Budgie: the desktop that set our hearts a flutter…
Solus OS had us believing that the year of the Linux desktop might actually be a reality. No really, Solus is a profoundly excellent desktop experience. The main thing that stopped me from moving wholesale to Solus, is that it relies on its own packaging system, and its own package maintainers. The great thing about Ubuntu is that it really doesn’t rely too much on Canonical for the packages, the vast majority of them are simply downstream from it’s grandaddy, Debian.
Moving away from the packages you know and love, specifically some of the more esoteric ones you have, can be a bit of a leap of faith. If you’re not quite ready to do that yet, then someone else has already made the solution – why not merge the best of Ubuntu with the best of the Solus OS experience? The result: Ubuntu Budgie. Budgie (and its accomplice, Raven) are the core desktop interface components of the Solus desktop. Stick that on top of GNOME 3 and plug it into the Ubuntu backend, and you have a very mature base for a very slick desktop environment.
Video or it isn’t true
We put together a really short video tutorial showing how easy it is to install Ubuntu Budgie, it also shows a quick demonstration of the desktop, the pre-installed apps and the unique features and design of the Budgie desktop, as well as the Raven sidebar. Have a look for yourself! As always, we really appreciate your feedback so please leave us comments!
If you’ve read Chapter 1 of the Ultimate Linux Newbie Guide, you’ll have a reasonable understanding of the underpinnings and history of Linux. However, what you may not know is that Linux is now a quarter-century old. Of course, when I refer to the word ‘Linux’, I mean the Linux kernel – the heart of Linux itself, which came along a little bit before more of the useful apps and tools that we know and love to use with Linux today. This video from the author of LinuxQuestions.org, sums up in a short five minute video, what happened over the twenty-five year lifespan of Linux.
From how it got started, to the SCO lawsuits, brew-ha’s over code repositories and IBM’s financial investments and the rise of the Internet of all Things Linux (IoT), this short video gives you just enough insight over your coffee break. Take a look!
Yep, you read the title right! Solus is officially the desktop that you could sit in front of your significant other. She (or he) could probably pick it up, say “ooh, this looks nice”, and then actually be able to use it, straight away without fuss at all.
Oooh, aaah, Solus! It’s a very pretty, yet practical desktop, check out that notification bar. How apple-esque!
Solus is not a server operating system. It’s not made for terminal tinkerers and it’s not made even for Linux fanboys (it looks a lot like MacOS, or even Windows 10 in parts!). But before you write it off, none of that is a bad thing. Solus has taken cues from the best of the operating systems around and kind of moulded them all together. What you get is a lovely harmony of aesthetic and function. The below video gives you a brief review and tutorial, in it you’ll see how to Install it, what it looks like, and what some of the nice, unique features of Solus are. Below the video is a little more, to conclude the review.
Pros & Cons
Solus is drop dead gorgeous. No, really.
Solus Software Center
It’s a really easy system to get going with. Totally user friendly. If you are familiar with Windows (or especially macOS), you are going to find this really easy to settle into. Great if your mom and pop’s Windows PC is doing it’s last gasp, yet the hardware is still fine.
It’s budgie desktop, whilst based on GNOME technologies, builds superbly on top of it and is innovative. It’s new technology unseen before on any other Linux distribution. The Brisk menu system as well as the Raven sidebar/notification system is all Solus exclusive too, these are big differentials and are positive additions to the experience.
It installs really easily, either on its own, or dual-booting with Windows.
Integration with GNOME/GTK and KDE apps is pretty much seamless.
It now uses a rolling-release mechanism, which means you get the latest and greatest Solus desktop as soon as it comes out. You don’t have to install a new version when a new version comes out, it automatically updates for you.
Solus uses a completely new package management system, not based on RPM, DEB or AUR. It’s called eopkg. There may be deficiencies in other package management systems, but is it really worth creating yet another packaging system for? The big problem with this is that someone needs to maintain the packages coming into Solus. The fact that Ubuntu has so many packages is because it is downstream from Debian, which has thousands of software contributors worldwide creating .deb packages for it. Likewise for Fedora/Red Hat. To have to do this all over again with Solus is a big ask, so packages may be slower coming to Solus than other distributions, or perhaps not at all (then you’re stuck with compiling software all over again!). This probably won’t bother 90% of the mom-and-pop users out there, but it will bother the casual desktop user that may want a bit more here and there.
NB: All of this said, the package manager system uses a system called ypkg to package the system for eopkg. This process builds (compiles) software directly into a package format, which reduces the overall time to make software in a distribution-package ready format, which is an arguably quicker method than developing .deb and .rpm packages.
It doesn’t ship with any Office productivity software. Although it’s easily installed in the Software Center, it seems a bit silly not to have the distro come out of the box with LibreOffice or similar. This could be a quick stumbling block for absolute newbie users.
Solus is said to be moving away from the GNOME/GTK framework and going to using Qt (the KDE application development framework). I’ve never been a fan personally of Qt developed applications, finding them slower and uglier than their GTK counterparts, but maybe I’m just old and biased! I’m prepared to be proven wrong, although it may take them quite some time to get the transition right.
Solus is a new kid on the block, but it’s been advancing quickly. In its current form, Solus has only been around for general use since December 2015, still, this hasn’t held it back from ascending through the ranks in popularity. At the time of writing, Solus ranked 13th in the 6-month page hit rankings of Distrowatch.
Just try it already!
What? You don’t have a spare USB stick and a half-hour? It’s definitely worth a spin, try it today!
Hitman is the game that took the games market by storm. The complete first season, released on 31st Jan for PC. Usually Linux is left trailing far behind, or most commonly, not at all. This time, however, this major games series is as up-to-date and ready for fun as it is on any other platform. You can get it from Steam, or via Feral Interactive, who released the Linux port on Feb 16th. There’s also a mac port for all you Apple lovers that still aren’t convinced by your favourite friendly penguin!
How does Hitman play?
From all accounts, Hitman plays very well on Linux, pretty much as good as it would on a PS4 or PC. The folks over at GamingOnLinux made a quick first impressions video as well as a detailed review. See their video intro for yourself below.
The game is not completely without issues *yet* as their review points out, but it’s 99% there by the looks of it!
To play this game, you are going to need some grunt:
Ubuntu 16.04 / Steam OS 2.0
Ubuntu 16.10 / Steam OS 2.0
Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz, AMD FX-8350 4 GHz
Intel Core i7 3770 3,4 GHz
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 (2GB) – Driver version 375.26 (tested), AMD R9 270X (2GB) – Driver version Mesa 13.0.3 (tested)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 (4GB) – Driver version 375.26 (tested), AMD R9 290 (4GB) Driver version Mesa 13.0.3 (tested)
Three-thousand games for Linux on Steam – Official!
Just a couple of years ago, Windows users would scoff at Linux users and ask, where are the games? Especially quality ones. Well, it looks like that’s changing rapidly. Mainly thanks to Steam, however there are other quality originals and ports out there like GoG. Either way, since the start of 2017, there’s been around 1,000 Linux games added to Steam, which shows their commitment to the platform is growing rapidly! Exciting times!