Five days in a TTY
I installed KISS Linux
This new semester has been pretty easy on me, so far. I hardly every have any classes (again, so far), and I’ve a ton of free time on my hands. This calls for—yep—a distro hop!
From the website,
An independent Linux® distribution with a focus on simplicity and the concept of “less is more”. The distribution targets only the x86-64 architecture and the English language.
Like many people did in the HN thread, “simplicity” here is not to be confused with “ease”. It is instead, simplicity in terms of lesser and cleaner code—no Poetterware.
This, I can get behind. A clean system with less code is like a clean table. It’s nice to work on. It also implies security to a certain extent since there’s a smaller attack surface.
kiss package manager is written
is pure POSIX sh, and does just enough. Packages are compiled from
kiss automatically performs dependency resolution. Creating
packages is ridiculously easy too.
Speaking of packages, all packages—both official & community
repos—are run through
shellcheck before getting merged. This is
awesome; I don’t think this is done in any other distro.
In essence, KISS sucks less.
The install guide is very easy to follow. Clear instructions that make it hard to screw up; that didn’t stop me from doing so, however.
Although technically not in a TTY, it was still not in the KISS
system—I’ll count it. I’d compiled the kernel in the chroot and
decided to use
efibootmgr instead of GRUB.
efibootmgr is a neat tool
to modify the Intel Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI). Essentially,
you boot the
.efi directly as opposed to choosing which boot entry
you want to boot, through GRUB. Useful if you have just one OS on the
system. Removes one layer of abstraction.
Adding a new EFI entry is pretty easy. For me, the command was:
efibootmgr --create --disk /dev/nvme0n1 \ --part 1 \ --label KISS Linux \ --loader /vmlinuz --unicode 'root=/dev/nvme0n1p3 rw' # kernel parameters
Mind you, this didn’t work the first time, or the second, or the
third … a bunch of trial and error (and asking on
later, it worked.
Well, it booted, but not into KISS. Took a while to figure out that the
CONFIG_BLK_DEV_NVME not having been set in the kernel
config. Rebuild & reboot later, I was in.
Networking! How fun. An
ip a and I see that both USB tethering
(ethernet) and wireless don’t work. Great. Dug around a bit—missing
wireless drivers was the problem. Found my driver, a binary
Intel (eugh!). The whole day was spent in figuring out why the kernel
would never load the firmware. I tried different variations—loading
it as a module (
=m), baking it in (
=y) but no luck.
I then tried Alpine’s kernel config but that was so huge and had a ton of modules and took far too long to build each time, much to my annoyance. Diffing their config and mine was about ~3000 lines! Too much to sift through. On a whim, I decided to scrap my entire KISS install and start afresh.
For some odd reason, after doing the exact same things I’d done earlier, my wireless worked this time. Ethernet didn’t, and still doesn’t, but that’s ok.
xorg-server was next, which took about an hour, mostly thanks
to spotty internet. The build went through fine, though what wasn’t was
no input after starting X. Adding my user to the
input group wasn’t
enough. The culprit this time was a missing
Installing that gave me my mouse back, but not the keyboard!
It was definitely not the kernel this time, because I had a working keyboard in the TTY.
Day 4 & Day 5
This was probably the most annoying of all, since the fix was trivial. By this point I had exhausted all ideas, so I decided to build my essential packages and setup my system. Building Firefox took nearly 9 hours, the other stuff were much faster.
I was still chatting on IRC during this, trying to zero down on what the problem could be. And then:
<dylanaraps> For starters I think st fails due to no fonts.
Holy shit! Fonts. I hadn’t installed any fonts. Which is why none of
the applications I tried launching via
sowm ever launched, and hence,
I was lead to believe my keyboard was dead.
Absolutely. I cannot stress on how much of a learning experience this was. Also a test of my patience and perseverance, but yeah ok. I also think that this distro is my endgame (yeah, right), probably because other distros will be nothing short of disappointing, in one way or another.
Huge thanks to the folks at
#kisslinux on Freenode for helping me
throughout. And I mean, they really did. We chatted for hours on end
trying to debug my issues.
I’ll now conclude with an obligatory screenshot.