It's Been 9 Years Since Valve Rolled Out The Steam Linux Beta
Written by Michael Larabel in Valve on 6 November 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT. 22 Comments
VALVE --
Today marks nine years already since Valve began rolling out their Steam Linux beta client after a very exciting summer. While the initial Steam on Linux excitement phased out a bit after Steam Machines didn't materialize, as we approach a decade with Steam on Linux it's easily as exciting as ever thanks to Steam Play / Proton for allowing massive amounts of Windows games to run on Linux and the imminent release of the Steam Deck that has fueled renewed interest around Linux gaming.

Steam on Linux after opening up access to everyone was seeing around a ~2% marketshare prior to falling with the setbacks in Linux gaming. But ever since Steam Play (Proton) was introduced in 2018, it's begun rebounding. This past month it set a new multi-year high with a 1.13% marketshare for Steam on Linux after surpassing the 1.0% mark this summer. The Wine-based Proton that powers Steam Play has been great for Linux gaming with being able to run an incredible number of Windows games with ease. Now that various anti-cheat platforms are beginning to support Linux/Proton and the continued successes around DXVK/VKD3D-Proton for mapping Direct3D to Vulkan, we are hitting technological milestones certainly not envisioned nearly a decade ago.


From a technical standpoint the past few years have been very captivating with Valve funding numerous developers to advance Linux graphics drivers, particularly the open-source RADV driver stack but also areas like Gallium3D's Zink and improving the Linux display stack for VR headsets. Valve has also been investing in improvements around sandboxing and other technologies on Linux and in part with the Steam Deck handheld coming about they have also been providing funding to KDE developers, improving PipeWire integration, and also developing technologies the past few years like their Gamescope Wayland compositor.

Over the past nine years Valve has done an incredible job advancing gaming for Linux and allowing it to reach heights never once imagined. As we move into 2022 and ten years of Steam on Linux it will be incredibly exciting to see how Steam Deck performs in the marketplace and ultimately its impact on the Linux ecosystem.


Here's to hopefully the best year ahead for Steam on Linux!
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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