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Solus, I owe you one!

Solus, I owe you one!

I am a relatively experienced Linux user -- started with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS in late 2009 as part of the labs in my undergrad institute. Various technology magazines made me a distro hopper in 2011.

Eight years with Ubuntu

When I stabilized back to Ubuntu, I started getting familiar with bash-script, learnt building unavailable packages, and became an ardent Vimmer. In 2012 I ditched Windows completely and started using Ubuntu 10.04 as the standalone OS on my Dell Studio 1450 laptop. That was a liberating experience -- no startup errors, superfast bootup, no antivirus scans -- awesome! When I got my new Lenovo laptop in 2014, I vowed to always keep my machine a Linux box. Ubuntu 14.04 kept my resolve intact, and never let me down in any sense.

By mid 2015, I started getting bored though. An older GTK version kept me back from updating my favorite email client -- Geary. The number of PPAs I had to keep track of was growing day and night. Meanwhile I had been getting reports of system crashes from my non-LTS friends. So I kept eagerly waiting for the 16.04 LTS, crossing dates on my calendar. When 16.04 arrived, I ignored my friends' advise to wait for a point release, and upgraded my 14.04 right away. I was happy with a few things, but disappointed by a big punch -- whichever advise on StackOverflow I follow, my touchpad won't work. I tried switching between libinput and synaptics, but in vain. The touchpad suddenly used to pick up after some reboot, but got deactivated within seconds. By July 2016, I was sure that after 8 long happy years, I needed to switch.

I tried elementary OS Loki for a while (which I had used earlier on a VM), but didn't feel at home. Though I appreciated the beauty and aesthetics (I have been using an iMac at work since 2013) a lot, eOS let me down on the same thing which macOS does -- customizability.

The Dive to Fedora

I finally landed onto Fedora 24 in August 2016, and tweaked GNOME to feel more like Unity (read DashtoDock, Topicons Plus, and the like). I liked dnf and its delta RPMs more than apt-get (and its newer avatar apt). Some simple things were difficult to do on Fedora compared to Ubuntu, e.g., setting dnf to use a local Intranet repository, finding the right version of WiFi driver, etc (my touchpad didn't bother me on Fedora). However, it was good to learn something new after many years, and the customizability and extensibility of GNOME made me love it. An upgrade to Fedora 25 was very smooth, something unheard of in the Ubuntu world.

Among the perks of Fedora, there were (quite) frequent jerks as well. (a) Every alternate kernel update used to give wake-after-sleep issues (my WiFi used to stop working). (b) The all-annoying alerts about GNOME-shell or something else getting crashed even when the system continued to work fine crept into Fedora 26 as well. (c) Around the onset (and post-arrival) of Fedora 26, my applications started crashing randomly -- sometimes everything used to crash till a reboot. I kept reporting bugs, but the most interesting ones never got any replies; the Fedora team is so busy updating things that they don't bother much as soon as a newer version of a component arrives and the bug was reported for an older one. So here I was -- a one-year old migrant to Fedora, excited by the customizability of GNOME, but annoyed by the unstability of Fedora.

Come Solus

And then it happened in July 2017 -- contemplating among the different OSes to which I could switch, I read about Solus. Though I was slightly skeptical of some false negatives spread about Solus (read one-man show, incompatibility to .deb as well as .rpm, and a minor others), I liked the philosophy of its founder Ikey. Solus's sole concentration is on creating a desktop OS (unlike Ubuntu whose focus on cell-phones failed to get attraction, and Fedora which is more and more trying to include everyone as its audience).

So I installed Solus Budgie (deciding that I will switch to Solus GNOME if I didn't feel home). Right from the welcome screen, I was greeted with aesthetics; and right after the installation, by its performance. Budgie feels just right for someone coming from GNOME -- it has a panel, gnome-terminal, online accounts, and almost everything a GNOME user is used to. Further, the developers of Solus have been making awesome choices, for example: (a) Sticking to the latest LTS Linux kernel makes sure Solus is stable enough for developers as well as home users. (b) The integration that has been possible by making choices from the ground up makes sure things work smoothly and that the developers can track down a bug, if any, easily. (c) The minor glitches of existing Linux OSes are constantly being resolved. For example, you don't need to reboot after a minor update from the Software Center, the suddenly-distracting big Activities Overview kind of screens are not flashed just for typing the name of an app that you wish to open, and so on. (d) Solus is the most responsive OS I have seen in many years (including Windows and macOS), be it bootup, work, or shutdown. In fact, after a long time I got my browser to open so fast that I can keep it closed, only to open it when needed (this requirement comes due to resource usage; Firefox is improving left, right, and center on this though). (e) The developers are not only techies, but they are also very cool. For example, pay attention to the message that pops up when the Software Center takes some time (a rare occurrence though) to find a package.

Overall, Solus has solved most of the problems I had with other OSes, and its development and philosophy make me firmly believe that others will go soon as well. The team (which is not a single man) is responsive, intelligent, and hard-working. The Software Center has most of the common apps and others keep getting added quickly. The package manager (eopkg) is as usable as the other options. They keep things that matter updated (for example, various command-line utilities), but take caution when taking a decision which may affect the stability of the overall system (for example, not showing any hurry to jump to Wayland or to non-LTS kernels). I owe the Solus team a big thank you (hoping to become a contributor, financially or otherwise, soon). You have made my shaking confidence over Linux systems strong again. I hope you continue providing the awesomest Linux desktop OS forever, at least till I live! ;)

p.s. The user-community, as I have been observing on reddit is awesome as well :)

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