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Void Linux is my new home

Date: 2024-04-25

A few years ago I stopped distro hopping. Not because there are no interesting Linux distributions, but because after a decade of using them, I gained enough familiarity between the different systems that I know what I wanted to use.

If today I am looking at my options, my first criteria is that the distro has to be systemd free. Why? I am not a developer, just a simple user, who already used at least a dozen of distros, and found out that systemd is very slow, and doesn't give the benefit it promises. Literally every computer I used a systemd distro on, the whole thing had a really slow startup, it used more resources no matter what the other part of my setup was (desktop environment, graphics card drivers, etc), compared to other init systems.

In a way there is no reason to distrohop nowadays, most Linux distros are similar, forks of others, using the same KDE/Gnome/Xfce setup, or for advanced users some other window managers. Installers can be text based or full graphical. Some distros are long term supported versions for environments that needs stability, others are rolling releases, which can be upgraded to the latest available software (depending on the maintaners though).

New home: Void Linux

For the last few years I used systemd-free distros, like Artix, MX Linux, Devuan, Slackware and now Void Linux. Void was particularly interesting, because it is not a fork of something else.

It is a typical distro for advanced users, who have some experience with terminal, and not afraid to look behind the curtain to see how things works, and willing to learn.

Void is not a young distro, first version got released in 2008. At the time I was still in my newbie phase, although I used Slackware for a year, which I am very proud of.

I have heard a lot of very good things about Void Linux over the past few years, but every time I tried it, something didn't work, that made me look elsewhere. Until now. Maybe my usecase changed, but also maybe they fixed things.

I use tiling window managers with mostly terminal/text based software, mixed with some graphical applications that I either install from the package manager or use AppImages.

Void Linux is super fast to startup, and I like the xbps package manager as well. The installer is text based using ncurses, similar to Slackware, but if you are familiar with any Linux installer, it has the same options. Of course if you are not familiar with partitioning, I always suggest to people to try any distro in a virtual machine.

Luckily Void Linux has an excellent documentation, so people who are interested in trying it out, can do it fairly well, and with great confidence. It really helped me to install things, and fix problems.

It is especially good if you are coming from a systemd distro, since it uses runit, which I would say it is much simpler for me to run services with. I had no trouble enabling and running Bluetooth for example.

This is also the first time, when I opened up an Emacs buffer, and started writing down what I do: installation of different programs, what I need to modify compare to other distros (like, package names), etc or the problems I had and solutions as well. I enjoyed make my own documentation process, which will also be good in case I need to re-install Void.

I even managed to made xmonad work, just in case I want to tinker with it again.

After almost a month using Void Linux, I have to say I really like it, and I will stick with it for a while.

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