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Solus Again Navigating Rough Seas as Co-lead Quits

Solus OS’s’s co-lead developer leaves to help the project’s founder develop another distro, SerpentOS, but will continue to be lead developer for the Budgie desktop environment, which will become an independent project. Confused? Don’t be. We’ll explain it all.

There’s been something of a brouhaha at the Linux distribution Solus OS, a popular independent distro that’s available with its own homegrown Budgie desktop environment, Gnome, Mate, or KDE. The result is that Joshua Strobl, a co-lead at the project, has abruptly stepped down.

News of the situation became available on New Year’s Day when Strobl sent the following tweet:

The link at the bottom of the tweet points to a statement that one journalist accurately called “vague.” In it, Strobl appears to be frustrated with his dealings with other Solus developers, but stops short of mentioning names.

“To summarize why I am resigning from Solus, I have attempted to raise a wide range of issues which affect the ability to contribute to Solus, both from myself and others in the community….,” he began (I’m lightly editing here for readability). “I presented feedback based on issues that were raised to me by a formal global maintainer for Solus. I won’t delve into details, because frankly I don’t want to air dirty laundry….but the fact is that the feedback wasn’t acted on and that was in September.”

“In October, additional behavior brought me to a breaking point,” he added. “I basically resigned from Solus at that point, in our development channel. If it wasn’t for folks reaching out, I would’ve followed through.

“And here we are again, with further issues not being addressed, and rather than the parties accepting their part/responsibility, it’s been just deflected and not acknowledged. No issues I raised addressed, nothing I felt needed for Solus’ community improvement addressed either.”

My take? It appears that what we have here is an old fashioned, Led Zeppelin style communication breakdown.

Or, as Dave Mason once said, “There are no good guys; there are no bad guys. There’s only you and me and we just disagree.”

Deja Vu All Over Again

Things seem to happen in twos at Solus.

For example, this wasn’t the first time a Solus leader has walked away from the project without notice. In 2018, the project’s founder and lead developer, Ikey Doherty, walked away from Solus, evidently ghosting the project without telling anyone he’d quit until 30 days had passed, which is how Strobl became a co-lead.

That wasn’t the first time Doherty had walked away from a distro called Solus, nor was the Solus distro he left behind in 2018 the first Linux distro founded by Doherty to bear the name Solus.

Back in the days of Gnome 2.X, Doherty started a Debian-based distro, also called Solus, which was the subject of FOSS Force writer Ken Starks’ first column on this site. Less than a week after the publication of that column (in which Starks lauded both SolusOS and its founder), Doherty announced he was shutting the project down, which he did.

After leaving the first incarnation of Solus behind, Doherty took a job as a software engineer at Intel, where he was part of the developer team for the Clear Linux project, and at some point started work on a personal project, EvolveOS. That project was eventually forced to change its name due to a trademark dispute, and because he had the trademark and domain name for Solus leftover from his previous project, Doherty revised the name — which means not only has there been two separate distros named Solus, but that the second version has had two names.

After leaving the new Solus in 2018, Doherty took employment at Intel for a second time, this go round as a senior software engineer, where he again worked on Clear OS, this time leading the project’s desktop efforts. He also started another Linux distro on the side, called SerpentOS.

Confused by continuous dualism? Don’t be, because there’s more.

In Strobl’s New Year’s Day statement, he said that his plans were to join Ikey to work on SerpentOS. This will be the second time Strobl’s worked with Doherty — and the second distro on which they’ve worked together.

As I said: twos.

What This Means for Solus

The good news is that life goes on for Solus OS, as well as with Budgie, which started life as a DE unique to Solus, but which is now the default for several other Linux distros as well.

Strobl has been the lead developer for Budgie since Doherty left in 2018, and that’s going to continue. Strobl indicated that he plans to remain in that role and that he’ll be creating a new organization to handle the desktop’s business and roadmap going forward.

“I will be inviting people from Ubuntu Budgie, Endeavour OS, etc. [both distros that use Budgie by default], not just to be participants, but partners,” he said. “I will be carrying on Budgie 10 series and opening it more. I will be doing the same for Budgie 11.”

He also said that he will strive to make his exit from Solus easy for remaining project members.

“You can fully expect a graceful hand off of assets that I have,” he said. “There will be no disruptions for the domain; there won’t be any mess with SendGrid. That wouldn’t be fair to the team. That wouldn’t be fair to you.”

One Comment

  1. Anonymous Anonymous January 8, 2022

    Helpful explanation of the history. One correction – Endeavour OS does not use Budgie by default (it is available alongside other desktop environments, and the live ISO uses Xfce).

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