Bonum Certa Men Certa

Combatting Revisionist History (Post From 2015, Years Before IBM Bought Red Hat and Increased Vendor Lock-in)

A day ago (Debian Developer from Japan):

Debian Developer from Japan on systemd

Keanu Approves/Disapproves IBM: They tell us they combat racism; But more people find out it's a PR stunt
Smokescreen that serves to distract from the very racist nature of IBM and its founder



Summary: Today we republish this forum post from more than 6 years ago; in light of what IBM did to CentOS and its vicious attack on the founder of the GNU/Linux operating system we must understand the systemd agenda, which the FSF can more openly speak about now that there are no financial strings

I'm something of a historian, I can't help but be troubled by the revisionist history I see unfolding in the aftermath of the recent controversy over systemd. So, from the “you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts” department, as a kind of parting gift to this community, I'd like to do what I can to marshal what I perceive to be the pertinent facts into a single bucket.

Disclaimer: For the benefit of those who may stumble on this post without any knowledge of my feelings on the matter, it's safe to call me the original systemd hater. In fact, it was my own headlong flight from systemd that originally led me to Debian in the first place. (And depending on your POV, that may constitute Yet Another Reason to hate systemd.) I make no claim nor pretense to "balance" or "fairness" regarding systemd any more than I would for, say, arsenic poisoning. My aim is to challenge and hopefully dispel certain memes that I see emerging from the systemd aftermath.

With that out of the way...

Systemd is not an init system
If someone characterizes systemd as an “init system,” you may safely assume that s/he is either utterly clueless or deliberately obfuscating the discussion. Calling systemd an init system is like calling an automobile a cup holder. Not even Lennart Poettering pretends that systemd is anything but the “Core OS” (sic).

What systemd is is an effort to re-create large portions of existing userspace (including login, job scheduling, and networking, just to name a few) inside a single process traditionally reserved for the sole purpose of starting *nix userspace. (Just in case it isn't clear, there is a huge difference between starting userspace (init) and being userspace (systemd).)

At the end of the day, how one perceives this re-creation of existing userspace strongly influences one's reaction to systemd. There are plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons to be troubled by this re-invention of the wheel; they range from the philosophical and aesthetic, to the technical and mechanical, even the purely political and brutally practical.

And that's part of the problem when folks start to “debate” systemd. Very few folks have the chops to think about, much less talk about all of these areas simultaneously. As a result, the discussion becomes fractured and disjointed, in what is literally the textbook definition of bikeshedding. Suddenly, a talking head who's never written a line of code in his/her life offers up an authoritative-sounding-but-utterly-bogus opinion on systemd's maintainability. Add in the fact that folks on both sides (including Poettering himself) act as if name-calling is a perfectly good substitute for empirical evidence, and the “debate” becomes indistinguishable from white noise.

Speaking of noise...


There was never a systemd debate
Debian came late to the systemd party. Systemd has been controversial since its inception in 2010. During the intervening four years, people have fled and even forked distros over systemd. By the time Debian's GR rolled around, anyone and everyone who was going to have a strong opinion about systemd already had it. Nobody was going to change their minds, thus there was no true “debate.”

We humans love to imagine that we are rational creatures, driven by logic and reason, capable of making reasoned, optimal decisions. Which is great except what we really are is short-sighted, pig-headed, and stupid. Psychology has a boatload of experiments that demonstrate that once you get to the choose-up-sides stage, then argument becomes dramatically less effective. (Google “confirmation bias” and “backfire effect” to learn more.)


The GR was not a mandate for systemd
I have no idea where systemd fanbois get the idea that a victory lap is appropriate.

The results of the GR vote were diluted and obfuscated by two non-resolution outcomes. Of the three technologically-relevant resolutions to the GR, one was unequivocally pro-systemd, the other two were contra-systemd, differing primarily in phrasing (essentially the difference between “must not” and “should not”).

(Aside: I confess to being a “must not” guy at heart, but I grudgingly admit that those who suggest that an absolute prohibition might prove unnecessarily inflexible or self-limiting might have a valid point. Maybe. But I don't have to like doing it.)

But here's the thing, and there is just no getting around it. Once you eliminate the ass-covering "no GR required" amendment, “systemd is a bad idea, the only real question is how bad” didn't place third.

It placed first. By a substantial margin.

Conversely, “systemd is a good idea” didn't place first.

It placed last.

If this surprises you, even a little, then by all means, go look it up. And for the love of whatever you hold Sacred, refrain from uttering a single word of GR-related drivel until you do.

(Edit: My exhortation above to refrain from drivel absent sufficient research was predictably futile. So, for the benefit of those who are unable or unwilling to do the math themselves, a pre-digested version of the analysis can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=120652&p=576562#p576502)


Speaking of the GR...


The GR was too necessary
As noted above, the only reason “systemd is a bad idea” wasn't the outcome of the GR vote is because of the “political cover” amendment that allowed “This conversation is superfluous” to pretend to be the correct answer (which it absolutely isn't).

In a dichotomous, up-or-down, yes-or-no vote (aka Option1 -vs- Option3), the Debian dev community is split 60/40 (or 40/60, depending on one's POV) on the issue of systemd. When a large plurality of your engineering team tells you that you're doing something fundamentally wrong, dismissing their concerns with “we don't need no steenkin' conversation” bespeaks a complacency bordering on negligence, all the moreso when when your actions have very, very large consequences. (Google “Challenger disaster” for more information.)

Which leads me to...


Debian isn't other distros
Every time I see someone spout some variation of the bandwagon fallacy, or refer to Arch as a “major” distro, I have an urge to do harm.

News flash: There is exactly one Debian, and nothing--nothing--compares to it.

NASA doesn't run Arch. Amazon and Google don't rely on Mageia.

In terms of sheer impact on both the larger LinuxSphere and the global economy, there are exactly two “major” distros: Debian and RedHat. (SUSE is a very distant third, and everything else is just noise.)

A change in Debian affects mission-critical and life-critical software across the globe, touches literally tens of thousands of organizations, and ripples through a hundred derivatives and spinoffs.

So no, it doesn't matter, not even a little, whether your desktop machine boots a few seconds faster or “seems to work ok” under systemd. The cost of downtime on a hobbyist machine is all-but-unmeasurable, whereas the cost of downtime on a scientific supercomputer is somewhere between large and catastrophic.

Speaking of costs...


Change costs, and big change costs big
There's a reason why sysadmins in large organizations are routinely among systemd's biggest detractors.

Downtime is expensive in terms of both time and money. So is re-training. So is rewriting gigabytes of artificially-obsoleted documentation. Add them all up, factor in the associated opportunity costs, multiply by a planet's worth of installs, and before you know it, the cost to the global economy associated with systemd deployment reaches into the billions (or thousands of millions, if you prefer) of dollars/euros.

And for what exactly?

Even if systemd were a demonstrably superior technology (which it isn't), adequately spec'ed (which it isn't) elegantly designed (which it isn't), well-coded (which it isn't), properly documented (which it isn't),or developed by a responsive and responsible community with a history of delivering robust and reliable software (*cough*pulseaudio*cough*), systemd would still be at best problematic, for one simple reason: it's insanely expensive to implement, particularly given the fact that it doesn't solve any actual problem.

Insofar as I'm aware, no one has ever articulated a value proposition for systemd that addresses its implementation costs, or comes remotely close to calculating a payback period. More to the point, no one has successfully articulated any value proposition for systemd that goes beyond “it's better” or “it's more modern.”

Global warming, antibiotic resistant bacteria, oilspills, and nuclear accidents are all “modern,” but that doesn't make them good. And “better” is a meaningless term until and unless one specifies a metric or quantitative criteria that can be used to measure “better” in a systematic and reliable way. Otherwise, “new and improved!” is just marketing hype.

At the end of the day, the crux of the systemd question comes down to a matter of how much Unix one wants in one's Linux. Casual users and hobbyists probably won't care. Professionals will care deeply and passionately.

Recent Techrights' Posts

Who Is This Backup FOR, the NSA?
As Admfubar put it, "backups for everyone..."
Microsoft's Siege of Libya Coming to an End
One might be tempted to guess the users deleted Windows and installed something else
New Talk by Dr. Richard Stallman Published Two Days Ago By CeSIUM - Centro de Estudantes de Engenharia Informática da Universidade do Minho (Portugal)
The FSF no longer mentions Richard Stallman's talks, but we will
Name the Threats and Threat Actors
Looking back to 2006, there was Novell and gregkh (partly salaried by Microsoft), so these are familiar territories
The "Other" SPLC
You know you're winning the debate when censorship is explored
Microsoft: By Default, Destroy Linux
Here is what the very "polite" Microsoft Boccassi had to say
Perens on a Stick
Remember what Novell did and how few (barely anyone) sided with Novell
Andrew Tanenbaum Gets an Award for His Work on MINIX
ACM one week ago
Twitter's Fall to Irrelevancy in Europe
Musk bought a dud
[Meme] 'Useless' Kids of EPO Examiners
malnourished?
Granting Loads of Monopolies in Europe (to Foreign Corporations of Epic Size and Far Too Much Power Inside Europe) is Vastly More Important Than Raising European Kids Properly?
"Efficiency" first? Whose? Corporations or families? No wonder so many young families are hesitant to have any kids these days; that's particularly true in east Asia and also in north America, not just Europe
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Free Speech (Online) Angle
Free speech is a fundamental tenet of a free society
 
Sheriff of Cork & Debian Edward Brocklesby or Brockelsby Street confusion
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Three Points About Julian Assange Plea Deal
There is still a secret problem
[Meme] EFF Became a 'Bunch of Pussies' Working for GAFAM (and Sponsored by GAFAM)
It won't protect people, except very rich people's interests
IBM Does Not Care for the Blind (Wayland Harms Accessibility)
What a punch in the gut
Tux Machines Past 20: Still Thriving
Now 20 years and 2 weeks old
[Meme] Microsoft is Coming /Home
"LOL, REAL SORRY!!!"
Gemini Links 25/06/2024: Old Computer Challenge; An Opinionated GNU/Linux Guide
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 24, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, June 24, 2024
IEEE Computer Society on Andrew Tanenbaum, Winner of ACM Award, Who Also Inspired Linux Development
10 years ago
FSF Looking to Raise Money by Adding 200 New Members by July 19
The FSF is in good shape, according to Alexandre Oliva
Not Only Does It Not Add Security... (UEFI as a 'Bug Door')
SecureCore?
Data From Monaco Should Alarm Microsoft
Just how many people are deleting Windows and installing something else this year?
Linux in Central Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger)
Vast area, vast number of "Linux users" (if one counts Android as such)
[Meme] Gagging One's Own Staff as a Signal of Corporate Distress
Censorship at Microsoft
Staying the Course
censorship isn't easy against sites that understand ways to resist it
The 'All-Seeing' Microsoft Eye
Microsofters are observing us closely
Links 24/06/2024: Long COVID and "How I Write Blogs"
Links for the day
Allegations That Microsoft is Covering Up Employee Dissatisfaction and Using a Survey to Catch 'Risk' to the Cult Mentality
This favours or gradually socially-engineers a company for sociopathy
'Linux Hint' Inactive for Nearly a Month (It Used to be Very Active)
Their Twitter account hasn't been active for a long time and it's not too clear what's going on
An Unexpected GNU/Linux Trend
Burkina Faso is changing and not just politically
Android (Linux) at New Highs in Burkina Faso, Now Measured at 72% (Windows Was Measured at 98% 15 Years Ago)
based on this month's estimates
With 0.76% for ChromeOS and 3.7% for GNU/Linux (4.5% Total) Burkina Faso Approaches 5% for 'Linux'
More if one counts Android as "Linux"
Gemini Links 24/06/2024: Being Dull and OpenSSH Autoban
Links for the day
EPO Issues in The Hague
a report dated 4 days ago about a meeting that took place 12 days ago
[Meme] Garbage in, Garbage Out (EPO Patent Quality)
"Get back to work"
When the Employer Makes You Too Sick to Go to Work (New EPO Document)
"registering when you are sick"
[Meme] Putin's Red Flags
Firefox ESR or Firefox USSR
The Corporate/Mainstream Media and Even Social Control Media is Distorting the Record About What Mozilla Actually Did (It Originally Surrendered to Vladimir Putin)
Mozilla being avoided for purely technical reasons (sites not being compatible with it) is one thing. Foolishly, Mozilla is giving people more political reasons to also shun Mozilla. This is suicide.
GNU/Linux Up Some More This Morning, Windows Down Sharply Even in Rich Countries
Microsoft is in trouble in the Muslim world
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Rising... Towards 5% for ChromeOS and GNU/Linux
the latest numbers show it growing from about 0.1% to around 2.4% for GNU/Linux, plus 2.01% for Chromebooks (ChromeOS), i.e. about 5% in total.
Links 24/06/2024: New Research, New Attacks on Justices Sceptical of Patent Maximalists, European Commission for Copyright Maximalists
Links for the day
[Meme] 12 Years a Fedora Volunteer
IBM gives me a 'free' Fedora badge as recognition
IBM Slavery: Not a New Problem
When IBM got rid of Ben Cotton it showed the world how much it valued Fedora
Why They Want to Abolish Master/Slave Terminology (Because This is What They're Turned Free Software Into)
It used to be about community; GAFAM turned that into exploitation and worse
Roy and Rianne's Righteously Royalty-free RSS Reader (R.R.R.R.R.R.) Version 0.2 is Released
They say summer "officially" started some days ago
Torvalds' Number Two Quit Linux a Decade Ago and Has Since Then Earned an Honorary Doctorate
Revisiting Fuzix and Alan Cox
GNU/Linux Reaches All-Time High in Tunisia
Based on statCounter
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, June 23, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, June 23, 2024
Edward Brocklesby (ejb) & Debian: Hacking expulsion cover-up in proximity to Oxford and GCHQ
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
You Know the Microsoft Products Really Suck When...
"Qualcomm and Microsoft go 'beyond the call of duty' to stop independent Copilot+ PC reviews"
IBM and "Regime Change"
Change of regime is not the same as freedom
Microsoft Windows in Nicaragua: From 98% to Less Than 25%
Operating System Market Share Nicaragua
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Community Angle
Somebody needs to call them out on their BS
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Software Angle
Gemini Protocol has just turned 5 - i.e. roughly the same age as our Git repositories
Techrights in the Coming Decade: The Patent Angle
Next month marks 10 years since we began covering EPO leaks
Wookey, Intrigeri, Cryptie & Debian pseudonyms beyond Edward Brocklesby
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
[Meme] Choice Versus Freedom
So When Do I Start Having Freedom? Freedom is choice between the GAFAMs
Digital Liberation of Society at Times of Armed Conflicts and Uncertainty
We have technical contributions, not just written output
Links 23/06/2024: More Microsoft Cancellations, Growing Repression Worldwide
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/06/2024: The Magician and the Hacker, tmux Tips
Links for the day
Links 23/06/2024: Twitter/X Wants Your Money, Google Reports a Billion DMCA Takedowns in Four Months
Links for the day
Digital Restrictions (Like DRM) Don't Have Brands, We Need to Teach People to Hate the Underlying Restrictions, Not Companies That Typically Come and Go
Conceptually, the hens should fear humans, not the farmer who cages them
Going Above 4% Again
Maybe 4% (or above) by month's end?
[Meme] Debian's 'Cannon Fodder' Economics
Conflicts of interest don't matter
Conviction, jail for Hinduja family, Debian exploitation comparison
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
According to Microsoft, It's Not a Code of Conduct Violation to Troll Your Victims Whose Files You Are Purging
The group of vandals from Microsoft think it's "funny" (and for a "nominal fee") to troll Microsoft critics
Microsoft Inside Debian is Sabotaging Debian and Its Many Hundreds of Derivatives With SystemD (Microsoft/GitHub Slopware With Catastrophic Bugs is Hardly a New Problem)
What is the moral of the story about The Scorpion and the Frog?
Links 23/06/2024: Hey Hi (AI) Scrapers Gone Very Rogue, Software Patents Squashed at EPO
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, June 22, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, June 22, 2024
Gemini Links 23/06/2024: LoRaWAN and Gemini Plugin for KOReade
Links for the day