Tom's Review of Mint vs EndeavourOS vs Pop! vs Fedora

Tom Clark 2022/01/10 10:06

So, last week I setup four Linux installs on my new gaming PC. I followed this video to do this successfully. However, I will add that I regret using a memory swap file because Fedora does not play nice with a memory swap file created by Mint. I've heard that if you have 16GB of Ram you don't need/want a swap file anyway. However, I don't think it hurts to have a swap file, so I always create one that is the same size of my RAM. I am upgrading to 32gig of RAM so that's the size of the memory swap I set up. It's probably not going to help anything but I have plenty of room on my system.

Here is the video on how to setup a multi-boot system:

How to Dualboot and Multiboot Linux (and Windows)
by DorianDotSlash via Youtube

After I installed Mint, I installed EndeavourOS with the Cinnamon Desktop. EndeavourOS is an Arch distribution and I've come across quite a few Arch users that say Arch is great for gaming. So, I gave it a try. The same was said for Pop!OS which is not Arch, but rather a Debian/Ubuntu derivative (just like Mint). I also tried Fedora which is a well-loved main branch of Linux.

I should backup and explain that there are three main Linux lineages (or branches) nowadays. Arch, Debian, and Fedora. Arch is the king of the rolling release, and this lineage is somewhat favored by people that want to spend time tinkering with the system and seem to disfavor OS's that are – I'd guess I'd say “curated”? Maybe that's not exactly fair, as one of the most popular distros in Arch is Manjaro and I think it's more curated than other distros in that lineage. But, Arch is consider a bleeding edge distro, where it's often times easier to get new software but that software could break other software or introduce a security issue that hasn't been vetted. For Gamers or people that want to learn Linux from the ground up, I think Arch is fine. For businesses, I would say it's not worth the risk.

Debian is the queen of stability and is the most popular branch as far as desktop Linux is concerned. Actually, most of the popular distros have Debian as the grandparent and Ubuntu as the parent. Debian is supposedly super-stable and probably a great choice for businesses and servers. However, it can be slow to adopt new versions of software, etc. So, many years ago now Ubuntu came along and created it's own Debian-derived repository and in that repository did a lot of work to get newer software and standards out and available to users.

And Fedora, well I think it's a stable branch but it's not as popular as the Debian branch. I just don't have a lot of knowledge about it, but it is generally well-supported and regarded from everything I've heard and the little I've seen of it.

So, let's talk about the distros I reviewed. First up was EndeavourOS with the Cinnamon desktop. It works fine. But it really wasn't well polished and showing me the more complete experience you get with Mint. Installing software wasn't hard, but I don't think it had an app store IIRC. So, I used the terminal to install some software and everything worked great. And I'm sure if I wanted to spend some time tinkering I could get it feeling a bit more comfortable to me.

Next, I'll tackle Pop!OS and Fedora together because they both use an Android-like interface. That's fine for a tablet, but I think it's ridiculous for a traditional PC. I was able to install software on both systems and use applications, but due to the tablet-kin interface, I could not be bothered to suffer that for too long.

So that's when I went back to Mint to start looking at whether or not gaming can be good on Mint. Mint has several versions to pick from. I tried LM20.3 Cinnamon, but one of the moderators suggested I try LM20.2Edge which adopts newer Linux kernels and drivers much faster than regular Cinnamon. Mint allows you to install Steam normally and via Flatpak. I installed via Flatpak and the first seven games I tried did not work despite having Gold/Platinum/Native ratings at protondb.com. So, once again to the forums and it was suggested that the Flatpak was the problem. So, I removed the Flatpak and installed the normal version. Once that was done, I've tried 9 games and they all work:

I will say that some take a bit longer to load than in Windows, especially the first time you run them. But for me, to get rid of Windows 10 taking up my bandwidth and stealing all my information and it's incessant marketing to me… well I can handle load times that take a bit longer. Steam works, Steam chat works, and it's just going to get better. If there is a game that will not run or run well on Mint, I still have Windows 10 on a hard drive and I can enable the drive in my UEFI and spin it up if needed. Other than that, it's goodbye Windows 10.

Now is Mint a better gaming experience than Windows 10. The answer to that is NO! But it's a perfectly fine gaming experience for my type of use. Let me explain. A couple of years ago I just got sick of games that spend inordinate amounts of effort in milking their users through lootboxes, microtransactions, and pulling out game experiences and then selling it back to you in a DLC. So, I'm not a purist, and if you have microtransactions that stay out of your way and aren't predatory, well that's okay. IMHO too much focus is put into “skins” to sell you. And that's why games are so childish-whacko-goofy (aka Fortnite vs Rainbow Six: Las Vegas 2). Even Rainbow Six Siege has goofy operatives. So all of that stuff has turned me off the AAA early-adopter treadmill. I'd much rather play Kingdom Come: Deliverance or Squad or Valheim. I like a game that takes itself seriously even if it has a fantasy element. Like Divinity Original Sin 2, etc.

So, for me the AA and Indie market is going to have the games that I want to play. And I usually won't pick up any game until it gets a deep discount. There are plenty of very inexpensive games out there to choose from. But if you are the type that MUST play the NEWEST AAA game on the day it is released, then you are going to have to put up with Windows 10 and 11, I'm afraid. Other than that, gaming on Linux through Steam is here. There are going to be some games you have to tweak (like we used to have to do a lot for DOS and older versions of Windows) but I've hit 9 out of 9 successfully so far and that's good enough for me. The only one that was much of a hassle was Far Cry 5, I had to reboot my system after Steam got the Ubisoft launcher on my system for me. And BOY that took a long time to install, but I did get all the games to work without touching any config files or the terminal. That's a good sign.