Wait and watch on systemd
September 13, 2012 2 Comments
I have been pondering the systemd situation for a while. My biggest concern has been that Debian and Ubuntu have not made decisions to adopt it as default, especially when Fedora, OpenSUSE, Mageia, and others have. Maybe Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 will include it as well. So it seems like on the init system level, two fragmented groups are emerging: those who use systemd and those who don’t. My second concern is the ability for a casual/intermediate user to transition from a systemd-using system to one that doesn’t use it.
I have finally decided, after a long period of thinking, forecasting, etc., that I will use Ubuntu for the foreseeable future. This means that whether other distributions adopt systemd or reject it does not have much of an impact on me. If Ubuntu decides to adopt it then I’ll simply start using it. But I won’t worry about the fragmentation because it should not and does not matter to me. And it also shouldn’t matter to you either. Here’s why.
Ubuntu has been making big strides recently in adoption and popularity. More often than not you’ll find Ubuntu being deployed wholesale by organizations all over the world for desktop use. Google also uses a customized version within its own organization. Granted, Ubuntu is not as well adopted as RHEL on servers but it’s adoption is increasing at a rapid pace nonetheless. All this makes Ubuntu a viable alternative in the present and future.
Canonical, and by extension Ubuntu, sometimes does really annoying things. They have made me question my loyalty to the distribution many times. Not adopting systemd for 12.04 was one thing but to reject it outright, as Mark Shuttleworth did, did cause a bit of panic. But I overcame the systemd decision like I did other decisions because I support the diversity in the level of influence a distribution has over the future of Linux. RHEL has a big say in how organizations use Linux all over the world. Fedora, by extension, has the same influence because it prepares the technology of tomorrow. There’s a need for an equally influential player, Ubuntu in this case, to counter that excessive influence, not because RHEL is “evil” but because healthy competition is good.
Given the future viability of Ubuntu and the need to have another influential player, the fragmentation does not matter for those using Ubuntu exclusively. As long as you and I and millions more are using Ubuntu, any technology it uses to build itself is a viable and successful technology. So what if Ubuntu uses AppArmor instead of SELinux and Upstart instead of systemd? Both AppArmor and Upstart do their job and work on millions of installations.
The day when Ubuntu adopts systemd or SELinux I will happily use them. It’s not because Ubuntu can do no wrong but because I trust Ubuntu to make a better decision for millions of users than I can.
P.S. Ubuntu is not just a product. It’s a collection of people who care about FLOSS, Linux, and users. They are led, capably in my opinion, by Shuttleworth. And by joining the Ubuntu bandwagon I ensure that the product and project succeeds resulting in the success of many others tied to it.