Void Linux on ZFS

Last night, I ran through the ZFSBootMenu documentation guide for Void and followed it both on a VM and then on an external SATA HDD plugged through a USB case, taking some notes and getting a general idea of the process.

The Void installer does not support ZFS out of the box, so the Void Handbook itself recommends the ZFSBootMenu documentation before its own (a manual chroot installation) when it comes to doing a ZFS-on-root install. This guide from ZFSBootMenu is what we’ll be following throughout this post.

↫ Juno Takano

There’s a ton of good stuff in this lengthy, detailed, and helpful blog post. First, it covers Void Linux, which is one of the best signifiers of good taste, classy style, and generally being a good person. Void is not necessarily underappreciated – it gets a lot of mentions in the right places – but I do feel there are a lot more people for whom Void Linux would be a perfect fit but who don’t yet know about it. So, time for a very short introduction.

Void Linux is distribution with its own unique and very user-friendly package manager that’s an absolute joy to use. Unlike many other custom, more obscure package formats, the Void repositories are vast, generally some of the most up-to-date, and you’ll be hard-pressed to be asking for some piece of software that isn’t packaged. Void eschews systemd in favour of runit, and while I personally have no issues with systemd, diversity is always welcome and runit is, in line with everything else Void, easy to grasp and use. Lastly, while Void also comes in a GNU libc flavour, it feels like the “real” Void Linux is the one using musl.

Second is a tool I had never heard of: ZFSBootMenu. The name is rather self-explanatory, but in slightly more detail: it’s a self-contained small Linux-based bootloader that detects any Linux kernels and initramfs images on ZFS file systems, which can then be launched using kexec. It makes running Linux on ZFS quite a bit easier, especially for systems that don’t over ZFS as an option during installation, like, in this case, Void Linux.

And that’s what the linked post is actually about: setting up a root-on-ZFS Void EFI installation. It’s a great companion article for anyone trying something similar.

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