Story 2014-09-07 2S4F "Boycott Systemd" movement takes shape

"Boycott Systemd" movement takes shape

in linux on (#2S4F)
story imageSome people have had enough, and they've organized a boycott at "" to organize efforts. From the top: "Disclaimer: We are not sysvinit purists by any means. We do recognize the need for a new init system in the 21st century, but systemd is not it." OK, that's enough to keep me reading. They outline twelve well-thought-out reasons systemd is dangerous, and a set of ways you can get involved, including refusing to use systemd distros, moving to slackware, crux, gentoo, BSD, and more. Here's just one of them:
systemd clusters itself into PID 1. Due to it controlling lots of different components, this means that there are tons of scenarios in which it can crash and bring down the whole system. But in addition, this means that plenty of non-kernel system upgrades will now require a reboot. Enjoy your new Windows 9 Linux system! In fairness, systemd does provide a mechanism to reserialize and reexecute systemctl in real time. If this fails, of course, the system goes down. There are several ways that this can occur9. This happens to be another example of SPOF.
Interesting times. When's the last time you heard someone advocate moving immediately to Slackware or Gentoo?
Reply 39 comments

F Word (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-07 15:23 (#2S4G)

Shot themselves in the foot in the last step. As a relative Linux newbie still coming to terms with the basic accessibility and utility of init scripts, I am highly susceptible to joining the cause against the Windows Registrying of Linux.

And yet, as with most arguments, the first side to resort to profanity or violence has already lost. Schmucks.

Re: F Word (Score: 1, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-08 12:05 (#2S57)

Anyone equating profanity with violence has lost to begin with. Especially if it's a single use in a large amount of text, and contained in the "standardized" phrase usually abbreviated with "WTF" (I wouldn't have had problems to write it out, but I didn't want to do you the favour of declaring me losing just for using that word, even if only as quotation).

Profanity: Using certain words which some people for some irrational reason consider offensive. No real harm done.

Violence: Physically harming someone.

Re: F Word (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-08 17:01 (#2S5M)

Dude/sir/madam/etc., they're the closest analogs when we're talking about Internet based interaction. I was (and still am) comparing resorting to violence in an argument in "meatspace" (sorry) versus resorting to profanity in an Internet forum. Only an idiot would think I equated the two in any physical or legal way. You can't physically hit someone upside the head online, and I think everyone's aware of that.

In short, what the fuck are you talking about?

Re: F Word (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-09 04:39 (#2S69)

No, the closest verbal analogue to violence are insults like "Only an idiot would think "¦"

OTOH, a profanity like "what the fuck are you talking about?" is far from being violence.

Violence hurts. Profanity doesn't.

Re: F Word (Score: 3, Funny)

by on 2014-09-08 13:21 (#2S5C)

Yes, that fucking surprised me too. But if you can get around the fucking F word, the rest of the article is really well fucking put together :) I think they've got a pretty dispassionate and technically-well thought out argument.

But that's just my fucking opinion.

Re: F Word (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-11 02:54 (#2S9C)

Except that init scripts have always been very fragile and complicated. In short they've never worked that well. They are full of hacked logic to check for running instances using all manner of devices (PID files, grep for the process name in ps, check /proc), they don't lend themselves to parallel execution, and they have no facilities whatsoever for process supervision. Sure you can hack a cronjob (and many a sysadmin has done that!), or use a third-party supervisor daemon (who watches the watchers?). Every commercial unix out there has ditched system V init scripts for these reasons. For example, Solaris hasn't had init scripts ever since maybe Solaris 9? Apple ditched init scripts in OS X quite a long time ago. 10.4 I think?

Systemd isn't that complicated. It's highly modular also. It does a good job and it is remarkably stable for such a new project. Rather than hacking a complex init script, I can create a service in just 3 or 4 lines of a simple, clear, conf file now. In fact it dramatically simplifies the development of custom services. I don't even have to do the fancy fork dance to put a daemon in the background. From a sysadmin point of view, this sort of thing has been sorely lacking in Linux. If I feel inclined, I can integrate with systemd's socket management system, and get instant, transparent parallel startup capability. But the same daemon can still run on non-systemd machines (if I actually implemented daemonization myself). I'm hard pressed to find any negatives, really. And this is coming from a guy who had nothing good to say about systemd before I actually used it. Seems like most of the FUD comes from people like me, folks who've not interacted with it much at all. It's not the only game in town, but it certainly works, and I have no problems with major distros standardizing on it.

On a related note, I would not want to live without pulseaudio either. I currently use pulseaudio regularly to do things that were never possible with ALSA before, such as directing certain program's outputs to certain audio devices. Very handy indeed.

You can boycott systemd if you want, of course. Anyone is free to roll their own distro if they feel like their distro of choice has been bought out by some nefarious power. There are several alternative init systems to choose from.

systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 5, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-07 17:27 (#2S4H)

It's a symptom of the sickness of the Linux kernel/system developers' philosophy. There has been no innovation in the Linux kernel for ages and Linux itself has never done anything new. Filesystems? Done much better in other Unices. Multiprocessing? Done to death since the 60s. Different task schedulers? Ditto. There is nothing new in Linux itself, it's just an effort to clone Unix.

Being such an effort, it was completed a long time ago. All there is left to do is to change the interfaces (how many times iptables interface has changed?), change the internal structures, change change change, for no good reason. This is what happens when you mess with a working program just for the fun of it. You eventually break it so bad that you enter a road impossible to turn from.

The sickness has permeated into the very core of the kernel: device management. We have had tons of the same stuff which performed equally badly over 20 years. We had kudzu, then HAL, then udev, and now systemd-udev.

This "sake for the sake of change" sickness has a cause: people think that they could automate the complicated tasks of installing an operating system, installing services, modifying hardware etc. It's not gonna happen. It's the year 2014 and I'm still having troubles with my sound card. The fucking sound card! I'm not even mentioning that I'm using the third driver for my graphics card and that's not working properly either.

In order to make that impossible dream come true, they are screwing around, changing interfaces. This causes the "change for the sake of change".

Even if we can stop the systemd madness now, RedHat will find something else to "automate" and "make friendly to idiot sysadmins who can't read a fine manual". In another ten years we could be boycotting something else like "stop the networkd madness".

I really think that the whole Linux thing should be abandoned. Stop giving away code for free and decepting managers saying that it's as good as the ones real engineers (with a focus in mind) designed. Solaris could hotswap CPUs, now it's gone. Tru64 could do massive multiprocessing even back in the 90s, now also gone. All gone into the toilet bowl of "we don't need to pay that much, a clusterfuck of PCs are just as good and here is an operating system for that". Even small attempts at creating a proper desktop system was killed by the free shit. I remember QNX, but there were others too. I'm not even talking about where we could be in mobile computing if this Linux-dumping didn't happen.

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-07 17:32 (#2S4J)

This post comes to you from opensuse 13.1, so I'm not a lost cause yet, but ... you've got a good point. I'd add: in all this spinning of change-for-change's-sake, a lot of useful stuff has fallen off the wheel.

My best example is this weekend's point of frustration: I've got a trackball with two extra buttons. How to configure them? Google it and you'll quckly find out the answer is currently: there is no way. Oh wait, you can install btnx. No, that is now deprecated. Or you can install some other 3rd party daemon thing that comes with no documentation. C'mon, guys!

The worst is, for an opensuse user, is there used to be a slick utility called sax2 that did phenomenal work configuring X11 for you back when it was X11. The move to broke that and they never updated it. There /is/ something called sax3 now but it segfaults as soon as it starts.

That means, despite all the eyecandy, the version of opensuse I used back in 2004 was more useful to me in practical purposes. I'd argue the move from KDE3 to KDE4 is the same story: yes, better in terms of flash and maybe in terms of potential, but KDE3 as a desktop basically gave me better options and got me working faster.

C'mon people: 5 button mouse, make it work.

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-07 19:05 (#2S4K)

My razer deathadder, a 5 button mouse, is working just fine. :)

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-08 09:27 (#2S4Z)

I'm happy for you. But what OS are you using it on, and how did you configure it? I looked it up at their site and it doesn't mention any support for Linux, so i assume you're using it on Windows using their driver.

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-09-08 13:43 (#2S5E)

What would be the point of me telling you that if I were running Windows? Nah, I'm on archlinux. I did some research before buying the mouse just to make sure it was supported. I just downloaded some package on the archlinux user repository.

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-09-09 12:38 (#2S6S)

As a fellow arch user, let's agree that arch users have the advantage on everybody else here with the AUR. I'm surprised no one in any of the other distros has figured out yet what a massive advantage the concept of the AUR is.

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-09 13:44 (#2S6Z)

Maybe that's because the majority of people have never even heard of AUR. For example, I haven't. So what is it, and why is it an advantage?

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-09 16:12 (#2S7A)

Basically, anyone using archlinux can make a PKGBUILD for a piece of software and upload it into the AUR. The PKGBUILD allows you to install that software with your package manager. So the AUR is this giant repository of software available to all users, where you can find all manners of experimental browsers, patches for various hardware, community projects, etc. There is no need to mess around with PPAs, you just download the software from the AUR (something which can be done from the command line if you have the rigth wrapper), use the PKGBUILD and then install it with your package manager the way you would any piece of software. There's actually wrappers for arch's package manager (the most famous one being yaourt, I'd say) which will search the AUR as well as the offcial repositories when you make a query, allowing you to seemlessly integrate the AUR packages with the official repos. It's not really recommended though since it's important to understand how PKGBUILDs work.

It's a great concept. You can really find anything on the AUR.

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-09 19:17 (#2S7K)

Opensuse's build service might be similar in that anyone can post, build, and provide packages. But the AUR being its very own repository is neat. I think I like it even more than the suse model. Glad to have learned about it.

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-09 16:18 (#2S7B)

If this were meatspace this would now be an appropriate moment for a brofist or a high five. :p

I have a suspicion that the other distros don't have AUR equivalents because they don't necessarily have as high standards for their users as arch does. Anyone could put anything they want in the package they upload to the AUR, and it's up to the user to verify the PKGBUILD and ensure that he can trust the source. Or even just read the comments. Such reliance on the user's good sense of analysis is not necesarily common outside of arch. I think other distros are content to give you a way to clumsily access user repositories while making sure that you know they in no way support this endeavour. They wouldn't want to integrate user repos the way arch does and then have to deal with clueless users screwing things up and blaming them for it.

Re: systemd is a symptom, not the cause (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-08 10:30 (#2S52)

My 5 button (Philips) mouse works out of the box, and has with Ubuntu since I first installed it (with this particular mouse) back in 2008.

There's another "movement" to boycott systemd... (Score: 1, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-07 19:29 (#2S4M)

...and it's called Slackware. Started in 1993, with no signs of wavering.

It's been amusing watching the rest of the Linux world light itself aflame though. At this point, I'd be more likely to recommend someone leaving Windows to jump onto FreeBSD than one of the big Linux distros. Including pulseaudio by default for no good reason was a bad enough move they all seemed to rush to to do without thinking much about it first (hey, sound in Linux can be complicated sometimes due to hardware incompatibilities...let's add a totally more complex abstraction layer on top of the existing complex system and hope it makes things better!), but systemd makes that look like small potatoes (at least Pulseaudio is worthwhile software for SOME usage scenarios...).

Somewhere along the last few years, everyone seemed to forget the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" golden rule. Innovating new tools is great and all, but creation solutions without problems and then making them default across the board really doesn't help matters. It'd have been nice if they'd forked into a new line of distros at least (hell, call it Linux NT for all I care :-P), rather than really alienate people who in many cases just started learning their way around one system only to have it entirely ripped away from them and replaced by a new system upon a system upgrade (worse so for those on Ubuntu that went from sysvinit to upstart to systemd all in the space of <2 years). This sort of disorganized race to follow whatever wacky decisions come down from mostly whatever Redhat does really resembles mass insanity from the sidelines...

Re: There's another "movement" to boycott systemd... (Score: 2, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-07 19:44 (#2S4N)

However, I *do* like installers. Slack has a lot of nice points, and I even installed it once. But I moved back to Debian fairly quickly...and Debian has bought into systemd. Gentoo also doesn't have an installer, though it at least has a package manager. BSD doesn't support even reading ext4 systems on large disks, so that's out of consideration.

But I'm heard exactly ZERO reasons why *I* should like systemd.

Re: There's another "movement" to boycott systemd... (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-07 22:59 (#2S4S)

Oh shit :-(

Time to move back to Freebsd

Re: There's another "movement" to boycott systemd... (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-08 09:39 (#2S51)

It's true, slackware's installer is pretty user unfriendly. I consider it a bit like a firewall - if you can't make it past the installer, you don't belong on the other side.

Last time I spoke to myself... (Score: 3, Interesting)

by on 2014-09-07 22:06 (#2S4P)

... is the answer to the question:
> When's the last time you heard someone advocate moving immediately to Slackware or Gentoo?
That was when Debian decided to go for systemd. I switched to Gentoo. Debian remains on weak machines on which I do not want to compile every program, but I pinned systemd so that it should not ever get installed.

By the way, I had switched to Debian when Arch went systemd. What a joke that was: "don't worry, I promiss the regular init scripts will be maintained, you need not oppose systemd as default, do not be afraid, let us do" said one lead Arch developper. Less than 3 months later, he announced traditional init scripts would not be maintained any more. And he now works at RedHat! Really funny...

I considered and still consider moving to *BSD. But 20 years of Linux (15 years as main/only system) are a bit difficult to wipe. Dual booting is a bit annoying because *BSD and Linux do not support really well a common filesystem. Maybe running Linux in a VM on a BSD like some people run Windows in a VM on Linux, for the few applications requiring Linux. But I have the feeling that virtualisation software is not as well developped on *BSD as on Linux.

What worries me too is that, as someone else already pointed it, systemd seems like a shiny symptom of the tendancies of the last 5 or 10 years. Bloat, complexification, over-automatisation, hiding more and more stuff from the users (and from admins now), novelty for novelty, bad documentation (and never up-to-date because everything is changing too quickly), corporatisation (most pieces of software have been taken over by big corporations(RedHat, Canonical, Google, Apple, Oracle, Intel...), there is not much left to hobbyists, students, universities researchers). Basically all the things that I could complain about under Windows during the 90's and early 2000's and that made me enjoy and switch to the refreshing Linux. And I am afraid those tendancies would slowly contaminate the BSDs, starting with FreeBSD/PC-BCD.

Re: Last time I spoke to myself... (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-09-08 08:26 (#2S4V)

I started to use Linux long time ago (at that time I was a hobbyist and PhD student in engineering but now I'm a sysadmin by trade) because I wanted to understand every bit of my system and to be able to follow every execution path on it. Today it's becoming increasly difficult even impossible. I used redhat 4 then mandrake then debian (potato). It was fun, it ported values I do agree with, it fitted my needs. I started with one box in my attic up to 22 boxes in my garage before moving to the datacenter. Now I'm unhappy with the direction debian is heading. I loved squeeze but wheezy is not my cup of tea. I tried gentoo for awhile but on the production servers I manage I don't want to compile anything (not even installing the compiler...). I'm now trying alpine (discovered from the weekly distro post ;) ).
The major problem I see with systemd is that rebooting for some application upgrade is not an option but on kernel change (if the "new" fix is for an problem I encounter, not just for the sake of it). Also the involved "new" complexity is another major pain. I liked stable system and by stable I don't just mean "with no random crashes" but with no changes for the sake of change.
I suppose I will need to take (loose?) a lot of time trying to find another distro (even not linux) fiting my needs while still being fun to administer and being understandable at low level...
They are improvements in the landscape but also a lot of regressions :(

Re: Last time I spoke to myself... (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-08 14:22 (#2S5H)

I switched back to alpine too a few months ago, but that is my MUA, not my distro ;-)

Re: Last time I spoke to myself... (Score: 1, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-08 12:16 (#2S59)

Maybe it's simply the software analogue to gentrification.

Re: Last time I spoke to myself... (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-08 13:36 (#2S5D)

I had not read this analogy before but, although not all characteristics probably match, I think I like it :-)

Re: Last time I spoke to myself... (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-09-09 08:03 (#2S6H)

Basically all the things that I could complain about under Windows during the 90's and early 2000's and that made me enjoy and switch to the refreshing Linux. And I am afraid those tendancies would slowly contaminate the BSDs, starting with FreeBSD/PC-BCD.
I wouldn't worry too much about the BSDs. I can't speak for the team, but as a casual observer it sure seems to me the BSD crowd marches to the beat of a different drum. They've chosen the "slow/conservative" way on most occasions (and been pilloried for it!), and in general, chosen not to be on the bleeding edge. Increasingly, I like that. Maybe I'm getting old!

Re: Last time I spoke to myself... (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-09-09 12:42 (#2S6T)

I agree that arch shouting down the opposition to systemd when they forced it on the users was not their finest hour. To put it mildly.

Contradiction (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-09-08 14:24 (#2S5K)

Interesting how more and more distros are adopting it but there is so much negativity and complaining wherever I look. Seems contradictory...

Interesting read of the reasoning for the adoption by debian:

Re: Contradiction (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-08 19:06 (#2S5S)

I modded you up because that's a great link - very informative. I notice though that the argument consists of, for the moment, people talking past each other. That is, I don't see much in Debian's position statement that refutes what the anti-systemd crowd is putting forth as their argument.

Can't wait to see how this plays out. I confess I am for the most part more swayed by the anti-systemd crowd's position, but I like transparency and simplicity in a system, and systemd decreases both.

Re: Contradiction (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-09 01:05 (#2S66)

You're right, I expected (much) more from Debian. It reads more or less as "we like it, it's popular, so nyeah".

Re: Contradiction (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-09 05:07 (#2S6B)

Same thinking here. But it may be that they are "forced" into accepting it. For example GNOME 3.8 depends on systemd.
It will be interesting to see if/how long Slackware/Gentoo/etc hold on from the adoption...

Re: Contradiction (Score: 1, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-09 07:20 (#2S6E)

As a faithful fan and user for almost as long as it has existed, all I can say is "you know what? fuck GNOME." There are plenty of other great desktops out there and I'm sick of this shit. This has been a number of years in the coming, but they've done it to themselves.

Re: Contradiction (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-09 12:32 (#2S6R)

This is purely guesswork, I don't read Debian mailing lists or whatever, but I think you're right in that they might be forced in some way.

Many Linux distributions have depended on RedHat or Ubuntu for a long time. If you look at the "base system" source code including file utilities, kernel, various basic daemons, you will see that someone from RedHat or Ubuntu has worked on it or is maintaining it. These aren't "sexy" projects everybody would want to work on, so I guess it's hard to find a maintainer for "GNU rm" unless you pay.

Now RedHat is bringing their agenda on the table. They aren't going to maintain login(1) anymore, because systemd supercedes it. If you are an anti-systemd Linux distributor, you have to maintain login(1) yourself. Why does an unmaintained piece of code cease to work, you may ask, but it's a completely different idiocy.

Anyway, this is all well and doable until you get to more complicated and ever-changing components like udev. Gentoo people have their own udev fork not because they love to code device managers (I'm guessing), but they either fork it or accept systemd. These guys take the risk of chasing behind the Linux kernel team regarding the changes to the udev interface, but others -understandably- may not. Those who don't will switch to systemd sooner or later..

Other dependencies are small potatoes compared to udev. udev manages all devices including the fixed drives and your PCI cards, most of the other daemons do stupid stuff like counting how many people are working on your computer, raising an alarm to all programs when you insert a USB stick etc. A Linux distributor could get away with a mostly-fake systemd package but not with a fake udevd.

Regarding GNOME, you could run it without any senseless daemons or whatever. I've been doing so in an XFCE system which somehow makes use of GNOME daemons. I killed and -x'ed most gnome daemons and some systemd daemons. It surely complains a lot but it still works.

Re: Contradiction (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-09 13:42 (#2S6W)

These aren't "sexy" projects everybody would want to work on, so I guess it's hard to find a maintainer for "GNU rm" unless you pay.
Bad example, given that GNU rm is part of the GNU project (as part of GNU binutils). As general rule, if something has "GNU" in its name, you'll find it at

Re: Contradiction (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-09 07:23 (#2S6F)

Beware that wikis are often written (and rewritten) by the people who like to write wikis to tell everyone else the way it is and should be. Don't take it as a policy statement, look to the wording and breakdown of results of the actual vote for that.

Void Linux Drops Systemd (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-10 13:36 (#2S80)

Void Linux dropped systemd support in favor of Runit. Systemd can be optionally used but Runit has become the default init system. Runit aims to be a SysVinit replacement that runs on Linux and other BSD/OSX/Solaris platforms.

YES! we need more distros like this.

Systemd does not stuff everything in pid 1 (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-09-11 02:57 (#2S9D)

Systemd is actually quite modular. Only the logic that is necessary to be there is in pid 1. So the quote in the summary is FUD, pure and simple. It's certainly not the windows-ization of Linux.

I cannot say that I understand the problem (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-10-04 16:52 (#2T36)

I am software developer. I develop mostly under Linux. I usually compile my own development tools. Compiler, IDE, non-standard libs. This is not always necessary, sometimes even overkill, but at least this way I know how the stuff is compiled and what the dependencies are. And I rarely get nasty surprises when I do an update/upgrade. So my work stuff is somewhat insulated from the rest of the Linux. Apart from developing stuff I do almost everything with Linux (Debian). I surf, watch movies, print. Linux is my main system. And it works. No problems at all. So I don't really care what kind of init system is used. Maybe I would think different, if I develop for Linux itself. Maybe systemd has problems, which really bite developers, who have to work with it directly or indirectly. However, when I see the noise because of systemd... are there really that many developers, which work on that level? I have the feeling something might be a bit blown out of proportion.