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LWN.net Weekly Edition for November 27, 2013
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LWN.net Weekly Edition for November 21, 2013
GNU virtual private Ethernet
>Busybox and systemd, though they may ship a billion copies, are monolithic evolutionary dead ends.
>Busybox, unlike systemd, is a valuable and portable tool which does not inhibit the continuing evolution of UNIX and Linux.
>I see a potential role for a minimal init replacement, but not for a grotesque monolith actively being exploited as a power play by its author.
>I am in FLOSS for the long haul. Others may have different priorities.
Serious question: did you read the article?
Poettering: The Biggest Myths
Posted Jan 27, 2013 7:40 UTC (Sun) by mgb (guest, #3226)
(sigh) Wrong. Neither in myth 10 nor anywhere else does Lennart dispute that "UNIX and Linux are evolving tool sets".
> Myth 1.
Systemd makes 69 binaries interact so tightly that it is beyond the political ability of most competent programmers to replace a portion with a better solution. That is monolithic even though Lennart purports to define monolithic otherwise. Systemd is harmless if used on leaf nodes as BusyBox is. If used on a main trunk of Linux, systemd will cause serious harm.
> Myth 16.
Lennart admits that systemd is not portable. As such it is harmful. All Lennart claims in his myth 16 is that there is a reason for his harming Linux.
> Myth 27.
Lennart most definitely exploits systemd as a power play. We have seen this numerous times. A recent instance was "support for some distribution specific legacy configuration file formats has been dropped. We recommend distributions to simply adopt the configuration files everybody else uses now", which translated means that he's using systemd as a power play to try to make the overwhelming majority of distros change configuration files to match those of his tiny minority.
> Myth 19.
Lennart is correct. Lennart's cabal cannot force people with their eyes open to fall into his systemd trap. It is important that balanced information be available for consideration, not just Lennart's manifestos.
Serious suggestion: perhaps you'd do better to author a considered comment appropriate to the situation rather than relying on a monolithic manifesto to do your job badly.
Posted Jan 27, 2013 8:37 UTC (Sun) by imgx64 (guest, #78590)
Your statement implies that systemd is un-UNIX-like. Myth 10 answers that. If you didn't mean to imply that, then I'm sorry.
> Serious suggestion: perhaps you'd do better to author a considered comment appropriate to the situation rather than relying on a monolithic manifesto to do your job badly.
I don't see why. All of your arguments (in both comments) are answered right there in the article.
Posted Jan 27, 2013 13:02 UTC (Sun) by robert_s (subscriber, #42402)
*rolleyes* here we go.
Was it you that was complaining about "ad-hominem" attacks above?
Posted Jan 27, 2013 17:15 UTC (Sun) by HelloWorld (subscriber, #56129)
> Lennart admits that systemd is not portable. As such it is harmful.
It's not, see myth 13.
> All Lennart claims in his myth 16 is that there is a reason for his harming Linux.
How is an alleged problem that doesn't affect Linux at all supposed to harm it? You're not making any sense.
> Lennart most definitely exploits systemd as a power play. We have seen this numerous times. A recent instance was "support for some distribution specific legacy configuration file formats has been dropped. We recommend distributions to simply adopt the configuration files everybody else uses now", which translated means that he's using systemd as a power play to try to make the overwhelming majority of distros change configuration files to match those of his tiny minority.
Systemd is free software, if some distro wants to keep using these configuration files, they can maintain the code required to do so themselves -- in fact, this very possibility is mentioned in the NEWS file. systemd doesn't stop you from doing anything. It just won't help you to do certain things, and that's something *completely* different.
Posted Jan 27, 2013 19:46 UTC (Sun) by rgmoore (subscriber, #75)
A recent instance was "support for some distribution specific legacy configuration file formats has been dropped. We recommend distributions to simply adopt the configuration files everybody else uses now", which translated means that he's using systemd as a power play to try to make the overwhelming majority of distros change configuration files to match those of his tiny minority.
This would be a more plausible theory if they had enforced the Fedora/RedHat filenames and locations in all cases, but they didn't. And, for what it's worth, this was probably a worthwhile effort regardless of whether it was associated with systemd. There is no particularly good reason for each distribution to keep the same information in different formats and locations. All that doing so achieves is confusion, fragmentation, and needless duplication of effort. This kind of standardization creates some short-term pain, but it will make everyone's life easier in the long run.
Posted Jan 28, 2013 10:34 UTC (Mon) by andreashappe (subscriber, #4810)
*sigh* comments like that make me wish for killfile support in lwn.
Posted Jan 28, 2013 11:31 UTC (Mon) by cladisch (✭ supporter ✭, #50193)
… is there for subscriptions at “professional hacker” and higher levels.
Posted Jan 29, 2013 17:07 UTC (Tue) by mgedmin (subscriber, #34497)
My subscription has expired a few days ago (and I noticed only now when I was trying to check what my level was), and your comment has convinced me to upgrade from starving to professional hacker.
Posted Jan 28, 2013 17:13 UTC (Mon) by malor (subscriber, #2973)
You're characterizing this as a 'power play', but I don't see how he would particularly benefit. Config files aren't that big a deal. As long as they're still flat text files, and not some weird binary format like the Windows Registry, then it's usually pretty easy to adapt tools to read and generate a little different format.
It just doesn't seem to me that config files are worth getting het up about. As long as they're flat files, they're easy to translate and move around. Yeah, it might be a little more work, but if you're on a really oddball distro with a strange format for configuration, well, that's the price you'll have to pay if you want to run systemd. Maybe it's worth it to you, maybe it isn't, but it doesn't appear likely that any other software is going to stop working if you don't have it.
At least at present, the only benefit I see to Lennart in dropping minority config files is saving work, and I don't particularly begrudge him that.
As a thought experiment, if every Linux distro, everywhere, switches to systemd format for configuration files, do we really lose anything? Does it actually matter, or is it just resistance to change? Perhaps a feeling of losing a competition?
tl;dr version: I don't see any reason for a big emotional investment in config files. Am I missing something?
Posted Jan 28, 2013 17:44 UTC (Mon) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106)
The same argument can be made from other distro viewpoints regarding /etc/syscofnig/, I imagine, but I know Debian and used it for my example.
Some of the emotional reaction comes, I think, from a feeling of being put upon by a heavy handed outsider. Who is Lennart (or what is systemd, if you prefer to say it that way) to come in to my distro and declare that my distro's config files are "old" and in need of replacement when I and my cohorts carefully chose a good way of solving the problem that has now been working for years?
"You are nonstandard, you will be assimilated. Your technological distinctiveness will be added to our own." --systemd, addressing udev, cron, initd, Debian, Suse, etc.
Posted Jan 28, 2013 18:07 UTC (Mon) by malor (subscriber, #2973)
That said, I don't think putting locale.conf in /etc is that big a deal. There's plenty of other system-wide conf files in there; there's never been a full transition. The timezone file is in /etc, as an example, and I'd call that almost exactly identical in scope. I see no logical reason for timezone to be in /etc, with locale in /etc/default, but that's how it presently is. It seems likely to be backward compatibility driving that choice, rather than technical merit or logical consistency.
Like all other flavors of Unix, Debian is sloppy about where it puts configuration.... look at all the crap under /var/run, as an example. As much as I like it, and as much as I use it, I don't think we should try to paint it as the shining city on the hill. It's actually quite messy.
In this particular case, I guess I'd just sort of shrug and use symlinks. We can either stick them in default and link to them from /etc, or the other way around. I don't see it as being that big a deal.
Yeah, maybe it's a little rude on Poettering's part, but meh, not worth worrying about that much. Adding one more tiny inconsistency to a distro that already has so many doesn't strike me as a major aesthetic affront. You can argue that we'll never get to the hill if we keep moving away from it, but I don't think a symlink is really moving away.
That said, it seems a little silly for Poettering to refuse a patch to look in one more directory.
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