Is it time to fork Debian?

by
in linux on (#2TFM)
The grumbles over systemd and its ramifications are well known and have even been discussed on Pipedot [links below]. But it's taken on a new urgency. The members of the Debian community are set to vote on an init system, and if by any chance the "give preference to systemd" option wins, this group of angry sysadmins is organized, willing, and prepared to fork Debian. Their argument is measured and calm, but they've got their finger on the trigger. Here is just a portion of their argument.
Who are you?!
We are Veteran Unix Admins and we are concerned about what is happening to Debian GNU/Linux to the point of considering a fork of the project.

And why would you do that?
Some of us are upstream developers, some professional sysadmins: we are all concerned peers interacting with Debian and derivatives on a daily basis.We don't want to be forced to use systemd in substitution to the traditional UNIX sysvinit init, because systemd betrays the UNIX philosophy. We contemplate adopting more recent alternatives to sysvinit, but not those undermining the basic design principles of "do one thing and do it well" with a complex collection of dozens of tightly coupled binaries and opaque logs.

Are there better solutions than forking?
Yes: vote Ian Jackson's proposal to preserve freedom of choice of init systems. Then make sure sysvinit stays the default for now, systemd can be optional. Debian leaders can go on evaluating more init systems, just not impose one that ignores the needs of most of its users.

Why is this happening in your opinion?
The current leadership of the project is heavily influenced by GNOME developers and too much inclined to consider desktop needs as crucial to the project, despite the fact that the majority of Debian users are tech-savvy system administrators.

Can you articulate your critique to systemd?
To paraphrase Eric S. Raymond on the issue, we see systemd being very prone to mission creep and bloat and likely to turn into a nasty hairball over the longer term. We like controlling the startup of the system with shell scripts that are readable, because readability grants a certain level of power and consciousness for those among us who are literate, and we believe that centralizing control services, sockets, devices, mounts, etc., all within one daemon is a slap in the face of the UNIX philosophy.
Also see:
Kernel hacker's rant about systemd
Boycott Systemd movement takes shape
Uselessd, an alternative to systemd
Debian to vote on init system again

Benefits servers and system admins the most (Score: 2, Insightful)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-19 18:38 (#2TFW)

I object to the frequently repeated assertion that system admins don't want systemd, and that it only benefits desktop users.

SysVinit scripts don't have any way to restart services that have quit/crashed. That is EXTREMELY important on servers, and it's absence is a notable missing feature on Linux. There are various add-ons that do this, like daemontools, but they can't replace SysVinit, so you're stuck maintaining two mutually incompatible methods for running services.

I don't care about boot-up times, but not being able to have all system services automatically restarted (without human intervention at 3am), should anything happen to them, is a glaring failure on Linux, putting it a couple decades behind its competitors.

Debugging a system, and/or rebooting it every time it comes up but a network file system didn't mount in-time... Getting paged at 3AM every day, because after 2 years of uptime, crond happened to crash and across hundreds of servers that's a daily occurrence... etc. These are all very important to any server admins, and hardly matter to desktop users.

And to preempt the common responses:

You would NOT want to be paged at 3am just because crond crashed after 2 years of uptime. It's crazy to claim someone needs to investigate every such happenstance. It's also crazy to claim you should rewrite all your startup scripts so every system service is run out of daemontools. After all.. ANY service that you need running is "critical" and failure can't be ignored. Right now, these system restarts are typically performed by poorly-paid NOC personnel, who understand less about the services in question than systemd does. And needing to have NOC folks working around the clock is prohibitive for small shops (who have system admins who would like to sleep through the night) and increases the TCO for large shops, who made need a large number of NOC employees because restarting services becomes a full-time job to the exclusion of other job duties, given enough servers.

Automatic service restarts are perfectly safe. If there was any such issue, it would be looming over daemontools since forever, and the widespread adoption of systemd by every distro out there just serves to show the experts just might know something. Those claiming systemd is bad and useless have to come up with vast conspiracy theories to explain away the enthusiastic and widespread adoption.

I hate to jump into the systemd flame war yet again, where typically the least-informed and least affected shout the loudest. After all, there's no benefit to interrupting the detractors, because every distro out there is already on the side of systemd, and the ranting and moaning on sites like this won't change that.
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