How to change the language on the Steam Deck’s Desktop mode

I already wrote a guide about how to get OpenRazer working on the Steam Deck so I will copy and paste some content of that guide.


SteamOS on the SD is updated by the native client and doesn’t include “things”. The first stuff that you need to know, if you don’t know Linux, is that SD use various partitions where your games, settings and app installed with KDE discover on the Desktop Mode are saved. The real OS like the program for the Desktop mode or “Linux” are in a specific partition that is on read only.

This means that you can just read, and you are not able to do any change. It is something common on Linux to avoid that you break things, but this means that if you are doing something like changing language at next update you have to install it again.

The next things you need to know is this device the OS is based on ArchLinux with custom Steam repositories. On Linux distributions a package repository is a “centralized server” that has all the software that you are capable to install with just a command (and they are tested and safe usually).

Let’s start with the 2 (+1) installation steps!

Set password for the deck user

On SD there is the deck user that run all the programs/games but doesn’t have any password defined. To proceed we need to set one, so in Desktop mode open the terminal (Konsole) and write passwd and press Enter.

You can use the overlay keyboard with Steam+X or with the dock station a real keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard. How to set up one is not part of this tutorial.

I set deck as password in this way is the same user and I don’t confuse it with others.

Install the packages (and try to set the language automatically)

#!/usr/bin/env bash

sudo steamos-readonly disable
sudo pacman-key --init
sudo pacman-key --populate
sudo pacman-key --refresh-keys
# change it_IT with the code for your language
echo 'it_IT.UTF-8 UTF-8' >> /etc/locale.gen
sudo pacman -S glibc
sudo locale-gen
sudo pacman -S ki18n
sudo pacman -S plasma
# change the aspell-* package with your language
sudo pacman -S aspell-it
sudo pacman -Qqn | sudo pacman -S -
sudo shutdown -r now

This script is based on this comment on Reddit, the only things that you have to change is your country language code. In my case as Italian is it_IT for your you have to check and change the 2 lines with the comment.

Create a file and calling as you prefer, in my case is I put that on the sd card to get that on the SD easily and write every single command manually.

Next step, in the Desktop mode, open the file manager (Dolphin) and go to the sd card folder that should be /run/media/mmcblk0p1. Now right-click on the bash script and on Proprieties->Permissions check the Executable option and press Ok. Now the script can be executed.

If you still have opened the terminal, you can drag and drop the bash file so automatically fill it the path (if you don’t want to write it manually /run/media/mmcblk0p1/ and press enter (or press A as it is recognized as Enter).

Now the procedure started (it will takes a while) and will sometimes ask you to insert the deck user password that we set before or to allow the (re)installation of some packages (just press y).

The script will proceed and will disable the read-only mode, get the list of packages by the repositories, set the language, redownload the various packages and reboot.

[Extra] If didn’t worked

As per title, if you see after the reboot on the desktop mode that the various KDE applications are still in English. You can fix it easily as now the various packages are available.

This screen is an example of what you should see (in this case is already in Italian) but you can reconize the icons and the buttons

Open the KDE menu from the bar (the first icon on left), search for System Settings, open Regional Settings (or search language as I did in the screenshot), click Region & Language.

In that screen on the first item in the right that is Language, press the button (Change), next it will change to another window, press Add more and add your language and set the priority as first. Apply your changes and reboot.

With this solution you forced the language changing from the KDE settings in case something didn’t worked.

Now you can appreciate your language in the desktop mode!

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