Solus review - The distro that could not

Updated: October 29, 2016

Hello. Solus, I believe, is the continuation of the SolusOS distro from some time ago, which was an interesting and colorful little piece of work that piqued my attention. This new version has a different name but a similar flavor. Plus it comes with the Budgie desktop, which I tested approx. 1.5 years ago and found somewhat bland.

A bold statement, an intriguing choice. Shall we test? Absolutely. Let's give it a go. We will try to deploy Solus Stable on my G50 laptop, and we are expecting some resistance in the form of the Realtek network card, and perhaps UEFI.


Love me, love me not

For an odd reason, Solus refused to boot from a thumb drive, so I had to resort to olden tactics and use a DVD. After some noisy crunching, I was booted into a very pretty desktop session. I was actually surprised. Budgie looked nothing like I remembered it, and it seems to have made some big, bold leaps in both the functionality and aesthetics domains. But I am getting ahead of myself. Anyhow, UEFI, no problem, looks nice.

Budgie does feel like a heavily customized Gnome 3 desktop, and I'm not 100% sure where the dividing line goes. Overall, a nice, colorful combo of pretty straight lines, neat icons, and a vibrant approach give this distro a zesty dose of appeal. However, fonts are a little blurred, and the contrast can be better.

Desktop, live


File manager


The menu is simple and functional, but I didn't find an easy way to resize it, and some of the text entries look cropped. I wonder why menus are not rendered in full quantum units that matches the default text line height under the default monitor DPI and scaling.

Menu, cropped text


The Wireless was stable throughout the test, and I did not get any problems. Good. Samba sharing and printing also worked without any issues, the only niggle being the need to authenticate ever since that silly Samba vulnerability. We have an enterprise fix imposed on desktop, and that's just mega (MB) stupid. Bluetooth is something for after the installation. In fact, smartphones too, because I was using my USB ports for the external DVD tray.

Samba printing works

Multimedia playback

Things were just fine. Rhythmbox played MP3 songs well, and it integrated well into the system area. VLC played HD video, and you also get a pointless but funny screenshot of what a Youtube HTML5 clip looks like, because art is more important than technology.

VLC, HD video

VLC can be resized from right-bottom angle; other apps cannot. Purposefully off center to annoy you.

Youtubr, HTML5

Music, MP3

System area applets


Solus comes with a unique and practical installer that also makes smart choices vis-a-vis partitioning, almost as good as openSUSE, although this one remains the unbeaten champion of logic. The installer will also try to guess your location.

Installer wizard, guess location

Partitioning options

If you go with the last option - manual, you will need to right-click on the desired partition to change its mount point and format it. And then you get the summary of your choices followed by a simple installation progress bar. No fancy slides here.

Partitions, right click

Hostname, bootloader options

Install summary


But then ... oh, no!

The bootloader setup failed. And the installation failed. I was left with an unbootable system, and I had to go about fixing GRUB and whatnot, which is never really fun. P.S. This is actually a really bad one, but more about that separately. I was also feeling rather sad because I was liking Solus quite a bit, and after so many bad and failed distros, this one was finally behaving like a neat, happy little product. Alas, things were not meant to be.

Installation failed

What the hell is goofiboot?


Damn. I'm so miffed. I was really hoping to test Solus some more and exploring its capabilities. I wanted to see how well it would handle my smartphones, its performance, I was having high hopes around battery life, and the application stack looks interesting. This was also a first chance for me to check how well Budgie handles real hardware. All that was taken away from me by a silly bootloader error. Yes, the forum mentions it, but why.

Such a missed opportunity. Solus had a fresh air of originality about it, it had the right dose of good looks, and it seemed to handle the functionality side, too. My final evaluation will have to wait for a future version, as this one is a no-go. I would also have to advise you to be careful with your own testing, as you may not be savvy enough in how to recover from failed boots. Be warned. The live session was top notch, but no grade here, as we didn't really get to experience Solus. Sigh, Maybe another time.


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