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The day I'm sure many have been waiting for, and just as many probably thought it wouldn't happen. Linux has finally hit 1% again on the Steam Hardware Survey.

Not the first time, in fact years ago when Steam for Linux was pretty fresh we actually saw it remain over 1% for a while. That didn't last long though, and it's been bouncing around at sub 1% for multiple years now as we've been showing on our dedicated Steam Tracker.

Want to see what systems our readers are running? Check out our statistics page.

If we take how many monthly active users Steam has which Valve reported at over 120 million at the start of this year, that would give us an estimated 1,204,000 monthly active Linux users on Steam.

The question in my mind is: why are we seeing a sudden surge? Starting in April 2021 it started to gradually slowly move upwards but now it's a much more pronounced jump. Perhaps this is as a result of the Steam Deck announcement? It certainly wouldn't be surprising to see more people try out Linux as a result of it so they know a bit more about what to expect.

What do you think has caused the recent up-tick in users? Let us know in the comments.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Meta, Steam, Valve
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Quoting: Dan_igrokI wonder how those results are computed. Are these based on total connected users every day? Are they based on a sample of users? On all users at one particular moment?

Many factors could explain the "up-and-down" pattern shown on the graph.

One possible explanation could be that many Linux users aren't hardcore gamers and don't connect to Steam all the time, which could explain the pattern. If we have a small sample of users, then the amount of Linux users fluctuate more.
I don't think over a million is a small enough sample for a whole lot of that.
I'm wondering more about what's happening with Chinese users. Very often when Linux % surges it's because Chinese user share dropped and so that very-low-Linux-use group was taken out of the pool. Someone needs to get Chinese gamers using Linux.

Of course it's also still true that the Steam Survey, which these numbers are based on, is opaque. We have no way of knowing how accurate it is or how it selects the sample; we do know that Valve has publicly mentioned correcting errors in it before now, which if you're an optimist means that after all these years of error correction it's probably pretty much OK, and if you're a pessimist means that all we know about it is they do make mistakes.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 2 August 2021 at 8:01 pm UTC
Pikolo 2 Aug
Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: Dan_igrokI wonder how those results are computed. Are these based on total connected users every day? Are they based on a sample of users? On all users at one particular moment?

Many factors could explain the "up-and-down" pattern shown on the graph.

One possible explanation could be that many Linux users aren't hardcore gamers and don't connect to Steam all the time, which could explain the pattern. If we have a small sample of users, then the amount of Linux users fluctuate more.
I don't think over a million is a small enough sample for a whole lot of that.
I'm wondering more about what's happening with Chinese users. Very often when Linux % surges it's because Chinese user share dropped and so that very-low-Linux-use group was taken out of the pool. Someone needs to get Chinese gamers using Linux.

Of course it's also still true that the Steam Survey, which these numbers are based on, is opaque. We have no way of knowing how accurate it is or how it selects the sample; we do know that Valve has publicly mentioned correcting errors in it before now, which if you're an optimist means that after all these years of error correction it's probably pretty much OK, and if you're a pessimist means that all we know about it is they do make mistakes.
The US ban on Huawei getting modern CPUs will probably encourage them to put more effort into Ubuntu Kylin, the distro maintained by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Simplified Chinese did fall by 0.4 % points, not more than the usual variation. English did go up by almost 2% though - the steam linux tracker has an entire graph for different languages. I didn't expect Russian to command a 10% market share though!


Last edited by Pikolo on 2 August 2021 at 8:48 pm UTC
PJ 2 Aug
Quoting: KohlyKohlGnome out of the box is ugly and to make it useful you have to add plugins to it. The default should be a useable desktop without the user having to do anything.

yeah, but if you had actually read my post you'd notice I acknowledge that. IMO every single one of the major DEs on Linux are ugly. Gnome is a bit dysfunctional unless you're into very specific (and I'd argue for lot of workflows just not good) workflow with not so cool icons (even though they've improved and also Adwaita becomes bearable). KDE looks like someone puked rainbow on your screen, trying to make a windows clone with bad font choices and totally tangled settings and options. Xfce is like stepping back in time. I could go on.
But the thing is every single one can be made awesome. With Gnome you just install 2-3 extensions, tweak the same amount of settings (for example turn on extra window buttons) and install icon theme. With KDE you add a theme and spend quite a bit going through the settings then disable/tweak stuff that does not work so well (for example Kwallet or file search). And so on.
My belief is that most of the parts are there (or mostly there - like with sound system, where I had some hopes with Pipewire). They're just not put together well by default (maybe a bit better on Ubuntu) - maybe because we don't have much of actual frontend UI/UX designers on our platform. Or maybe there's no company that actually cares that will pay someone to do the tedious work nobody wants to do. I don't know.
But at least we could do it ourselves. No matter the DE - IMO most of them are awesome!
PJ 2 Aug
Quoting: Purple Library GuyMint with Mate is IMO good, and very familiar to a classic Windows user, right out of the box.
but IMO that's the wrong approach. Why would you go for a Windows clone if you can actually use Windows? We need to offer something better - and I believe Linux can do it.
Look for example at OSX - it is completely different from Windows, but quite a bit of pros (for example musicians, graphic designers etc) use it as it offers them a better experience.
That's IMO the correct approach - don't make duplicates, make something better.
Quoting: PJ
Quoting: Purple Library GuyMint with Mate is IMO good, and very familiar to a classic Windows user, right out of the box.
but IMO that's the wrong approach. Why would you go for a Windows clone if you can actually use Windows?
Because Windows friggin' harasses you all the time.
I have no problems with the basic "stuff you do with a mouse" of Windows. Neither, I might add, do most people who already use Windows, who you're trying to get to move over. You are not going to generate enthusiasm for Linux among Windows users by saying "You'll get to do your whole workflow all different! Woo!" Nobody wants that. Even if it's an objectively (whatever that means in UI terms) better workflow, they still don't want it.

What's annoying about Windows is mostly all the Xtra Proprietary-ness. The way if you're not using Microsoft Edge as your browser (and who does?) it will keep on badgering you to start. The way it keeps popping up weird notifications that sound like something dire but if you think about it for a while is actually just them complaining that you set your settings not to hand over all your data. The other popups that are basically just incomprehensible and almost certainly irrelevant, but which sound like your computer is on fire or something. The "We just locked up your computer for a while so we can do updates" BS.
There's also the way that, since most of the software you're using is not open source and comes from various different vendors, they all separately and individually bug you about software updates (which half of them probably do badly), instead of your distro handling it all together. Software on Windows updates the way my games would if I bought each one individually from its vendor's own website instead of having Steam. Heck, even on my work machine, which is centrally updated by our fairly competent IT people, I still get a bunch of popups, from Firefox and Adobe and various ones that don't even say who they are just that it's desperately important for your software to update. Of course I have to tell them all no, because I know that if anyone's going to be updating any software on that desktop it'll be our IT people--but clearly they have no way of getting all that shit to shut up. Never have that on Linux. Just the little icon on the taskbar shows me there's updates I could install, and I can do them all at once when I'm not in the middle of something.
I also don't like the Windows non-tabbed file manager, and I don't like the way when I plug in a USB it just doesn't do anything, so I have to open some random folder and go find the USB in the Windows file manager's little list o' drives at the left side. And I'm pleased with Linux being somewhat less vulnerable to malware. And I like most of my software being open source and installable from one GUI. And I like that it doesn't phone home. And I'm pleased that, having the base vaguely Windows-like behaviour that I'm used to, I can then tweak things to suit, mostly in small ways, if I feel like it.

But the basic way stuff operates--what a left or right click does, the existence of the task bar that shows different things I have open, the menu at the lower left and so on, I have no interest in all the gee whiz clever stuff that people have come up with to make better, and I'd wager that if you took a poll among Windows users the majority would also be in that camp. So if you want to bring over Windows users to Linux, you might want to consider that they may not think their fundamental UI is broken and that therefore you might not want to try to fix it for them.
Quoting: PJ
Quoting: Purple Library GuyMint with Mate is IMO good, and very familiar to a classic Windows user, right out of the box.
Look for example at OSX - it is completely different from Windows, but quite a bit of pros (for example musicians, graphic designers etc) use it as it offers them a better experience.
OK, look at it. So, first of all, every time I try to use OS X it drives me nuts. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to find a damn file, for instance. Lots of people like it, I'm sure it is excellent in its way, but the idea that it's just inherently intuitive and stuff is a triumph of marketing and socialization over real lived experience.
Second, there are two main reasons musicians, graphic designers etc. use OS X. The first is that it has an excellent software ecosystem for that kind of people. The second is the excellent and very expensive marketing that have successfully drummed it into the heads of artistically inclined people that they are not cool if they don't use Macs.
The actual user interface is a marginal factor.
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Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: PJ
Quoting: Purple Library GuyMint with Mate is IMO good, and very familiar to a classic Windows user, right out of the box.
but IMO that's the wrong approach. Why would you go for a Windows clone if you can actually use Windows?
Because Windows friggin' harasses you all the time.
I have no problems with the basic "stuff you do with a mouse" of Windows. Neither, I might add, do most people who already use Windows, who you're trying to get to move over. You are not going to generate enthusiasm for Linux among Windows users by saying "You'll get to do your whole workflow all different! Woo!" Nobody wants that. Even if it's an objectively (whatever that means in UI terms) better workflow, they still don't want it.

What's annoying about Windows is mostly all the Xtra Proprietary-ness. The way if you're not using Microsoft Edge as your browser (and who does?) it will keep on badgering you to start. The way it keeps popping up weird notifications that sound like something dire but if you think about it for a while is actually just them complaining that you set your settings not to hand over all your data. The other popups that are basically just incomprehensible and almost certainly irrelevant, but which sound like your computer is on fire or something. The "We just locked up your computer for a while so we can do updates" BS.
There's also the way that, since most of the software you're using is not open source and comes from various different vendors, they all separately and individually bug you about software updates (which half of them probably do badly), instead of your distro handling it all together. Software on Windows updates the way my games would if I bought each one individually from its vendor's own website instead of having Steam. Heck, even on my work machine, which is centrally updated by our fairly competent IT people, I still get a bunch of popups, from Firefox and Adobe and various ones that don't even say who they are just that it's desperately important for your software to update. Of course I have to tell them all no, because I know that if anyone's going to be updating any software on that desktop it'll be our IT people--but clearly they have no way of getting all that shit to shut up. Never have that on Linux. Just the little icon on the taskbar shows me there's updates I could install, and I can do them all at once when I'm not in the middle of something.
I also don't like the Windows non-tabbed file manager, and I don't like the way when I plug in a USB it just doesn't do anything, so I have to open some random folder and go find the USB in the Windows file manager's little list o' drives at the left side. And I'm pleased with Linux being somewhat less vulnerable to malware. And I like most of my software being open source and installable from one GUI. And I like that it doesn't phone home. And I'm pleased that, having the base vaguely Windows-like behaviour that I'm used to, I can then tweak things to suit, mostly in small ways, if I feel like it.

But the basic way stuff operates--what a left or right click does, the existence of the task bar that shows different things I have open, the menu at the lower left and so on, I have no interest in all the gee whiz clever stuff that people have come up with to make better, and I'd wager that if you took a poll among Windows users the majority would also be in that camp. So if you want to bring over Windows users to Linux, you might want to consider that they may not think their fundamental UI is broken and that therefore you might not want to try to fix it for them.

Overall, I agree with that.

When I made the switch (back in September 2019) from Windows 7 (which gave me full satisfaction by the way, but you know, end of support BS) to Linux, I wasn't looking for something arguably better or different. I wanted to find a replacement for Windows 7 look and feel, and Cinnamon filled that job for me.

I guess it would be the same for someone who would like to switch from Mac, they would probably be looking for something that resemble what they previously had. Because the DE is usually not the main reason to switch OS.
120 millions of monthly active users in 2021. 1% of that is 1.2 million, and dual boot are obviously not counted.
When developpers say 1% do not worth it, they are letting 1.2M potential customers on the side of the road.
And i really think a Linux (or Mac OSX) user have more chances to buy a game than a Windows one, because he have significantly less choice.

OSX has 2.5%, that is approximately 3 millions of users.

I'm wondering how many users became to "worth it" for some.
Quoting: furaxhornyxWhen I made the switch (back in September 2019) from Windows 7 (which gave me full satisfaction by the way, but you know, end of support BS) to Linux, I wasn't looking for something arguably better or different. I wanted to find a replacement for Windows 7 look and feel, and Cinnamon filled that job for me.
Same with me when I made the switch from Windows 7 in 2014. I picked Cinammon Cinnamon (which I can never spell correctly on the first try ) because it was familiar; I was already having to retrain my brain from a decade of computer use to a new operating system, I didn't need any crazy taskbars on the top of the screen or docks on the side or what have you to make things even more confusing. And I've been doing jobs requiring Linux use and programming for almost a decade now, imagine the average non-computer-literate person!

To be clear, it's fantastic that Linux offers multiple DEs for the power users looking for something new, or better, or more efficient, but I suspect the majority of Windows users see something like that and think "intimidating," not "enticing." (And thankfully, there are the more conservative DEs we can use to lure them in. )
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