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InfoQ Homepage News Debian systemd Controversy Results in Fork

Debian systemd Controversy Results in Fork

For the past several months, the Debian Linux distribution has been embroiled in a controversial decision to make systemd the standard system and service manager, replacing Debian’s historical use of SysV init-scripts during system boot-up.  The debate surrounding the switch has reached a fever pitch that has now resulted in a fork of Debian into a new distribution named Devuan.

Pronounced “Dev-One”, Devuan proclaims that it intends to “protect the freedom of its community of users and developers” by first establishing its primary goal to remove systemd from the forthcoming release of Debian.  In pursuit of this goal Devuan’s architects intend to improve upon the existing Debian build infrastructure, reusing what works and eliminating what they deem to be unnecessary bloat.

The systemd debate has often become embroiled in bitter debates with both proponents of systemd and critics both becoming incendiary.  Several high-profile Debian developers, including Ian Jackson and Joey Hess have quit the Debian project after years of service due to these debates.  Systemd supporters generally feel it is the next logical step in improving startup times and simplifying service management.  Opponents feel that there is an opaque development process behind systemd and that any gains from its use are outweighed by the magnitude of the disruption to the status quo.

In a mailing list post announcing the fork, a group calling itself the “Veteran Unix Admin collective” says they are behind the shift to Devuan.  A subsequent follow up post by Franco Lanza says more details will be forthcoming about the maintainers as the project progresses.  Denis Roio (aka Jaromil) from added that given the hostilities, many developers are leery of being under the spotlight from the pro-systemd camp.

The Devuan project intends to make the switch from Debian as pain-free as possible.  The goal of the first release (Spring 2015) is that upgrading to Devuan from Debian 7 should be no harder than the upgrade from Debian 7 to Debian 8, codenamed “Jessie”.

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