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Re: Bug#727708: init system other points, and conclusion

Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 04:04:05PM -0800, Russ Allbery wrote:
>> Please recall the context here: this whole aside started with an objection
>> to my contention that adopting upstart requires disassembly and redoing of
>> an integration that we would otherwise not have to disassemble.  Nowhere
>> in my message did I say that we would or could not do that disassembly if
>> we adopted upstart; I said that it was work that we otherwise wouldn't
>> have to do.
>> That's the intended context of my point above: I don't think we're going
>> to port GNOME to a non-systemd infrastructure, in the sense of carrying
>> significant patches to GNOME to adopt it to, say, not using logind.  I
>> think GNOME will continue to use systemd APIs heavily, which makes GNOME
>> less portable.  That means that systems that are not capable of running
>> those systemd components will need to either port them or develop
>> alternatives.
>> I don't consider this wailing or gnashing of teeth, but rather a realistic
>> look at what efforts the project is talking about committing to, as
>> opposed to supporting people working on if they so choose.
> Ok.  I think our core point of disagreement here, then, is in our assessment
> of how much work we think this actually is (for the Linux case, not for the
> non-Linux case).  I think the actual package maintenance to make this happen
> is not even a weekend's worth of free time, and therefore represents a
> negligible committment of resources on Debian's part, given that this
> dissassembly/integration has already been done in Ubuntu.

I'm making the assumption, here, that the work you're talking about is
making logind and other such services run without systemd, rather than
attempting to make GNOME and other desktop environments run without
those services.

I think you're underestimating the amount of *ongoing* effort required
here.  I'd point out that systemd in Debian is still stuck at version
204, despite the very nice features available in 205 and newer,
specifically because logind dared to make use of those features.  I
fully expect systemd to continue producing new and interesting features
and *using* them, requiring alternative implementations to either
reimplement more of systemd or create an increasingly invasive fork of
it.  And while I think it's *possible* to continue doing so on an
ongoing basis, that's work that could be spent on other productive tasks
that don't involve reimplementation.

In any case, I sincerely hope that the cost of doing that work is borne
entirely by people who find it a worthwhile activity rather than a
monumental waste of time.  And I furthermore hope that an unmangled and
unforked version of systemd continues to be available in Debian for
folks who want to run the init system that continues to create
functionality so useful that the proponents of upstart are willing to do
a huge amount of work in order to adopt most of it other than the init
system itself.

- Josh Triplett

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