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systemd row ends with Debian getting forked

Greybeards vs. Gnomes fight sees creation of new 'Devuan' distro

Debian 7 desktop

The vivid difference of opinion over Debian's future direction has ended with a new fork of the Linux distribution.

The dispute centred on plans to replace the sysvinit init system management toolkit with systemd, a similar but less-Linux-specific set of tools.

The “No” camp complainedsystemd is not well-aligned with Unix philosophies, reflects the rise of a “do-ocracy” whereby effort trumps quality and steers Debian in the direction of the desktop. The “do-ocrats” are said to largely come from the ranks of Gnome developers.

Negotiations have, of late, considered making systemd optional, but those talks appear not to have gone well if this post are anything to go by: it announces a fork called Devuan.

Devuan's backers call themselves the “Veteran Unix Admin collective” and, on their shiny new site offer the following rationale:

“Devuan aims to be a base distribution whose mission is protect the freedom of its community of users and developers. Its priority is to enable diversity, interoperability and backward compatibility for existing Debian users and downstream distributions willing to preserve Init freedom.

The page goes on to explain that “Devuan will derive its own installer and package repositories from Debian, modifying them where necessary, with the first goal of removing systemd, still inheriting the Debian development workflow while continuing it on a different path: free from bloat as a minimalist base distro should be.”

A target “spring of 2015” release will see users “be able to switch from Debian 7 to Devuan 1 smoothly, as if they would dist-upgrade to Jessie, and start using our package repositories.”

The intention to develop a distro “free from bloat as a minimalist base distro should be” may also set some teeth grinding.

Whatever your position on this issue, Devuan is now a real thing. A GitHub page is being populated, and it's possible to make donations.

Jeff Waugh, a former member of the Gnome Foundation board, told The Reg he feels “The 'no systemd' stuff is a stupid premise, for an audience of a tiny, unpleasantly vocal minority.”

“There’s no way it will attract the kind of sustained maintenance that Debian has achieved for over ten years,” he said. “For a 'fork' or child distribution to work, it has to solve a real problem. 'Doesn’t include systemd' is not a real problem.”

Waugh also feels “it’s very early in the lifetime of systemd, so it would be wiser to see how it goes before throwing toys around as some folks have done.” ®

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