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Re: A few observations about systemd

On Mon, 18 Jul 2011 at 12:34:52 +0200, Federico Di Gregorio wrote:
> Wasn't "universal" as in "runs everywhere" (i.e., on a lot of archs) vs
> as "runs everything" (when a Debian GNU/WinNT?).

I've always understood "the universal OS" to mean "all-purpose" and/or
"for everyone". There's currently no CPU architecture suitable for all
purposes for which an OS is needed (I wouldn't want an x86 in my phone, or any
current ARM CPU in my laptop), so portability between CPU architectures
is necessary in order to be universal, but I think that's an implementation
detail rather than a goal.

Is Linux suitable for all purposes for which an OS is needed? I think that's
an open question. I'm not at all convinced that the ability to use kFreeBSD
or Hurd makes Debian any more universal (in terms of people who can use it,
or things you can use it for) than it already was, but the people working
on those ports clearly think there's some benefit in supporting them.

The point at which kFreeBSD or Hurd might harm Debian's universality is the
point at which supporting them causes problems for the rest of the project.
Are they a net benefit or a net burden to the rest of the project? I don't
claim to have the answer, but I think that's the question to be asking.

systemd is far from the only project whose maintainer considers supporting
non-Linux to be a waste of effort. Lennart does have a good point that
writing "portably" requires you to refrain from using features that were
added to Linux specifically to make what you're doing easier, more efficient
or both, which seems perverse at best. Perhaps the solution to systemd
portability is to give the FreeBSD kernel more of the useful features that
originated in Linux?

Indeed, you could view portability to many kernels as an instance of the
platform problem <http://lwn.net/Articles/443531/>: presumably, the only
reason you'd want to target kFreeBSD is that it does something better than
Linux does, but perhaps the right solution to that is to make Linux better.


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