Void is a general purpose operating system, based on the monolithic Linux kernel. Its package system allows you to quickly install, update and remove software; software is provided in binary packages or can be built directly from sources with the help of the XBPS source packages collection.
Void Linux is one of my favourite distributions, but since it employs a rolling release model, I never really get the opportunity to highlight it. So, I’m picking this random day to talk about it.
If you’re fairly proficient in “install and go” Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, Manjaro, etc., and want to get a better insight into a Linux system without going overboard, Void is a great choice. It’s easy to install, easy to grasp and manage manually because it eschews systemd in favour of runit, it has an excellent community, and the package repository is far, far larger than you’d expect. Void also offers both GNU libc and musl versions.
Void is a bit more hands-on than e.g. Ubuntu, but not over the top like some other distributions. Setting up a Void Linux system will teach you quite a bit about how a Linux system works, but the no-nonsense, logical layout of it all means you’re not going to be overwhelmed. It also happens to be one of the few distributions that take ppc64le seriously thanks to a dedicated community, so it’s my system of choice there.
It’s not for everyone, and if you just want a no-nonsense desktop experience with minimal fuss, you’re better off with Linux Mint or Manjaro or similar systems, but if you want to get your hands a little bit dirty, you can do a lot worse than Void.
Void is the perfect middle ground between “everyday user” oriented distros like Ubuntu and Manjaro, and elitist distros like Arch and KISS Linux. You can start with one of their live DE/WM images and get a nicely configured desktop out of the box, or you can eschew that for the base installer where you can build up from a minimal but fully functional base. My DE of choice on Linux is KDE Plasma (after avoiding KDE 4.x and older over the years; Plasma is nearly perfect), so when I install Void I choose the latter and build my system exactly how I want it from the ground up.
One of the first things I do when I install a new Void system is install the base-devel, xtools, and fuzzypkg packages to get a nice CLI package management UI. There’s OctoXBPS for those who want a full GUI manager along the lines of Debian’s Synaptic, but XBPS itself is so fast and easy to use, no front-end is even necessary.
The ARM images are a nice boon too, you can choose between a ready-to-run image or a ROOTFS package for most devices.
Overall, Void is about as close as you’ll get to “classic” Linux apart from Slackware, but where Slackware gives you everything and the kitchen sink on a normal install, Void only gives you the bare minimum to get a functional and powerful system you can then tailor to your needs.
And of course, no systemd for those looking for a great distro to get away from it.