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Steam Login is a package that you can use in Ubuntu or Linux Mint to login directly to Steam BigPicture mode from the login screen. 

This is useful because it doesn't load a whole desktop environment, resulting in more resources being available (there's also no composite manager running) for Steam and the games available for it.

Steam for Linux Big Picture mode
Steam BigPicture mode

The Steam Login session uses Xfwm4 - the Xfce window manager -, and it even supports Nvidia Optimus if Bumblebee and/or Primus is installed; however, this doesn't mean the games will actually run with Bumblebee, because the scripts Steam uses to start the games overwrite some variables (for running Steam games with optirun / primusrun, see THIS post).

That's not the only optimization available in Steam Login, there are also some font tweaks and a fix for the Team Fortress 2 black screen bug.

Install Steam Login in Ubuntu / Linux Mint

Firstly, download and install Steam for Linux.

Steam Login is available in a PPA for Ubuntu 12.10 / Linux Mint 14 - add the PPA and install it using the commands below:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:thor27-gmail/steam-desktop
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install steam-login

For Ubuntu 12.04 / Linux Mint 13, you can download the Steam Login deb from GitHub (don't download the "hacked" version, that's not needed anymore now that Steam for Linux beta is available to all users).

Once installed, log out and select "STEAM" from the login screen:

Steam Login Ubuntu login screen