Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Steam installs apps into a user's home folder. This means when a user installs an app, a different user has to install the same app again.

What's the most convenient way to share Steam apps?

My best idea is to have a one user who will have the main folder with read-write permissions for others and just have other users symlink to it. I'm not even sure if this will work. Is there a cleaner solution or one suggested by Valve?

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Steam supports using multiple game library folders by default, you could just create a folder which all users can read/write to then add this folder as a library for both users. Both users will have to maintain a separate copy of the Steam client and update it, the library includes the games themselves only.

You could create a main folder in a read/write location and have a symlink at ~/.local/share/Steam to this folder, which should work hypothetically, but I haven't tried that. This will all users use the exact same Steam files.

You can also have a look at bindfs, note that it is not nearly the "most convenient way"

share|improve this answer
For the first solution, where do you think the shared read/write directory could be placed neatly? Would you put it in "/"? Your second solution is, I think, exactly like mine. I have some reservations about it myself; it doesn't seem like clean solution. Can you think of ways this solution can go wrong? – kelvinilla Sep 10 '13 at 17:38
@kelvin For the first solution, you could use /data. I can't think of anyway the 2nd solution could fail, just doesn't seem right – minerz029 Sep 10 '13 at 21:06
so, how does one create a folder which all users can read/write to in Linux? i.e where everything under the folder stays chmod ugo+rwX. I'm a Linux geek and programmer, and I don't know how to do this. Only ways I can think of are to mount a windows filesystem and use that, or to run chmod each time before running steam or from cron. Both of those options suck. And the steam client does not respect umask. Basically this answer does not work properly and there is no good way to do it as far as I can see. – Sam Watkins Jul 11 '14 at 5:58
@SamWatkins Yeah. The folders don't stay ugo+rwx. I've only had problems though when games are updated. The game is locked to the user who initiated the update so that it can't be touched by others until the update finishes on the initial user. Others can't continue the update it while this is going on; it gives a disk write error. I think when the update is done, everything works fine again, since I've only noticed problems when updating. It sucks, unfortunately. – kelvinilla Aug 16 '14 at 1:53
TBH, I think I should just create a separate login account for all of us to play games. It's not ideal. – Sam Watkins Aug 18 '14 at 3:27

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.