I have been using Fedora on and off for many years, coming from gentoo and arch it just gets out my way, lets me get work down with - for the most part, recent tooling on what has been for me one of the most stable systems besides FreeBSD. I no longer have that much time to tinker with Linux, and I never cared too much about how my desktop looked, just that my DE provided good keybindings (or a simple way to customize it) and a stable interface to get work done. I switched back to tmux from i3, as I find it more efficient for web development - web browser on one workspace, tmux on another possibly emacs on another, zeal for code docs, and a music player on another. I switch back and forth between vim and emacs as I love elisp and org-mode but really can’t stomach vimscript, but I digress.
So Fedora and the community has been good me for the past few years, but something inside me wants to switch, and no it’s not due to the trouble I had with the recent dist upgrade, but I want to get back to a rolling release. A stable rolling release. Stability for me is rather easy as On Arch there is Kalu and Gentoo eselect news provides great heads up for upgrades, and combined with the fact that I really don’t use much software on my work machine gives me a rather simple system and straightforward upgrade path; however, on a dual core T470, I don’t want to constantly recompile albeit it would only take a few hours every other week, I know that this would at some point annoy me. So that leaves me with Arch. I know this is a cop out of a reason, but the Arch community and philosophy kind of turns me off, especially in recent years. Arch seems like they are aligned with me in terms of how a system should operate, although a bit more chaotic than I would have envisioned, it appears they have gotten to the same conclusion as me from a completely different point of view. I don’t want or care about being elite, I don’t want bleeding edge for bragging rights, and the reason I care about having control over my system is for the times I need it, it’s better to have than have not. That degree of control should be exercised as an exception to the rule not the norm. Of course, to each there own.
It appeared that I would have to bite the bullet and throw on Arch or continue with Fedora, until a few days ago. I haven’t been distro hopping for quite some time, so I thought I’d spend an afternoon checking out a few newcomers, Manjaro, Antergos, OpenSUSE Leap, and Solus. I’d also heard about void linux and sabayon and though void linux seems fine, I have already accepted systemd (and given how much documentation is availabke online should a problem arise) I think I will stick with it. Sabayon is a good idea in theory, but I found it to be clunky, no offense to the devs just didn’t like the implementation, coming from FreeBSD where I think it is done right. Antergos seemed ideal and the community also seemed a lot better than arch, but I’d still have to deal with Arch community at some point as it is just Arch with some nice repos for essentials. Manjaro community didn’t seem all that better than the Arch community and I got the feeling that the cared a ot more about how there desktop looked than how it performed, also I can’t decide if holding updates back is a good idea. What if I need a security patch or the last update botched something I need, will I be SOL for two or so weeks? Why can’t I just read docs about updates and decide if I will update now or later? OpenSUSE seemed fairly stable but it really gives you the kitchen sink, and not sure how stable a system that fat can be. I know, I could do a minimal install, but had a bad experience with openSUSE before and I guess I haven’t really let it go. Then came Solus.
Solus bored me, and I loved it. It wasn’t full of a bunch of antiquated programs nobody uses, or a bogged down repo, it had exactly what a modern linux user would need. Budgie DE seemed like Gnome on speed (although I should note not on virtualbox, I don’t think it has been that optimized there, but not annoying slow or anything). It just worked. I hate menus so pleasantly surprised to see meta key plus a few letters to launch whatever program you need. I will make one criticism, kind of strange to not see vim by default, but I suppose their target is more beginner friendly, and who gives a damn anyway, eopkg install vim and done. Speaking of the devil, here package manager is the natural evolution and modernization of what we all know and love in a good package manager, fast as hell, clear feedback, great help menu - but no man pages? I think something must be up with that so I’ll call it an err on my side for now. Besides that I can’t find a flaw.
But can I use it for work? My most recent client requested an obscure piece of software for time tracking, so I said what the hell let’s check out the process to create packages and compile it on Solus. Went to IRC and was greeted by a few friendly devs, who helped get up to speed, directing me to resources and youtube videos. Yes. They even have youtube videos on creating packages. This is what a modern community looks like! The solus youtube channel has a series of guides and dev updates, that are really done well. Then I checked out the docs, some of the least dry technical guides I have read to date, and what’s more, the blog is so transparent about development decisions and reasoning for XYZ it almost seems like they are explaining it to the dev team and not the community. Coming from Arch where the community is clearly told, we do this for us(the devs) and you are lucky we do, if you don’t like it, build your own OS or use another.
So, as you can clearly see Solus left a bloody great impression on me. But it didn’t stop there. I happened to stroll upon a video interview featuring a fellow by the name of Ikey Doherty, the founder of Solus and this is where everything made sense. He really seems to be a passionate, smart, and (linux-wise?) guy. It seems he has had some of the experiences I have had on linux and, spookily, thinks the same insofar as to how a OS should work. The only ing I seemed to disagree on with him is c vs c++, but the general consensus is that I am insane for preferring c++ and given that I don’t use it professionally I suppose I haven’t had the bad experiences with it that are screamed about all over the internet. So I intend to follow this up with a youtube video when I get the chance, subscribe to their patreon page to help this dream OS along, and see if I can chip in on converting some requested packages or helping out with the dev team. I strongly urge anyone looking for an OS that gets out the way when you need it to, allows for a great degree of control, works out the box, and has a great community to check Solus out. And please do give it an install, it is blazingly fast on hardware.