Who's Afraid of Systemd?

by
in linux on (#FGW5)
Now that systemd is uneventfully running the latest releases of major distributions like Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu, you might imagine that opposition to it is melting away -- but you'd be wrong. Instead, the rumors are as common as ever. Devuan, the anti-systemd fork of Debian, is still trudging towards a release while making the same arguments as ever. Devuan's home page asks: Have you tried to opt-out of the systemd change in Debian and stay with sysvinit? You will quickly notice that "Debian offers no choice." Yet a search quickly unearths instructions for making an install image without systemd and for removing systemd from your system.

Nor does the claim that systemd violates the Unix design principles stand up under scrutiny. Systemd is actually a general name for a series of related, similarly structured commands. From this perspective, systemd conforms to the principle of one program doing a single function in much the same way as the Linux kernel or a command line shell does. It is a suite of programs, not a single monolithic one. Systemd may not be ideal, but systems continue to boot and function the way they are supposed to.

In fact, not only are the most common anti-systemd arguments easily discounted, but they are surrounded by a vagueness that raises suspicions. Wild claims are made without any attempt at substantiation. The result is an air of secrecy and danger that, however appealing and reminiscent of freedom-fighting that it might be, does nothing to justify the anti-systemd rhetoric or make it plausible. Devuan's mailing list mostly shows the same dozen or so posters, and has raised only 7934 Euros. Supporters sound as though they are doing more fear-mongering than constructive effort.

Re: Personal choice... (Score: 1)

by timex@pipedot.org on 2015-07-30 16:43 (#FY7C)

you certainly can't claim Linux was sleek and simple and clean before systemd. For many years there has been a huge mess with ConsoleKit, NetworkManager, avahi, dbus, dcop, hal, pam.d, udev, devfsd, sysfs, +proc, devtmpfs, kudzu, zeroconf, and much more crud. It seems to me that when USB came along and make extreme plug-and-play user-facing, Linux distros just kept throwing in everything but the kitchen sink to make each scenario work right for ignorant desktop users and GUI management tools (and a nightmare to configure and debug for administrators).
I don't recall claiming that Linux was "sleek and simple and clean" before systemd. I know things can get messy and complicated (I'm a *nix system administrator by trade). I'm simply stating that in my opinion, systemd is not necessarily the solution that should be sought.
Maybe systemd is not actually be the best answer to that problem, certainly the BSDs manage to work fine without the Linux insanity I listed above,
Well... The BSDs manage, but they have their own problems. FreeBSD has (from my view) a serious problem with software availability. If you wanted to add something and it wasn't in the official repository or in Ports, you have to get the source, else you are stuck. If you're lucky, you might be able to get the Linux binaries, and there are libraries to allow you to run most Linux-compiled programs on FreeBSD. I don't have more than a cursory experience with NetBSD or OpenBSD, but I would imagine the issues there are similar.
...but at least it is finally some progress towards unification and simplification of the complete mess.
I might point out that many issues related to the hodge-podge nature of drivers and the like are due to the major distributions' approach to inclusion. Instead of Red Hat/Fedora making an official repository available with vendor drivers for certain hardware (video cards, in particular) or codecs (*cough*MP3*cough*), they have chosen to refuse to make them available at all. This leads people to find unofficial repositories, some of which can be trusted, some which no sane admin could trust.

Either way, if systemd is supposed to be a tool that replaces all sorts of things, I think it's a Bad Ideatm. Many can easily make a case that sysVinit is broken and needs to be replaced. Fine. There are several options available. I'm largely annoyed that systemd has forced its way into almost every distribution to the point where even if one does choose another init system, systemd is still active because it's required for other things.

"Unification"? Isn't that what Microsoft does?
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