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

Re: Benefits servers and system admins the most (Score: 3, Informative)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-20 00:43 (#2TGA)

This isn't an issue of sysV vs. systemd
No, upstart is in there, too, and that's about all... It got voted down in favor of systemd across the board.
most people start off their argument by saying "we agree system V init needs to be replaced with something better. But this isn't it.
Open source software doesn't start with executives espousing grandiose ideas. Distros choose from what's out there. Somebody needs to churn out some code, and they needed to do it 20 years ago. This has been needed for a long time, and distros can't take a wait-and-see attitude when their big customers needed these features years ago and aren't going to continue waiting.
Committing to systemd is a big jump it's hard to back out of.
Big jumps, that get redone later, are pretty common in Linux. Big initrd changes, devfs to udev, dcop and dbus, oss with esd and arts to alsa and pulse, KMS, lilo grub and grub2, LVM, etc., they're always painful, and often stupid and pointless, but not world-ending.
Lastly, when you think about how much work it is to maintain Debian, threatening to fork it is a BIG undertaking
Actually, it's easy to make the threat. That's the problem with all these discussions... Talk is cheap, and every random misinformed random user can make lots of talk.

Many people are just buying-in to many of the unfounded rumors.
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