Sometimes in a war, a side-issue emerges that provides combatants with a moment of distraction. Compared to the horror of the systemd-debate, discussion of GNU/Linux on the desktop is a welcome respite…“Linux never went anywhere on the desktop, and the right conclusion from that is *not* to go on like we always did (i. e. "just build a bunch of components and let distros figure out the integration") but to try something new and different. And the fact that systemd beats the pants off every other init system both in terms of performance and in terms of functionality, all while unifying stuff across distributions and thus making life easier for administrators, users and developers, proves that point.” I stumbled upon this snippet in the debate. Yet another mention that GNU/Linux has failed on the desktop because of something GNU/Linux is/is not doing. It’s just not so. GNU/Linux shipped on more than 5% of PCs in the last year. Whole governments are preferring GNU/Linux or adopting it or introducing it to students on national scales. That kind of movement is still growing, in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and USA.
That’s not failure. That’s vitality, growth, a promise for the future. Repeating a lie doesn’t make it truth but there it is in folks discussing the future of GNU/Linux via systemd. My own battle with systemd is going badly. It seems I have to radically reconfigure systemd to get it to operate at least as well as sysvinit did on my own system. I run apache, mysql and postgresql on my desktop system. I know that may be strange but it’s one of the strengths of GNU/Linux that one can do so: no special server licence is required, the packaging system makes it easy to install and a local server is much faster than one out on the web or even on the LAN. It’s just the right way to do IT for me, doing more in the browser and less on the desktop per se. Yet systemd insists on starting and settling all those services before allowing me to access the desktop to check the time of day, record by blood sugar or check the weather, you know, stuff I can do on the desktop or on servers out on the web that just may be up when I start my PC… I know it’s possible to set up systemd the way I want with my desktop starting before all those nice to have services but the default configuration of Debian Jessie has them all load first. I am the highest priority process on my system, not PID1… I just have to rewrite a bunch of configs in /etc/systemd/system to make that happen. I just haven’t figured it out yet. Instead my system waits 30s on udevd to finish and 10s on my other services to load while I am reminded of PIIIs and that other OS… Systemd certainly hasn’t made my life easier as a desktop user and as a system administrator.