[arch-dev-public] Mkinitcpio replacement with Dracut

Giancarlo Razzolini grazzolini at archlinux.org
Tue May 21 02:41:40 UTC 2019

Hi All,

Recently, Dave announced his intention to step down as mkinitcpio maintainer. I have been
handling a few things on it, made some small changes to our mkinitcpio-busybox [0], closed a few old
bugs, while also made sure some of the other bug reports are still valid. [1]

I have been testing a few patches to mkinitcpio for a while to fix those bugs, but last week Dave
and I had a discussion on IRC and we agreed that we could spend better time contributing somewhere
else than keeping working with mkinitcpio.

Currently mkinitcpio cannot boot from NFS properly, mknitcpio-nfs-utils [2] uses very old code. Even
though ipconfig works, it has several drawbacks compared to using more modern tools. Not to mention that
we have two use cases for mkinitcpio, which are base and systemd enabled initramfs. Even though we use
by default our base enabled initramfs, we have to support systemd related issues and we have to keep
developing our systemd hooks.

I have been looking into dracut for some time now, I copied some stuff from them on a few of my own
scripts and they also have an actual test suite, that we currently can't use on Arch, but I plan to
change that.

With this in mind, I have packaged dracut for Arch and put it on Extra [3]. I have been using a dracut
initramfs for a while now to boot my encrypted partition. Surprisingly, I only had to create a small patch
to one of the dm-crypt module scripts [4]

In this initial phase I want to ask as many of you to test this as a replacement to mkinitcpio in your setups,
as many as possible, and in as many scenarios as possible. We will probably have to keep both packages on
our repos for a long time, but once we are confident it's a good fit, we can replace mkinitcpio on our iso and base,
so new installs get dracut by default.

Please, drop in your comments as well.

Giancarlo Razzolini

[0] https://git.archlinux.org/svntogit/packages.git/commit/trunk/PKGBUILD?h=packages/mkinitcpio-busybox&id=489fbd6f2ed1defd1c7f1b57e7d6edd25185e6d8
[1] https://bugs.archlinux.org/index.php?string=mkinitcpio&project=0
[2] https://git.archlinux.org/mkinitcpio-nfs-utils.git/
[3] https://www.archlinux.org/packages/extra/x86_64/dracut/
[4] https://git.archlinux.org/svntogit/packages.git/tree/trunk/0001-90crypt-Change-the-module-setup.sh-to-use-uname-r-in.patch?h=packages/dracut
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