Rich Freeman on 17 Feb 2015 12:13:30 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] PLUG West - "systemd: The Anti-BusyBox" by Rich Freeman

On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 2:36 PM, Rich Mingin (PLUG) <> wrote:
> Not contradicting any of your points, Rich, and it's true, Debian stable is
> still on init, but Debian testing (jessie) is frozen and defaulting to
> systemd, it's quite hard to avoid having it pulled in. Once Jessie is forked
> as Debian 8.0 and released, it'll be down to pretty much Gentoo offering
> non-systemd installs, and having tried to make a systemd-free install last
> year, there are lots of things pulling it in, even on Gentoo.

"Having it pulled in" is different from running it.  I wouldn't be
surprised if Debian switches to using systemd to provide udev, which
means you'll have it installed even if you're using sysvinit.
However, if you don't actually run it AS init, then it is just sitting
on your hard drive doing nothing.  Sure, we don't like files that
don't need to be there, but it isn't THAT big of a deal (certainly it
is easier than switching to BSD).

On Gentoo about the only thing I've heard of pulling in systemd is
Gnome.  Sure, there have been issues with dependency errors in
packages trying to pull things in, but that is just Gentoo QA in
general.  It seems like about once a year for the last decade I run a
daily sync of the repository and find something trying to reinstall
half my system - if I just wait a day and re-sync the problem usually
goes away.  It shouldn't happen, and hopefully if we get more
automated testing integrated in the repository it will be less of an
issue, but it really has nothing to do with systemd other than being a
package potentially pulled in by a core system virtual.

Usually when people complain about "systemd being pulled in" on Gentoo
it is more complaining about packages installing systemd units when
systemd isn't being used, or complaints about some of udev now having
systemd in the path names.  If you REALLY don't want to install units
you can mask them, but Gentoo generally follows upstream file naming
and the udev upstream paths have systemd in them, so if cosmetics is
important to you I guess you'll be stuck with eudev or busybox mdev or

I just think people make it a much bigger issue than it is.

Besides, you don't see me whining about all the broken packages on
Gentoo that make it hard to avoid having openrc "pulled in," right?
We're working on making it possible to uninstall it but some code
refactoring is still in-progress and having a few extra shell scripts
on my system won't kill me.  :)

> A lot of the
> pushback, I think, is because it feels like a non-choice, that the distros
> have decided on systemd and there's no alternative, no way for a mere user
> to register their opinions and desires on this issue.

It seems like lots of people don't seem to have any trouble
registering their opinions and desires.  We have entire attempts to
fork distros out there, countless rants on slashdot, and everybody and
their uncle has a blog and social media these days.

I think the real complaint is that there is no way for mere users to
override the decisions of the people doing the actual work on their
distros.  There is no way as a Debian user to prevent all the Debian
developers from agreeing to do something with their donated time that
I'd prefer they not do with their donated time.  It is almost like
they're "Free as in Freedom."  :)

> Rather than defending the merits of systemd, it would probably be more
> fruitful to address this feeling of powerlessness and passenger-hood.

I'm not going to lie to you.  If you want to be a passenger, then
you're going to go where the bus takes you.  Maybe you'll get a forum
poll to complain in, but you probably won't get a vote that counts.
If you buy a seat on the board of Canonical then you probably will get
a vote that counts, but I can't imagine those sell cheaply.

However, the real power of FOSS is that you're free to do what you
want with it.  You can't force the Debian devs to do things your way.
However, you CAN take the work they've done and extend it in a
different direction.  The last pre-systemd release of Debian doesn't
have a self-destruct timer on it - you can use it forever, with no
more security bugs in year 12 than you had last year (you just might
learn about ones you've never realized you already had though, and it
will be up to you to fix them).

If Devuan ever gets off the ground then more power to them - they're
creating free software that anybody can benefit from if they choose to
do so.  I don't see forks in FOSS as a bad thing.  Even abandoned FOSS
work remains available to everybody to utilize and repurpose forever.

That to me is the real spirit of FOSS.  It isn't about getting a free
lunch - it is about being able to trade your extra sandwich for
somebody else's extra drink, and having enough to share with the
homeless guy down the street while you're at it.  If you want to just
be the homeless guy that's perfectly fine, but you can't always expect
to have things your way.  You WILL get a lot more than the typical
proprietary vendor will offer you for free, however.

You're hardly alone in how you feel, though.  There have been times
when FOSS has gone a direction I disagreed with, and my choices were
basically to either go it alone or live with it (maybe with the odd
tweak).  Usually I find I'm better off following the group, as wrong
as I might think they are.  That's just the nature of big projects -
it is really hard to roll something like a distro or large project
entirely on your own.  In the case of systemd there seem to be a lot
of people who don't like it, so they shouldn't have too much trouble
banding together to help each other out, if that is how they want to
invest their time.

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