How to Install Void Linux

How to Install Void Linux: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

This guide will show you how to install Void Linux easily and set up a fully workable GNOME desktop environment.

Table of Contents

Void Linux is one of the Linux distributions, wholly independent and entirely developed by volunteers. Unlike most Linux distributions, Void Linux is not a derivative of any other. Instead, it is a genuinely original build from scratch Linux distribution.

Like Arch, Void Linux follows a rolling release model and a user-centric approach to operating system usage.

Void is a notable exception to most Linux distributions because it uses runit as its init system instead of the more common systemd used by other distributions.

For those not familiar with runit, it is a very minimalist and extremely fast init system that is easy to configure and more in line with the old daemon tools that Linux distros used to use by default.

So without further ado, let’s get down to installation.

UEFI Preparation

You can install Void Linux directly to your computer by following this guide, but you can also install it on a virtual machine by using VirtualBox or KVM.

VirtualBox’s and KVM’s virt-manager users must enable EFI in the virtual machine settings before starting the installation. Otherwise, an error will occur when attempting to install the GRUB bootloader.

VirtualBox

Enable EFI on VirtualBox

Virt-Manager

Enable UEFI on virt-manager

1. Download the Void Linux Installation Image

The first thing that we need to do is obtain an installation image of Void Linux. Void comes with two C standard libraries: glibc and musl. Glibc is widely used among Linux distributions. On the other hand, musl is a more straightforward implementation of the same C library, but its recency means that not all programs will work properly.

For this guide, we will use the glibc version. First, visit the Void Linux download page and grab the base Live image with glibc.

Download Void Linux Installation ISO Image

2. Prepare Live Bootable USB

Once your Void Linux ISO file finishes downloading, you will have to create a live USB of Void Linux from the ISO you just downloaded. There are many ways to prepare a live USB, one of them is by using the dd command.

Alternatively, you can use applications such as Etcher or Ventoy, which are also good options for creating a bootable USB drive.

3. Boot Void Linux from the Live USB

Once you have created a live USB for Void Linux, shut down your computer, plug the USB into it, and boot your system.

Please keep in mind that you may not be able to boot from a Live USB with secure boot enabled in some cases. If that’s the case with you, access the BIOS and disable the secure boot first.

Once you have appropriately booted into the Void ISO, you should see something similar to the below image.

Boot Screen

Choose the first row and hit Enter.

After the installer decompresses and loads the Linux kernel, you will be automatically thrown to a terminal with root privileges.

At this point, we only have the Void Linux live system. We need to proceed to install Void Linux. Log in with the username root and password voidlinux.

Starting Void Linux Installation

Then start the installation process. To do this, type void-installer in the command line.

void-installer

4. Installing Void Linux

Void uses a simple text-based installer to guide you through the traditional installation steps. In addition, the Void’s installation program will welcome you.

We’re going to go ahead and press Enter.

Installer Welcome Screen

4.1 Set System Keyboard

The main menu of the installation wizard highlights all of the steps that you need to do. We are starting with the Keyboard and making our way down.

Set System Keyboard

Select whatever one works for you, but mine is the “us” standard keyboard. So go down to us, select it, and hit Enter.

Set System Keyboard

4.2 Set up the Network

Next is the network setup.

Set up the Network

The network says it did detect an Ethernet adapter here.

Set up the Network

Next, the installer will ask you if you want to set up DHCP for this Ethernet adapter. If you choose Yes, your network adapter will be set up so that it grabs an IP address automatically from your router. Otherwise, you’re going to have to set up a static IP address.

Set up the Network

As you can see, it says that our network is working correctly. Hit the Enter key.

Set up the Network

4.3 Installation Source

The next step is to select where the installer will get its packages to install.

Set Installation Source

To get the latest packages, select Network. Of course, this option requires a workable network connection.

Set Installation Source

4.4 Set System Hostname

In the next step, you will need to provide a hostname for your Void system. Again, it can be anything that you want. 

Set System Hostname

In our case, I will name the machine void.

Set System Hostname

4.5 Set System Locale

Now we need to set up a locale. 

Set System Locale

In my case, I will be selecting en_US.UTF-8.

Set System Locale

4.6 Set System Timezone

Next, let’s configure the timezone.

Set System Timezone

For the timezone step, pick the closest location to you to determine your system clock.

Set System Timezone

For this Void Linux installation, I choose America -> New York.

Set System Timezone

4.7 Set Root Password

Following that, we’ll be setting up a root password. So let’s go ahead and press Enter.

Set Root Password

Then type in a password you want to use for a root user. Make sure this is a secure password. After that, you’re going to be asked to confirm the password.

Set Root Password

4.8 Setting Up the User

Next, we have the user account to set up, which is the system’s primary user. So this is what you’ll be logging in with access to the desktop.

Setting Up the User

The first prompt will ask for your username.

Setting Up the User

As well as the full name for our new user. Of course, you can enter your name here. In this case, I chose to stay with the default value “Void User.”

Setting Up the User

After that, you’ll be asked for a password and then a confirmation for the password.

Setting Up the User

Select which system groups you want your user account in the next step. The installer has already provided reasonable defaults, which should be enough for daily use. Once you have the system installed, you can always add different permissions with your root user that you’ve set up anyway.

Press Enter to continue to the next step.

Setting Up the User

4.9 Setting Up the Bootloader

Next, we’re going to be asked about the bootloader.

Setting Up the Bootloader

Go ahead and set where to install the bootloader. As you can see here, I only have one disk /dev/vda, and that’s the one I’m going to be selecting. So make sure you choose the proper disk; mount it to your computer if you have more than one.

Setting Up the Bootloader

The installer asks you do you want to use the graphical terminal for the boot loader. I choose Yes.

Setting Up the Bootloader

4.10 Partition of the Disk

The next step in our Void Linux installation guide is partitioning the hard drive. Again, you will most likely find the most trouble if you are unfamiliar with partitioning tools such as cfdisk or fdisk.

But don’t worry, it’s easy as you’ll see.

Partition the Disk

Here you can see the disk selected is /dev/vda. That’s the only one for me. Of course, you might have more than this if you have multiple disks mounted to your system. So make sure again to select the proper one.

Partition the Disk

The wizard will then ask which tool you would like to use to partition the disk. Select cfdisk, as it is simpler and easier to use.

Partition the Disk

Here you can go ahead and read through the differences. Then, you can either set up an MBR or GPT partition table. In this guide, we will use GPT.

Partition the Disk

Now let’s start creating the disk layout partition table. If you are using a blank disk, cfdisk will ask you for a Label Type. Select gpt and hit Enter.

Partition the Disk

Then select Free Space and hit on New from the bottom menu. You can navigate through the menu options using the Tab or arrow keys.

Partition the Disk

Type the partition size in GB (1G) and press the Enter key.

Partition the Disk

With the /dev/vda1 partition still selected, select Type from the bottom menu and choose EFI System partition type.

Partition the Disk
Partition the Disk

You’ve finished configuring the EFI System partition. Now let’s create the Swap partition using the same procedure. Select the remaining Free space again and hit on New.

Partition the Disk

Type the partition size in GB (4G) and press the Enter key.

Partition the Disk

Finally, you need to create the root (/) partition. Once again, select the remaining Free space and hit on New.

Partition the Disk

Leave the default size value: all the remaining free space. Press the Enter key.

Partition the Disk

You’ve finished configuring the root partition. Next, you need to save the changes made. Choose Write from the bottom menu and hit Enter.

Partition the Disk

Type yes and press the Enter key.

Partition the Disk

We’re done here. Select Quit and press Enter to do so.

Partition the Disk

4.11 Creating the Filesystems and Mount Points

For the filesystems step, you will create the filesystems for the partitions you made.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

The first filesystem we have is the /dev/vda1, which was the partition of the EFI system. So go ahead and press Enter.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

We will want to use the vfat for this one.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

Then the installer asked us where do we want to mount this partition. It will be in /boot/efi, and then press Enter.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

Confirm your choice by pressing Enter.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

Next is the /dev/vda2. We’re going to go ahead and press Enter.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

Here we wanted to create a swap. So go ahead and press Enter.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

Confirm your choice by pressing Enter.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

And finally, go down to the very bottom that’s /dev/vda3.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

Go down to ext4 for the filesystem.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

Then the installer says to specify a mount point. We want to put one forward-slash (/) in and hit Enter.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

Confirm your choice by pressing Enter.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

After we’re done with all three, we’ll scroll over to the Done button and press Enter.

Creating the Filesystems and Mountpoints

Now that we have our filesystems selected and the disks partitions, we’ll go ahead and run the installer. So lets the go-ahead to Install and press Enter.

Void Linux Installation

Here we are getting one last confirmation. Just go ahead and press Yes.

Void Linux Installation

Give it a few moments here.

Void Linux Installation

Once the download is done, it will show an OK prompt. Press Enter and the wizard will continue with the installation process.

Void Linux Installation

The installation should not take long. Once done, the wizard will display an installation success screen. Select Yes to reboot the machine to Void Linux.

Void Linux Installation

After the reboot, you will be greeted by the GRUB bootloader.

Void Linux GRUB Boot Manager

After booting your new Void Linux system, you can log in with the root account you created earlier.

Void Linux Installation Succeeded

Suppose you got this far, congratulations! You successfully installed Void Linux on your computer!

5. Installing a Desktop Environment on Void Linux

The Void Linux system contains only the essential software packages needed to manage the system from the command line, with no GUI (Graphical User Interface).

Let’s first change the default root shell to Bash.

chsh -s /usr/bin/bash
Changing the Default root Shell on Void Linux

Log out and log in so that the change can be applied.

There are many desktop environments that can be used with Void Linux. I will install GNOME as a desktop environment example.

xbps-install -S gnome gnome-apps xorg

If you are not familiar with installing packages on Void Linux, do not worry. Here is our excellent guide to get you started: How to Use XBPS Package Manager on Void Linux

Once the package installation is complete, it’s time to set up the services that will automatically start when you reboot your Void Linux system.

Managing services on Void Linux is relatively easy. Void uses the runit supervision suite to run system services and daemons. All service scripts currently running are just files that can be seen in the /var/service/ directory, and those can easily be added, modified, or removed from /etc/sv/.

To enable a service on a booted system, you need to create a symlink to the service directory in /var/service.

Enable the GDM display manager, Network Manager, and DBUS services:

ln -s /etc/sv/gdm /var/service
ln -s /etc/sv/NetworkManager /var/service
ln -s /etc/sv/dbus /var/service

Finally, reboot and log in to the newly installed GNOME desktop environment.

reboot
GDM Login Screen

From this point, you can install what you want and configure your Void Linux system as you wish.

Void Linux GNOME Desktop - Successfully Installed

Conclusion

Up to this point, you have gotten some good information about Void Linux and have successfully installed Void Linux. I know it was long, but I have tried to cover all steps in brief and other additional things from scratch.

In addition, as a Void user, the Void Linux Handbook might be a precious resource to you.

I hope the guide has helped get you started with Void Linux. Thanks for using it!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please post them in the comments section below.

11 Comments

  1. You should specify that after installation you need to finish the installation of the user account. You need to go like root and add to the user groups and confirm the password to log in already as a user. Without this, the system does not recognize the user account and his password.

    • Thanks for the note but if you follow the steps described above no further actions are needed to finalize the user account settings. Once the installation is complete, the user account is available and ready for use.

  2. Could you please be a bit more clear about the way it should be installed on virtual box? Because starting the iso within a VB instance is completely different. And if I understand the article correctly it will just be installed on a bare metal system. Am I missing something?

    • Hi HJ,

      As a matter of fact, the installation shown above was made using a KVM. The procedure, whether using a KVM, VirtualBox or doing a bare metal installation is absolutely identical.
      Just run the installation ISO file (void-live-x86_64-20210930.iso) in VirtualBox the way you run all the others. There is nothing special here, except the EFI part which is shown at the beginning of the guide.

      Best,
      Bobby

  3. I noticed the iso dated from 2021-09 and it used kernel 5.13.
    That seems oldish to me. They haven’t produce anything since last september ??? Is Void really still alive or slowing dying ???

    • Void certainly is not dying. 🙂 Just the installation ISO image comes with this version of the Linux kernel. If you perform a network installation, you will see that the installed kernel is the latest possible:
      [[email protected] ~]$ uname -a
      Linux void 5.15.17_1 #1 SMP Thu Jan 27 12:55:26 UTC 2022 x86_64 GNU/Linux

      Linux 5.15.17, Thu, 27 Jan 2022
      https://lwn.net/Articles/882911/

  4. Thanks for the tutorial. It was very helpful in setting up my first instance of Void Linux. I appreciate their documentation and will refer to it but this style of quick start is much easier as a new user to Void.

  5. Bonjour et merci beaucoup pour ce tuto détaillé et très clair. Je l’ai suivi pour une installation rapide, sans cafouillage, et avec succès.
    J’ai cependant une question technique concernant l’environnement de bureau (DE):
    Vous avez opté pour gnome, je n’ai pas d’avis objectif sur la question, c’est très bien mais j’aimerais installer xfce ou mate afin de gagner encore en fluidité.
    Void est une distribution très légère qui convient parfaitement aux machines peu musclées et gnome plombe un peu les performances.
    Comment installer d’autres DE plus légers et comment les faire cohabiter en switchant de l’un à l’autre en fonction des besoins et des humeurs ?
    D’avance merci beaucoup pour votre réponse.

    • Bonjour Sony,
      Le site est anglophone, une question en Français appelera moins de réponses…

      Pour installer d’autres DE, il faut utiliser le gestionnaire de paquets : xbps. J’ai noté que Xfce est présent, Mate aussi. Il y a également lxqt (minimaliste, léger). Soit tu as déjà un système sous Void, et dans ce cas:
      xbps-install -Su xfce
      (ou “mate”, ou “lxqt”).
      Soit tu n’as pas encore de système sous Void, ou peux en réinstaller un, et alors en partant de l’image live avec Xfce, et en installant “local” plutôt que “network” au moment du choix des paquets, ça installe un bureau Xfce fonctionnel (à part le son, chez moi).
      Le manuel Void détaille l’installation d’autres DE plus lourds (KDE, Gnome) mais il suffit de remplacer par le paquet de ton choix : soit avec le méta-paquet, soit en choisissant les paquets plus finement.

      Pour ce qui est de changer de DE, évidemment c’est possible : ça se fera dans le gestionnaire de session, au début, dans l’écran de login.
      J’ai installé sddm avec KDE, ça fonctionne, mais c’était déjà le cas avec le gestionnaire par défaut (lxdm il me semble).
      Bon courage !

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