Void Linux 20171007 Review Supplement: Installation

May 24, 2018, 6 p.m.

by ORDINATECHNIC

Void Linux can be installed by chrooting from an existing Linux installation or using one of the live ISOs featuring a popular desktop environment, available in editions for versions of the distribuion that are developed using the Musl C Standard Library or Glibc, the GNU C Standard Library. The live ISO's include the void-installer curses type shell program which can install the system from a local source found on the ISO, or for the latest packages, from a network source. This post includes screenshots of an installation using the Enlightenment ISO developed with Glibc from the ISO's local source of packages.

Introduction

I downloaded the live ISO from https://repo.voidlinux.eu/live/current/, a couple of clicks past the first Download link on the main menu of the Void Linux home page. I found the instructions and the necessary information to verify the download and the signatures easily, which is not usually the case with many distributions, on the main download page.

All of the Void live ISOs are under 600MB in size, making for a quick download, a quick write to a USB thumb drive, and a very quick installation. Unfortunately, it may take users some time to connect to a network, depending on the ISO selected, and resolve various issues before they can use the installed system comfortably.

The Void Wiki provides installation instructions for UEFI system installation, for BIOS system installation, for UEFI system installation from a chroot, and for BIOS system installation from a chroot, and various other advanced installation including those that use LVM LUKS and MDRaid. The installation screenshots presented here are for the basic installation on a UEFI system, with partitions prepared in advance.

Live Environment

Booting the live ISO brings up the GRUB menu, with a custom background that is the same as that used as the background for the lxdm display manager's greeter. There are two options, one which will start the live environment, and another that I assume starts the live environment, but copies it to RAM first, then runs it from RAM instead of directly from the USB drive, probably a helpful option for those that burn the ISO to optical media.

In this particular live ISO, because of the default first run behavior of the Enlightenment desktop environment, the user is asked by Enlightenment to choose among various settings before loading the desktop.

  • The Enlightenment Live ISO's GRUB Menu
    There is an option to run the live environment from RAM.
  • Enlightenment First Run Settings
    When the Enlightenment desktop is run for the first time there are a few screens of prompts asking the user to choose among various settings, including keyboard layout.
  • Void Linux Enlightenment Live Environment
    Some of the outputs in Terminology show that the connmand service is active, neither vim or nano is available, but vi is.
The Void Linux Enlightenment Live ISO
Booting and using the live environment before starting the installer program.
As will be the case in the installed system, most users will probably want to disable the dhcpcd and wpa_supplicant services with
# rm /var/service/dhcpcd
and
# rm /var/service/wpa_supplicant
and enable the connmand service, Enlightenment's native network manager service with
# ln -s /var/service/connmand,
in order to use EConnMan, the Enlightenment's native network management GUI.

Installation Steps

I started the installer with a sudo command as the default user anon with

$ sudo void-installer.
It might have been better to su to root before starting the installer. It is useful to know that the passwords for the default user, anon, and root are voidlinux.

After the installer's welcome screen, a list of menu items is displayed which constitute the series of steps and installation task groups, such as creating a user, selecting disk targets, selecting a locale, etc. It is simple, very straight forward, and effective. However there are a few bugs: the user created during installation is not actually available on first boot, the changes summary before installation begins and the settings summary display inconsistent information as to whether a partition will have a new filesystem will be created, with the settings summary from the menu displaying the correct information. I saw this specifically with respect to the swap partition (compare slides 20 and 21).

  • The Welcome Screen of the Void Installer
  • The Main Menu of the Installer
    User's Select Each Menu Item As Necessary
  • The UEFI Installation Instructions in Displayed in Firefox-ESR
    The installer running in Terminology and EConnMan are in the background.
  • Choosing the Source of Installed Packages
    Void offers a choice of installing from packages included on the ISO or from a remote repository.
  • Setting the Hostname
  • Setting the Locale
  • Setting the Time Zone
  • Setting root's Password
  • Entering a Username
    The user creation step first asks for the user's name, then the username, and then the password. It may be easy to confuse the first two items.
  • Entering a Password for the User
  • Reviewing the Group Membership
    This screen of the installer shows the default group membership and allows adding the user to other groups. The Void Wiki mentions that changing the defaults here causes the user to not actually be created!
  • Selecting the Disk to Which the Bootloader Will Be Installed
  • Whether There Will Be a Graphical Terminal for the Bootloader
  • The List of Available Partitions
  • Selecting the Filesystem Type of the ESP
    This screen is displayed after selecting Filesystems from the installer's main menu, then selecting the appropriate partition.
  • Whether a New Filesystem Should Be Created
    Since this is referring to the ESP partition, the correct choice is to say no, otherwise any other Bootloaders and other firmware applications, such as the Windows Boot Manager, will be deleted.
  • Specifying a Mount Point for the Partition that Will Hold the Root Filesystem
  • Selecting the Partition that Will Hold the Home Filesystem
  • Selecting the Filesystem Type of The Swap Partition
  • The Selected Settings Can Be Viewed By Selecting the "Settings" Main Installer Menu Item
    Note the 0s and 1s at the end of the lines starting with MOUNTPOINT. It is safe to assume a 0 indicates that the partition will be mounted but not formatted and a 1 indicates that the partition will be formatted with a new filesystem and mounted.
  • Selecting the Start Installation Menu Item Displays Partitions that Will Be Modified
    The settings review screen (previous slide) indicates that the swap partition will not be recreated, but this pre-installation summary screen does.
  • Installation Progress
  • Reboot Prompt After Installation Is Complete
  • The Contents of the ESP's EFI Directory As Displayed in the UEFI Interface

Conclusion

The installer has one major bug in that the user created during installation is not really created and is not available on first boot. On first boot, will need to switch to a console, log in as root and create a user. Otherwise, Void's installer program, fitting the distribution's character, is minimal yet effective. It allows users to install from local sources or from network sources for the latest software during installation,
PLEASE NOTE: To install the desktop environment, DON’T choose “install from network” choose the local install. VERY IMPORTANT!
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