Table of Contents
Game Mode is the name of the default mode that Steam OS and the Steam Deck boots into. It is limited to only accessing games from the Steam library. This is not to be confused with Feral Interactive’s GameMode.
These are controllers that are officially supported on SteamOS :
Nintendo Joy-Con controllers
Nintendo Online classic controllers
PlayStation Dualshock 4
PlayStation Dualsense 5
Xbox 360 controller
Xbox One controller
Xbox Series controller
Generic XInput controllers
By default, the Steam Deck only works in Game Mode. Developer Mode must be enabled to access Desktop Mode.
STEAM > Settings > System > SYSTEM SETTINGS > Enable Developer Mode: Yes
By default, on the Steam Deck, the user and group
deck (UID and GID
1000) is used. It is also part of the
wheel group (GID
998) which provides it access to running commands as the
root user with the
There is no password by default. For running
sudo commands, a password needs to be set.
GUI: System Settings > Personalization > Users > Your Account > Steam Deck User > Change Password
SFTP provides FTP over the SSH protocol. This can be used to move files to and from the Steam Deck.
Ensure that a password has been set for the
Enable the SSH daemon.
$ sudo systemctl enable --now sshd
Find the current IP address.
$ ip address
Use an SFTP client, such as FileZilla, from a different computer to connect to the Steam Deck.
By default, SteamOS uses a 1 GiB swapfile at
/home/swapfile. Combined with the Steam Deck’s 16 GB of RAM, it provides a total of 17 GB of temporary storage that is shared between the CPU and iGPU. The swappiness is set to 100% so Linux will always be writing as much temporary storage to the swap file as possible.
$ cat /proc/swaps Filename Type Size Used Priority /home/swapfile file 1048572 0 -2 $ sysctl --values vm.swappiness 100
It is recommended to increase the swap size to 16 GB on Steam Deck models that have more than 64 GB of storage. The 256 GB and 512 GB models have more storage and are faster NVMe drives. An increased amount of swap frees up RAM for use as VRAM. Decreasing the swappiness down to 1% will increase the lifespan of the internal storage. These changes can result in up to 24% more FPS in more demanding games.
CryoUtilities provides a streamlined way to increase the swap file size, decrease swappiness, and make other performance improvements.
$ cd ~/Downloads/ $ wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/CryoByte33/steam-deck-utilities/main/InstallCryoUtilities.desktop $ chmod +x InstallCryoUtilities.desktop
Select the “InstallCryoUtilities.desktop” shortcut to install the tools. Then select the new “CryoUtilities” desktop shortcut. This will have prompts to walk through setting up the 16 GB swap file and 1% swappiness level.
$ cat /proc/swaps Filename Type Size Used Priority /home/swapfile file 16777212 0 -2 $ sysctl --values vm.swappiness 1
VRAM is the amount of system RAM that is used for the iGPU instead of the CPU. The Steam Deck can use up to 8 GB of RAM as VRAM. In the BIOS, it is possible to set the minimum amount of VRAM the iGPU can use to 4 GB (up from 1 GB).
Press the “volume up” and “power” buttons to enter the BIOS > Setup Utility > Advanced > UMA Frame buffer Size: 4G > Exit > Exit Saving Changes
Verify that the changes have been made:
$ glxinfo | grep -i "dedicated video memory:" Dedicated video memory: 4096 MB
The original Steam Deck BIOS had TPM support disabled. It was eventually enabled to allow Windows 11 to be installed onto the device.  However, SteamOS never re-enabled TPM support. Here is how to re-enable it :
Edit the GRUB configuration file:
Go to the
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=line and remove
Update the GRUB boot menu.
$ sudo update-grub
Verify that TPM is working by seeing if the Linux device files exist.
$ find /dev -name "tmp*" /dev/tpmrm0 /dev/tpm0
SteamOS operating system updates can only be disabled from the Desktop Mode.
$ sudo steamos-readonly disable $ sudo chmod -x /usr/bin/steamos-atomupd-client $ sudo chmod -x /usr/bin/steamos-atomupd-mkmanifest $ sudo chmod -x /usr/bin/steamos-update $ sudo chmod -x /usr/bin/steamos-update-os $ sudo steamos-readonly enable
$ sudo steamos-readonly disable $ sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/steamos-atomupd-client $ sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/steamos-atomupd-mkmanifest $ sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/steamos-update $ sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/steamos-update-os $ sudo steamos-readonly enable
“Transferring files from PC to Steam Deck with FileZilla FTP.” GamingOnLinux. September 29, 2022. Accessed November 3, 2022. https://www.gamingonlinux.com/2022/09/transferring-files-from-pc-to-steam-deck-with-ftp/
“OLD | EASY Performance Boosts for Steam Deck!” YouTube CryoByte33. October 14, 2022. Accessed November 20, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iivwka513Y
“EASY & SAFE Health & Performance Boosts | Steam Deck.” YouTube CryoByte33. November 4, 2022. Accessed November 20, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od9_a1QQQns
“How to use an external controller on Steam Deck.” PCGamesN. June, 2022. Accessed February 16, 2023. https://www.pcgamesn.com/steam-deck/external-controller
“Steam Client Beta - August 4.” Steam Community. August 4, 2022. Accessed February 16, 2023. https://steamcommunity.com/groups/SteamClientBeta/announcements/detail/3387288790681635164
“Steam Deck adds Windows 11 support and BIOS fixes with beta update.” XDA Portal & Forums. April 1, 2022. Accessed February 17, 2023. https://www.xda-developers.com/steam-deck-windows-11-bios-beta/
“How to use the TPM on Steam Deck in SteamOS.” jiankun.lu. November 14, 2022. Accessed February 17, 2023. https://jiankun.lu/blog/how-to-use-the-tpm-on-steam-deck-in-steamos.html