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Bug#727708: init system discussion status

Ian Jackson <ijackson@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:

> Andreas, Bdale, Don, Keith: please let us know what you're thinking,
> and what more information/discussion would be useful.

Right.  I've meant to post something before now, but after returning
home from a family road trip over the holidays, I was hit by a nasty
cold.  Feeling a bit better today.

I could spend a lot of time talking about what I learned from dealing
with various init system and on-demand daemon launching approaches long
before Linux even existed, but since I suspect that's better done over
beers at places like Debconf than here, I'll simply summarize by saying
that I've found sysvinit adequate but never satisfying.  Clinging to it
when there are superior options available would not make sense to me.

There are things about OpenRC that I find really appealing, but I agree
that it seems too immature to even evaluate well, and thus I don't think
it is a credible alternative to be the default for Debian GNU/Linux. 

So I dove in and have spent quite a bit of time learning about and
studying both systemd and upstart... both of which I've basically
steered clear of in the past.  I've done an *immense* amount of reading,
talked to many people with both strong and weak opinions about both
systems, and spent a modest amount of time working with the VMs that
Steve so graciously provided us to learn what each system "feels like"
in real use.  I have not (yet) used either init system on any of the
machines I personally admin. 

It's now clear to me that systemd is technically superior as an init
system to upstart.  I find the dependency approach easier to think about
and work with, unit files seem quite easy to craft and read, I like the
status reporting and logging tools, and I find myself agreeing more with
Russ that with Ian about the best way to augment daemons that might
benefit from it with a readiness protocol.

It bothers me on some philosophical level that so much functionality
that I'd like to keep conceptually separate from an init system is being
pulled in to the systemd upstream.  And as someone who has spent much of
my professional career working with non-x86 systems and who has worked
with many non-Linux kernels in different contexts, I've found the
anti-portability rhetoric from Lennart, et al, particularly grating.

But a long time ago, in a rec.crafts.metalworking post about teachers, a
fellow named Fitch Williams wrote that "in any endeavour it is a fact
that you have to succeed with the people who are willing to
participate."  This sentiment struck me as true enough that I added it 
to my quotes file, and it's one I'm often reminded of when working on
Debian, where we are all volunteers who choose to be here and work on
things that matter to us individually.  I find it particularly relevant
in the context of this init system discussion... because whether I "like
it" or not, lots of really good work is being done by people who choose
to associate themselves with the systemd project, much of which I agree
is important to Debian.  

> FAOD I don't expect all the other TC members to read the whole
> discussion, which is very extensive.

Actually, I have.  I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Ian and
Russ for their detailed and very thoughtful write-ups, and the various
other contributors of technical input to the discussion these provoked.
My opinions were formed independently, but reading through these threads
really helped raise my confidence in those opinions.

So, to summarize, I think systemd should be our choice for a new default
init system for Debian GNU/Linux.  Where I think we still need to focus
attention is on how to manage the transition, and how to make *any* new
init system default for Linux palatable for Debian's non-Linux ports.


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