10 years ago, systemd was announced and swiftly rose to become one of the most persistently controversial and polarizing pieces of software in recent history, and especially in the GNU/Linux world. The quality and nature of debate has not improved in the least from the major flame wars around 2012-2014, and systemd still remains poorly understood and understudied from both a technical and social level despite paradoxically having disproportionate levels of attention focused on it.
I am writing this essay both for my own solace, so I can finally lay it to rest, but also with the hopes that my analysis can provide some context to what has been a decade-long farce, and not, as in Benno Rice’s now famous characterization, tragedy.
The end of this massive article posits a very interesting question. What init system does Chrome OS use? And Android? Do you know, without looking it up? Probably not.
What does that tell you?
I still mostly use Gentoo and VoidLinux, which use OpenRC and RunIt respectively. I’ve never looked back either. The boot times are as fast or (more often) noticeably faster than systemd based distros like Fedora. Adding a new service or making a new service from scratch just means writing (or even just symlinking) a script which has no special syntax or properties. You could also just symlink the daemon executable if it needs no extra arguments (as many don’t). The logs are readable as plaintext in /var/log, where they have always been and any amount of googling will tell you to look.
It might be true that systemd vanquished sysvinit. But that’s a strawman at best, as sysvinit was also defeated by other init systems.