This article has been written for two reasons:
- I was asked to review SolydX or SolydK
- I was reading a question on the /r/linux4noobs subreddit and the question was “which distro should I use?”.
When it comes to the choice of reviewing a distro running XFCE or one running KDE there is no contest. I much prefer to use XFCE over KDE. I have never been a KDE fan.
With regards to the question “Which distro should I use?” the person asking the question had fairly specific criteria.
- It cannot be a Ubuntu based distro
- Preferably it will be a Debian based distro
- Preferably it will run XFCE
There were other requirements but these were the three main ones.
For point 1 I have to say that if you are omitting Ubuntu and Ubuntu based distros then you are missing a trick in this case.
For points 2 and 3 I instantly thought “A Debian based distro running XFCE, hmm, what about Debian itself running XFCE”. So what about Debian running XFCE? Well that review is coming up next week.
I have been using SolydX on my laptop for a week now and so lets get started with the review.
The installation procedure for SolydX is actually fairly straight forward. It doesn’t use the Ubuntu installer so for this review I will run through the installation instructions. (you will be able to see how complicated my partitioning is beginning to get).
4. Enter a username, password and hostname. You can also choose your icon or take a photo of yourself.
5. Choose the disk you want to install SolydX on to.
The welcome option shows a standard welcome message and tells you that SoldyX is based on the Debian testing branch.
The drivers option shows a list of drivers that have been loaded.
The community option shows links to the project’s homepage, forums, tutorials and chatrooms.
The contribute option shows how you can get involved or donate to the project.
As mentioned before there is just one panel. The panel consists of a menu, quick launch bar and a system tray. Windows users will find this fairly familiar. Any applications that are opened appear within the panel as well.
The system tray has icons for notifications, networks, power settings, a clock and a volume control.
The quick launch has an icon to minimise all windows and show the desktop.
Connecting to the internet
To connect to the internet click on the network icon on the system tray. A list of connections will appear.
Click the “properties” button on one of the connections to be able to enter the security details.
This screen isn’t the most user friendly wireless configuration screen that I have seen but all I had to do was enter the key into the “Key” field and press “OK”.
You can set the internet connection to automatically start when you boot.
Flash and MP3
One of the selling points of SolydX is that you should be able to perform most tasks straight away without having to install extra software and with that in mind Flash works straight away.
As you can see Youtube videos work straight out of the box and also my favourite Flash game “Stick Cricket” also works without issue.
The music application that comes with SolydX is Exaile. It is one of the more lightweight music applications but it has all the basic features you need to listen to your tunes. More importantly the MP3s played without error.
SolydX is designed to be a lightweight distribution and as such all the applications fit into this category. (Well kind of).
Firstly under the graphics section there is the GIMP. This can hardly be considered a lightweight application.
Other than that one application the rest of the software that is included can be considered lightweight.
The default browser is FireFox. The email application is Thunderbird and messenging software is Pidgin. XChat is also included by default.
As well as Exaile for playing audio there is the VLC player for watching videos.
The office category has the stock XFCE applications Abiword and Gnumeric. These programs are fine if your sole use of office software is writing letters and doing the odd budgeting spreadsheet.
SolydX doesn’t give you too much software. There are some distros that bombard you with games (which most of us would never play) and some include obscure software products. SolydX gives you just about what you need without going too far.
To install applications in SolydX you have to use the “Software Manager”. The “Software Manager” is the same application as the one used in Mint XFCE edition.
In the top right corner is a search box and the rest of the screen is a series of categories.
Clicking on a category shows various sub categories and a list of potential applications.
By drilling down you can find applications that meet your needs.
If you know the application you wish to install then you can enter the
name or a description in the search box and a list of applications will
appear with ratings next to them.
Double clicking on the application in the list shows a description of the software and you are now able to install it.
Customising the desktop
To change the desktop background right click on the desktop and choose “Desktop Settings”.
SolydX comes with just the one wallpaper. To add your own click the plus symbol and find the picture you want to use as wallpaper.
It is also good that Flash and MP3 files play by default.
I had no glaring crashes or errors appear during my time using SolydX..
Thankyou for reading.
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