Moving away from Debian
I've been using Debian since I first began using GNU/Linux. Through the years I've tried other distros, and ultimately settled on a Debian-based distro rather than vanilla Debian. But now the time has come to leave my comfort zone behind and go boldy where I've gone but not really loved before - away from my comfort-zone distro!
→ The Pros
Where do you go from Debian? The distro, love it or hate it, has a lot to offer:
- A stable software repository with a vast selection - especially if you enable or are using the non-standard repos.
- A large userbase on both servers and desktops - whatever it is you are trying to do, chance are someone else has done/is doing it.
→ The Cons
Off the top of my head, some of the reasons that lead me to leave:
- Old package versions - most of the time, this is totally fine. For the purpose of gaming, though, it can be very nice to have the latest and greatest (video drivers, wine, etc.) For me personally, it is video drivers that are sort of a pain point; it's totally possible to update myself, but it is very nice to have your package manage handle this.
- systemd - I used systemd for almost 6 months; I didn't like it. There are alternatives that I prefer, and to me the coupling of systemd in Jessie is very unfortunate.
→ What's a guy to do?
I had found out about Linux Mint Debian Edition, which is based on Debian Jessie but uses SysV init for pid 1. Still have logind in the mix but it was better, I supposed. But I was still stuck with mostly old packages for drivers - something that was hard to work around on my dual-GPU laptop, but doable on my gaming rig.
It was late December 2015 when I was browsing without-systemd.org, looking at the various distros that didn't use systemd. Specifically - I wanted to move to one that also did not use SysV init, and newer packages would be nice too.
→ Enter the void
I'm not sure why it caught my attention, but I ended up taking a close look at Void Linux. It had everything I wanted, and a few other really nice things too: alternate init system, rolling release, a very nice packaging system, and a generally hands-off approach. Even given all these nice things, I was hesitant to leave my comfort zone of many years. I recalled back to past times I'd given Arch Linux a try; I just wasn't a fan and didn't want to go back.
To add to my unease - not only was OpenMW not available through the void package manager, neither were two if it's dependencies (MyGUI and Unshield) and one of the dependencies was linked to the wrong version of Qt (for OpenMW) at compile time (OpenSceneGraph). That meant that in order to play my favorite video game, quite a bit of manual labor had to be done; I'm normally OK with this but it did not help my temporary indecision.
→ The jump - after one month
So how did it go? Have I stuck with void after the first month? The short answer is YES!
The long answer is: it has taken some work but I've got what may be my best setup I've ever had. At least, thats the way I feel about it! I've had to build my own void packages (nvidia-primus, osg-qt4, and libmyguiengine down, unshield and openmw to go) but that actually was far simpler than it may sound.
The primary challenge for me was getting
primusrun to work - void's repos do not include an nvidia driver package for dual-GPU setups, so installing the proprietary Nvidia drivers would remove the Mesa-provided
libGL.so - which I did not want. Inspired by this post on the void forums (which partly does what I wanted) I created the xbps package I cited above and am now rocking and rolling with dual-GPU action!
→ Conclusion - what's next?
I didn't expect to be using Linux Mint Debian Edition for so long (an excellent distro, by the way), but I also didn't really see myself moving in the near future due to not knowing where else to go.
As of right now I'm feeling good about the move, but time will tell where I ultimately end up.