The new RK3588/RK3588S boards have much more power than we’ve typically had available to us in the past on ARM boards. With a whopping 8 CPU cores and a Mali 610 GPU the Orange Pi 5 is capable of running Steam using Box64/Box86. It’s even able to play basic games pretty well (with some tinkering usually).
In this guide I’ll show you how to set up Steam on the Orange Pi 5 and run Stardew Valley on it. You should keep your expectations in line though because there is no native ARM client for Steam. We are using emulation and instruction translation. You will also likely be missing libraries for most games you try which will require some fiddling.
This guide is only for Armbian running the Ubuntu Jammy variant with the Gnome desktop installed only (platinum support status). The Orange Pi official distributions will not have 3D support and I don’t care about whatever other flavor of Linux you are running either. I’m not going to install your preferred flavor of Linux and try to figure out how to do this on there nor am I interested in troubleshooting it. Please don’t ask.
With all of that being said let’s get started!
The Kioxia (Toshiba) 128GB M.2 2230 PCIe NVMe drive is much shorter than most NVMe drives (full size is 2280). It fits great with single board computers / tablets / other smaller form factors.
The Geekworm copper heat sink set is designed to fit many different single board computers. It uses thermal conductive adhesive which many “cheap” heat sink kits for SBCs don’t have. Eliminates hot spots and reduces throttling. Can be further enhanced by powered cooling over the heat sinks.
First we need to install some dependencies that are required by Steam. Use the following lines:
sudo dpkg --add-architecture armhf sudo apt update && sudo apt install build-essential git cmake gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf libc6-dev-armhf-cross libappindicator1 libnm0 libtcmalloc-minimal4 binfmt-support liblttng-ust-dev libcairo2:armhf libgmp10:armhf libvulkan1:armhf libudev-dev:armhf -y
Next we’re going to install Box64. Paste the following lines in your terminal:
git clone https://github.com/ptitSeb/box64 cd box64 mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DRK3588=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo make -j4 sudo make install
We also need Box86:
cd ~ git clone https://github.com/ptitSeb/box86 cd box86 mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DRK3588=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo make -j4 sudo make install
We also need to install the 3D support drivers with the following:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:liujianfeng1994/panfork-mesa sudo add-apt-repository ppa:liujianfeng1994/rockchip-multimedia sudo apt update sudo apt dist-upgrade -y sudo apt install mali-g610-firmware rockchip-multimedia-config -y
That’s it for the dependencies! Before you continue you should reboot the device with:
First we need to configure the environment for Steam. Use the following lines to add two environment variables to your Linux environment:
echo 'export STEAMOS=1 export STEAM_RUNTIME=1 export DOTNET_SYSTEM_GLOBALIZATION_INVARIANT=1 export PAN_MESA_DEBUG=gofaster,gl3' | sudo tee /etc/profile.d/steam.sh source /etc/profile.d/steam.sh
Next we’re going to use Box86’s install_steam.sh script like this:
cd ~/box86 ./install_steam.sh
Installation is now finished!
I highly recommend running Steam from a terminal/console like this so you can see the error messages (especially when launching new games):
It’s not unexpected for it to crash right after you log in for the first time. Mine crashed after I entered my one-time e-mail code from Steam. Simply launch it again. I had to log in again but it remembered the PC and stuck the second time.
It also crashed once when I installed Stardew Valley. I then just launched Steam again and it downloaded the game and launched perfectly afterward:
This is only the beginning of your journey. I can get you this far. You should expect most games you try to launch to crash with missing libraries. You then typically will install those libraries through apt (or other means) to fix it. In fact Stardew Valley wouldn’t have worked if I hadn’t added several dependencies to the dependency section. It did crash at first when I tried this and it took several hours for me to figure out the right dependencies to install for it.
If you are encountering really strange errors launching other titles you will want to use the trick I shared earlier of launching Steam within your console. You can then report such issues to the developers here on the GitHub issues page for Box64. There is a *ton* of helpful information there (and people) that can help with getting stubborn titles to launch. The developer ptitSeb is an absolute legend as well.
My performance was very, very good on Stardew Valley. It takes a while to load the game for some reason but it runs perfectly smoothly on the Orange Pi 5. Obviously this is not an incredibly demanding game on your GPU and I would recommend sticking to those.
I would absolutely also recommend active cooling on your Orange Pi 5. You at a bare minimum need my recommended heat sinks but even with my heat sinks I managed to overheat my Orange Pi 5 (forcing a power cycle) several times writing this article. If I was going to be gaming a lot more regularly on this device I would put a powered fan on it. The few times my system locked up I touched my heat sink and they were *very hot*. If you are getting lock-ups touch your heat sink (carefully) and see if it’s absolutely burning up. That means you need a powered fan.
Overall I’m pretty impressed. You’re going to have technical problems with various titles but this absolutely works. You can run games that aren’t super demanding at full speed and enjoy them on a 64-bit ARM board / distribution. Great work to all of the projects involved that have led to this being a reality!
The Orange Pi 5 also makes a great host environment for Home Assistant which I’ve covered here