I have been watching the progress with Solus Linux from afar for some time now. I’ve even had other Freedom Penguin contributors share their thoughts on Solus. So when I decided to give everyone my review, I wanted to make sure I cover the basics…then move on to the stuff I cared about – using it as a daily driver.
Solus is not based on any other distro. It’s a Linux unto itself and this article shares my experience with it.
Solus Review – The installation
Honestly, installing any modern Linux distro is incredibly uneventful and boring. This isn’t a bad thing, rather a point of fact we need to remember when we read about or watch someone doing a Linux review. With that bit of unpleasantness out of the way, there are some cool items of note with the Solus installation I’d like to point out.
The user security policy for Solus is great. Some distros will allow you to utilize terrible passwords limited to under five characters. Solus puts its foot down on this practice and requires the passwords be longer than some newbies might be inclined to run with.
Because of this, I ended up going with a seven character password that Solus allowed without any further delay.
Another nice touch that made my day was that Solus presented me with the option to add additional users to the upcoming Solus installation. Best of all, the summary of each user to be added is explicitly clear as to the abilities and control granted to said user.
From here, I finished up my Solus installation and was ready to see what the desktop had to offer.
Solus Review – First impressions of Budgie
The Budgie desktop is fantastic. It’s responsive, logically laid out and reflects a balance between staying out of your way while respecting the traditional desktop experience.
One of my favorite highlights is how Budgie utilizes a traditional menu launcher, yet the settings and other elements of the desktop still manage to utilize some of its GNOME Shell roots (speaking of the gtk elements Budgie is NOT based on GNOME Shell). I especially appreciate the Budgie settings that seem to borrow the best of GNOME Tweaks, but do so in a more integrated way.
Solus Review – Package management
Last time I tried Solus, I found most of the programs I needed, yet still had to put in a couple of requests for some that I found missing. In 2017, Solus has added these applications that I need in addition to providing Flatpak support.
Software like Simplenote, MakeMKV, OBS Studio, Wire – all available in the software repositories. There is also a growing number of third party (often proprietary) software is also available in the Third Party section of the package manager.
The available Third Party applications is also impressive. All of the expected titles ranging from Chrome, Plex, Skype, Slack and Enpass are included. I especially appreciated seeing the inclusion of the Google Talk plugin. This is what allows us to use services like G+ Hangouts.
One final aspect I wanted to touch on is that there is a setting in the Software Center for those of you who might be on metered bandwidth. This is helpful as it’s turned on by default and helps to prevent heavy data usage when checking for updates.
Solus Review – Odds and Ends
In the above video, I touched on installing and running software that wasn’t made available in the Solus repositories. First off, it turns out that while you can absolutely run PIA (the VPN provider) using the OpenVPN client with 100% success, the Linux application that comes with the OpenVPN PIA script doesn’t work as I initially thought.
Next up is the PulseAudio Equalizer. I haven’t tested this yet outside of a virtual machine environment just yet. However, based on testing the GUI aspect of it, I believe it does indeed work and will be providing a tutorial on this later on.