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UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan

'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source

By Simon Sharwood, 21 Oct 2014

A group of “Veteran Unix Admins” reckons too much input from GNOME devs is dumbing down Debian, and in response, is floating the idea of a fork.

As the rebel greybeards put it, “... current leadership of the project is heavily influenced by GNOME developers and too much inclined to consider desktop needs as crucial to the project, despite the fact that the majority of Debian users are tech-savvy system administrators.”

The anonymous rebels' says “Some of us are upstream developers, some professional sysadmins: we are all concerned peers interacting with Debian and derivatives on a daily basis.” Their beef is that “We don't want to be forced to use systemd in substitution to the traditional UNIX sysvinit init, because systemd betrays the UNIX philosophy.”

“Debian today is haunted by the tendency to betray its own mandate, a base principle of the Free Software movement: put the user's rights first,” they write at debianfork.org. “What is happening now instead is that through a so called 'do-ocracy' developers and package maintainers are imposing their choices on users.”

The authors also argue that “... we see systemd being very prone to mission creep and bloat and likely to turn into a nasty hairball over the longer term.”

“We like controlling the startup of the system with shell scripts that are readable, because readability grants a certain level of power and consciousness for those among us who are literate, and we believe that centralizing control services, sockets, devices, mounts, etc., all within one daemon is a slap in the face of the UNIX philosophy.”

The group would rather not fork Debian, preferring an arrangement under which “sysvinit stays the default for now, systemd can be optional.”

The rebels point out that they're not alone. Sites like boycottsystemd.org/ and The world after systemd share their dislike of systemd and opinion that it creates more problems than it solves.

“If systemd will be substituting sysvinit in Debian, we will fork the project and create a new distro. We hope this won't be necessary, but we are well prepared for it,” the putative forkers' post concludes.

Game on! ®

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