Distros Used for Gaming: Ubuntu Recovers a Little, Fedora Rises, and Pop!_OS Sinks Further Down


It’s time for another update related to the Linux distros used for gaming. As usual we use as the main source ProtonDB data dumps, and just a reminder, this does not include the Steam Deck - since every single time people come and comment “Arch is strong because of the Steam Deck”, which is just wrong because Arch was strong already before the Steam Deck launched, and the ProtonDB data is mostly based on desktop usage reporting, which needs repeating every single time. In any case, the results are in this dense picture below, which is probably worth a click!

Linux Distros used for Gaming, updated in May 2024

So what do we see this time, over the past few months?

Ubuntu Recovered a Little

Ubuntu has been on a steady decline for years now, but experienced a little but of recovery in April 2024 - likely due to the latest release of Ubuntu 24.04 Noble Numbat.

We have done a little poll on Mastodon a few weeks back about the release of Ubuntu 24.04 and the interest of our followers. While most people did not seem too excited, there were still 10 to 15% of folks who considered trying it out, which seems consistent with the increase we have observed in ProtonDB:

I actually tried it in a VM not too long ago and experience a breaking bug after an update - which is fairly common in new Ubuntu releases. If you’d like to move to Ubuntu, you might want to wait a couple of months as things get ironed out.

Fedora In Top 3

This is a first since we started tracking the distros evolution using ProtonDB. It’s probably too early to say if this is a stable position for Fedora, as there is always ups and down from month to month in this chart, but Fedora has been close to 8% share fairly often in the past year. Now with a share at 9.7 % (the highest so far), it takes the third place before Linux Mint.

Ubuntu Derivatives: Mint and Pop!_OS

Mint is rock solid. Not just as a distro, but also share wise. it’s had a constant 8 to 9% share over the past year, with no sign of going away. We can’t say the same thing about Pop!_OS anymore. Pop!_OS had its moment of glory back in 2021, when it solified around a 12 to 14% share, but since then it’s been progressively decreasing over time. It now hits the lowest share observed for more than 4 years, with just 5% ! I am not sure why Pop!_OS is actually falling like a rock. It’s still a good distro, more polished than the vanilla Ubuntu, and fairly reliable. It could be that the release of a new Ubuntu version has driven previous Pop!_OS users back to Ubuntu as they want to benefit from the latest base before Pop!_OS updates down the road. In any case, Pop!_OS is very close the low share of Debian right now, at the bottom of the chart.

Arch the King, and its derivatives

Arch is still number 1, by far, with a solid 10% gap ahead of Ubuntu right now. Manjaro is becoming more and more irrelevant after being huge for almost 3 years - it’s now a shadow of its former self, and former share. Endeavour, also Arch-based, was making great strides (above Manjaro!) for a few months and seems to have fallen a little in April 2024. In any case, it looks like it’s bound to take over Manjaro’s place at some point.

This is also A First

April 2024 marks the first time the Top 3 is represented by totally unrelated distros. See for yourself:

  • January 2020: Ubuntu First, Manjaro 2nd and Arch 3rd. It’s basically Ubuntu vs Arch.
  • January 2021: Ubuntu First, Arch 2nd and Manjaro 3rd. It’s Ubuntu vs Arch all over again.
  • January 2022: Arch First, Ubuntu 2nd and Manjaro 3rd. Still Arch vs Ubuntu!
  • January 2023: Arch First, Ubuntu 2nd and Manjaro 3rd. Same, same, Arch vs Ubuntu.
  • January 2024: Arch First, Ubuntu 2nd and Mint 3rd. Arch vs Ubuntu, in the end.

And in April 2024, we finally get:

  • April 2024: Arch First, Ubuntu 2nd and Fedora 3rd. The top three root distros are now fighting for the top.

It’s still a fragmented world out there for Linux gamers. But it does not mean there’s no movements, far from it.