When I escaped from Windows to GNU/Linux I felt that the GNU/Linux ecosystem is like a remote, secluded beach. A place of tranquility, solitude and retreat from the outside world. Only the initiated ones could come, so that the beach remained well-kept and untainted. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case to me. Some came and thought ‘Oh, what a lovely place! Let’s build a resort here so that many more may flock and enjoy it!’. On paper this sounded great. Unfortunately, with people arrived noise, odor and litter…
As a GNU/Linux user I am a proponent of the ‘tried and tested’. I like simple setups with a minimal number of components and services that are mandatory for my PC to achieve the intended functionalities. I loath stacks of UIs/APIs and infinite towers of front-ends. Understandably, there is a need to separate the user from the hardware to prevent inadvertent damage. However, going several levels deep is a choice, not an obligation.
As many know and most should know, Linux is merely the kernel. The components that sit on top of it are interchangeable and as a whole, the GNU/Linux operating system can be built in various ways. There are several init architectures, including the legacy upstart, sysVinit, systemd, epoch and openRC. Same goes for the bootloader – LILO (now defunct), GRUB2, syslinux, etc. Why then do we only hear of systemd nowadays?
In short, it’s a lobby/agenda of companies that financially support GNU/Linux development. Systemd was spawned by Red Hat as an alternative to the old and ugly Unix ways of the past, which in their opinion are old and ugly, because they require more effort to maintain. Dubious logic, followed by dubious assurance of increased performance and simplified maintenance. Per reference, shell-based init scripts are so simple to write that even a high-schooler would easily be able to handle them.
However, for the resort builders it doesn’t matter. They see opportunity, invest and make profit. Freedom is a financially unsustainable luxury they have no need for. They want a new beach where they can sell their ice cream and pop. This money-driven cancer infests the whole GNU/Linux ecosystem and finds no satiation. The biggest problem is that it kills GNU/Linux’s modularity, the biggest selling point! If desktop environments start to depend on service management utilities, we have a problem…
Fortunately, there are ways and means I have been exploring recently. For instance, one doesn’t need the Gnome Network Manager for wireless network management, as wpa_supplicant’s GTK-based GUI does it perfectly well. In addition, there are GNU/Linux distributions that still appreciate the Unix ways, like Void Linux, CRUX and Gentoo Linux. We can and definitely should make GNU/Linux great again. The place of freedom and tranquility it used to be.
Per my contribution I decided to thoroughly explore CRUX and see how well one can build a GNU/Linux distribution on top of it.