Episode 18 Show Notes


…wherein we discuss what did and didn’t work for us this month…

Moss – I’ve had more attempted installations either not run at all or fail due to not being able to write boot. I think the problem is that it is seeing the USB stick as sda instead of sdb, so it doesn’t want to write boot to sdb1 no matter what I do, or another possibility is that the distro being attempted does not use – or see – UEFI. I have, however, been able to fill up all usable partitions on both my machines, although as usual what is on which partition may change at any time. What’s going on with you, Dale?

Dale – I have been using Manjaro Plasma on my Lenovo T460.  It has been doing fine until one day I couldn’t use my application menu.  When I would type anything it would immediately get deleted.  This wasn’t happening in any other application or in the terminal.  It was suggested to me to temporarily move my .config folder located in my home folder.  As soon as I did that, the problem went away.  I did narrow it down to one of the many dot files in the root of the .config folder.  I didn’t have the time nor the patience to narrow it down any further.  When I moved the .config folder, a new .config folder and dot files were created.  So I just reconfigured my settings.

Tony – Well as I said on the last show I’ve not been too well lately so my Linuxing has been a little light. I did have a quick gander at Ubuntu Studio 20.10 and the new KDE Plasma Desktop looks great, although again I had an issue with trying to do a Dual Boot the same as last month with KaOS. Starting to suspect it may be an issue with KDE as both the distros were Plasma spins. I did update the 20.04 to 20.10 install on the Drive in my Desktop and this went very smoothly but if you are doing this on a production box I suggest you back everything up before going ahead as things do sometimes go wrong. Despite the Dual boot issues I think Ubuntu Studio is a fine OS for creators as it has all the bells and whistles Audio, Video and Graphical that you can shake a stick at, a few I had never heard of.   

Let’s move on to Updates.

UPDATES (Where we discuss what we have learned about distros we’ve already reviewed)

Moss – I’m still waiting for Bodhi to get into Beta. I am trying MX 19.3 in a KDE version, definitely more satisfying than the XFCE even though it’s using old Plasma. Still, the screen draws are no more pleasing to the eye. Feren OS has updated to the latest Plasma, and it’s better than ever.

Dale – I saw that the Solus team has been busy updating their desktops.  They released Budgie 10.5.2.  It contains many bug fixes, a redesigned sound applet and a completely re-written system tray to name a few.  They updated to Gnome 3.38 and Plasma 5.20.3 along with an updated QT5 and KDE Framework.  PulseAudio 14 is another big update, it fixes many annoyances that version 13 had.  The biggest news is that they are finally updating their kernel version, according to an updated forum thread I originally read this summer.  Josh Stobl announced that he has been testing the 5.10 kernel, due to that kernel fixing some issues with NVMe drives.  He intends on making that the next current kernel for Solus.  This is also one of the things that has been delaying the release of Solus 4.2.  

Tony – Like I said earlier I’ve not been really doing much in the way of Linux this month so I’m not up to speed with what’s happening out there at the moment.   

So let’s move on to our first distro this month Dale what have you got for us?




Void is an independent Linux distribution that uses a rolling release model.  It is also considered a minimalist distribution.  You can install it on 32 bit (i686 and later) or 64 bit computers.  Additionally they support Raspberry Pi single board computers that use the ARMv6 and ARMv7 processors.  They use a packaging system they created, called the X Binary Packaging System or XBPS.  Void has ISO’s for the following Desktops: Cinnamon, Enlightenment, LXDE, LXQt, Mate and Xfce.  There is also the option of using a root tarball iso which is the base minimum to boot and install from.  It basically boots to a terminal shell.

There are two big changes over other distributions.  First is the use of OpenBSD’s LibreSSL software, vs OpenSSL.  The second change is that they use runit as the system’s initialization service.  So for those of you that don’t like systemd, this is an option.  Runit is used in MacOS, BSD and Solaris.

My Hardware:

The laptop I used was a Lenovo T430.  It has an Intel Dual Core i5-3320M 2.6 Ghz cpu, 14 in display using Intel graphics, with 4GB of ram and a 240 GB SSD.


For this install I chose the XFCE desktop ISO.  I downloaded it and wrote it to a USB stick with dd.  Apparently that ISO file was corrupted.  I experienced some weird issues during the install and later configuration after install.  With that said, I would recommend verifying the ISO that you download to make sure it is 100% intact.  Most distros have instructions on how to do that.  I will put instructions that Void had in their documentation in the show notes.

First you download the iso and the sha256.txt file into the same directory.  Then you type (or cut and paste) this command into the terminal.

sha256sum -c –ignore-missing sha256.txt

You should receive an OK message after you run that command.  Your ISO has now been verified.  If you don’t receive a OK, download the files again.

This is one distro where I read most of the documentation, since everything is unique to Void.  The documentation they have is good but it is not very detailed in places. A good example is how to install it: there wasn’t an icon on the desktop or any other obvious instructions.  What you need to do is open a terminal and type sudo void-installer .

Void uses the Ncurses Library/API in the installer they wrote.  It is like a graphical installer but you use the keyboard arrow keys and the enter key to navigate the through the screens.

I used a wired ethernet connection on the laptop.  I didn’t want to configure the wireless settings manually.  Once in the installer, you set all the typical things like your keyboard language, timezone, computer name, etc.  It is just a process of pressing the down, up and left, right arrow keys to find your choice and pressing enter to select.

After creating the root and user accounts, I selected the boot loader menu.  I highlighted the SSD and pressed enter to select it.  Then I moved on to partition the disk.

The partitioning of the drive is done with Cfdisk.  When it comes to terminal based partitioning, I am glad they are using Cfdisk, it is much easier to use than Fdisk or Gdisk.  It is menu driven like the installation program.  There is not an automatic option.  To make things easy, I just created a root partition and a swap partition.  I wanted to delete the existing partitions, so I pressed the up arrow key to highlight one partition, then pressed the left and right keys to select delete from the options at the bottom of the screen.  I then pressed enter when the delete option was highlighted.  I repeated those steps to delete the other partitions.  If you are apprehensive about using it, watch a YouTube video.  You will find it is very easy once you see it in use.

Using Cfdisk 

I created my 234 GB root partition using the bios partition type and marked it as bootable, along with creating the swap partition.  I know I could have created a swap file after install.  I was just in an old school mood given how terminal based this install is.  After I wrote the changes to the disk, I exited Cfdisk.  The next menu option was filesystem.  That is where you select what you want to use.  I selected ext4 for root on sda1 and swap for sda2.  After that you select install.  In about 3 to 5 minutes the installation was complete.  I exited the installer and rebooted the laptop.


When I signed into the XFCE desktop, everything appeared fine.  My display was at its native resolution.  My trackpoint and trackpad was working.  Though, as you may already know, I quickly disabled the trackpad because they annoy me.

I clicked on the network icon in the system tray.  I entered in my Wifi passphrase.  A few seconds later I was connected.  One thing I did notice was my volume mute key had its red light on, which meant it was muted.  I pressed the button and nothing happened.  I then noticed that I didn’t have a volume control in my system tray.  I knew my audio worked on my laptop so it was obviously a software issue.  After looking through the documentation on the Void website, I saw that they didn’t install a sound service by default.  I read about how to install and update packages using the XBPS.  I installed the PulseAudio and Alsa audio services.  I added the PulseAudio applet to the system tray.  Another thing I noticed about Void: services are not started automatically after they are installed.  You either can reboot or start them manually.  So after learning about that, I finally had the sound working.  I didn’t have any hardware issues, the only issues I had was the fact that not many common apps are installed by default.  I am not going to bore you with the entire list.  I will say that this is definitely a minimalist distribution.  Printing is the same as it was in Slackel 7.3, where you manually configure your printer.  The only difference is you need to enable the CUPS service in Void.


Now onto ease of use.  As I already mentioned, needing to install the audio support was a rocky start.  In my opinion it should have already been installed.  Most applications that require a sound service will need either Alsa or PulseAudio.  The other reason is that Void is meant to be used as a desktop operating system.  I would say most people are going to want the sound functioning on their computer.

Needless to say I got very familiar with using xbps-install -S .  I installed several apps that other distros have installed by default.  With the exception of the sound support, I can see where you don’t want to install many packages by default.  That is the point of having a minimalist clean slate to start from.  In fairness I kind of liked it.  It is funny in one respect: instead of spending time uninstalling apps I don’t want or use, I spent time installing only the ones I wanted.  This was sometimes a very educational process.  When something didn’t work, I found out what it was and installed it.  A short list in general of what isn’t installed: no office, gui or terminal text editor except vi, pdf viewer, archive manager and image viewer.  I installed bash complete, so I could tap the tab key to complete a filename or folder name.  I also installed xfce4-screenshooter.  The distro does support Flatpak and the Flatpak website has instructions for Void on their website.

The package manager apps work fairly well.  The command switches were a bit odd until you unstood the meaning behind them.  For example : xbps-install -Su updates the system.  -S synchronizes the package databases and -u is for update.  When you install a package you only use the -S.  The search feature is xbps-query -Rs .  The -R is the repository and s means search, which I think is redundant but I am sure there is a reason for it.  The command switches are case sensitive.  If you don’t use the -R it will search what packages are present on your computer.  The only issue I have had with it has been with the package names.  Sometimes you can use the package name without the version numbers and etc., other times you need to use the query command and find the exact name for the package.  I must say that the package manager is pretty quick.

There isn’t a notification of when new updates are available.  You need to manually type the update command in the terminal.

The packages are fairly recent.  LibreOffice is version, FireFox is an ESR (Extended Support Release) at version 78.5, VLC is at version and Notepadqq is at version 1.4.8, the kernel version is 5.8.18_1 and Xfce is version 4.14.  The only issue I had with apps was with Redshift and Parole Media Player.  When I tried to configure Redshift to detect my location, it would not, even though I verified that the location service was working.  The problem with Parole was that I couldn’t adjust the volume.  None of the volume controls worked.

MEMORY USE: After bootup the free -h memory command shows about 340mb.  After opening Telegram and a couple tabs in Firefox, the memory usage is around 1.5 gb.


All of the help I needed was either via the documentation from their website or user created YouTube videos, though most was from their documentation.  You have two ways of getting support: one is from IRC using #voidlinux on irc.freenode.net, and the second is voidlinux subreddit on Reddit.


I haven’t tried dual booting with Void but, considering it uses GRUB2, I don’t see any obvious reason why you would have problems.


I haven’t had any stability issues with Void.  All the updates have applied without any problems.


Arch though it takes more effort to get it installed.

Debian because you can do a minimal install.



Ease of Installation                             new user       3/10

experienced user       8/10

Hardware Issues                                                      10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)                  8/10

Ease of Use                                                              7/10

Plays Nice With Others                                              NA

Stability                                                                     10/10

Overall Rating                                                           7/10


This is a stable usable distro with some caveats:  If you are wanting to boot up the installation ISO,  click through the install program, then reboot and install your favorite apps, this is not the distro for you. If you like the idea of starting from the base system and installing only the apps you want but don’t want to install Arch and also don’t mind learning how to install and configuring the distro, then I would recommend checking this distro out.  It has a very recent kernel, applications and support for Flatpak..



INTRO: This is a variation of Xubuntu 20.04.1, with some things borrowed from elementary OS and a taskbar using Plank. It has a flat finish and a low memory overhead. On the down side, the version number is 0.4, so it considers itself still in beta.


My laptop is a 2014 model System76 Kudu 3, with a 17.3” screen, an i7 processor and Intel graphics, 16 Gb RAM and a 1 Tb SSD.  


This is a distro which uses Ubiquity Installer, so I got it installed easily and simply without having to deal with installing GRUB, thanks to the handy-dandy –no-bootloader option. Everything went smoothly and quickly.


I had some trouble installing using Engrampa Archive Manager, so I downloaded gDebi. Using Thunar, gDebi would run and then close; I literally had to run gDebi from Terminal to get the packages installed. The team would do itself a favor to work out their gDebi issues or use qapt for this purpose.

The application manager is easy to use, except that once you open a category, there is no apparent way to go back to the category list — I solved this issue by clicking on “Popular” on the menu and then clicking Categories again. That’s a bit on the clunky side.  I also note that the window controls are on the top left rather than the more-common top right; I was reminded of Ubuntu Unity.

Every time I boot Enso, it says there is a problem, although it does not tell me what the problem is, and asks if I would like to report it to the team. I did so the first few times and haven’t since. I then noticed that I don’t have a connection to the Internet — my WiFi is disabled. I go click the box to enable it, it connects to my wifi (right behind my chair), and all is well. Next boot, same thing. I have reported this in what serves as a forum, but there has not been any activity in several days. I reported this to the Github/Gitlab stream which functions as the distro forum… and have not gotten a response, nor has anything else been posted since that post, which was made on the 30th of November.

More bad news: Plank, the taskbar manager, somehow wiped itself while I was trying to configure it, and I couldn’t get it back. I had to do a complete reinstallation.

Overall, while I have not been a fan of XFCE, using Plank for the taskbar makes it easier to swallow. I just wish I knew how I made it go away, or how I could have gotten it back without reinstalling.

It is also interesting to note that the updater has to search through 32 sources. By comparison, Pop!_OS searches only 6.


This distro is very easy to use, I didn’t have any problems with the desktop or software. I did have some issues with the desktop not completely rewriting after closing something, but it corrected itself in a few seconds. I tried to configure the Plank doc and could not get the configuration app to load. There is a skinny icon in Plank named Frank which has no function, and as you can’t open the config file, it stays there.

In addition, being their own distro, a lot of applications have names you won’t recognize. For instance, the Terminal is named Sakura. So if you’re looking for an app and you don’t know the “Enso name” of it, you may be looking for a while.

The multitasking mode, Enso’s way of doing multiple workspaces, is unusual but is very clear and easy to use. Kudos to whoever came up with this.


At rest with nothing open, Stacer reports 1.4 Gb RAM use, much more than you would expect from a “light” distro.. However, with two Firefox tabs open as well as Discord and Telegram, Enso is using only 2.7 Gb. 

On the disk space side of the equation, my entire installation is only 6.9 Gb, with my games and FreeOffice installed and LibreOffice and Thunderbird removed.


On the plus side, Enso is based on Ubuntu 20.04. On the  minus side, there appears to be only a small forum on Gitter, featuring the entire one-man “team” working on this distro. So if you need help, you will likely need to stick with Ubuntu sources — which are many and easy to find. When I logged into Gitter, it immediately put me in the Feren OS Gitter. I eventually got to the right room. But they need a more stable forum than just an open question-and-someone-eventually-answers list.  I posted about my problem with wifi not loading at boot time and the little error window at boot on November 30 and have had no response; indeed, there has only been one post to the Gitter since then, someone else needing help with something (and getting, obviously, no response as yet).


I had zero trouble with it working with all my other distros — and I have 9 on this machine, with room for a 10th.


Yes, this is a beta release, but it uses stock Ubuntu core, so it should be just as stable. The Plank dock has some issues.


Ubuntu Unity

MX Linux

Zorin OS Lite


Ease of Installation                              new user                        9/10

   experienced user          10/10

Hardware Issues                                                                        7/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)                                   4/10

Ease of Use                                                                               7/10

Plays Nice With Others                                                              9/10

Stability                                                                                       8/10

Overall Rating                                                                             7/10


This distro, at this stage of its development, is less than the sum of its parts, and it needs a few more parts to make it really rock. However, it’s a great start. I might hang on to it to see how it grows over the next few months. While it is not really a “light” distro, that is how it seems to be aimed. It is a much nicer experience than I’ve had with similar distros such as MX Linux.


from 11/04-12/11

Alpine 3.12.2

Zenwalk 15.0-201210

EasyOS 2.5.3

Archman 2020.12.09 “Xfce”

CRUX 3.6

Endless 3.9.1

Garuda 201205

Bluestar 5.9.11

Debian Edu 10.7

Debian 10.7    

ExTiX 20.12

RebornOS 2020.12.04

T2 20.10

SparkyLinux 2020.12

RasPi OS 2020-12-02

AVLinux 2020.12.03

Manjaro 20.2

Arch 2020.12.01

Univention 4.4-7

BlackArch 2020.12.01

GhostBSD 20.11.28

Nitrux 2020.11.29

Snal Linux 1.1

NethServer 7.9

Proxmox 6.3 “VE”

AV Linux 2020.11.23

Guix System 1.2.0

openmamba 20201122 “Light”

SystemRescue 7.01

GParted 1.1.0-8

4MLinux 34.2

KaOS 2020.11

Volumio 2.853

Karoshi 13.0.1

Kali Linux 2020.4

Tails 4.13

IPFire 2.25-core152

CloudReady 85.4.0

MidnightBSD 2.0

PrimTux 6

Kodachi 7.6

ArcoLinux 20.11.9

Oracle Linux 8.3

Endian Firewall 3.3.2

CentOS 7.9.2009

Proxmox 1.0 “Backup Server”

MX Linux 19.3


*From Episode 16 Blogg

Hey Moss,

Heard on one of your podcasts about another ‘GRUB hijack’ that you experienced.

On BIOS systems installing ‘non-master’ GRUBs to the *partition* boot record usually does the trick.

However I’ve converted my newer desktop and laptop to use UEFI and have found that GRUB updates change the boot order (efibootmgr) so it takes control over rEFInd. Grrrrr. Grrrrr. More stuff to research.

Another major annoyance is that I haven’t figured out how to UNinstall Grub completely from Ubuntu 20.04; it just wants to replace grub-efi with something grub-else. More grrrr.

TIA, Mike

UPDATE – found that GRUB removal cannot be done in one step! First I had to remove the grub-efi* packages, then grub2-common, then the rest. Don’t forget to remove the grub* files from EFI/ubuntu and possibly elsewhere.

Of course, install refind (now in the Ubuntu 20.04 repo) before rebooting.

UPDATE2 (senior brain cramp) – LASTLY, use *efibootmgr* (cmdline) to verify that rEFInd is the First boot manager to get control.

Tony – John Wallis wrote to us about a laptop he was planning on installing Linux on but it turned out to be Dead but he said this in a follow up email

Dear Tony,

Thank you for your email.  A very timely article in Computeractive magazine pointed me in the direction of Laptops Direct for second-hand laptops.  I’m considering getting a refurbished Lenovo C250 Core i5 model that has 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD; sufficient capacity for me to set up as a dual boot system with Linux Mint and OpenSuSE.

If I do buy the Lenovo then the laptop that Julie bought me for Christmas will be set up with Fedora.

I am praying for your wife with regards to the biopsy results.

With kind regards,


Tony – That sounds like a plan, and thank you everything went fine with my wife’s tests and and all the results were good, so we are all very relieved.


Moss – My work here and at mintCast can be supported by joining my Sponsus https://sponsus.org/u/zaivala or by direct donation through Sponsus or PayPal ([email protected])! I have one recurring sponsor, many thanks to esskaybeenz for joining up. I am very grateful for all donations which have been or will be received.

Moss – At this time, Tony and I would like to officially welcome Dale Miracle to the Distrohoppers’ Digest team. He has taken the time and effort to contribute to the show for 3 episodes now, usually reviewing distros that Tony or I would blanch at doing. Welcome, Dale, and I guess we have to re-record our opening and closing sequences next episode.

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