The Linux Rain Linux General/Gaming News, Reviews and Tutorials

Void Linux, the Little Distro That Could

By Andrew Powell, published 14/10/2017 in Editorial

So, way, way back in ancient times (well, May of this year) I wrote of a little distribution called Void Linux, which you can see here. Basically, I thought it was pretty swell. A few months on and nothing much has changed. And that is a good thing!

It's been a while since I've posted anything on The Linux Rain, at least personally. Bob Mesibov keeps pumping out amazing amounts of CLI and data processing content as anyone reading TLR would notice, but personally I've honestly had not a lot to write about combined with the hassles of everyday life. I haven't even been playing any Linux games really! Which is a bit crazy, as Linux as a gaming platform has been doing quite well lately, albeit in slow but steady manner. But there's already more games available for Linux than could hope to get through in any reasonable amount of time, which is quite a change from some years ago.

Anyway, I thought I should write about something and I figured what better way to than to give Void Linux a bit more love?

I heart Void

Void really has surprised me. The reasons may surprise or bemuse some, though. Quite simply, it's not necessarily anything that Void does exceptionally well or different. It's more that it DOESN'T do anything out of the ordinary. It just... works. All the time.

"But we have Debian/CentOS/<insert stable non exciting distro>" I hear you say. And that's right, we do, and they do their roles very well. But of course, that stability and "set and forget" kind of mentality you can get use with those distros does usually come at a price with older software and system libraries. Nothing wrong with that, obviously, but the interesting thing about Void is it is a rolling release distro. And true to genuine rolling release distros, it has quite up to date and very modern software. Fair dinkum, I've seen it bring out new Firefox versions and new releases of the GNOME desktop quicker than even Arch Linux.

Which is quite a feat for such a small team as Void's.

That's the really impressive thing about Void as a whole. It's this seemingly quiet and unassuming distribution with a small community and the aforementioned small development team with an equally unassuming website (though this little dev team clearly has a quiet but noticeable sense of humour too). But it just keeps humming along, both as a distro in general and in my experience, on my machine personally with pretty much zero issues. I do use Arch as my daily driver on my desktop machine, it's true, but Void has been serving duties on my laptop since I first wrote about it. My frequency of running updates on Void (xbps-install -Su) has varied wildly from once a week to even a one or two month gap. I just recently checked the uptime on my laptop and BASH spat out 58 days. No problem, I ran the update command and it downloaded about 500 megabytes of updates, rebooted and it still continued merily humming along.

Realistically, such cutting edge software should have problems somewhere along the way, even if it's just the result of upstream devs and bugs that haven't been caught yet. So it really is surprising how stable and uneventful running Void has been. It just keeps on chugging along with daily use (I run the venerable Xfce desktop on it, by the way, but I've ran GNOME on it for decent lengths of time as well with great results), whether I'm browsing the web in Firefox, watching multimedia with Kodi Media Player or any other little activity I throw at it, staying performant all the time and even with long uptimes, it survives constant sleep and resumes with no problems. Which is a feat in itself on this particular machine with Linux distros.

Void will stay put for some time

In summary, the Void team seem to have a real knack for just pumping out package updates in a rolling release format and somehow balancing out package freshness and actual stability. Granted, as an Arch user, I've always been fairly content with how that distro usually manages a decent balance of cutting or bleeding edge packages with pretty decent stability as well. But Arch is a much bigger and well known distribution.

On that note, I won't pretend that my Arch install will suddenly be replaced on my desktop system. It too does everything I want it to do and I have no reason to change. The AUR, too, while a source of trouble now and then with stale packages, is a very convenient system especially when, like me, you like running bleeding edge (git) versions of Mesa and the Linux kernel on what is often used as a gaming machine.

But on my laptop, Void is serving its role beautifully and pretty much like no other distro on that particular machine. It's modern, fast and just keeps on working without me even thinking about it most of the time! For a semi-portable machine, it's a fantastic combination.

Void Linux Homepage:

About the author

Andrew Powell is the editor and owner of The Linux Rain who loves all things Linux, gaming and everything in between.

Tags: editorials void-linux runit no-systemd bsd linux
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