The next distro challenge is Solus 4.1 Fortitude. Solus is an independent distro (not based on another distro) focused exclusively on personal computers. There is a heavy focus on performance so the speed of booting and using the system in general is noticeable. They have a custom installer and package manager and numerous other custom tools for managing your computer.
From the release announcement:
All our editions feature:
- Firefox 72.0.2
- LibreOffice 184.108.40.206
- Thunderbird 68.4.1
For audio and video multimedia playback, we offer software out-of-the-box that caters specifically to our desired experience for that edition.
- Budgie, GNOME, and MATE editions all ship with Rhythmbox for audio playback, with the latest release of the Alternate Toolbar extension to provide a more modern user experience.
- Budgie and GNOME ship with GNOME MPV for video playback.
- MATE ships with VLC for video playback.
- Plasma ships with Elisa for audio playback and SMPlayer for video playback.
Hardware and Kernel Enablement
This release of Solus ships with Linux kernel 5.4.12, enabling us to provide support for a wide range of new hardware from AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA, such as:
- Newer AMD Radeon RX graphics cards, such as the 5700 and 5700XT.
- Newer AMD Ryzen 3rd generation processors, such as the 3600 and 3900X.
- Newer Intel Comet Lake and Ice Lake CPUs.
- Newer NVIDIA GPUs such as RTX 2080Ti.
Mesa has been upgraded to the latest release, 19.3.2. Mesa 19.3 introduces OpenGL 4.6 support (for supported cards) and enables the new experimental ACO shader compiler, in addition to a wide variety of improvements for AMD APUs (Raven Ridge) and Intel Iris Pro Graphics.
Zstandard, Meet Solus
Solus 4.1 is the first ISO release to feature the use of Zstandard(zstd) compression for the SquashFS images. Compared to the XZ compressed ISOs from previous releases, the ztsd compressed size is a little bit larger. But as a result, the decompression times are significantly improved (3-4x), leading to a much faster installation process than ever previously achieved. In most cases, you can expect to spend more time filling out the questions in the installation wizard than it will actually take to copy everything to disk. We hope you are just as surprised as we were at just how fast this process has become.
This release ships with ffmpeg 4.2.2, the latest in the 4.2 series. This release has enabled us to deliver faster AV1 decoding by making dav1d the preferred ffmpeg AV1 decoder.
Solus ships with the latest release of gstreamer, 1.16.2. This release features numerous bug fixes such as:
- CineForm video support in AVI
- VAAPI H265 decoder fixes
- VP9 decoding fixes
- Various MPEG-TS and RTSP fixes
Other libraries have seen minor updates as well, such as:
- libogg has been updated to 1.3.4 and features faster slice-by-8 CRC32 implementation.
- libpng now has SSE3 optimizations to increase decode performance, as much as 41% depending on image size and type.
- libvdpau features VP9 decode support, HEVC 444 support, and new frame and field mode chroma types.
- libwebp features lossless encode / decode performance improvements.
- x265 features encoder enhancements for improving the quality of frames following dark scenes in ABR mode.
Solus 4.1 ships with the latest release of systemd, v244. systemd v244 introduces a bunch of desired features by our users as well as paves the way for future improvements to Solus around EFI support.
- Cloudflare DNS is now used as a fallback secondary to Google
- Improved security on 64-bit systems to reduce PID collisions
- Newer features in systemd-resolved for DNS-over-TLS
We have also taken care to ensure that software which currently only supports cgroups v1, such as Docker and podman (when leveraging runc, as opposed to crun) continue to work. So if you utilize Docker or podman in your development workflow, you’ll feel right at home under Solus with no additional effort around kernel command-line flags required!
Gaming under Solus just got even simpler! Solus 4.1 now ships with raised file limits to enable ESync support, raising the file limits in our PAM package to Lutris’ suggested value, so you can spend less time configuring your system and more time playing games!
Improved AOT Compiler for AppArmor Profiles
Solus develops an ahead-of-timer compiler for AppArmor profiles called aa-lsm-hook, which we utilize to compile AppArmor profiles leveraged by software such as snapd and improve boot performance by loading from our generated cache. During this release cycle,
aa-lsm-hook was completely rewritten in Go for simplicity and long-term maintenance, as well as enabling us to support newer versions of AppArmor which have changed cache directory locations. A benefit of this new support is the end user should no longer encounter issues where some of their snaps fail to launch after a reboot!
Updated NetworkManager and wpa_supplicant
Solus ships with NetworkManager 1.22.4. Since the release of Solus 4 and its shipped NetworkManager 1.10.10, new features and fixes such as the following have been added:
- Added an ‘802-1x.optional’ property to consider the wired 802.1X authentication as optional.
- Don’t disable PMF on Wi-Fi connections using SAE.
- Handle ReachableTime and RetransTimer from IPv6 Router Advertisements.
- Use the Network Cost Wi-Fi information element to determine metered device state.
- tui: support WPA3-Personal (SAE).
wpa_supplicant has been updated to 2.9, which enables support for WPA3-SAE and OWE. WPA3-SAE is set to supersede WPA2-PSK eventually with wifi access points now starting to provide a WPA2/WPA3 mixed mode. OWE (Opportunistic Wireless Encryption) uses SAE (Simultaneous Authentication of Equals) to encrypt open wifi networks where possible.
Solus offers four choices of desktops, their own Budgie, GNOME, Plasma and MATE. Feel free to try any or all of them over the next few weeks (or none if you don’t have the time or interest…you’re still welcome to join the show).
Thank you to the Solus team for the new release. We look forward to testing it out over the next two weeks!