Linked by jessesmith on Wed 5th Nov 2014 10:39 UTC
Linux Over the past year I've been reading a lot of opinions on the new init technology, systemd. Some people think systemd is wonderful, the bee's knees. Others claim that systemd is broken by design. Some see systemd as a unifying force, a way to unite the majority of the Linux distributions. Others see systemd as a growing blob that is slowly becoming an overly large portion of the operating system. One thing that has surprised me a little is just how much people care about systemd, whether their opinion of the technology is good or bad. People in favour faithfully (and sometimes falsely) make wonderful claims about what systemd is and what it can supposedly do. Opponents claim systemd will divide the Linux community and drive many technical users to other operating systems. There is a lot of hype and surprisingly few people presenting facts.
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A cople of comments.
by gilboa on Wed 5th Nov 2014 12:06 UTC
gilboa
Member since:
2005-07-06

"Debian holds out for tried and true technology, for mature software, and systemd isn't there yet."


RHEL seems to think differently and they are gambling their 1+ billion $ a year business on that.
Plus, I've got large number of *production* servers (some are near-5'9 high-availability servers) w/ systemd and its stability is exemplary. (Personal experience, I know, but the numbers don't add up).

As for this being a different argument, I agree, but for a different reason:
People tend to forget that open source is not democracy but rather a meritocracy ("those who do, get to make the decisions"), and as long as the anti-systemd groups are limited to spamming systemd-related articles in news sites and forums, their voice will simply be ignored by the major distributions.
Only when these groups start doing something constructive, such as developing an alternative base system *, this argument will become as relevant as the KDE vs. GNOME, vim vs. Emacs and Linux vs. BSD arguments.
For now, its pure white noise.

- Gilboa

* One should keep in mind that systemd *project* includes a large number of modular processes - one of them being the systemd init process.

Edited 2014-11-05 12:07 UTC

Reply Score: 10

RE: A cople of comments.
by crystall on Wed 5th Nov 2014 13:48 in reply to "A cople of comments."
crystall Member since:
2007-02-06

People tend to forget that open source is not democracy but rather a meritocracy ("those who do, get to make the decisions"), and as long as the anti-systemd groups are limited to spamming systemd-related articles in news sites and forums, their voice will simply be ignored by the major distributions.
Only when these groups start doing something constructive, such as developing an alternative base system *, this argument will become as relevant as the KDE vs. GNOME, vim vs. Emacs and Linux vs. BSD arguments.


I think you've nailed the issue perfectly without realizing it. FOSS software being a meritocracy doesn't hold true anymore especially in the context of systemd. That's because systemd is fundamentally a RedHat technology. It's free, the source's available, etc... but the majority of the development is done by paid RedHat employees and decisions on its direction are taken by RedHat employees. There's no way a pure volunteer-based effort can take on that both for lack of resources and for inability to make an impact (suppose that a new, better init system came out, do you think RedHat would take it in its distro after having sunk that much money and time into systemd development and education for their userbase?).

So I find unsurprising that part of Debian's userbase is unhappy with the choice. They weren't really given the choice - as in, it lived alongside other init systems for a while and was overwhelmingly preferred by users over alternatives.

It's a RedHat technology that's been introduced in RedHat, or RedHat-sponsored distributions because RedHat management decided that it was the best option for them and now it's becoming Debian's default by virtue of other pieces of software having significant dependencies on it. No merit was involved though systemd does have its merits.

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[2]: A cople of comments.
by CapEnt on Wed 5th Nov 2014 19:39 in reply to "RE: A cople of comments."
CapEnt Member since:
2005-12-18

Meritocracy is meritocracy no matter if it was done by a individual, a loose group or a corporation.

If it happens to be RedHat that funds the development of software pieces that Debian though to be important enough to compel then to choose SystemD, the merit is all upon RedHat, their management and the quality of their developers.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: A cople of comments.
by gilboa on Wed 5th Nov 2014 21:41 in reply to "RE: A cople of comments."
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

The mere fact that systemd is also/mostly developed by payed developers is irrelevant. This is just as true when it comes to kernel, Qt and other large OSS projects.

Plus,

It's a RedHat technology that's been introduced in RedHat, or RedHat-sponsored distributions because RedHat management decided that it was the best option for them and now it's becoming Debian's default by virtue of other pieces of software having significant dependencies on it. No merit was involved though systemd does have its merits.


1+ billion dollars in *paying* RHEL and Oracle Linux customers seem to point at the exact opposite (Let alone millions of CentOS and Scientific Linux users).
Again, if systemd was a "management decision" made by RHEL, I would imagine that the millions of RHEL systems would be flocking to a non-systemd distribution.
Thus far, I only see movement in opposite direction.

Again, you fail to explain what stops the million of oppressed anti-systemd developers and users from forking the latest non-systemd distribution and going on, on their separate way?

Can it be that most of the OSS developers are actually in-favor of a Linux/systemd based system?

- Gilboa

Edited 2014-11-05 21:52 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: A cople of comments.
by Finalzone on Thu 6th Nov 2014 07:44 in reply to "RE: A cople of comments."
Finalzone Member since:
2005-07-06

That's because systemd is fundamentally a RedHat technology. It's free, the source's available, etc... but the majority of the development is done by paid RedHat employees and decisions on its direction are taken by RedHat employees.

Systemd was started as personal project by a Red Hat employee and Novell/Suse employee who will be later hired by Red Hat in their own spare time to address the shortcoming of Upstart mainly due to Canonical hostile Clause Licensing Agreement (Very similar to OpenOffice under SUN and later Oracle).
https://plus.google.com/+KaySievers/posts/C3chC26khpq

During its early stage, an Arch contributor and other industry from GENEVI, Tizen, Jolla will add their contributions and the project moved to freedesktop.org host. Systemd was never hosted on Red Hat website.

There's no way a pure volunteer-based effort can take on that both for lack of resources and for inability to make an impact (suppose that a new, better init system came out, do you think RedHat would take it in its distro after having sunk that much money and time into systemd development and education for their userbase?).

Add the adoption from embedded industry from Angstrom to GENEVI via Tizen from both Samsung and Intel. Over 500 contributions show systemd is hardly Red Hat project.

So I find unsurprising that part of Debian's userbase is unhappy with the choice. They weren't really given the choice - as in, it lived alongside other init systems for a while and was overwhelmingly preferred by users over alternatives.


Looking at the systemd mailing list, some of features and conventions came straight from Debian contributors themselves like /etc/os-release and /etc/hostname. Systemd contributors active participations to one Debian convention were a clear example.
Sysvint is a walking dead never designed to fully take advantage of Linux. OpenRC still relies on bash scripts, Upstart was fundamentally flawed by design as pointed out by its original creator and its CLA did not help the cause. kFreeBSD and Hurd are virtually experiment considering their usage so portability is very irrelevant.

It's a RedHat technology that's been introduced in RedHat, or RedHat-sponsored distributions because RedHat management decided that it was the best option for them and now it's becoming Debian's default by virtue of other pieces of software having significant dependencies on it[...]

It is a sum of over 500 contributons including Arch, Debian, Ubuntu, Open Suse, Jolla, Gentoo, Tizen and more.

Edited 2014-11-06 07:51 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: A cople of comments.
by Odae on Fri 7th Nov 2014 11:20 in reply to "RE: A cople of comments."
Odae Member since:
2014-11-07

How is this different from how it is with the kernel, xorg or other big projects. Almost every kernel dev with influence works for "The Linux foundation", Red hat, google or another big company.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: A cople of comments.
by acobar on Wed 5th Nov 2014 14:21 in reply to "A cople of comments."
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

People tend to forget that open source is not democracy but rather a meritocracy


The problem with this kind of argument on software is when two things start to happen at same time:
1) it get ubiquitous so most of people that need them have to conform;
2) the developers behind it keep pushing more tight integration/interdependency.

It make things very hard to replace as the cost to build alternatives become increasingly step. We have many examples on file formats, applications, and protocols to attest it, and as far as can see this is happening on systemd right now.

Even if I think systemd is, for now, a superior solution and even like the way it handle the system init steps, I really would prefer they drop the tight coupling. It would help if they were a bit more inclined to accept small compromises to their "vision". For example, I always hated the binary log from the start and thought that user-space firmware loading was a bad idea.

One thing not discussed is that Debian is very popular for servers, what is not the case for openSUSE, Arch, Fedora and other distributions. I guess, that reason alone explain why the echo chamber noise is way more powerful on it and why it is more a concern to the members in its trenches.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: A cople of comments.
by gilboa on Wed 5th Nov 2014 22:09 in reply to "RE: A cople of comments."
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

"People tend to forget that open source is not democracy but rather a meritocracy


The problem with this kind of argument on software is when two things start to happen at same time:
1) it get ubiquitous so most of people that need them have to conform;
2) the developers behind it keep pushing more tight integration/interdependency.

It make things very hard to replace as the cost to build alternatives become increasingly step. We have many examples on file formats, applications, and protocols to attest it, and as far as can see this is happening on systemd right now.

Even if I think systemd is, for now, a superior solution and even like the way it handle the system init steps, I really would prefer they drop the tight coupling. It would help if they were a bit more inclined to accept small compromises to their "vision". For example, I always hated the binary log from the start and thought that user-space firmware loading was a bad idea.

One thing not discussed is that Debian is very popular for servers, what is not the case for openSUSE, Arch, Fedora and other distributions. I guess, that reason alone explain why the echo chamber noise is way more powerful on it and why it is more a concern to the members in its trenches.
"

I don't doubt that maintaining a non-systemd based Linux will be increasingly impossible.
The reason for that are quite obvious:
* The old sysv + million of loosely coupled binaries was severely broken. (Hence the large number of projects that sought to replace it).
* At least to me, it seems that most of the developer community is happy to switch to systemd, leaving less capable people available to maintain a non-systemd fork on one hand, while creating a ever increasing gap on the other.

That goes back to the meritocracy: Unless the anti-systemd group manage to pull sufficient number of capable developers to lead the effort, its just a matter of time until all the major distributions fall in line - including Debian.

BTW, keep in mind that if you are old enough, things may change. XFree86 ruled the world for years, and vanished within a space of a year (replaced by X.org) once they got too arrogant.

- Gilboa

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: A cople of comments.
by spiderman on Wed 5th Nov 2014 16:57 in reply to "A cople of comments."
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

People tend to forget that open source is not democracy but rather a meritocracy ("those who do, get to make the decisions")

I think it's neither a democracy nor a meritocracy. It's software. The people who do are dependent on other people who do. When they move X11 to Wayland for instance they break the work of many people. It's not easy to take the right decision as a community of packagers like Debian but that's what they do. Debian is the aggregation of all the work of all the other upstream projects into a coherent final product at the hand of the user. They are the ones who judge and select the work of others and Debian is actually structured as a democracy.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: A cople of comments.
by gilboa on Wed 5th Nov 2014 21:50 in reply to "RE: A cople of comments."
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

"People tend to forget that open source is not democracy but rather a meritocracy ("those who do, get to make the decisions")

I think it's neither a democracy nor a meritocracy. It's software. The people who do are dependent on other people who do. When they move X11 to Wayland for instance they break the work of many people. It's not easy to take the right decision as a community of packagers like Debian but that's what they do. Debian is the aggregation of all the work of all the other upstream projects into a coherent final product at the hand of the user. They are the ones who judge and select the work of others and Debian is actually structured as a democracy.
"

But Debian is not alone, and with all due respect to the "Democratic" nature of Debian someone will have to do the heavy lifting of keeping a non-systemd based Linux in an echo-system that slowly getting tightly coupled with the systemd infrastructure / base system. Without the man power to do it, Debian will either stop in its tracks or join the flow.

Are *you* willing to do the heavy lifting?

- Gilboa

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: A cople of comments.
by hobgoblin on Wed 5th Nov 2014 18:32 in reply to "A cople of comments."
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

Except that RH is paying the head devs of systemd. This means that they can directly dictate where the project is going without airing such "discussions" on mailing lists or bug trackers.

RH is pushing heavily into cloud computing, and systemd have had a massive influx of cloud related "features" recently.

In the end systemd will go where RH things the money is. And right now it seems to be cloud and US military contracts (hello logind and "seats").

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: A cople of comments.
by gilboa on Wed 5th Nov 2014 21:45 in reply to "RE: A cople of comments."
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

Except that RH is paying the head devs of systemd. This means that they can directly dictate where the project is going without airing such "discussions" on mailing lists or bug trackers.

RH is pushing heavily into cloud computing, and systemd have had a massive influx of cloud related "features" recently.

In the end systemd will go where RH things the money is. And right now it seems to be cloud and US military contracts (hello logind and "seats").


Last time I checked, most of the kernel and Qt developers were also getting a paycheck for it.
Again, nothing stops you from forking the last systemd-free version of your favorite distribution, a creating a cross-distribution Linux/InitV SIG.

As I asked in another comment. Are *you* will to do the heavy lifting?

- Gilboa

Edited 2014-11-05 21:53 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: A cople of comments.
by gilboa on Wed 5th Nov 2014 22:15 in reply to "A cople of comments."
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

I wanted to add something:

My company develops a complex network security system that has a large number components (some user space, others kernel space, with multiple processes, users and capabilities).
Needless to say, all of this must be started in-order and there are a lot of inter-dependencies.
Back in the pre-systemd days we had a huge arrays of bash scripts that used ugly waits, sleeps and cat /proc/pids to get the system running. (I was the idiot who wrote many of them).
The scripts never worked - mostly due to external problems. (E.g. You can never reliably check if /etc/init.d/network actually managed to initialize the [many] network devices correctly.)
We actually reached the point that we actually had helper C-based init services, to help us circumvent system initialization issues. (Upstart was no better).
But then came systemd, and we simply throw out all the ugly, never-really-working scripts and replaced them with (simple!) unit files.
Suddenly, I don't have to worry about ulimit, chroot, init.d/network not being set or initialized correctly, suddenly I don't need to manually manage the order in which each component is started, stopped and restarted.
I simply write a 10-20 line unit file, maybe add a small bash script to set some environment switch that systemd doesn't support and I'm done. Heck, we reached the point that we actually have a helper bash script that automatically write most of the systemd unit file based on a template file and a configuration file.
It works in the first time. It works in the 1000'th time and I no longer need to worry about it.

As the saying goes, you'll have to prey systemd out of my cold dead hands.

- Gilboa

Edited 2014-11-05 22:18 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: A cople of comments.
by hobgoblin on Thu 6th Nov 2014 18:34 in reply to "RE: A cople of comments."
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

And here is the thing. In the past, deciding what kind of init to use was up to the admin in charge.

But with systemd and the ongoing feature creep and near insistence that if you want to play you need to use APIs (the alternatives are rickety: http://ewontfix.com/15/) result in a removal of choice.

I am right now running a distro with a somewhat esoteric boot system. But i can still get things like consolekit up and running. but if i want to upgrade to a more recent Gnome i need to bring in logind and therefore systemd.

Now if i could set systemd to run in a minimal fashion on top of what i already have, i would not be sitting here commenting. But all of a sudden i have to redo my setup from the init up because i want to upgrade the point release of Gnome?!

Reply Parent Score: 2