What is Solus?

Everything you should know about Solus OS

Solus 4.0 With Budgie

Solus is a Linux distribution, and a fairly unique one at that. Instead of focusing on the server market or being backed by either a large corporation or a long-standing community, Solus is a small, independently developed distribution focusing on the desktop. Solus is primarily developed by a small and dedicated team working diligently to ensure the project delivers on its promise of a reliable desktop operating system.

What is Solus?

Solus is a rolling-release Linux distribution, meaning it doesn’t receive major version upgrades. Instead, it receives new software as it's released and tested by the developers. This way, Solus never falls too far behind, but it also doesn’t suffer from the instability and breakages often plaguing other rolling distributions. Stability and reliability are major goals of the project.

If you’re looking to use Solus as a server, you’re out of luck. Everything about this distribution was designed for desktops, laptops, and workstations. It even lacks certain server software that wouldn’t be useful on a development workstation.

While that might seem like a downside, the omission of server utilities affords the development team more time to refine the Solus desktop experience. It’s no wonder, then, why the distribution is known for providing one of the smoothest desktop experiences around. The Budgie desktop environment developed for Solus has actually gained plenty of support on other distributions, quickly developing into a favorite among savvy Linux users.

How Solus Began

Solus got its formal start back in 2015 when veteran open source developer, Ikey Doherty founded the project. After having worked on several prominent projects, including Linux Mint, he decided to start his own distribution completely from scratch, with its own packaging systems and desktop.

It didn’t take long for a team of veteran developers to sign on, and Solus quickly caught the attention of the Linux community. The young distribution enjoyed rapid growth and initial success in those first years.

In the second half of 2018, Ikey abruptly left the project. In the ensuing confusion, the fate of the distribution was unclear. Thankfully, the rest of the development team rallied and assumed control of Solus, releasing Solus 4.0 early in 2019 under new leadership, and the project is back on track with new goals for improvement.

Solus' Utilities and Install

As an entirely independent distribution, Solus needed to develop all of its own utilities, meaning the tools holding Solus together as a distribution are all unique to it. While it might seem like trying to reinvent the wheel, it also gave the developers an opportunity to rethink the Linux status quo.

The Installer

Like many other distributions, Solus is available on a live DVD to test before installing it. With desktop users as its focus, the installer is extremely simple to use, while still providing options for advanced users where possible.

Solus Linux installer

Everything is graphical and displayed in a manageable way. It’s entirely possible for someone who has never installed an operating system before to successfully install Solus.

Eopkg

Eopkg is the current package manager and packaging format for Solus. Similar to the popular Pacman package manager on Arch Linux, eopkg was designed from the ground up for simplicity. The Solus team didn’t bog it down with needless features or lengthy syntax. Eopkg is quick and efficient. Installing new software on Solus is as easy as: using the following command:

$ sudo eopkg it package-name

Similarly, keeping it up-to-date only requires this command:

$ sudo eopkg ur && sudo eopkg up

Software Center

In case the command line isn’t your thing, Solus has its own graphical software center you can easily use to install applications and keep you system updated. You won’t ever need to open a terminal.

Solus software center

Launch the software center to browse through and search for applications, as well as read up on them a bit and install them from their respective pages.

The software center is also responsible for informing you when updates become available. Like with other Linux distributions, it’s not obnoxious, and it won’t force you do apply updates.

Budgie

Budgie is probably the most recognizable hallmark of Solus. While you can absolutely install the distribution with a different desktop environment, Budgie is the default option for a good reason.

Solus Budgie desktop

Budgie is an original desktop environment developed by Solus for Solus. It’s based on a lot of GTK tools from the GNOME project, but it’s something all its own. The goal behind Budgie was to create a modern desktop environment that benefited from the latest features without cumbersome design or instability, and the project certainly delivers.

Who is Solus For?

Solus is a great option for nearly anyone. It might seem strange that a relatively lesser known rolling release Linux distribution can be recommended for beginners, but Solus absolutely can. Because the Solus project is only focused on desktops and laptops, instead of servers, the overall experience is comparable to the likes of Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

The layout of Budgie is traditional enough that most people will feel immediately at home the first time they boot Solus. It’s simple to navigate, and intuitive enough to figure out what you don’t know.

Steam Integration on Solus

Gamers will also find something for them on Solus. Not only will you always have the latest graphics drivers, you’ll also have easy access to Steam, Lutris, and other gaming platforms. The Solus team even added extra optimizations for Steam on their distribution.

If you’re a more technical user, you’ll appreciate the up-to-date packages and wealth of development resources on Solus, too. It offers tons of workstation tools for the latest languages.

Of course, you don’t need to take the plunge all at once. Try Solus on a live DVD/USB or install it on a virtual machine. Regardless of how you use Solus, know that it's available free of charge.