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Steam Deck pushed Linux to the highest share on Steam in years

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A fresh month, which means a new Steam Hardware & Software Survey is out. Looking over the October 2022 data, it appears we've hit a fresh high point.

At the end of October, Linux hit 1.28% on Steam against 2.23% on macOS and 96.50% on Windows. Going by our Steam Tracker, where we've been tracking the Linux user share for a few years, it is the highest it's been in over 4 years now! Still tiny compared with Windows of course but it's some clear steady progress.

This growth at the moment is largely thanks to the Steam Deck, which you probably already guessed. That much is clear when looking over the Linux-specific data page on the Steam Survey which shows these as the top Linux distributions:

  • SteamOS Holo 64 bit 24.98% +7.94%
  • Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS 64 bit 12.27% -0.21%
  • Arch Linux 64 bit 9.12% -1.45%
  • Manjaro Linux 64 bit 6.92% -0.88%
  • Freedesktop.org SDK 22.08 (Flatpak runtime) 64 bit 5.71% +0.90%
  • Other 40.99% -2.00%

SteamOS (at least going by that list on face value) is the most popular Linux distribution for gamers on Steam, by a wide margin there too with the caveat being we don't know exactly what's in the "Other" category, which could be full of various forms of Ubuntu that could push it to the top when added together.

When checking further, in the GPU list for Linux, the growth is clear with it noting that "AMD Custom GPU 0405" (the Steam Deck) has hit 25.01% (+7.94%). I should note as well, that this GPU still doesn't even show up when filtering to just Windows and so it's clear that the vast majority of gamers on Steam Deck are sticking to SteamOS which goes to show just how good it is as an experience overall.

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Pengling Nov 2, 2022
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It's interesting to see how this is turning out over time. I was a Mac user between 2004 and 2008, and the gaming situation (and, as far as I know, percentage) on Mac OS X back then was similar to how it is on Linux now, if not a bit worse - but with even more fighting tooth-and-nail for native game support, because there wasn't a tool like Proton! Having been there for that, I can't help but feel that we've got it pretty good on Linux these days.


Last edited by Pengling on 2 November 2022 at 6:59 am UTC
StoneColdSpider Nov 2, 2022
A new high point? w00t!

Linas Nov 2, 2022
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Quoting: PenglingIt's interesting to see how this is turning out over time. I was a Mac user between 2004 and 2008, and the gaming situation (and, as far as I know, percentage) on Mac OS X back then was similar to how it is on Linux now, if not a bit worse...
The difference is that there went a lot of work into making Linux a gaming platform. Whereas Apple keeps undermining their platform. MacOS is the only mainstream platform where Vulkan is not supported, and OpenGL is stuck on version 4.1 (2010), so you are forced to use their proprietary Metal API. Switch to ARM processors is objectively not a bad thing, but it does make the burden of supporting games on macOS even worse, especially when taking into account old games. Not to mention the hostile licensing to even be allowed to develop anything on macOS.
hardpenguin Nov 2, 2022
I wonder how high it can go :)
skinnyraf Nov 2, 2022
It's also the seventh month with shares above the long term trend line. It might be worth to draw two trend lines: one before the release of Steam Deck and another after the release - this might give better predictions for the future.

OTH, we had a strong growth over most of 2021, followed by a collapse in early 2022, so maybe half a year is too short to play around with trends.
Termy Nov 2, 2022
I was a bit surprised when i got the hardware survey prompt on my deck. Somehow would have thought they don't need the survey they... ^^
Geppeto35 Nov 2, 2022
The climax may be reached in the next couples of years when 1/ microsoft will end its low-cost key politics to fight against piracy and 2/ if they really make the new incoming windows with yearly or monthly subscription, as they have begun with Office and as rumor says about this next windows '12'?
const Nov 2, 2022
Quoting: Geppeto35The climax may be reached in the next couples of years when 1/ microsoft will end its low-cost key politics to fight against piracy and 2/ if they really make the new incoming windows with yearly or monthly subscription, as they have begun with Office and as rumor says about this next windows '12'?

I'm so glad, I don't need Windows any more, even for work. :)
Yet there have been so many things Microsoft did that made us think people would migrate to Linux... it sadly never really happened. 3rd party support, MS Office and laziness...
BlackBloodRum Nov 2, 2022
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Quoting: const
Quoting: Geppeto35The climax may be reached in the next couples of years when 1/ microsoft will end its low-cost key politics to fight against piracy and 2/ if they really make the new incoming windows with yearly or monthly subscription, as they have begun with Office and as rumor says about this next windows '12'?

I'm so glad, I don't need Windows any more, even for work. :)
Yet there have been so many things Microsoft did that made us think people would migrate to Linux... it sadly never really happened. 3rd party support, MS Office and laziness...
In fairness, it doesn't help that most people don't know how to switch their OS etc. They just use the OS that comes with the computer or have misguided beliefs of what is required of switching.

You should also bear in mind, not all gamers are techies either. Sure, they know their way around games but if you ask them to explain in detail about the basics of an OS like how filesystems, kernels and programming languages work chances are high they simply couldn't (without google).

But it's perfectly fine, they don't have to know those things, and nor should they. They just need to know how to play their games.

This is where the Steam Deck works its magic; it comes pre-installed with Linux out the box, no tweaking, it just works. And that is how you get people to switch to Linux.
Lamdarer Nov 2, 2022
It's also interesting to see that german continues to increase its Linux share, currently at 3.18% with Russian only at 1.96%.
@Liam might be time to include it in the Steam Tracker, since it continues to outperform Russian, Spanish and Simplified Chinese on Linux.
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