A New Init System for Debian?

Say it ain’t so, Joe! Debian going to systemd? Nah!

Debian Linux has had a long-standing reputation of being staid and pragmatic in their decision-making.  Even their software release management policy is on the long side when compared with other Distros.  A typical 2-year software cycle just doesn’t cut it in today’s Internet World operating at the ‘speed of light’.

Software release management policy on the “long side”? That’s an understatement. Of course, Debian’s legendary stability depends on tried and true versions of the applications used in the operating system. I mean c’mon… even Iceweasel is based on an antique version of Firefox.

The concern is that Debian’s pragmatism may work against them and cause a backlog queue of software development issues.  So, acting in a timely fashion in today’s world is vital to remaining competitive for any Linux Distribution.

Competitive? What’s this? Competing with whom? I thought GNU/Linux was a free and open source operating system that is specifically NOT pressured by the usual competitive need to devour a market as the commercial products do. Debian will always be one of the best GNU/Linux operating systems out there, regardless of the fact that you’re never going to find fancy-schmancy bleeding edge apps in their repos.

Systemd and other more modernized init systems are fine and dandy for distros like Arch or Fedora, but Debian don’t need it. My Slackware works perfectly fine with Sysvinit. I don’t have anything against systemd. I was one of the first on my block to use it in Arch. I converted long before it was part of the stable repos. It’s a fine init system. I never had any major issues with it in Arch.

Anyway, read more of the interesting article about this at Linux Advocates – The Debian Init System Deba{te|cle}.

I’m out…


Arch Linux Commits to systemd

Can’t say I didn’t see this coming. I converted to pure systemd months ago in my Arch.

According the THIS article at The H website and other sources, it looks like Arch Linux is going 100% systemd. Well, that’s cool. I don’t have any issues with that. I’m not completely sold on systemd yet, but I haven’t found anything to really complain about. I do think it’s a slight poke-in-the-eye to Arch’s KISS approach to GNU/Linux, but that’s just my personal opinion.

Arch isn’t the only distribution that has made this leap. I believe Fedora and SuSE are also moving in that direction. I’m not a developer or coder, so I can’t really tell you what the under-the-hood advantages of systemd over sysvinits may be. However, many folks smarter than I am in that area seem to favor systemd.

There are some holdouts. Patrick Volkerding of Slackware has no plans in the current millennium of getting away from sysvinits in his distribution. Slackware is my primary OS, as you know, so this is OK by me. I don’t believe the Debian folks are considering systemd at this time either. I would actually be shocked if they were. Systemd is too new for Debian. It would be a definite threat to their legendary commitment to stability.

Have a wonderful fall season (spring, if you’re way down south ;) )!



Running Pure systemd In Arch Linux

A recent upgrade in Arch Linux caused my Thunar file manager to lose its auto-mounting capabilities.

Now granted, auto-mounting of removable media (floppy, ZIP, CD/DVD, USB, etc.) on my system is purely a convenience. It’s not a necessity. I have no fear of the command line, so mounting manually can always be achieved. It’s the principle of the thing, dammit. What used to work should continue to work. Unfortunately, as we all know, thanks to updates of one sort or another (in any operating system), this doesn’t always hold true.

After doing some reading and research into the causes of Thunar’s apparent crippling, I became aggravated with Arch because recent updates have been plaguing me with breakage. Now, let’s be honest here… it’s not really Arch’s fault. Arch is a rolling-release distribution. Things change rapidly. The developers keep the base system closer to the bleeding edge that most periodic-release distributions. Anyone who uses Arch knows these things.

I run Slackware as my primary operating system on all my machines (except for an old Dell Latitude 610 running Bodhi Linux). Arch is my secondary (backup) operating system on my main system. I used to use Debian for this purpose, but as much as I love Debian, it is just too sluggish about getting current versions of apps in its repos. Now don’t all you Debian folks start throwing rubber chickens at me. I understand that Debian’s legendary stability is due to the fact that its stable repos contain only tried and truly long-term tested versions of applications. That is how it should be with Debian (I run Sid as a tester on my system, by the way).

So, back the Arch situation…

In the process of trying to find out what I needed to do to fix the auto-mounting issue, I ran across some information here and there about systemd. What is systemd, you might ask.

systemd is a system and service manager for Linux, compatible with SysV and LSB init scripts. systemd provides aggressive parallelization capabilities, uses socket and D-Bus activation for starting services, offers on-demand starting of daemons, keeps track of processes using Linux control groups, supports snapshotting and restoring of the system state, maintains mount and automount points and implements an elaborate transactional dependency-based service control logic. It can work as a drop-in replacement for sysvinit.

*from http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/systemd

I noticed that Arch’s core repo shifted udev from its stand-alone status to a sub-app of the systemd-tools application.

News: systemd-tools replaces udev

2012-06-01 – Dave Reisner

systemd and udev have been merged upstream. We will still ship them in separate packages. However, in order to keep things simple, udev will now be part of a package called systemd-tools. This package contains several other standalone tools which can be used without systemd. The astute reader will note that this also means the entirety of systemd is available in the core repository.

Please replace udev with systemd-tools when prompted. If you upgrade the linux package at the same time, you may see an error during initramfs creation that the udev hook is not found. After the upgrade completes, please rerun ‘mkinitcpio -p linux’ to ensure that a bootable image is created for the newly installed kernel.

Seeing this made me wonder if Arch was going to transition to systemd over initscripts sometime soon. To be honest, as some of the folks at Scot’s Newsletter Forums/Bruno’s All Things Linux can attest to,  I actually became a bit peeved… pissed off, you might even say. ;) All’s well, though. Ignorance is a great stimulant for fear and loathing. Knowledge paves the way for understanding and acceptance.

A little research was in order, so I spent the next few days after this initial rant about systemd learning what I could about it. Eventually, I decided to convert my Arch to systemd 100%, eschewing initscripts entirely. How did that go? Relatively well, actually. Read more about how I did it and how things turned out HERE, if you’re interested. I even managed to solve my auto-mount issues along the way.

systemd is available in many distributions already. I do believe that it has a good chance of replacing the standard initscripts method of services in GNU/Linux in the near future. If you’re a tinkerer, go give it a try on some test partition on one of your systems. I wouldn’t recommend converting 100% to systemd on your main operating system, though; not unless you really know what you’re doing. It wouldn’t hurt to learn the fundamentals of systemd. I believe it’ll be around for a while.

Have fun!


Further reading:





*Sorry for the raw links. I’m being lazy today. :(


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