How to Use XBPS Package Manager on Void Linux

How to Use XBPS Package Manager on Void Linux

XBPS is the default command line package manager tool in Void Linux. Here’s how to use it to install, remove, update, and upgrade packages in Void Linux in a breeze.

Table of Contents

Void Linux is an independently developed, rolling-release, general-purpose operating system. It’s built from scratch, which means that it is not based on any of the principal distros that we know. In addition, Void is arguably the most BSD-like of all Linux distributions.

One of the reasons to consider using Void is the amazing package management system.

XBPS (X Binary Package System) is the package manager that’s used on Void Linux. It was originally written for Void from scratch, but it’s supposed to be also a portable package manager you could theoretically use somewhere else.

One thing you’ll probably notice is there’s no xbps man page, there’s no individual xbps binary because XBPS is a collection of several programs that are pretty much related, similar in structure but of course, they’re different commands.

Even though the XBPS package manager has very advanced functions, basic software management operations can be accomplished with only four commands.

  • xbps-query for querying the repositories and the installed system.
  • xbps-install for updates and installations.
  • xbps-remove for uninstalling.
  • xbps-src for building packages distributed by third parties as source archives.

A package in Void Linux consists of one .xbps file and associated .xbps.sig file, which together are used to install a particular piece of software on a Void system.

Void Linux Repositories

By default Void Linux only has free software. In other words, there’s a division between free software and non-free software. If you want to install non-free software on your Void Linux system, you need to install the following extra repository:

  • void-repo-nonfree
  • void-repo-multilib-nonfree

Just type in terminal:

sudo xbps-install -S void-repo-nonfree void-repo-multilib-nonfree

To query the list of working repositories, add the -L (--list-repos) option to the xbps-query command:

xbps-query -L
Get List of the Working Void Linux Repositories Configured on the System

Update Package Lists

Like all package managers, XBPS uses repositories to obtain packages. And like any other system, it’s important to keep your Void system up-to-date.

The xbps-install -Su command (--sync, --update) downloads up-to-date information about available software packages:

sudo xbps-install -Su
XBPS Update Package Lists

This downloads the latest up-to-date software packages and their metadata – package names, version numbers, etc.

Searching for Packages

To search available repositories for packages, use the xbps-query command. This utility in XBPS enables you to search for a required package and also about the information on the repository.

To search for a specific package, for example, vlc, in the remote repositories, run:

xbps-query -Rs vlc
XBPS Searching for Packages

The -R (--repository) option enables repository mode and -s (--search) searches for packages by matching patterns. In our case it looks for vlc related packages, so everything that has vlc either in the name or the description is going to pop up.

Searching Through Installed Packages

What if you want to list specific currently installed packages only? Just pass the -l (--list-pkgs) option to the xbps-query command and pipe the output by using the grep command.

For example, to find all the packages currently installed on your Void Linux system which contains the vlc within their name run:

xbps-query -l | grep vlc
Searching Through Installed Packages in Void Linux by Using XBPS

Installing and Updating Packages

The xbps-install command enables you to install or reinstall or update packages as required by the use case.

It’s recommended to pass the -S (--sync) option to the xbps-install command which basically updates the package index just to make sure you’re getting the most recent version.

So if you want to install something, for example vlc, run:

sudo xbps-install -S vlc
Installing Packages on Void Linux by Using XBPS

As you can see from the image above, xbps-install will automatically identify all the necessary dependencies and take care of it.

Removing Packages

The xbps-remove utility removes installed packages from the system. Adding the -R (--recursive) option to the command removes unneeded dependencies that were installed by the target package.

To remove a package with all its dependencies, for example, vlc, run the following command:

sudo xbps-remove -R vlc
Removing Packages from Void Linux by Using XBPS

Get Details About Package

The output of the xbps-query -Rs command gives you a brief introduction of the packages. If you want more details, use the xbps-query command with only the -R (--repository) option added.

For example, to display the detailed information from the sync database about the vlc package, run:

xbps-query -R vlc
XBPS Get Detailed Information About Package

Installing Packages from Source

xbps-src itself is nothing but a Bash shell script that allows you to build and install source packages from Void’s GitHub repository into Void’s binaries that you can use XBPS to install.

The main reason you would use it is to install packages that are not in the official repositories.

The core of Void’s method of organizing source packages directories, build directories, and associated build system paths is a clone Void’s GitHub repository of source packages.

Therefore, make sure that you have the git package installed. Run this command in your terminal if it is not.

sudo xbps-install -S git

Then you are going to need to clone the Void’s packages repository from GitHub.

git clone
Cloning the Void's Packages Repository from GitHub

This will create the directory void-packages with the source tree of all Void packages in srcpkgs.

The Void's Source Packages GitHub Repository

Next, cd into the newly created directory and install the binary bootstrap which are required to build the binary packages in isolation.

cd void-packages
./xbps-src binary-bootstrap
Void's XBPS Binary Bootstrap

For the purpose of this guide, I am going to install the Google Chrome browser. This will work for any package though.

First, enable restricted packages:

echo XBPS_ALLOW_RESTRICTED=yes >> etc/conf

The package is built with:

./xbps-src pkg google-chrome
XBPS Building Package from Source on Void Linux

The above process places the built binary package in the void-packages/hostdir/binpkgs/nonfree/ directory.

Void Linux XBPS Package

Finally, the package can be installed with:

sudo xbps-install --repository=hostdir/binpkgs/nonfree google-chrome
Installing Package from Source with XBPS on Void Linux


This guide has covered most of the commands that you need to know when using the XBPS package manager. Hopefully, it was helpful in your journey with Void Linux.

Comparable to Arch or Gentoo, Void can be turned into whatever you wish to assemble. Here’s our excellent step-by-step tutorial, which will guide you through all the steps of the installation: How to Install Void Linux: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

You can find detailed documentation about XBPS package manager in the official Void Linux Handbook.


  1. Hello and thank you for the excellent set of articles on Void. I found them invaluable in getting started with the distro. I have a question about the source packages. Is there a simple way to keep them up to date? I assume that every so often I will need to refresh the git repo and then somehow compare what has been updated? If you have any advice on this I would love to hear it. Thanks again!

    • Hi Eric,

      You can use the “xbps-src update-sys” command. It rebuilds all packages in your Void Linux system that are outdated and updates them.

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