[arch-general] Alternative init system proposal

Jack L. Frost fbt at fleshless.org
Wed Feb 10 11:53:48 UTC 2016

On Tue, Feb 09, 2016 at 10:33:55PM +0100, Christian Rebischke wrote:
> Hello everone,
> First of all I want to remind you that systemd is no longer an init system.
> Systemd has become to be much more than just starting/stopping some daemons.
> You must see systemd with every part. You cannot just strip systemd from
> every package, ignore the other parts of systemd and run openRC. This will
> not work. This is just one part..

You actually can get systemd out and something else to do parts of what it
does. Most packages depend not on systemd, but on libsystemd and will happily
just *not use it* if systemd is not present.

I've been using such a system (Arch with systemd and some other stuff never put in)
and it has been fine.

> the other part is: I don't think that the Arch Linux developers would be
> happy if they would need to maintain an alternative init system like openRC.
> Here are some reasons for it:
> 1. Maintaining:
> The maintaining of systemd and another init-system would be a lot of double
> work. We would need every package twice. One systemd version and one version
> without systemd. Moreover some packages like netctl depend on systemd. You
> cannot just repackage netctl without systemd. You would have to change the
> codebase of netctl.

1) See my previous point.
2) I think you have to be completely mad to demand Arch devs rewrite netctl to
support something other than systemd. It depends on systemd. If you choose not
to use systemd, just use some other method of network configuration.

> Moreover I think that the developer team has other work todo. For example I
> would prefer to have full SELinux support this would be for me much more
> important as another init system.
> 2. Arch Linux itself:
> When I think about Arch Linux i must think about:
> - rolling release
> - a very fast release system. Upstream version == package version in the
>   official repositories.
> What does this mean? It means that I prefer a linux distribution that
> supports the newest changes in the linux development. Systemd is one of
> thesee changes. Systemd improves a lot of stuff. There is a reason why all
> other big distribtions are also moving to systemd. It's the future. All the
> shellscript-based init systems are the past.

As another person on here said, change is not progress. It's new, but it's
debatabe if it's a net positive.

> Also, with systemd comes a lot
> of new cool stuff like cgroups, systemd-nspawn, networkd, logind and a lot
> more. 

cgroups are not systemd-specific.
systemd-nspawn is just another container solution, it's not the only one.
networkd is just a network configurator, we have hundreds of those.
logind is actually *needed* in a number of cases while doing nothing in others.

> I really think that Arch Linux shouldn't be a rock in this flow of
> development. We should do it like fedora and support it. We shouldn't help
> to tube-fed all other init systems. 
> Furthermore there will be (maybe) kdbus in the kernel. Kdbus is at the
> moment still systemd only. I am sure there will come more systemd-specific
> interfaces for the kernel. Kdbus is just one example.

A detour from the point of this discussion, but I don't think that's a good
thing that the kernel might actually depend on systemd in some ways.

> 3. The ISO and Arch Linux installation process
> If Arch Linux would support openRC we would have to offer two ISOs. One with
> systemd and one with openRC.

What? Why? Having a handful of new packages in the repos doesn't mean anything
has to change. If you want to be extra nice about it, then maybe a separate
base group (base-openrc or something), but not a separate iso.

> Also the way of the installation process would be different.

Not by much. You're overestimating the whole thing greately.

> We would need to edit all wikipages. I often hear that the
> Arch Linux wiki is one of the best wikis for GNU/Linux. I think this would
> change if we would have a second init system. We would have a lot of chaos.
> And for what? Only for making 'some' people happy.
> This is just my humble opinion,
> best regards,
> chris

Now all that said, I still won't advocate for the Arch devs to actually support
configs other than the current base. All the things I just wrote should clue
you in that it's pretty easy to maintain a system without systemd without any
official support for it beyond the systemd/libsystemd split (thank you, devs,
btw, it made my life so much easier!).

Let the Arch team focus on providing a solit base to build upon and modify to
your needs.

The reason I felt the need to address the point in this email is I'm tired of
the overwhelming ignorance about the topic from people discussing it. It's
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