Errm … haven’t I just said there’s nothing new in Linux and I don’t even feel like nillywilly installing just any new Linux that comes out just in order to dismiss it five minutes later? Well, not saying that I lied but here’s just that exception to the new rule, a kinda newish Linux Operating System that seems to be worthwile mine and your time.
As their website suggests the Solus guys designed their system for modern computing devices, and while that sounds rather fluffy, I guess what they meant by it are netbooks, chromebooks, 2in1 tablet/laptops and similar shit. Their desktop environment of choice is the rather chic but pretty optionless and primitive Budgie desktop.
Fortunately for us/me they also have a version with the good old and trusted MATE desktop on offer to download for oldfashioned desktop/laptop users who need their system for more than just checking mails and watching the occasional YouTube video. By utilizing the power of MATE they made Solus usable as an everyday workhorse and SL playing system.
Let’s see how it went down for me … so far. I’m not done with Solus yet. But more about that later. First let’s get into the installation process:
- First negative point is the fairly small collection of available languages to install Solus. US English (but weirdly no English-English), Chinese, French and a handful other languages leave the German user and their traditional QWERTZ keyboard stranded right away. Ok, let’s go with English and try to sort out the keyboard later.
- Secondly the installer didn’t allow me to name my litte netbook OrcNet – as I usually do – but only permits lower case. orcnet kinda defeats the purpose of the name, pfff.
- And my usual 4-letters password (you’ll never get it, LOL) wasn’t accepted neither. 😦 I mean, ok, I know it’s very short and not clever but hey, I’m a Linuxer. I expect my OS not to dictate shit on me but leave me alone with all my decisons, good or bad. That’s why we chose Linux in the first place, no? If I wanted a nanny system I coulda stayed with Winblows.
- After that initial disappointment the installation went quickly and smoothly without a hitch.
As I’d hoped for I was greeted by the familiar boring but so homely MATE desktop in Solus style. For the purpose of showing you around I left it untouched. We see the panel bar on top, nothing on bottom. I can live with that … for a while.
Nice touch that they not only show us available updates but also what we gotta do to get and install them.
Of course I ticked all 3 available boxes. 28 updates aren’t too much and Solus’ servers transfered the data rather quickly. This is what you do with every Linux system immediately after installation. Before you go ahead and style and tweak anything and install additional softwares you first do the requested updates!
Typical for Linux in general is the smoothness of all those maintenance stuffz. And contrary to Windows, you can even start working and become productive while the system updates itself in the background. That’s so pretty useful and practical and just great.
After the update was done, I started playing around and changed the desktop to my liking. Much smaller icons, trash can in lower right hand corner, panel on bottom, Firefox and Thunderbird launchers in the panel … and a different wallpaper. Stuff like that shouldn’t take us longer than, say, two minutes or so. Ok, already starts feeling like home now.
But there were more problems waiting for me:
- I know my way around the MATE environment like my own backyard but I couldn’t find any way to set the keyboard to QWERTZ layout. For fux sake. What’s wrong with the Solus guys?
- And, totally unexpected, the same USB port I just installed the OS from, now refuses to acknowledge an empty USB stick on which I wanted to push the screenshots I made so far of the Solus desktop. 😦
- Fortunately network connection worked right outta the box, so I could send the snapshots to myself via email. I mean it’s kinda stupid to send mails between computers which are located not even one meter apart from each other. But hey, at least it worked.
Well, I guess the USB-port problem is hardware-connected and not really a Solus problem. And the German keyboard thing might be my own stupidity as well, although I can hardly believe it. I really think if you’re not speaking the small number of languages they specifically mention in the installer you’re shit out of luck … like Orcsi. Not even telling Solus I’m in Hamburg/Germany (a location it obviously knows) set my keyboard correctly. So I can now set my locale back to South Africa. Haha, at least I speak some words of English and even have a QWERTY keyboard somewhere in the attic for emergencies like this. But honestly, guys, if you want Solus to spread and become more famous, you shouldn’t be so lazy and foolish with install options. Don’t you know how many countries use German and how many languages use the QWERTZ keyboard?
It’s quite refreshing to see a new Linux OS that isn’t based on the usual motherships Ubuntu, Debian, Arch, SuSE, Puppy or Red Hat. Solus is 100% it’s own homegrown, totally independent system. After playing around in Solus for like half an hour – which admittedly isn’t very long – I can already say this system did really impress me. Apart from my couple nitpicks, which aren’t real dealbreakers, Solus was fast and smooth … and stable. Even on my stupidly slow Acer netbook I had the feeling Solus was faster and snappier than anything the Ubuntu and Debian world has to offer. Whoa, when I get my nitpicks sorted out, I might have found the perfect system for OrcNet to take on travels with me. Now it’s all up to the Solus community and their ability to help me out.