Linux might not be an operating system that's in the mouths of every gamer in the world. But with the upcoming release of Valve's Steam Deck, it's starting to gain a tiny bit of market share.  

Linux logo
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KRAKOW, POLAND - 2019/01/11: In this photo illustration, the Linux logo is seen displayed on an Android mobile phone
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The latest Steam Hardware Survey now has the open-source OS gaining a 1% market share in a market dominated by Windows and MacOS. According to PCGamer, this is the first time Linux has earned a market share number of about 1% in years. 

Many experts believe this is due to the upcoming release of the Steam Deck handheld console from Valve. The system is running SteamOS, which is based on Linux. According to some industry insiders, the growing popularity of the Steam Deck might be causing an uptick in Linux users, considering it's free software. 

This climb in Linux usage comes after a slight drop that stemmed from the temporary release of Proton. According to Tom's Hardware, it was designed to enable Linux users to play Windows games but can't due to compatibility issues. During that time, the open-source software's market share was as high as 2%, but eventually fell back down to around 0.8 to 0.9%, where it remained until now. 

So far, there are 1.2 million active Linux users on Steam as of the moment. But with demand for the Steam Deck being sky-high (high enough that it is already being scalped), that 1.2 million could grow exponentially within the next few years. 

Read also: Steam Deck vs. Nintendo Switch: Valve's Handheld Isn't a Direct Competitor, Says Gabe Newell

Linux: Is It Good To Game On It? 

One of Valve's biggest claims about the Steam Deck is that it can play literally any game on the Steam Library. But most of the players on Steam are using Windows, so how come? 

The biggest drawback of playing games on Windows, especially Windows 10, is because the OS itself is not specifically designed for gaming. On the other hand, the Linux-based SteamOS is, according to PCGamer. This operating system basically turns a PC into something like a console, which ships with its own gaming-focused OS. 

Steam logo
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But since Microsoft claimed that Windows 11 is built for gaming, then maybe this trend will change. It still remains up in the air, though. Because while Valve did say that Steam Deck can run Windows like a normal PC, its hardware compatibility with Windows 11 (given the OS' insane system requirements) is still a bit unpredictable. 

Isn't Linux Hard to Use? 

Perhaps the minuscule market share numbers can be attributed to Linux's reputation as an OS for technically proficient users. Don't use this OS in layman's terms if you don't know how to tinker with software. 

However, times have changed. In a post by CBTNuggets, it is claimed that Linux is now so much easier to use than even Windows. It's also been considered very viable for playing games, which you'll never hear four, five years ago. 

Perhaps Valve is going to open even more eyes to Linux upon the release of Steam Deck. For now, wait and see.

Related: Linux Kernel 'Linux 5.13' Will Support Apple M1 System-on-Chip | Now Available for Public Testing

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Written by RJ Pierce 

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