Linux Mint is a popular Linux distribution tailored for beginners while providing a similar experience to former Windows users. In fact, it does a few things better than Ubuntu, which makes it a suitable choice for every type of user.
It is completely community-powered, on top of Ubuntu as its base.
On the other hand, Fedora is a cutting-edge distribution that focuses on incorporating exciting changes that eventually makes it way to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
Unlike Linux Mint, Fedora does not exclusively focus on personal use (or non-developers). Even though they offer a workstation edition, they aim for developers and experienced Linux users.
Fedora or Mint: What Should You Go For?
While we know that Fedora is not exactly geared towards Linux newbies, many users love using Fedora as their daily driver. So, in this article, we shall shed light on some differences between the two to help you pick one to use on your desktop machine.
System Requirements & Hardware Compatibility
Before choosing any Linux distribution, you should always go through the system requirements and check the hardware compatibility.
Here, both Linux Mint and Fedora require at least 2 GB of RAM, 20 GB of disk space, and a 1024 x 768 resolution display to get an entry-level experience.
Yes, the official documentation may mention 1 GB of RAM to start with but let us be practical of your use-case. Unless you have a vintage computer that you want to revive for a specific purpose, it is out of the equation.
Technically, both support modern and old hardware. You will only know how it works along with the software/driver support when you get it installed. Unless you have a special peripheral or hardware component with specific features, hardware support may not be a big deal.
Linux Mint 19 series still provide support for 32-bit systems and you can use it till April 2023. Fedora doesn’t support 32-bit systems anymore.
Software Update Cycle
Linux Mint focuses on Long-Term Releases (LTS) with a five-year support. It will be maintained same as Ubuntu. But there is no paid extension like Ubuntu offers.
Fedora does not offer an LTS release but pushes a new update every 6 months. Every version gets software support for 13 months. You get the ability to skip one version if you want.
If you just want to have a Linux distro installed for years without requiring the latest technology/features in an update, Linux Mint is the way to go.
But, if you want to the latest and greatest (which can also break your computing experience ins some rare cases) and accept to adapt with the major changes Fedora pushes, Fedora can be a choice.
Desktop Environment Choices
Linux Mint provides three different desktop environments — MATE, Cinnamon, and Xfce. All of them will have the same update cycle and will be supported for five years from their release.
Even though Fedora does not offer LTS releases, you get a variety of desktop choices in the form of Fedora spins. You get KDE, LXQt, MATE, Cinnamon, LXDE, and an edition with i3 tiling window manager baked in.
So, if you want more choices out of the box, Fedora can be a quite exciting choice.
The default repositories of Linux Mint (or Ubuntu’s) offer a wide range of software to install. But Fedora’s default repository sticks only to open-source applications.
Not just limited to that, Linux Mint also comes packed with Synaptic Package Manager which is an impressive lightweight tool to install software.
Even though you can enable third-party repositories in Fedora, it is yet an additional step. Also, the RPM Fusion repository may not be as huge as Ubuntu’s universe repository.
So, with Linux Mint, overall, you get more packages available to install and more ways to install software, out of the box.
Ease of Use & Installation
For an entirely new user, Ubuntu or any Ubuntu-based distribution generally fares well to start with.
Starting from the installation experience in Ubuntu to the ease of installing software while having the option to opt for an LTS release is what a beginner finds handy.
And, Linux Mint naturally presents the same benefits of Ubuntu with Ubiquity installer — hence, it offers a minimal learning curve, easy to install and easy to use.
While Fedora is not complex by definition but the installation options, package manager, and lack of software in the default repositories may prove to be a time-consuming factor.
If you’ve never tried it, I suggest you to go through our Fedora installation guide for VirtualBox. It is a good way to test the installation experience before trying it out on your production system of any sort.
Out of the Box Experience
The most hassle-free experience is usually the pleasant option. Well, for most people.
Now, you need to understand that depending on the hardware configuration, every user might end up having a different “out-of-the-box” experience.
But, for a reference, let me just give you my example for both Fedora and Linux Mint.
Considering I’m rocking an NVIDIA GPU on my PC, I need to install the proprietary drivers for the best performance.
And, when I booted up Linux Mint, installing the drivers were pretty easy using the Driver Manager app.
But, with Fedora, even though I followed our guide on installing Nvidia drivers in Fedora, I was presented with an error when I rebooted.
Not just that, for some reason, my wired network did not seem to be active — hence, I had no internet connectivity.
Yes, you should always try to troubleshoot when you run into issues, but I did not need to do that for Linux Mint. So, in my experience, I will recommend Linux Mint with a better out of the experience.
I would recommend going for Fedora’s documentation if you rely on resources and want to challenge yourself with a decent learning experience along the process.
You will find up-to-date information for recent and latest Fedora releases, which is a good thing.
On the other hand, Linux Mint’s documentation is not regularly updated but useful when you want to dig deeper.
You will get a good community support for both. The Linux Mint forums is a basic platform which is easy to use and gets the job done.
Fedora’s forum is powered by Discourse, which happens to be one of the most popular modern open-source forum software.
Corporate vs Community Angle
Fedora is backed up by the biggest open-source company Red Hat — so you get a good level of constant innovation and support for the long run.
However, just because Fedora is not built for the daily computer users in mind, the choices made with every release may affect your user experience entirely.
On the other hand, Linux Mint is completely backed up by a passionate Linux community focusing on making Linux easier and reliable for everyday use. Of course, it depends on Ubuntu as the base but Linux Mint does make bold changes if the community does not like something from the upstream.
For instance, Linux Mint disabled snaps by default unlike official Ubuntu distro. So, you will have to enable snaps in Linux Mint if you want to use them.
If you want a no-nonsense and easy to use operating system for your home computer, Linux Mint would be my suggestion. But, if you want to experience the latest and greatest, while taking a little adventure in your Linux learning experience, Fedora can be a good pick.
While every operating system requires some form of troubleshooting and nothing can guarantee zero issues with your hardware, I think Linux Mint will have potentially no issues for the majority of the users.
In any case, you can re-visit the comparison points mentioned above to see what matters most for your computer.
What do you think? Would you pick Fedora over Mint? And, Why? Let me know in the comments below.