Some Debris In The Systemd Debate

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.

See Russ Allbery leaves the Debian technical committee.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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2 Responses to Some Debris In The Systemd Debate

  1. DrLoser says:

    Compared to the horror of the systemd-debate, discussion of GNU/Linux on the desktop is a welcome respite…

    Why would that be, Robert? Because you are evidently unable to deal with the present and the future of Linux, and prefer to fantasise about the past?

  2. Hi Robert,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I’m a bit surprised someone like yourself is using a distro that uses systemd. Personally I avoid it. I’m using Vector Linux Classic which is based on Slackware 12.1 and many other older versions of Fedora as there’s 9 computers in all. Slackware uses a BSD-style of sysvinit.

    It is getting harder to avoid systemd but I’ve spent many years running FC1 and I’m still learning new things about it. I don’t really understand the upgrade frenzy that seems to have permeated Linux. A lot of the ideas of Linux actually came from Research Unix version 8, but unfortunately Unix v8 seems to be closed source.

    I’ve been telling people who have been wrestling with systemd that Slackware is a decent alternative if you must run latest and greatest. That or one of the BSDs. I run OpenBSD on one of my machines. I do run Fedora 16 on one machine, and that does use systemd (may as well check it out and see what all the fuss is about). But I don’t use a systemd distro on my server or on any computer I use a lot. I’d much rather stick with something I’m used to.

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