Solus OS is a Linux distribution built from scratch, focusing on desktop computing. It’s well-known for its Budgie desktop environment, which provides:
- A modern yet familiar user interface.
- Aiming to offer a streamlined experience.
- Making it an appealing choice for both newcomers and seasoned Linux users.
The distro caters to various preferences and needs with its different desktop environments, such as Budgie, GNOME, Plasma, and now Xfce.
Exactly six months after the last 4.4 release, the Solus team has made a significant leap with the release of Solus 4.5 Resilience. This latest version marks a notable advancement in the Solus project, offering a refreshed user experience and a host of technical improvements.
Key Features of Solus 4.5
Powered by Linux kernel 6.6 LTS, Solus 4.5 Resilience features the Calamares installer, streamlining the installation process with support for BTRFS filesystems and custom partition layouts, as this transition marks a significant step away from Python 2, which powered the old installer.
Of course, being an entirely desktop-centric distribution, all eyes are on desktop environments. So let’s see what has changed there.
The Budgie desktop, the hallmark of Solus, looks better than ever. Its latest 10.8.2 version from the 10.8 series brings many quality-of-life improvements, with the most important being:
- System Tray Applet now draws all menus and items visually consistently.
- Support for Magpie – the Budgie-specific window manager.
- The privilege escalation dialog has received some valuable enhancements.
- The battery indicator in the Status applet now allows you to control the Performance / Power profile modes.
- The Trash applet has been integrated into the core Budgie Desktop.
Apart from these, the “Dark Theme” switch in Budgie Settings now applies a dark theme across applications, although some, like photo editors, might use their specific color schemes. This uniform, impartial setting aims to offer users a more cohesive experience.
GNOME & Plasma
The GNOME and Plasma editions have also received updated desktop environments, as Solus 4.5 ships with their most up-to-date, GNOME 45.2 and Plasma 5.27.10, respectively.
The GNOME edition introduces configuration changes and quality-of-life improvements, including a new grid view in the file chooser and additional accessibility settings. On top of that, the Speedinator extension replaces Impatience to speed up animations in Gnome Shell.
The Plasma version of Solus 4.5 continues to refine the user experience with bug fixes and translation updates, as the dev team is gradually rolling out Plasma 6 support, gearing up for the stable upcoming release expected by late February.
The latest Solus 4.5 release has been eagerly anticipated for its introduction of the Xfce desktop environment, marking the first time this distribution offers a version based on it. This comes after the Solus team’s decision in the 4.4 release to move away from MATE in favor of Xfce, a move they have executed impressively.
Despite its Beta status, the Xfce edition of Solus stands out for its seamless integration with the overall Solus aesthetic and user experience. We highly recommend you try this lightweight desktop for your everyday computing, as you’ll find yourself delighted by the excellent implementation of the newest 4.18 version.
The desktop boasts a stylish and contemporary appearance, thanks to the Qogir GTK theme paired with the Papirus icon theme.
But what happens to current users of the MATE edition? Generally, the dev plans to offer a method allowing these users to switch their MATE installations to either Budgie or XFCE. In light of this, support for MATE will be maintained for its existing users until there is complete confidence in the effectiveness of this transition strategy.
Other Solus 4.5 Highlights
Of course, the enhancements in Solus 4.5 extend beyond just the desktop environments. The latest release offers a range of significant improvements under the hood as well, which include:
Pipewire and ROCm Support
Pipewire replaces PulseAudio and JACK as the default media framework, promising improved performance, especially in Bluetooth audio. Additionally, Solus 4.5 introduces ROCm 5.5 support for AMD hardware, enhancing GPU acceleration in applications like Blender and supporting various AI tools.
Updated Applications and Multimedia Support
On the software side, the new release boasts the latest versions of essential applications, including Firefox 121.0, LibreOffice 7.6.4, and Thunderbird 115.6.0. It also enhances multimedia playback across its editions, with each desktop environment offering a tailored audio and video experience using applications like Rhythmbox, Celluloid, Parole, and Elisa.
Kernel and Hardware Enhancements
Shipping with Linux kernel 6.6 LTS, Solus 4.5 brings expanded hardware support. Notable enhancements include the integration of all Bluetooth drivers and sound codecs, adopting the BORE scheduler, and significant upgrades to Mesa, including ray-tracing support for Intel XE GPUs.
Lastly, Solus plans to introduce Discover in Plasma and Software Center in GNOME with integrated Flatpak support, migrate off Python 2, and transition to Serpent tooling in the upcoming Solus 5.0.
Refer to the release announcement for detailed information about all changes. Users can download Solus 4.5 Resilience from the download section of the project’s website, choosing between all four editions as direct download or torrent options.