Tinkering With Steam on a Pi 4 (Part 1)

But will games be playable?

Having seen LowSpecGamer’s videos in 2020 on playing steam games, as well as natively-compiled games such as Doom 3, I decided to try my hand at seeing what runs!

Credit to Quentin Schulz of Unsplash for his image

EDIT: Part 2 here.

Welcome to my scatterbrained attempt at documenting the beginning of this journey! The first game I wanted to try was something I had grown fond of at the end of 2020, a small game by a one-man studio. This is Littlewood.

Littlewood on Steam Marketplace

First, we need to make sure we have a magical bit of software called box86 installed on our Pi 4. I was tinkering with this a ton on another drive, but with how many things I have configured on there, I thought it proper to try something different! Enter TwisterOS.

TwisterOS is basically a heavily themed and tweaked version of Raspberry Pi OS, a project making it easier for new users to access the many tweaks, scripts and mods available for the Pi community. One of my favorite aspects of this? Easy overclocking!

My favorite tool for easy overclocks, CommandePi

Utilities such as Commander Pi are included from the get-go right inside of TwisterOS, which is wonderful. After doing the standard 2.1Ghz overclock on the CPU and the 600Mhz overclock on the GPU, I felt like we were ready to try some games.

Definitely no need to worry about the heat dissipation either, as the Pi 4 case I’m using from ArgonONE allows for mass heat dissipation, as well as booting from a sata SSD.

This will be great for testing games with a sustained overclock!

Note that little guy in the back is my prior Pi 4 4GB in a FLIRC metal passive cooling case- this used to be the Kodi box at my prior residence, before 2020 happened.

Alright, now to test some Steam games, and perhaps Java Minecraft on this little guy. Firstly, it appears Steam is included in the TwisterOS image I flashed to a SanDisk drive for this Pi, so let’s try that pre-built solution first. Yes, you can boot from USB on a Pi these days. However, it seems that Steam kept crashing on my build of Twister OS 1.9.5, so I went through the easy-to-navigate top left menu to upgrade box86, as seen below. FYI, box86 is a kind of an emulation layer to allow 32-bit Linux-native software to run on the ARM processor of the Raspberry Pi.

It’s wonderful when upgrade mechanisms are built-in

Hmm. Even after upgrading the install of box86, Steam refused to open…or maybe Steam in this build is just fairly problematic… it seems it is time to try this on my other Pi OS install!

If you would like to figure out how to get Steam running on a vanilla install of Raspberry Pi OS, Alex from LowSpecGamer wrote a fantastic guest article on Tom’s Hardware over here. My only modification to his guide I would like to add is that after installing box86 and extracting the Steam data file, you should instead run Steam from the terminal using the STEAMOS=1 STEAM_RUNTIME=1 box86_log=1 steam command. This, in my late-2020-early-2021 testing, works far more often than opening it via the menu…it also gives you a terminal output that you can look to for crashes. Usually “Double SEGVFAULT” or outputs similar to that can tell you when Steam has crashed and needs to be run again.

Littlewood on my other install for the Pi 4….and then it died?

So it looks like Littlewood won’t run on the Pi 4...perhaps we shall try Stardew Valley on my Pi OS install? It would be fairly cool if you could take something like the PiBoy DMG or upcoming CM4x by the same guys at Experimental Pi and just play the PC version of Stardew Valley in your hands. I’ll be writing about my GPD Win 3 adventures in the future with that, when it comes out, but for now, I’ll probably have to settle with the GPD Win Max playing Steam games in handheld form factor instead of something Pi-based.

I digress. It’s time to update Stardew Valley on Steam on the Pi and see if it runs!.

………Well that failed. Stardew Valley refused to open. Next time I will try Factorio and search my library for other games that may run.

See you then!

I love Linux and tinkering with all things fun