Solus Rises from the Ashes with the New 4.4 “Harmony” Release

Solus OS is back and better than ever! Dive into the 4.4 "Harmony" release and witness the resurrection of this beloved Linux distro.

Solus is a fully-fledged, independent rolling release Linux distribution targeted at desktop users. At the same time, it is also one of the few so-called original ones – written from scratch, relying on its own software repos and package manager, EOPKG.

Traditionally associated with Budgie as its flagship desktop environment, Solus has had a difficult two years.

After heaps of technical woes and the departure of key developers, users began to worry whether the distribution would last. It even reached where DistroWatch put a “dormant” label on it.

However, all that is now in the past as the just-released brand new Solus 4.4 “Harmony” release firmly states that Solus is alive more than ever and is here to stay. So, without further ado, let’s see what’s new.

What’s New in Solus 4.4

Released precisely two years after the last Solus 4.3 “Fortitude” release, “Harmony” 4.4 has a completely updated package base and desktop environments.

Powered by Linux kernel 6.3.8, Solus 4.4 supports a broader range of hardware, such as newer NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, NVMe controllers’ RAID mode, better support for various light sensors and accelerometers, etc. In addition, the distro now supports secure boot.

Furthermore, the zram Linux kernel module is now enabled by default, delivering a better user experience on low-memory PCs and laptops, making Solus a good choice for older devices.

However, being an entirely desktop-centric distribution, all eyes are on desktop environments. Let’s see what has changed there.

Budgie

Solus 4.4 Budgie Desktop
Solus 4.4 Budgie Desktop

The Budgie desktop, the hallmark of Solus, looks better than ever. Coming in its latest 10.7.2 version, it brings full GNOME 43 stack support. At the same time, many improvements have been made, as we will mention the most important ones.

Budgie notifications have been given special attention, and they no longer cause screen flickering when in a full-screen application. Moreover, the notification pop-ups no longer steal the focus.

The significant change, however, is in the file manager, with the Solus developers choosing to replace the previously used Nautilus in favor of Nemo.

This is because, following recent updates, Nautilus no longer matches the look and feel of the rest of the Budgie desktop while also lacking some functionality.

But the changes do not end there. The Media Player widget has been redesigned to be more compact, and there is a new power dialog for session management.

For fans of smooth animations, the notifications will fade in and out upon showing and closing, and sound support has been added. Finally, a new button for settings is added to Budgie Menu, a new application indexer for Budgie Menu and Run Dialog, and a new Screenshot application.

GNOME & Plasma

The GNOME and KDE Plasma desktop environments have also received updates, as Solus 4.4 ships with GNOME 43.5 and Plasma 5.27.5 versions, respectively.

The GNOME edition has enabled Dark Mode by default, and the default shell theme has been switched to Adwaita and the GTK one to Adwaita-Dark.

Of course, all of the other GNOME 43 features are present. This includes  the new Quick Settings menu, the ability to switch between different audio outputs, the Files app improvements, etc.

With the Solus 4.4 Plasma edition, the changes are even more. Coming with (almost) the most up-to-date Plasma 5.27.5 version, accompanied by KDE Frameworks 5.106.0 and the KDE Gear 23.04.2 software collection, users get a wholly renewed user experience.

Here are some exciting new features, such as window tiling capabilities and a host of GUI enhancements giving users more control over their desktop environment.

The improved gesture support for touchpads and touchscreens, the new Big Screen mode for using Plasma with your TV, much better multi-monitor support, support for floating panels, etc., are just a few.

Moreover, the Solus 4.4 Plasma edition improves SolusDark and SolusLight themes, and the default application launcher has been replaced with Kickoff. Last, the Wayland session is now available out of the box.

Goodbye MATE, Hello Xfce

MATE, originally forked from the classic GNOME 2 desktop environment, has been a reliable and familiar choice for many Solus users. Its traditional layout and customizable nature have made it a favorite among Linux enthusiasts seeking a traditional desktop experience.

Despite this, its development is not moving at the pace needed to adapt it to the modern technologies of the Linux field, especially to be compatible with Wayland.

This is why the Solus’ dev team decided that the 4.4 “Harmony” release would be the final to include an installation ISO image with the MATE desktop environment.

Of course, existing packages will continue to receive updates to ensure that the Solus users betting on MATE can update their existing systems.

But there’s no need to be sad because there’s some good news on the way from the next Solus release, namely Xfce.

Going forward, to serve users looking for a simple, lightweight GTK-based desktop experience, we will instead ship an edition with Xfce in the near future. Xfce sees considerably more development than MATE and has a viable Wayland strategy. Work on building out the Xfce stack has already started and will begin landing in the unstable repo shortly after the 4.4 release.

Other Solus 4.4 Highlights

On the client-side apps, users will find many updated ones, among the most important being:

  • Firefox 114.0.1 Web Browser
  • Thunderbird 102.12.0 E-mail Client
  • LibreOffice 7.5.3.2 Office Suite

Moreover, for audio and video multimedia playback, Solus 4.4 offers software that caters specifically to each distro’s edition. For example, Budgie, GNOME, and MATE editions ship with Rhythmbox for audio playback.

In addition, Budgie and GNOME are betting on Celluloid for video playback, while MATE ships with VLC for video playback. The Plasma edition bets on Elisa for audio playback and Haruna for video playback.

Refer to the release announcement for detailed information about all changes in Solus 4.4 “Harmony.” You can visit the distro’s download page for the latest installation ISO images.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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