamOS? Are you excited about Valve's proposition? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.