Hello! After having been using Solus for two weeks as a daily driver, I wanted to give you my feedback. It’s mostly a transcript of the video I’ve done on the subject, but it’s in French (if you speak baguette → https://peertube.stream/w/9SrnkXkE6Q5zxfwgsQ2GPC or Hope my English isn’t too rough since I'm a French person ^^
If I came and stayed on Linux, it’s mostly for political reasons. I’m backing a system where computing tools respect their users and users’ privacy. And I tend to give more credit to communties than companies for being on the users’ side. So as I’m still searching for the best Linux distro for the general public, I’m not only asking myself which one’s working the best, I’m also wondering what’s behind. Per exemple, even if I love Fedora, which is a real pleasure to use once configured, I can’t ignore that Redhat is backing it and half controlling it, and Redhat as a company isn’t exactly known for having good policies. And even if my experience on Mint wasn’t as good, I have to admit that it’s powered and backed by a community of developers and donors.
And I would have loved to say that Mint is the best possible alternative to Windows and Mac, but I’ve had some problems using it, reason why I decided to continue my journey to explore what the others alternatives can bring to the table. Then when I sasked if people knew other alternatives developed and backed by a community and easy to use, YouTuber VinceFF told me about Solus.
First thing I notice is that the installer is really easy to use. Second thing, it’s really booting fast, faster than Fedora and Mint. As I use two computers, I installed Solus Budgie on one and Solus GNOME on the other.
The first 15 minutes on a new OS are really important on my point of view. Most of my advice on a distro is decided by this short amount of time. And the first 15 minutes on Solus were close to perfection. All the basic stuff I tried worked without any problem, which wasn’t the case on Mint. Because Solus is independant and at the time of my review Flatpak were not yet graphically maintainable, I feared that the Software Center would be empty, but it wasn’t the case. I actually found it way more stuffed that the Fedora one (until you add the Flathub repos of course). And everything was really recent, everything I checked was the last version to date, which is really cool when you come from Ubuntu based distros.
Solus being a rolling release there are a lot of updates and I have to admit that I like it. I was just a bit afraid that it wouldn’t be stable because it’s the reputation rolling releases have, but since I’ve seen noone complaining about that here and Solus seems to have the reputation of being stable, I guess it is pretty stable.
Budgie desktop also felt nice. It somehow looks like a mashup between the KDE way and the GNOME way, like best of the two worlds (KDE desktop metaphor and customizability with GNOME simplicity and app ecosystem). Only problem is that you can’t search for files directly in the menu, but Nemo being very fast, it doesn’t hold me back at all. I’m not gonna say it’s my favorite DE (I still prefer KDE and GNOME, sorry xD) but it’s still really pleasant to use, and the GNOME ecosystem is very well integrated into it.
About Solus GNOME, it’s mostly vanilla GNOME with AppIndicator and Removable Drive Menu. I’ve seen people complaining that AppIndicator wasn’t working well but I’m not using it since I feel like it’s pretty much useless on GNOME once you’re used to the way GNOME works. I also tried to install GSConnect but it didn’t work for me, maybe something’s missing, but as KDE Connect does work, it’s not bothering me either. That said, it’s a classic GNOME experience and for now Solus is one of the only, if not the only easy to use distro that I’ve seen displaying GNOME the way GNOME wants people to use their DE (without a dock). And with GNOME Software now available (I’ve been using it for downloading Flatpak and there has been no issue yet) and soon to replace Budgie Software Center, it’s good to see it will be a complete GNOME experience, and probably the best general public GNOME experience you can have on Linux.
There still was some problems I can’t ignore either. Actually, two problems that I think can really bother some users and two that can be annoying but not as much:
1/ Light mode is buggy. On Budgie and on GNOME, apps seem to not be adapting well. When I switch to light mode, per example, Libreoffice icons stay dark. And GIMP just doesn’t change at all.
2/ There are packages not there by default that should be in my opinion: a Font installer (GNOME Fonts for GNOME and Budgie version I guess) and Libreoffice-common-dictionnaries (I was surprised it wasn’t there since it was in every distro I’ve been testing before).
3/ One of my printers just wouldn’t work on Solus, which is weird because the scanner was detected. Seems like it’s a bug and that the team is working on it and well… you don’t come to Linux for the printers to work perfectly anyway haha. Oh and I forgot: I think CUPS should be locked in the Software Center, I accidentally uninstalled it (don't judge me please) and I had to reinstall the entire distro. Don't let stupid people do stupid things '^'
4/ Not a problem yet: when GNOME Software and Discover will replace the Software Center, Flathub repos should be enabled by default. I guess it’ll be the case but I’m still saying it as it wasn’t when I arrived.
So yeah I’m really enjoying Solus right now. I actually find it impressive that I had a better experience on Solus than on Mint, considering Mint is way bigger (not saying that Mint is bad by the way). It’s my daily driver for now and will stay on at least one of my computers (the other one is cursed by the distro hopping demon). And since I had been on Fedora for two years before switching, it’s quite an achievement ^^
And if I can find the time, I'd like to help translating what's not translated yet in French. I hope you enjoyed reading this!