The Linux coders turning the ROG Best friend and alternative handhelds into Steam Deck clones

Magnify / SteamOS at the Asus ROG Best friend, the sun-baked (however kinda a laugh) method.

Kevin Purdy

Once I used to be carried out with my evaluate of the Asus ROG Best friend, I grabbed my very best USB stick and began in search of ISOs to obtain.

Home windows is, after all, the principle freeway to maximum PC gaming, but it surely’s additionally (as colorful within the evaluate) now not but constructed to paintings neatly on a 7-inch gaming hand held. The ROG Best friend ships with Home windows (House) put in and a number of Asus device, however it’s nonetheless, at center, a PC. With struggle, you’ll get into the BIOS, disable Keep Boot, plug in a USB stick, and boot a USB persist with a are living Linux distribution on it.

It’s a peculiar feeling, ignoring virtually the whole thing Asus has carried out to arrange this software with gaming and gear control device and origination over on the storagefacility stage. However, like the various Linux builders who see the Best friend because the Steam Deck’s doubtlessly beefier cousin, I sought after to shed the sympathies of the Get started menu for wilder lands.

OK, high-quality, I simply sought after Steam OS. Is that so sinister? I sought after the obese recreation squares, and also you click on the sq. together with your recreation, the sport performs, and Steam does a number of stuff within the background to create it paintings. And it’s important enough quantity, given you’ll conserve it for your arms.

I didn’t get that some distance all the way through a length of greater than a occasion the place I had a evaluate unit and no one who if truth be told understands {hardware} drivers had an Best friend. Previous this occasion, ROG Best friend gadgets began appearing up at consumers’ doorsteps, and obvious supply builders’ paintings to Steam up this software has kicked into equipment.

The effects at this presen are relatively important, given the totally unofficial, unsupported nature of the all-volunteer mission. Slightly quickly, you might be able to flash a USB stick and switch the Best friend—or many alternative hand held PC portables prone to apply—right into a Steam-Deck-like console.

Right here’s how I tried it, failed miserably, and the way builders are making it imaginable, pushing thru obstacles at breakneck pace.

Doing Linux at the Best friend the sun-baked method

This is the first step in installing a Linux system on the ROG Ally unless you count the dozen steps before it.
Magnify / This is step one in putting in a Linux machine at the ROG Best friend except you rely the batch steps earlier than it.

Kevin Purdy

The ROG Best friend is not going to create it simple so that you can set up a unique OS. As with maximum PCs, it’s important to head into the BIOS and (no less than for now) disable Keep Boot as well from a USB pressure or the ensuing OS for your inner pressure. Disabling Keep Boot doesn’t all the time “stick” at the Best friend, even though, as perceivable in lots of Reddit and Discord posts. Essentially the most decent approach to create the trade stick is to delete some or the entire signed keys loaded onto the Best friend’s firmware by way of Asus and alternative distributors. Whenever you do this, you’ll cause a BitLocker lock-out in Home windows—and except you put in that Home windows your self, you most probably don’t have the encryption medication key to revive it.

However on we progress. Then finding the BIOS shortcut (conserve the quantity ill button day powering up, should have energy connected) and clearing the best way, I first attempted Nobara Linux, a distro in keeping with Fedora (now not a “spin”) that packs in plenty of gaming-related device and tweaks. I needed to significance a USB-C dongle to secured a keyboard day additionally conserving energy equipped, however I did get Nobara put in. From the outset, there used to be disagree Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which made putting in Steam a subject. I tethered my telephone and in the end old a negligible USB Wi-Fi dongle to get time this. I slowly, painfully put in a couple of little Steam video games the use of 5G, introduced one, and found out the Best friend’s buttons weren’t being picked up as even a generic controller. I put in a couple of utilities to aim and paintings time this, nearest restarted the machine.

Proof of life, though
Magnify / Evidence of moment, even though “Steam is installed” used to be about so far as I may just get on Nobara Linux.

Kevin Purdy

I by no means were given again into Nobara once more. For causes unbeknownst to me—or no less than past the purpose the place I cared to debug on a 7-inch display—my set up refused as well up once more at the Best friend, handiest appearing a empty display that I couldn’t move, even with the everyday keyboard tips. I moved directly to the newest leave of Ubuntu.

With Ubuntu 23.04 put in, I may just run the Phoronix Take a look at Suite and run glxgears, which confirmed that no less than some roughly three-D acceleration used to be taking place. I put in Cyberpunk 2077 thru Steam’s Proton compatibility device, benchmarked it, and were given, neatly, very unhappy numbers. Cyberpunk noticed that my GPU used to be the Best friend’s key trait—an AMD Ryzen Z1 Utmost. Nevertheless it ran at 17 and 23 frames consistent with 2d averages on “Medium” and “Steam Deck” settings, respectively (at 720p solution and 60 Hz refresh fee). With not anything to lose, I put in the original AMD Linux drivers, ran the ones benchmarks once more, and lo and behold, development: 30.8 and 27.32 fps on “Medium” and “Steam Deck.” That’s significantly shy of the 38 and 34 frames consistent with 2d I clocked at the similar benchmark in Home windows. Upcoming once more, I’m guessing at drivers, and I will’t do a lot to keep watch over thermals or energy draw.

I couldn’t get more moderen builds of the SteamOS-focused ChimeraOS or HoloISO loaded onto the Best friend, no less than again nearest. However a couple of fanatics with YouTube channels have carried out the paintings, and you’ll see how they have been running—no less than on the very presen they attempted it.

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