Ramblings of a Linux Old Sea Wolf...
After spending most of the morning viewing threads about new users struggling to install Linux with Steam as their motivation for doing so, I couldn't help but to remember the old days when I first started fiddling with the Penguin in the mid 90s.
Back in those days, and you have to keep in mind that even major hardware vendors had support (anyone remember 3dfx still?) and some games were made available (Loki), the major showstopper back then wasn't about games as much as.... Internet access!!!
Yes! Back in the days before broadband widespread, what kept people off the Linux Deskop wasn't lack of applications as much as it is today, but rather specific hardware support for Internet access... And I do not mean here ethernet, or even wireless (yes there was wireless back then too, only not as widely available), but rather hardwas support for modems, as the bulk were actually soft-modems meaning there was no actual silicon doing the signal coding, but rather the CPU did that and the hardware only provided the phone line connectivity (in a very simplistic kind of explanation, of course!). Back then hardware modems (painless to get going in Linux, as only very few soft-modems did have actual support) were difficult to come by and even quite expensive. DSL and Cable saw the days of the Dial-Up Internet accesss dead (king for pretty much all the 90s).
Obviously then came many changes, nvidia bought up 3dfx, broad band internet access changed the face of gaming in many ways, and suddenly gaming became pretty much the main reason (that and also productivity proprietary software, AKA MSO), at some point I'd say the reasons given were 65% lack of productivity software, 25% gaming, 20% miscelaneous, including Dial-Up internet access... But as the 2000s passed, the shift was to about 50% gaming, 25% productivity apps, 10% lost to Mac, 10% miscelaneous, 5% disinterest. And to my surprise this seems to have been sticking even more in recent years.
In the last five or so years, the strides made frist by OOo and then by LO in becoming a viable alternative to MSO for most of the tasks (and even could be a total replacement if compatibility wasn't required) with only a few gripes here and there, and other applications that people simply need on a regular basis (be it from Adobe, or other vendors as well). At any rate, in the end the gaming balance seems to be tilting in favor of Linux with the coming of Steam to Linux, and not only with their software, but also from other developers as well... And for what I'm seeing, this has had also a positive impact in Linux gamers.