The Lands Beyond Systemd…

As my last entry had been outright pessimistic, I tried with a more positive tone in this one. In recent months Debian was debating whether to make systemd the default init system in their new release Debian 8 Jessie. It turns out that the debate wasn’t completely one-sided in favor of systemd and many reasonable points were raised in respect to all available init systems (sysvinit, systemd, upstart, openRC, etc.):

https://wiki.debian.org/Debate/initsystem/sysvinit

Although systemd has become the new default, nothing and no one is stopping Debian users from installing and using a different init system, for instance sysvinit, the previous default in Debian 7 Wheezy. Many people running Debian or its derivatives made the switch. It’s fairly doable and doesn’t require extensive programming knowledge. Some BunsenLabs Linux users (descendant of Crunchbang Linux) even suggested that BL should be init agnostic due to its minimal approach and reliance on portable components, such as Openbox. The obvious irony in this was that it is systemd which should be agnostic and portable, not individual distributions! As the saying goes, if you let a stray cat into your apartment, it will soil your carpet. The concluding remark among BL users was that people who are aware of alternative init systems, are more than capable of handling them themselves. Fair enough.

Moving on, a multitude of Debian developers and users made an important observation on systemd: The problem is not its init functionality, but the fact that it wants to be everything and everywhere in the operating system. Hence, the only way around that without severe limitations is to entirely eliminate systemd as the core system component. Debian’s fork Devuan was born with such a premise. The job is hard and it is not going to happen without blood, sweat and tears (and balls, of course). Without a doubt, people behind Devuan have the needed qualities to make their noble goal reality.

On the less user-friendly side of the Linux spectrum, a new distribution was born over a year ago – Void Linux. Many people criticized it for not being unique enough. Perhaps on the day of its inception that was the case. Not anymore, though! Currently, Void Linux pioneers a novel init system called runit (http://smarden.org/runit/). It is modular, compliant with UNIX principles and extremely snappy. Void Linux also offers a new package manager – xbps. It does its job, handles configurations, etc. For instance, I have a dual GPU Geforce GTX 295 graphics card. xbps downloaded dkms, the nVidia driver sources and prepared the kernel module without a hitch. Installed fonts also get added to the required config files automatically. The most enjoyable experience to me was that Void Linux feels like Arch Linux before it went crazy over systemd. It’s simple, sane and very much KISS!

To sum up, there are non-systemd Linux alternatives in sufficient abundance. One just needs to use them and show others that systemd is not mandatory and never should be. After all, Linux is defined by choice!

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