Steam Deck helps Linux overtake macOS for second most used gaming OS

Joel Loynds
steam deck and a macbook on a blue background. the steam deck has a second place badge on

The Steam Deck is soaring in popularity, causing a monumental shift in the balance of the three operating systems when it comes to gaming.

Steam Deck users are continually growing. The handheld PC is one of our favorite bits of kit, and having direct access to your Steam library on the go is an added bonus. However, it doesn’t run Windows, unlike the competition. While Asus, Ayaneo, and AOKZOEamong others – have all gone the Microsoft route, Valve decided to bring their Linux plans to fruition.

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The Steam Deck runs a custom version of Linux, SteamOS, and then translates Windows applications through Proton. With the Steam Deck just coming off of sale, a lot more people are finding themselves in the mix of Linux users.

While macOS gaming fans are also growing (0.05%), the limited library means that at some point, it becomes logical to plunge into the Steam Deck or a Windows PC. It should probably be noted that Valve won’t be counting those using the Game Porting Toolkit, as it emulates a Windows environment.

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Steam Deck helps bring Linux to the limelight

However, Steam’s big leap in Linux users doesn’t mean that it’ll be catching up to Windows any time soon. The market share is split like this:

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  • Windows users take up 96.21%
  • Linux now takes up 1.96%
  • macOS is third with 1.84%

That 1.96% includes a huge jump after the Steam sale, with a 0.52% increase according to Gaming On Linux’s custom tracker.

It also has its own breakdown as well. As Linux isn’t one singular thing, with other operating systems built on the Linux kernel. Though, it does highlight that a lot of users on Linux are potentially coming to Steam from the Steam Deck. SteamOS can be installed on a desktop, but it’s hard to make the distinction.

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The Linux user breakdown looks like this:

Pie chart with the following information:

SteamOS: 42.07% 
Arch Linux: 7.94% 
Ubuntu 22.04.2: 7.38%
Freedesktop.org SDK 22.08: 5.99% 
"Manjaro Linux": 4.29% 
Linux Mint 21.1: 3.84% 
Pop!_OS 22.04: 2.97% 
Other Linux operating systems: 25.52%
  • SteamOS: 42.07%
  • Arch Linux: 7.94%
  • Ubuntu 22.04.2: 7.38%
  • Freedesktop.org SDK 22.08: 5.99%
  • “Manjaro Linux”: 4.29%
  • Linux Mint 21.1: 3.84%
  • Pop!_OS 22.04: 2.97%
  • Other Linux operating systems: 25.52%

As you can see, Linux is still very much split between which OS to huddle on. While SteamOS takes up a large portion of the pie, it still isn’t indicative of the most popular Linux options. In real-world use, Ubuntu still remains at the top of the pile.

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About The Author

E-Commerce Editor. You can get in touch with him over email: joel.loynds@dexerto.com. He's written extensively about video games and tech for over a decade for various sites. Previously seen on Scan, WePC, PCGuide, Eurogamer, Digital Foundry and Metro.co.uk. A deep love for old tech, bad games and even jankier MTG decks.