Solus 4 "Fortitude" review – New Features and Impressions

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Solus has released their 4th version, codenamed “Fortitude” this week, and it comes with a few welcome enhancements. It also marks an important step in that distro’s life, coming out on top of leadership and governance issues that delayed its evolution. Let’s take a look at what’s new !

Budgie
Solus is the flagship for the Budgie desktop environment, and Solus 4 comes ships with Budgie 10.5, the latest version to date.

It comes with some enhancements to its applets: the budgie menu now shows each app’s entry only once when headers are turned off, and it tries to remove the “sundry” category by moving apps to the “other” category instead.

The caffeine applet has been added, to allow you to disable locking, suspending, or hibernating your computer while you’re working.

Finally, the tasklist has received a lot of attention. The pop-over for each app has been largely revamped, allowing you to close all instances and windows of an application, and making each window’s controls directly accessible from the popover menu, to maximise, unmaximise, set as always on top, or moving between workspaces.

It also displays a favorite icon to add each app to the taskbar, and a “+” icon allows you to create a new instance of that window. The last button allows you to quickly close all windows for that app. Finally, a nice refinement has been added: scrolling up or down on an icon in the taskbar allows you to minimize / restore the window of an application.

The popover also supports additional actions for each app, for example opening a new private browsing window on Firefox.

Notification Panel

This is Budgie’s notification and widget panel. You can access it by clicking the notification icon, or its dedicated icon in the notification area. Solus’s developers have been hard at work on this specific piece of software. The calendar widget now supports displaying week numbers, you can activate that by using the Budgie Desktop Settings.

The sound applet is now divided in 2 different ones, for output and input. It also allows you to raise volume past 100% if you want to. Each app will also have its volume displayed here, so you can mute them, or tweak the volume for each of them without leaving your desktop.

The notifications also work better, allowing you to clear notifications for a specific application, instead of being forced to remove all notifications at once. That’s kind of a basic feature, but it was needed, so it is welcome.

Look and feel
Solus 4 defaults to the Plata Noir GTK theme for this release. I must admit it looks good, with rounded highlights and button shapes, and a vivid blue color that contrasts well with the dark background. The theme seems to use pure black, though, which I find a bit too dark, and makes everything a bit less legible.
Solus uses the papirus icon theme, which I learned to love while using a derivative of it on Manjaro, and it looks good here as well.

Solus 4 actually tweaks things a bit in the Budgie desktop settings: they decided to blacklist a few themes that are provided by default by GTK, such as Adwaita. Their reasoning is that these themes are designed for GNOME and GNOME Shell, and they do not provide a satisfying experience on Budgie. These themes won’t show up in Budgie’s Desktop settings as a result, but they will still be accessible from GNOME Tweaks, for people who really want to use them.

Some icons also have been blacklisted, such as the Breeze icon theme.

Other Changes
Solus 4 comes with newer versions of its core applications, such as Firefox 65, Libre Office 6.2.1.2, Rhythmbox 3.4.3, and Thunderbird 60.5.2. I actually like that this distro comes with the bare minimum set of software, except for the full LibreOffice suite, which I think is overkill for most people: including writer, calc and impress should be enough for the majority of users. HexChat, is here as well, and I still can’t understand why it’s included by default, but I’ll stop complaining about this.

Solus 4 ships with kernel 4.20.16, which is great news for AMD users, since it greatly enhances support for Vega10 and 20 cards. This kernel, coupled to Mesa 19, means that drivers and graphics support should be the best it can be for AMD and Intel users.

Budgie is pretty lightweight, not on XFCE’s level, but still on the light side.

Solus uses its own package manager, called eopkg, and actually packages its own applications, so it’s not based on a debian or red hat distro. This means that software support could be a little bit more spotty: if it’s not in the repositories, chances are you’ll have to build it yourself. Fortunately, the repos seem very well stocked, and as I searched for specific applications, there wasn’t much I wasn’t able to find and install. If something is not available there, Solus supports flatpak and snap, so you shouldn’t be left out of anything new, or any important third party app.

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30 thoughts on “Solus 4 "Fortitude" review – New Features and Impressions

  1. I am confused. Is solus proprietary? I mean it looks like that, from their website: "The distribution of modified Solus ISOs, for commercial or non-commercial purposes, is not permitted."

  2. Please make a video about alternatives to Google play store because recently KDE connect has been removed from it
    Update: Google has restricted KDE Connect in terms of SMS services but it's available

  3. It's a shame there's no wayland support. Anyone know what the plans are regarding wayland? Will budgie rely on mutter or kwin? Something from scratch?

  4. All in all, this new release looks very good, the features look awesome. But there is something about Budgie which keeps me from using it: until now there was no option to add a new panel on a second screen, only additional panels on the first screen. Is this fixed with Budgie 10.5?
    Edit: As it seems, adding additional panels to other screens than the primary screen will be fixed with Budgie 11, but not 10.5, see here https://github.com/solus-project/budgie-desktop/issues/436

  5. Solus is a great OS but sadly ruined by the strict and slight toxic admins managing the packages and when you have to fight with the developers and the OS to get software that Arch and Ubuntu or cant run at all it's a huge turn off and makes you want to move away from it..

  6. I've always been a huge fan of the Solus project. I was concerned what would happen to the project when Ikey went AWL, but with Joshua and the team at the helm, the ship is definitely heading in a great direction.
    When are we going to graced with your presence on BDLL (Big Daddy Linux Live). The host of the weekly get-together, Rocco, host a special Europian addition once a month. Check it out if you like. Here's a link to the BDLL site: https://bigdaddylinux.com/ or you can check it out on YouTube on Big Daddy Linux.

  7. Natively runs budgie?
    Based on the linux kernel, not debian, arch etc?
    Lightweight?
    Has great backgrounds?
    Supports snaps? (I'm used to the AUR so definitely gonna add it as a repo via the terminal)
    incredibly stable?
    All of this spoke to my ears and I am so glad youtube recommended me this video.
    I've switched from Ubuntu to Ubuntu budgie to Ubuntu Mate, to Fedora, and finally to manjaro budgie because that's my favorite desktop.
    However I've been on manjaro budgie for some 4 weeks now (and I'm glad you've mentioned it, because it's like this video was made for me) and while it's certainly not a bad experience, it is kind of glitchy for me despite reinstalling it. (Ubuntu budgie was worlds worse though so I'm not really complaining) and I've found little quirks I Highly dislike.
    I've installed solus within 7 hours of watching this video on all three of my computers and must say, I love it. Thank you The Linux Experiment! 😀

  8. Deepin is so far ahead of budgie at this point. Plus their recent version supports touch and 4k .

    Budgie is anti-touch. Basically if I need a non-touch laptop or desktop budgie is nice but deepin is nicer with more support for various Ubuntu community stuff

  9. curious at the very start you have like Plank or some dock that appears above the center of the bottom panel. how are you unhiding it? doesn't the panel being there get in the way of unhiding? or did you like assign a hot key to make the dock show?

  10. I wanna use Solus again, but last time I did, I wasn't able to access the OS after dual-booting with Ubuntu Unity 19.04. I'm gonna give it a go again when I get the time.

  11. Thanks, nice review with all the new features clearly described. Seems like if you update from 3.9999 that theme does not get installed by default.

    Actually I've never been fan of dark themes but only with IPS screens. And I have to say that for me that full black theme is more legible with IPS screen than dark grey/black. They for me are somehow distorted and I've been prefering white themes.
    So if you have IPS screen it might be better, but with TF it might be worse.

  12. Budgie really isn't my cup of tea but I'm keeping an eye on the Plasma edition. It's funny to me how little things make a difference to people. For instance, you liking that apps open in the center drives me crazy. It's the first thing I change in a DE like Cinnamon. Also not a fan of dark themes which seems to be an oddity nowadays. I appreciate your review and perspective on the new release since it challenges what I normally like. I like hearing a different take. Thanks!

  13. Solus was the first distro I installed in my transition to Linux from Windows. Solus 4 is a further step up and the devs need to be congratulated for their dedication and work. Great distro choice for Linux newbies and/or novice computer users looking for a great desktop experience.

  14. I'm belongs to Ubuntu and Kubuntu. However, for casual user, I think that Solus, specially Budgie, is perfect choice. Also for Windows users, it will be perfect, because it much looks like windows with more candy usability options.

  15. Blah blah blah budgie ant solus 4 gonna be qt blah blah we hate gtk, we will switch for qt in solus 4 blah blah blah. The page at the site about why moving on qt has not been updated since it came up

  16. I've been looking for a Windows like distro for a while because Mint hasn't really been great for me, and I never like the KDE desktop environment. I think I might end up switching to Solus after watching this video.

  17. They need to build a new file manager, use another one or an applet to deal with Nautilus' new version that doesn't support desktop icons.
    This is pretty annoying, it's always good to have the option to use the desktop.
    Gnome is always removing things, so it can affect Budgie since Budgie shares Gnome libs.
    If you want to be totally independent, you need to build your own ways to improve your desktop. Depending completely on Gnome is problematic.

  18. My absolute cringe with all 'modern' DE's is that stupid combining of the running applications to 1 icon. This always mean you have to click twice to switch to an application that has more than one window open (like my browsers, most of the time). I understand everybody wants to look like Apple and Windows 10, but I say nay. 😛
    The mayor problem with this, is that the option to split the windows is losing quality. On Cinnamon you can only: Group to 1 icon, or have them spread all over the taskbar. On KDE Plasma it currently works the best for me. ;-(

    I've tried Ubuntu Budgie, but that didn't do it for me. I don't really remember the details about why, but I think it just lacked too many convenience we might expect from modern DE's. Maybe in a few iterations…

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