Sodalite: Fusion of Fedora Silverblue and Pantheon Desktop

Learn about Sodalite, an immutable Linux desktop experience that seamlessly blends Fedora's stability with the elegance of the Pantheon desktop.3 min

A new Fedora Silverblue spin arrives, promising a unique experience that blends the stability of Fedora Silverblue with the elegance of the Pantheon desktop.

Meet Sodalite, a desktop OS crafted with rpm-ostree, offering users an immutable and production-ready experience that aligns seamlessly with the great Pantheon desktop.

How is it built?

Sodalite, much like its counterpart Fedora Silverblue, leverages rpm-ostree – a hybrid image and package system for the Fedora Project. This innovative system combines libostree as the base image format while accepting RPM on both the client and server sides. The integration of libdnf code ensures a robust foundation, and RPM-OSTree’s distinctive feature is bundling all system configuration components into a single commit, deployable across multiple devices.

In addition, it offers a stock Pantheon desktop experience with basic customizations. For those familiar with Fedora Silverblue, Sodalite’s appeal lies in its compatibility and ease of installation. Sharing the read-only, immutable nature of Silverblue, Sodalite adheres to a similar philosophy.

That said, Fedora does not officially offer any Pantheon desktop spin like others. However, you can easily install the Pantheon desktop in Fedora Workstation using the group install.

But if you want the silverblue flavour with Pantheon, then use Sodalite.

Sodalite - Fedora Silverblue Spin
Sodalite – Fedora Silverblue Spin

How to install?

Installing the Pantheon desktop on top of a Silverblue installation is straightforward, requiring a simple rebase. Use the following steps.

  • Install an rpm-ostree-based version of Fedora, like Fedora Silverblue, or use an existing installation. You can download the Silverblue ISO files from this page (choose the correct version).
  • Open a terminal and execute the following commands:
sudo ostree remote add --if-not-exists sodalite --no-gpg-verify
sudo ostree pull sodalite:sodalite/current/x86_64/desktop
sudo rpm-ostree rebase sodalite:sodalite/current/x86_64/desktop
  • These commands will take some time. Reboot when prompted, and voila! The Pantheon desktop is now seamlessly integrated with Fedora.

Note: The team provides several OSTree versions. For example, the “current” is Fedora 39. If you want dev version, you need to use “next” as follows:

sudo ostree pull sodalite:sodalite/next/x86_64/desktop
sudo rpm-ostree rebase sodalite:sodalite/next/x86_64/desktop

For more details on versions, visit the official GitHub page.

Features, Applications and Performance

When you first boot, the Pantheon, you get the basic onboarding, such as themes, accent colour and power management. And you are greeted with a nice and clean desktop.

The usual dock at the bottom and the top bar are present to give you much-needed access to applications. Overall, everything will look like elementary OS.

Various Applications
Various Applications

All the default applications that are pre-loaded are from the elementary OS AppCenter. Since you rebased it, none of the GNOME apps are there. So, you get the elementary File Manager, text editor (Code), Terminal, etc.

However, the Software is managed by the GNOME Software app, not the AppCenter of elementary OS. But the Software app is configured to give you the list of apps from the elementary repository, Flathub and Fedora stock repositories.

Pre-configured Software app
Pre-configured Software app

That said, Flatpak and Flathub are pre-configured. Update to the OS received via the official Fyralabs repo. Overall, you get to access everything which is available in the elementary App Store and Flathub. The elementary app repository does have some really cool apps, such as Annotator.

Thanks to the Software app, you can easily install or remove software using rpm-ostree. For a general user, this abstraction is necessary for an immutable distribution.

Performance-wise, it takes around 13 GB of disk space due to its immutable nature to keep all the commit data. RAM usage is around 1.8 GB when idle in the virtual machine. The “rpm-ostree install” commands may seem a little slow, including the Software app, which you should keep in mind if you plan to use.

Performance of Sodalite
Performance of Sodalite

Closing notes

The good thing about this project is Fyralabs backs it. If you are unaware, Fyralabs recently aquired Ultramarine Linux, which is a really nice distribution, I reviewed it a couple of days back.

So, the project can use Fyralabs infrastructures for building and deployment. So, the chance of abandonment is minimal.

In conclusion, it’s a nice Fedora OSTree spin with a clean look, thanks to the Pantheon desktop. And the configuration of Software makes it easy for the average user to start using immutable distributions.

Give it a try. Cheers.


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