About my Linux usage history
I’m using Linux operating systems since I’m a teenager. During my studies I’ve become a full-time Linux user. The majority of software we needed was running on desktop or server Linux distributions. For some software we had to use Windows machines in the lab. Later beeing an embedded software developer I worked with Linux again. In my private life I’v never spend a single cent for Windows or MacOS since then. But it’s time to stop the boring blabla.
Home user Linux distributions
I’ve used a lot of desktop Linux distributions over time: Debian, Linux Mint, Ubuntu Desktop (various Ubuntu flavours, means desktop designs), SUSE, … Over time some distributions have focussed on optimizing mainstream design, usability and functionality more and more. Some distributions can be recommended to Windows and MacOS users in the home usage scenario. Others can be even suitable for home users which want to work with media (video editing, …) heavily as well, e.g. Ubuntu Studio. Today I‘m going to introduce a solid alternative suitable for most Linux beginners: Solus OS.
The Budgie desktop
Personally I explored Ubuntu with the Budgie desktop before I discovered Solus OS. Ubuntu Budgie is a linux distribution which is based on Ubuntu and provides Budgie as desktop. In addition the default software (terminal, file manager, ...) differs from other Ubuntu flavours. In my opinion Ubuntu Budgie provides a way cleaner look and feel for potentially previous Windows and MacOS users than other Ubuntu flavours have.
Solus OS differs from Ubuntu in some important points. One major difference is that Solus OS is a rolling release distribution. The equivalent for Linux power users is e.g. Arch Linux. A rolling release is the “concept of frequently delivering updates to (software)”. This means the operating system is updated frequently. In comparison with point release distributions like Ubuntu changes to the operating system are provided over time with versioned distributions (e.g. LTS 18.04, 20.04, …). For end users rolling releases have some major implications: There is no End of Life for support. This is good because you have to install the system only once and do not have to update to a new version ever. The new software features and bug fixes are available immediatelly. Of course frequent software changes may potentially lead to an unstable system. However the risk of an unstable system may be managed using a backup tool. That’s something you’d have to do on Windows or MacOS as well for sure. On Solus OS you should use Timeshift to backup your system frequently. At the time of writing installing Timeshift does require a little command line voodoo. Probably there will be the option to install Timeshift more easily for desktop only users at some later point in time. Butt let’s stop w.r.t. software here an get back to it later.
There are 4 different desktop versions of Solus OS.
I’ve tried the Budgie desktop only. But as far as I know the Budgie desktop is what Solus OS makes so characteristic. The probably most prominent Budgie feature is the Raven Sidebar displayed at the right side of the screen. It allows software to be integrated into the overall system smoothly via applets (minimalistic UI for software) and notifications (notifications about any potentially interesting changes in software)
When using one of the other desktops the look and feel is more similar to other Linux distributions. Therefor… let’s continue with the installation of Solus OS Budgie desktop.
Before you install Solus OS you have to check the system requirements. As long as these are satisfied by your laptop or workstation machine you are free to continue to the next section. Consider that Solus OS (all desktop variants) won’t run on low-budget single board computers with ARM processor.
- Minimum of 10GB of disk space available.
- 2GB of RAM for an optimal experience.
- A 64-bit (x86_64) processor.
In addition you need a blank DVD or a 2GB+ USB drive for creating a bootable installation medium.
Run Solus Budgie as live session
Before installing Solus OS it’s reasonable to try out things first. Of course performance is not as it will be after installation. But many things can be explored without an installation already.
I’ll skip the steps of how to create a bootable installation medium. There is good guidance about how to do that here. I’ve installed Solus 4.2 Budgie on an Intel NUC. As mentioned before Solus OS is rolling release, means the installation image is snapshoted at a specifc version number. But after installation version numbers won’t be of your insterest anymore. The screenshots I’ve taken might look differently if you will be using a later version of Solus OS of course.
When you insert the bootable installation medium into the DVD drive or USB drive you’ll probably see a message similar to the one shown below. (The MAC address is irrelevant.)
>>Checking Media Presence......
>>Start PXE over IPv4 on MAC: <SOME-MAC-ADRESS>
The next step is to select the boot device.
You might see a message similar to this. This means your laptop or workstation has secure boot feature enabled.
You’ve to disable Secure boot in the boot menu. Restart the machine and enter the BIOS setup. With the Intel NUC this is done by pressing the F12 key but may vary dependent on your machine. Go to the Security section, disable Secure Boot and Save and Exit.
After restarting the installation medium runs Solus Budgie in a live session which means Solus Budgie is booted from the installation medium and is not installed yet. You can try out Solus Budgie. In case you like what you see continue with the installation described below.
If you decided to install Solus OS go to the Desktop and press the InstallOS icon. The following screenshots show a default installation for a machine with a single disk and a single, german user. A single disk system will be suitable for most potential first time users. Using several disks needs some additional considerations. The installation procedure should be self-explanatory. The installation procedure should not take longer than 10 minutes.
After restart you’ll see the login screen.
Congratulations! You are running your probably first Linux operating system.
To be continue
I’ll continue this post with an overview about the default software installed on Solus Budgie and system configuration options.