I’m looking into a Linux distribution called Solus OS and created by Ikey Doherty who gained a bit of name recognition for doing the Linux Mint Debian Edition.
Comparing the two there’s one major difference: Solus OS is based on Debian Stable with a custom repository of up-to-date user land packages like Firefox and LibreOffice. It’s not rolling. That’s a good thing, because LMDE had a problem with breaking.
Debian Stable is often overlooked as a base for building distributions because it doesn’t incorporate the latest packages of popular software. One way around that problem is by using the Debian backports repository, which bring in specific packages from the Testing repo’s for use on a Stable installation. Rather than taking that approach Solus OS appears to have its own repositories housing the latest versions.
At the moment, what goes in the Solus OS repositories seems to be changing and increasing rapidly. Ikey must be tired from compiling all this stuff at this pace! I’m sure the users of his system appreciate it.
Apparently they’ve recently partnered with a web-hosting service which could mean that they have a full-time development staff. That’s another good sign for users because it means quicker response for support problems and maintaining up-to-date packages.
In trying to think of other distributions that have a similar set-up regarding tracking Debian and packages a few come to mind.
1. Ubuntu. Ubuntu tracks Debian Unstable (if I remember correctly), but has its own vast repositories and a strange non-debian system of user packaging called personal package archives (PPAs). Main difference? Ubuntu is based on Unstable and pushes its own Unity interface instead of stock Gnome.
2. Crunchbang. Crunchbang tracks Debian Stable, but doesn’t have particularly noteworthy repositories of its own, at least not for main-stream software. Instead it offers a version with Debian Backports enabled. Furthermore Crunchbang is an Openbox centered distribution and shies away from Gnome entirely.
3. Linux Mint Debian Edition. LMDE tracks Debian Testing, and has its own repositories for Linux Mint tools and utilities, but not for major main-stream software. It has followed Gnome until Clem forked it and now sports Mate/Cinnamon offering alongside an XFCE option.
4. Mepis. Mepis used to be a fairly popular distribution, though I believe it’s fallen in popularity a bit as other distributions have become more user friendly. It tracks Debian stable and pushes the KDE desktop.
I might give it a spin, but I’ll probably just watch it from the side-line the same way I’m watching Mageia. Interesting distributions, especially for recommending to others, but nothing that really stirs me from moving away from Crunchbang.