More Linux Antics

Another day, another distro. I had finally gotten around to testing out Void Linux the other week using VMWare Workstation 15 Pro, and I'm very impressed by it. In short, it's much smoother than I imagined, it's quite stable, and (for anti-SystemD users), it uses the runit init system instead of SystemD. I don't hate that init system, but runit is a breath of fresh air for me as I used all manner of Debian and Ubuntu distros by this point. Here's a quick rundown of what I liked about this distro.

Runit, the init system

Runit is a supervisor/init system combo inspired by the daemontools supervisor, and is used in Void Linux as an alternative init system to SystemD. If configured to do so, it'll act as OpenRC's program supervisor as well. You can handle services by either using the sv command or by making symbolic links from /etc/sv to /etc/runit/runsvdir to enable or write a "down" file to an enabled service's folder to disable it. In SystemD, such manual handling of services is more tricky, leaving systemctl/services your main option unless troubleshooting is needed.

XBPS, the package manager

While such a package manager is self-explanatory, it has an edge over apt (Debian/Ubuntu) and pacman (Arch/Artix/Arco/etc. without Chaotic AUR) in that you can choose to get a binary or compile from source, and when the installation begins, it's much faster than the contemporaries. Void Linux updates on a "stable rolling" basis, meaning that as long as there are no game-breaking or otherwise snagging bugs, the new version of a given program will be available. However, like many package managers, if you need something that is closed source or is an extra workload that might break the camel's back in terms of support for the distro's developers, you will have to find repositories and add them yourself if they're not already included, or get their binaries. Other than that, you have a good selection of stuff to pick from, if it's slightly immature.

RAM usage

Its main strength is its lightweight nature. Not being based on Debian, Arch, or Red Hat, the developers had the opportunity to hack down a lot of the brush and branches that would otherwise hinder a Windows XP laptop. As a result, with my lightweight i3 install and only minor aesthetic tweaks, I hovered around 170MB of RAM usage on idle. Of course, the use of programs will kick this up, but it's an amazing jump-off point for future usage. Brave, while being a bit heavy being based on Chromium, would have a great time stretching its legs, same with Supermium.

General ease of use for a power user

The lightweight yet powerful nature of this distro allows people like me to get up to speed in whatever we need to do, and if something breaks, fixing it is pretty easy. For example, when I had LXDM set to start on boot, the OS went back and forth between the TTY terminal and an attempt to load LXDM, so in between those attempts I did a restart and now it works properly. This is a bit tricky to do on Arch and Debian distros, mostly because 1. you'd probably forget how you set up Arch exactly, resulting in a case of Only I Can Make It Go, and 2. Debian and Ubuntu are such Ace Customs that unless you're a server admin or have been a long time Ubuntu user, you'd have to go hunting for solutions online.

Is my distro-hopping over at last?

I would think so, actually, even if I wanted to use a weaksauce netbook. I thank all the distros I used until now, including Puppy Linux, because despite the annoyance of distro hopping, I learned a lot of stuff along the way. If a certain Linux distro is needed at work though, that would complicate things. For now, though, I'm definitely putting this on my laptop once it gets to a repair shop.

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