Earlier this month, Valve updated its Steam survey stats for the month of July. It shows what kinds of PC hardware and software gamers are using on its PC service. One small but interesting milestone for that month was shown in those numbers.

For the first time, the number of Linux gamers accessing Steam (1.96 percent) surpassed those using Apple’s MacOS (1.84). That’s likely due to the sales success of Valve’s Steam Deck portable gaming PC, which uses a Linux-based “SteamOS Holo”.

While Linux is still a distance second compared to the 96.21 percent of Windows users, it still shows that Valve’s use of the free OS has caused an overall uptick in its use. Indeed Valve has been a champion of promoting Linux PC gaming well before it launched its Steam Deck.

Ironically, the data about Linux beating MacOS on Steam came just a few weeks before the 32-year anniversary of the first public announcement of what would later be named the Linux OS.

The original creator of Linux, as many of you likely know already, is Linus Torvalds. He was just a 21-year-old computer science student studying at the University of Helsinki when he began working on a free OS kernel.

On August 25, 1991, Torvalds posted his initial public announcement of his OS project on the comp.os.minix newsgroup. MINIX was the name of a Unix-based OS that was first released in 1987 that Torvalds had previously used. That MINIX newsgroup was later archived by Google. Here is his full announcement of the project:

Hello everybody out there using minix –

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months, and I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them :-)


PS. Yes – it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that’s all I have :-(.

How wrong Torvalds turned out to be when he said it would “probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks.” That newsgroup announcement was followed up by the initial first release of Linux less than a month later on September 17, 1991.

By the way, the name Linux was considered and then rejected by Torvalds as being too egotistical. He initially named the OS Freax. However, according to his 2001 book Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, he stated that a coworker, who was an admin for one of the university’s FTP servers, didn’t like the Freax name and put in “Linux” as the name of the OS on that server. Torvalds eventually let that slide, and that’s the name that stuck.

32 years later, the result of Torvalds’s small project was a free open source OS that has been used as the basis for all sorts of operating systems for all kinds of hardware. By far the biggest software release that was initially based on a modified Linux kernel is Google’s Android mobile operating system.

Even Microsoft, who was once completely against free open-source software, has since not only embraced Linux, but even launched its own Linux distro, CBL-Mariner. It was first created to help run various Azure cloud services but has since been expanded to host the Xbox storefronts.

Yes, that’s another example of Linux support in gaming, which makes this circle back to the recent rise of Linux as the number two OS for Steam PC gamers. It makes you wonder where Linux developers will take the OS in the future.


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