Sunday, October 9, 2022

Void Linux first impressions

Note: Void Linux may have updated Firefox since this post was originally drafted on 2022-09-25.  The point remains that it was terribly outdated when observed.

I tried Void Linux… twice.  The first time, in VirtualBox, I got DenverCoder’d: the guest additions package was missing, and none of the incantations would bring it out of hiding.  I even copied and pasted the package name to ensure no typos were made.

The next attempt, I put it in virt-manager.  After installing, there was an surprisingly large system update required, which only brought Firefox forward to 91.10.0 ESR.  Today, the entire 91.x branch is no longer being updated (as Firefox 105 and 102.3 ESR have been released), and even “.10” is three releases behind.

This does not bode well for the security of the piece of software that will face the most hostile code.

Beyond that, the keyboard layout was an extreme usability problem.  I haven’t typed on Qwerty as a primary layout in 20 years, and it turns out that I’m losing the ability to switch my brain back to Qwerty at all.  Despite choosing the Dvorak variant in the installer (and the live environment via setxkbmap), the installed system needed some particularly arcane config editing to get Dvorak fully in place.  X11 runs without an Xorg.conf, so one is expected to create /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d and drop a fragment in there, instead, which must be written from scratch.  There were no on-disk examples found.

I will note that I could have set XFCE itself to use Dvorak instead of the system settings, but that would not have altered the login screen.

Despite the XFCE+musl installer being over 800 MB, it did not install an email client.  In fact, it seems like there are only settings, Firefox, and a terminal.  Maybe the installer has great potential for size reduction.

I still don’t know what the point of XBPS is.  It doesn’t seem to be particularly interesting from a user perspective.  The options remind me of pacman but that’s about it.

In any case, like Puppy, I’ve reached the point where I don’t know what to do with the installation next, because I didn’t have plans for it from the start. I just wanted to get a feeling for it.  I know they wrote their own package manager (which looks suspiciously similar to pacman at the UI level), but I don’t really know why. Nothing jumps out as being particularly better/different about it.

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