The Solus GNOME edition has been updated today to the GNOME 40 desktop environment, so here’s a first look at it on the popular distribution if you want to use the latest GNOME release on Solus.
Despite the fact that it was released more than a month ago, GNOME 40 is, currently, like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it and everyone talks about it, but we haven’t actually been able to see it much in action, as only a few distributions are offering it in their repositories or pre-installed.
For now, as far as I know, if you want to use GNOME 40 as your daily driver, you have to either install Arch Linux, which isn’t something newcomers will be able to drop into, openSUSE Tumbleweed, which is a lot easier to install, or the recently released Fedora Linux 34.
And now, Solus joins the GNOME 40 bandwagon, as of today, April 30th, thanks to the hard work from Josh Strobl and his awesome team. If you’re a Solus user using the GNOME edition, the wait is over and you can now update your installation to the GNOME 40 desktop environment.
Since GNOME 40 brings a major design change to its Activities Overview, I wanted to see for myself what it looks like in Solus, so I downloaded and installed the Solus Edition on my machine. Keep in mind that the Solus GNOME edition currently offered to download (version 4.2) isn’t shipping with GNOME 40 pre-installed, so you’ll have to update it after the installation.
On a new installation, Solus GNOME currenly looks like this…
After updating the system to GNOME 40, it will look like this…
As you can see, there are quite some changes. The dock on the left, which was supplied by the famous Dash to Dock extension, which doesn’t yet support the GNOME 40 desktop, is now gone. As such, you’ll have to enter the Activities Overview if you want to access the dock and open your favorite apps.
Also, your Solus GNOME session will now open directly in the Activities Overview, just like Fedora Project did in the Fedora Linux 34 release, which I think is a good thing instead of leaving you with an empty desktop without icons or a dock, like in the image below. Of course, you can always use a Floating Dock.
Also changed is the default system theme, as the Materia Dark GTK theme will be used by Solus GNOME instead of Plata Noir after the update, the latter not being supported on the latest GNOME release. It looks like this…
Most of the pre-installed apps have been updated to the GNOME 40 stack, but some of them are still from the GNOME 3.38 stack or an earlier one. These include Archive Manger (File Roller), Disk Usage Analyzer (Baobab), GNOME Calendar, GNOME Disks, GNOME Screenshot, and Passwords and Keys (Seahorse).
Other GNOME apps that are available in Solus’ repositories, such as GNOME Photos and GNOME Maps, haven’t been updated to the GNOME 40 stack either, due to their new requirement for libhandy, but the devs said that you can always rely on Flatpak and Snap if you want to install them in Solus.
On the other hand, all of the extensions Solus GNOME ships with by default appear to work just fine. If you have other extension installed on your Solus GNOME system, you might want to disable them before updating to GNOME 40, as some of them might not work or cause crashes, ending in a broken desktop experience.
I’m a fan of the GNOME 40 desktop environment, and I like what the Solus devs did with their implementation of GNOME 40 on the Solus GNOME edition, which will definitely be pre-installed in a future Solus release.
Until then, I highly recommend updating your Solus GNOME installations to receive the latest GNOME goodness. And, if you really miss the old layout, rest assured that the Solus devs promised to reimplement Dash to Dock as soon as it gets support for the GNOME 40 desktop environment.
Last updated 6 months ago