Latest 10 recent news (see index)


September 16, 2022

Project status update for 2023

Last year I wrote about the plans for phasing out of big endian support in the project by the end of 2022. This is now being changed. Instead, I will cease maintenance of the project as a whole beginning January 2023.

That means if the project is to continue, somebody else will have to take over. They will need to provide their own build infrastructure as well as everything else, as the public repository hosting will be shutting down as well.

The main reason for dropping of the project is that I have been working on a new distro, Chimera Linux. The new project is fully supported on the POWER architecture (and others) and is currently in heavy development (but expected to stabilize during 2022). Users are encouraged to migrate to it once that happens.

I have been thinking about this a lot and came to the conclusion that there is no reason to keep up maintenance of both projects. Chimera is explicitly designed to address various shortcomings of Void while retaining most, if not all of Void’s good aspects. That means Chimera should make for a good successor of the project.

Additionally, big endian support may be coming back in Chimera, at very least for 64-bit POWER. The viability of 32-bit PowerPC support will be evaluated as well. However, this will only happen after the project has stabilized its tier 1 architectures (ppc64le, x86_64 and aarch64). We will be introducing RISC-V 64-bit support as well for those interested.

In the end, the only loss is support for the glibc C library, as Chimera is a musl-only distribution. However, since musl is first-class in the project, the overall level of polish should be a lot better than in Void, and for most users there should be no need for concern, especially on the POWER architecture where there are no proprietary NVIDIA drivers and other things that would be of concern. Containers, flatpak and other solutions should prove effective enough in addressing glibc application compatibility.

If you are interested, feel free to stop by in any of our main channels. There are links on the Chimera website. I will probably not update this page any more, but will keep it running for the foreseeable future (the repositories will shut down next year, however).


November 19, 2021

The future of big endian in Void-PPC

As the maintenance has been taking a significant toll on my free time and infrastructure, I can no longer maintain the repositories as they are. I do not actively use the big endian ports and community participation in the last few years has not been strong enough to offset that.

That is why starting next year, the musl repositories for big endian (i.e. the ppc64-musl and ppc-musl) will be dropped.

The glibc versions will be retained for the time being, with the tentative date for their phasing out being January 2023.

In the meantime, if there is interest, the ports will be looking for a new maintainer. The new maintainer will have to provide the package builds as well as fix issues that come up. I will still be here to coordinate upstreaming of patches if needed. Hosting the resulting packages on the official mirrors can likewise be coordinated depending on the circumstances.

In case no maintainer is found, the repositories will be shut down without a replacement.

The little endian (ppc64le and ppc64le-musl) ports are not affected by this in any way. The experimental ppcle and ppcle-musl packages will likewise stay as they are minimal effort.


August 25, 2021

New ISO images

Since the April 2020 images were getting stale, there is now a new batch. There’s nothing much to talk about when it comes to functionality, as the ISOs are just a way to bootstrap a new system and you get all the updates you need through a rolling release channel, but there are some things that are noteworthy:

  • OpenSSL is now used instead of LibreSSL
  • Rootfs tarballs will no longer have broken lib64 symlinks
  • A new version of GRUB (2.06)
  • Linux 5.13 kernel is default, with 4.4 backup on big endian

The hardware requirements remain the same. Likewise, the same set of images is shipped as before, i.e. ppc64le, ppc64, ppc, all for glibc and musl, with console and graphical xfce flavors.


May 20, 2021

IRC migration

After the recent events regarding freenode IRC ownership, we are moving IRC networks.

We have settled for the OFTC network (https://oftc.net), with the same name as before (i.e. #voidlinux-ppc). Since OFTC is a long time host for the Debian project without any incidents and the Alpine Linux project has also migrated there, we consider this a stable new home for the distribution.

The upstream Void project has not yet reached a consensus, but you should be expecting some news on that front very soon as well.

See you there!


January 29, 2021

What to do if a recent update removed your package repo access

If you updated on the 28th January or early 29th January, you probably got an update to xbps 0.59.1_3. After doing this update, you might have noticed that repo syncing no longer works, so you will not be getting any more updates.

This is because of an accident that happened when rebasing void-ppc’s void-packages fork changes. It is fixed in xbps 0.59.1_4 uploaded as of 29th January 14:30 CET, but it will not fix things for those who updated during the narrow window of breakage.

In order to unbreak your updates manually, go to /usr/share/xbps.d and edit your 00-repository-main.conf. The contents of the file should be just a URL. Change it from something like:

https://auto.voidlinux-ppc.org/...

to

repository=https://auto.voidlinux-ppc.org/...

That is, you just have to prepend repository= to the URL. After that, you can sync again, update your xbps again, and then you should be able to install updates normally again.


April 11, 2020

New ISO images

The old batch was starting to show its age, so there are now some fresh ISO images. There are also some significant improvements in them. They are marked 20200411. Of course, fresh rootfs tarballs are also included.

As usual, they are available in ppc64le (POWER8+), ppc64 (G5+) and ppc (generic) variants, with glibc and musl both supported.

Let’s see:

Serial console support

There is now support for serial console integrated in the images, so you don’t necessarily need a monitor and/or go through a bunch of hoops to manually set up the serial console. All you need to do is append some things on the kernel command line.

For example, on a Talos 2/Blackbird/qemu-system-ppc64:

console=tty0 console=hvc0

The first will get you a monitor as usual, the second the serial console. Keep in mind that it has to be last! There is a special hook in the live initramfs that sets up the respective agetty services.

Dual kernels for big endian

Since some Macs have trouble booting on recent 5.x kernels, we’re now shipping a 4.4 LTS kernel as an alternative to the primary (currently 5.4) one. You can choose between them in the bootloader. So if you have one of those affected machines, you can at least get the installer booted.

Keep in mind that with a network installation you’ll get the default kernel again. The installer gives you an option to drop into the installed system before rebooting. You can install a kernel of your choice there.

Bootstrap partition validation in installer

Since a bunch of people complained about the installer booting fine but the final system not being bootable and the issue turned out to be swapped parameter order when creating the bootstrap partition on their Mac (and therefore the partition having an incorrect type), the installer now checks whether the partition is correct and tells you ahead if it’s not.

Yaboot shipped in the ISOs

If you’re one of those really unlucky people who can’t get GRUB to load and there is no workaround (such one of those described in the FAQ), you can now use yaboot to boot the image. The default is obviously GRUB, but you can bring it up manually, e.g.:

boot ud:,\boot\yaboot conf=ud:,\etc\yaboot.conf

Of course, that doesn’t mean yaboot is supported in the installer; it’s still old and obsolete, and doesn’t play nice with the rest of the system (and thus requires manual maintenance). However, it allows you to get the ISO booted, install the system without having it set up the bootloader, and set it up afterwards by hand.

Fewer graphical flavor images

Since generating all those graphical flavor images took way too long, needed a ton of space, and some of them didn’t even work for various reasons, we are no longer shipping graphical flavors with the exception of Xfce. Keep in mind that this only applies to the live images! You can still install the desktop environment of your choice in the final system, of course.

Other minor stuff

The graphical flavor images for 32-bit PowerPC now ship Xorg drivers for Rage 128 (r128) and Rage Pro (mach64). This could help some G3s and so on, but do keep in mind that it won’t likely start up out of the box, as the drivers always needed manual configuration (Xorg modelines, etc.)

There have also been assorted fixes in the installer, such as simpler and more robust code that takes care of setting up the NVRAM stuff to make Void boot as the default OS. And obviously, the software stack is fresh and updated.

That’s it for now. Grab a copy from the Download page, and test it if you have the hardware. Any issues go into the bug tracker as always, and we have an IRC channel as well (#voidlinux-ppc on Freenode).

Next batch will come once enough crucial fixes have accumulated, or once it starts getting dated again.


January 16, 2020

Repositories now complete (and a new primary mirror)

The binary repositories have now reached completeness, i.e. everything not explicitly marked so is now built.

That doesn’t mean we ship every single piece of potentially buildable software (notably Texlive is still missing and will need refactoring the templates to build it from source), but generally it’s in a similar state to other distributions and sometimes better (e.g. we ship qt5-webengine at least on some targets).

For current statistics, always refer to the Packages link in the menu.

Current TODO items include spinning a new set of ISO images (but before that, fix known installer issues, enable serial console access in live and some other things) and extending the documentation and FAQ.

Also, I’ve been granted commit access in upstream Void in December. That means the flow of upstream changes is now a lot quicker and smoother, and allows me to keep the repos in sync as much as possible. While it is not possible to mainline the whole project at this point other than source code (unfortunately Void right now cannot take in any more builders, native or cross, and I would ideally like to keep the builds native), having the source upstreamed is a big help and void-ppc will provide staging and binary repos indefinitely.

Speaking of that, our community member zdykstra has recently donated a new primary hosting mirror, which means we now have a much greater storage space as well as much faster network connectivity. The server is hosted in Chicago, IL. There’s also a number of other mirrors to choose from.


September 19, 2019

New website

The basic old site was far from ideal, so here’s a new one based on the official website.

It’s powered by Jekyll and runs on the GitHub Sites infra.

Nothing much else to say for now; new documentation is also being worked on, and will feature a FAQ and all sorts of other info, replacing the one in the GitHub repo.

And don’t forget to join us on IRC, #voidlinux-ppc on freenode.