I’m someone who has an issue with distro-hopping. A common problem with us Linux enthusiasts where every time a distribution gets a major update you just have to install it and try it out. Because of this issues I’ve never used Solus for more than a few days. That is until the last month. My initial impressions of Solus have always been great and I recommend the operating system to just about everyone. Those recommendation have never gone past my initial thoughts of Solus so I challenged myself. I would use only Solus for an entire month so I can give a proper review.
For this review I started off running the KDE Plasma version for two weeks then I switch over to the Budgie desktop environment for the last two weeks.
Solus with KDE Plasma
Due the familiarity of the overall user environment I had a great time for the first two weeks. I was able to get the exact layout, extensions, and overall feel that I go for with Manjaro or any other Arch distro that I happen to be using. The KDE Plasma experience within Solus is comparable to OpenSUSE, which I commonly tote as being the best KDE experience that you can get. Everything worked flawlessly. One common issue with KDE Plasma and KDE applications is occasionally there is issues with icon and button sizing and I didn’t notice anything wrong during my use.
Budgie Desktop Environment
So what is Budgie? Developed by the Solus team as their flagship desktop environment. Budgie was written from scratch, but it does use GTK which are the tools of the GNOME desktop environment.
Budgie doesn’t feature a large amount of customization options compared to something like KDE Plasma, but it features enough to make it your own. The user that ends up picking this environment is someone who enjoys the Budgie look as is. Here are some of the key features within the Budgie Desktop environment. To see a more in depth look, watch the video at the top of this article. Watch the video below to see my experiences with Budgie in full as not everything is mentioned in this article.
Using Budgie overall as a positive experience. Everything was where you expect it and the overall appearance is modern and elegant. With this said what you see is what you get with Budgie. Customization is highly limited essentially compared to something like Plasma. I hate to say it, but the customization options is compatible to Windows.
Raven is their cool sidebar tool. Seeing it is what first got me wanting to try out Budgie. It allows you to easily manage notifications, audio levels, calendar and more. I wanted to use it more than I did, but it doesn’t feel like they want you to use it. By default you access it by click a small button on the bottom of the taskbar. This feature needs to be easier to access either with a mouse gesture or maybe the option for it to automatically open when you get a new notification.
Overall, it’s nice, but I was counting down the day to switch to something with some customization options.
The packaging management system in Solus was fairly easy to get use to. There is not nearly as many packages available, but the software that is available is extremely stable, especially for a rolling release distribution. If there is software that is not in the Solus repositories, you actually need to request and make a case why it will be worth the developers time. Additionally, you can always build packages from source, but this is not nearly as easy as a single click in the software center.
Solus does get around this lack of software with the full support of both Flatpak and Snap packages. Solus uses eopkg, a package manager developed for Pardus, the nationally recognized distribution of Turkey. One thing I really like about eopkg is how the information is presented when installing applications.
Command Examples sudo eopkg info kdenlive - Detailed package information sudo eopkg upgrade - Upgrading entire system sudo eopkg install kdenlive - Installing a package sudo eopkg remove kdenlive - Uninstalling a package
Solus as a base is a wonderful Linux distribution. Out of all of the rolling release style distributions this is one of the most stable systems you can go with. The updates don’t break anything and the package management system is wonderful. However, there you will find yourself using container packages more than you would in something like Arch or Debain based systems. All my complaints with Budgie are completely opinion based and this could be different for you. It’s clean and modern, but lacks basic customization options you’d expect. I would recommended going with an edition with a desktop environment you are familiar using. Doing that will give you a wonderful experience.