Can Solus Replace Your Current Linux Operating System?
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There are a multitude of Linux operating systems to choose from. Spin-offs, clones and distributions (another word for “operating systems”) based on other distributions. One example is Linux Mint, which is based on Ubuntu, which in turn is based on Debian.

But not all distros are based on other versions of Linux. One example is Solus, an independent distribution that has been gaining traction lately. Its target audience is the everyday home user, and it delivers user-friendly experience. Let’s find out why Solus might be a candidate for your new daily driver.

The Solus Mantra

“Less is more,” which can be traced back to 19th century poetry, is the notion that simplicity and clarity lead to good design. This mantra is echoed throughout Solus. This may have even been a design consideration for the OS. Solus is built entirely from the ground up. There is no mention of an OS being a base for their own. While this approach may seem a little unusual or uncommon, it does give the Solus team a blank canvas to work with.

Now this isn’t an apparition that has decided to miraculously appear, Solus is based on Solus OS which began as a Debian derivative. Unfortunately due to lack of manpower, Solus OS was abandoned in 2013 to only to be revived as the Solus Project with its own roots and no basis on another distro. All of the flavors of Solus aren’t flaming balls of glitter with jet engines and rocket flares. While that does sound awesome, Solus is designed to be user friendly, but minimalist. You will find a clean, well designed desktop experience that adorns a flat modern look.

The Choices

There are currently three flavors of Solus to choose from, centered around the desktop environment that dresses it:

We’re going to look at Solus Budgie in detail below.

The Solus Footprint

The base install of Solus Budgie comes in at a cool 5.2GB and RAM usage stabilizing at around 780MB. Relative to a distro like KDE Plasma which reports 9.3GB and 590MB for disk and RAM respectively, the RAM usage does seem a shade on the high side. Daily usage, however, revealed it to be indifferent from other distros in terms of speed, and sometimes even a little quicker.

Having the install only taking up 5.2GB may not seem like a big deal, however it’s a sign of a lean machine. The leaner your machine can be, the better. Solus comes pre-installed with everyday items that are common to the average user. There is Firefox, Thunderbird, MPV and Libre Office. The approach on keeping the distribution free of applications you will never use is a wise, flexible one. As a result, this gives you the opportunity to just install what you need while keeping your computer free from bloatware.

solus linux resources

The User Interface

If your checklist includes a modern user interface (UI), lightweight feel, and frequent updates, Budgie has you covered. The flat icons, clean theme and animations make for a truly beautiful desktop experience. Everything just seems to be right where you left it. Regardless of the operating system (OS) you are coming from, Budgie will be easy for anyone to get comfortable with. The experience is well thought out and is accompanied by a healthy serving of customization. Tweak Your Own Custom Linux Distro with These Four Tools Tweak Your Own Custom Linux Distro with These Four Tools Linux offers a wealth of options for anyone wanting to tweak their operating system. You can also create your own distro, burn it to disc and install it. These four tools will get you started. Read More

solus desktop linux

Another welcome default is the notifications panel or Raven Sidebar. Once it slides out it provides some quick controls and ensures you don’t miss anything important. 5 Apps With Realtime Notifications About Almost Anything 5 Apps With Realtime Notifications About Almost Anything Stay up-to-date with the best notification services on the web. With these five tools for your browser and phone, you can know what's happening almost in real time. Read More You can take a quick peak at your calendar, volume control, music and audio controls and many other useful widgets. Raven is a seamless system that has an edge over efforts by other distros to provide similar features as well as being exclusive to Budgie.

solus notifications linux

Panels and Applets

To give the the most bang for your buck when it comes to real estate, panels can be placed on all four sides of your screen. While this is a subjective choice, it is a choice none the less. The included applets can be extremely powerful and useful. Some of the noteworthy mentions include:

The dock mode is automatically sized by the number of running applets This ensures your invaluable real estate is maximized exactly to your needs.

solus panels linux

Applications

There was a stage where Solus may have been afflicted with a similar problem that other new distributions fall short: software availability. Solus has chosen to go with the eopkg (formerly PiSi) package manager. Relative to the package managers found on veteran distributions, eopkg is brand new.

There is a Software Center which is sorted into categories, and then further sorted according to the flavor of Solus that you’ve chosen. If you prefer to install application via command line, eopkg mirrors the syntax of apt-get (mostly). However, the usual RPM and DEB installers are not going to be compatible with Solus.

solus software manager linux

This also means your software center isn’t going to be totally flooded with applications. As it gains popularity and attracts the right crowd, applications will be widely adapted and available. Starting a new distribution and package manager from scratch will come with this trade-off. This a challenge that the Solus community has taken head on. The basic packages you’d need for your typical desktop use The Best Linux Software The Best Linux Software Linux is full of awesome apps, both open source and proprietary. People new to Linux and even seasoned Linux users tend to find new and useful software quite often. Here's what we love. Read More — web browsing, screen recording, image editing, music players, common utilities and system settings — are all present with numerous options for each.

Distro Diversity

Taking things back to the drawing board is no easy task. It does however allow the developers to see things with a clear mind and try and start on the right foot. The upcoming announcements and steady growth are also promising signs, including .NET Core running on Solus, which could be huge for software developers. Solus looks to have catapulted itself into a plausible candidate for being an everyday users’ daily driver.

drawing board linux
Image Credit: cookelma /Depositphotos

What distribution are you currently using? How often do you try out a new distribution? What things do you look for in a possible flavour of Linux? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: erryan/Depositphotos

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  1. rey rivera
    October 18, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    i've been using solus os since version 1.2. i have several issues with this distro. firstly, facebook photos (on my sony vaio i5 nvidia gt 425m) are too contrasty (too dark) with no settings for adjustment. on mint 18.2 cinnamon, these photos look perfect.

    secondly, solus os can't read photos & videos from my iphone 4s, but mint can.

    and finally, packages cannot be held from updating/upgrading, which could be a problem with certain packages. in mint, you can manually update packages
    sudo apt-hold package
    my problem with mint is that i need to upgrade to the latest version every six months or so. it's like starting from scratch all over again.

    with a rolling distro like solus os, this is no problem at all. and that's about the only thing i like about it. that's why i'm keeping it still.

    • dragonmouth
      October 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      There are other rolling release distros, PCLinuxOS or Manjaro for example. At the DistroWatch site you can find others.

      • Rey Rivera
        October 20, 2017 at 2:17 am

        thanx for the info. i'm considering manjaro budgie 17.0.2 community-edition. never tried an arch-based distro though. hope it goes well...

  2. nubipengen
    October 18, 2017 at 9:02 am

    it sounds promising, but when i was trying to install solus 3 budgie into an existing multiboot system, but unlike the other distros, i was unable to install it on an newly created empty logical partition (/dev/sda15); the button was greyed (unclickable).

    it looked as if it refused to be installed in an already multiboot system.
    could anyone please tell me what was wrong and how to fix it ?

    • ayoungdukie
      October 18, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      You should check out their help forums, I believe a lot of people have written up documentation about using Solus with Grub. Solus migrated to exclusively using Goofi/Gummiboot with ClearBootManager instead of Grub, so there is some extracurricular work that has to be done to get it to work with Grub now. However, it will boot via U/EFI regardless, so if you change your boot order there, you probably already can boot it (again, just maybe not in Grub, unless you do some extra work).

      • dragonmouth
        October 19, 2017 at 7:44 pm

        "Solus migrated to exclusively using Goofi/Gummiboot with ClearBootManager instead of Grub"
        Another reason to stay away from Solus. Ikey Doherty is trying to popularize his distro by making it incompatible with the vast majority of the other ones. Even Canonical, which wants its own version of every app, has been using GRUB.

  3. Dakit3
    October 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    I currently am using Solus Budgie after using Antergos Gnome for a few months. I haven't really been a disro hopper, but used to make live USBs of random distros to try out. So far I look for stability and speed in a disro, and Solus provides that. It gives me no issues, and it boots extremely fast. I also love how Budgie is way more customizable than Gnome

  4. Maria Gp
    October 17, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Hello

    how can i obtain information about what kernel components and GPU are enables when using Netflix in ubuntu ?

    thank you

  5. GP
    October 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I have tried everything. In my humble opinion, there are only 2 distros worth something: Ubuntu for beginners, and Arch for advanced users. And there is only one desktop environment: Gnome.

  6. dragonmouth
    October 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I have always been a distro-hopper, looking for that perfect distro. So far I haven't found it. Every distro I have tried has had some shortcomings. I finally settled on Simply MEPIS but a couple of years ago its development was discontinued. Currently my daily driver is PCLinuxOS but I'm still looking. I have a stack of about 20 Linux and BSD distros that I am in the process of checking out.

    The main feature I look for in a distro is modularity. Once upon the time, it was possible to install only the modules one wanted/needed. Then along came Knoppix and LiveCDs where developers determined what was and was not part of the default install. Modularity was totally eliminated by Canonical's 'better idea', Ubuntu. Once installed, nothing can be uninstalled from Ubuntu without making the system inoperable.

    I suppose if I want modularity, I should try DIY distros such as Linux From Scratch, Source Mage, Gentoo or Arch. However, they require a level of Linux expertise that I do not have and computer horsepower which my PCs do not have. So I'm left distro-hopping and looking for the most flexible distro.

  7. Barend
    October 17, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Used Mint for almost three years. Recently switched to KDE Neon. Neon is working perfectly for all my needs.

  8. Stephen Welch
    October 16, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Just started using Solus as my daily driver after testing on another PC. Have used Fedora, Ubuntu, Zorin, Mint. Solus beats them all!

  9. Pardeep Kumar Bansal
    October 16, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Well, from looks it is more like a linux mint with cinnamon theme.

    • Nick
      October 16, 2017 at 11:54 pm

      It's not based on Ubuntu so it's not like Mint in the slightest. The GTK theme is called Adapta.

  10. Doc
    October 16, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    "You can take a quick peak at your..." A "peak" is the top of a hill or mountain. You probably meant "peek." Quite a few other awkward phrases in the article.

    • Yusuf Limalia
      October 17, 2017 at 6:58 am

      Ah! well spotted. Thanks Doc

  11. dragonmouth
    October 16, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    "Can Solus Replace Your Current Linux Operating System?"
    Definitely not. I do not like distros that try to anticipate what I 'need' to do. What does a developer know about my needs/wants? I want to set up a distro according to MY specs. Maybe for newbie Linux users or immigrants from Windows who are used to everything being done for them Solus may be a good starting distro. Besides, there are now over 300 active distros in the DistroWatch database, most of them claiming to be unique is some way.

    "There is a Software Center which is sorted into categories, and then further sorted according to the flavor of Solus that you’ve chosen."
    I still prefer Synaptic. It does all that and more. Most of the 'Software Center' type of package managers, and this includes Solus's, put their emphasis on eye candy rather than functionality.

    • Nick
      October 16, 2017 at 11:53 pm

      Solus Software center just works, plus with rolling release, no old software like Ubuntu/Debian..

      • Daniel
        October 17, 2017 at 1:06 pm

        + 1

        Software repos need some clean, mean, fresh working apps.
        This i like with Solus.

  12. Joshua
    October 16, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Eopkg is a big turn off, had solus for a while but lack of packages made me switch. Quite stable though may return if it includes deb packages

    • Yusuf Limalia
      October 16, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      Hi Joshua.

      That's really interesting. Do you remember which specific software you were looking for?

    • Nick
      October 16, 2017 at 11:52 pm

      It will never have deb packages.