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#1 2023-08-22 04:52:41

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

I'm sorry if this is all very obvious and old hat to people here, but I have only been generally aware of systemd as an issue over the last few years. I knew it was something developed by someone at Red Hat (?) and that there was this big push back from many people, which is what spawned Devuan. But what really baffles me is WHY systemd was done, and HOW exactly they got their way in making it so central to Linux. I have come across some comments talking about IBM and Red Hat and it being all about control and power, but can anyone point me to a good story, thread or article (or more than one!) that goes into details about how it all happened?

What is really interesting to me is how the whole Open Source ethos of freedom got subjugated and this "thing" that nobody really wanted or needed imposed on us. Did this expose flaws in how Open Source works? Is it simply vulnerable to powerful companies that have deep pockets and the ability to out-last the scrappy amateurs who don't have the time or the money to compete? Or are there other factors involved - was this simply some passionate developer who honestly believed that "I can do it right this time" and just had the right combination of moxy, development ability/talent, political ambition and connections to get his way? Or was it the old story of "big company wants to take over, so it was all a nefarious plan from the start"?

I'm curious as to what the real story was/is there. Why people went along with it, how the "community" got subjugated in the way it apparently has, what the power play was, who were the power players, why are they playing, what are the stakes. Is it all just an evil plan? Or simply misguided (i.e. incompetence rather than malevolence)?

Please fill me in, or post links that will help me understand all of this.

Thanks!

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#2 2023-08-22 05:27:13

GlennW
Member
From: Brisbane, Australia
Registered: 2019-07-18
Posts: 602  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

What was a big thing at the time was multimedia on desktops and laptops and the fragmented sound device specification(s).

The same code writer was involved.

From what I read... (quite a while ago, if my memory serves me well.) the code was not conforming to FOSS standards,

but seemed to work so well it was adopted (capitalist style).

That mess is pulse, followed up with systemd...

1st thing I noticed was, now all your text logs are in binary (1s and 0s)

Also was the introduction of more security measures

(EUFI, secure-boot, apparmor(maybe not this one, but pretty insiduous))

which seem to divide the community rather than unite us.

So, imho I think it's money.


pic from 1993, new guitar day.

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#3 2023-08-22 06:11:48

steve_v
Member
Registered: 2018-01-11
Posts: 356  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

IMO, sysvinit did need to be replaced... Just not at the expense of such excessive complexity and taking over so much unrelated functionality (and freedom to interchange low-level components).
Redhat thought sysvinit needed replacing as well, systemd fitted their vision of a "modern, standardised GNU/Linux system" (and that fitted the needs of IBM and their corporate customers), so they backed it and it's developer(s) then leveraged their influence in other projects (e.g. gnome) to force adoption.

Both business customers and casual users fleeing Windows like standardisation and "modern" (i.e. faster boot, secure restricted boot, better hotplugging, and other laptop-centric) features, nothing else had the developers budget or backing that systemd had, everyone wanted to be able to ship gnome in their distro... so here we are.
We here like our GNU/Linux a flexible, customisable, freedom-respecting hacker OS we can have full control over, but those are all bad things to corporations and normie users who have been drinking the "safety" koolaid, and they have deeper pockets and a larger userbase than we.

Like it or not, GNU/Linux is not the cool little OS by nerds for nerds it used to be. There's a huge amount of money involved these days, and whoever has the money calls the shots because even FOSS developers need paying jobs.

Last edited by steve_v (2023-08-22 06:14:58)


Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action. Four times is Official GNOME Policy.

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#4 2023-08-22 07:53:42

alexkemp
Member
Registered: 2018-05-14
Posts: 302  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

I do not know of a single story, Neil, nor even a set of small stories.

It *is* a combination of RedHat & one of their in-house developers that was responsible for systemD.

It was small things that began to develop, grow & only after a long period became threatening to the fundamentals of the Linux project. One feature is that early on Linus Torvalds became incandescent with anger at the attitude of the SystemD developer.

Example:
Shortly after the turn of the Millenium I had a server loaded with RedHat RHEL3 ("RedHat Enterprise Linux version 3") (it may have been v2, but I think it was v3). The physical server was owned by myself, but 2 lads had built it for me, loaded RHEL on to it, and arranged for it to be placed into an internet-backbone-connected server house. Now we come to the murky stuff:

  1. The RH licence for the software said that it should be paid per server, but the lads that copied it onto my server just ignored that
    (they had a separate server with a paid-for licence for RHEL3, and copied it from that server to mine)

  2. Only after I had paid for everything did I discover all of the above, plus the fact that the licence was due to expire in a couple of months.

  3. I had other troubles with the folks that built the server; we parted ways shortly after, and my server was transferred to another server-house.

  4. RH copyrighted the RHEL software under the GPL

  5. A free version of RHEL was produced as 'CentOS', and I used that to upgrade my server

  6. Only much later did I discover that the same folks that built my server were behind CentOS

  7. RH needed a steady income stream, and in part ensured that by continually upgrading RHEL's version

  8. CentOS was a threat to RedHat's income

  9. It was possible to easily in-place upgrade CentOS at each version upgrade until CentOS4

  10. CentOS5 was a bugger to in-place upgrade, but a method was found & published

  11. RH learnt from that, and made RHEL6 (and thus CentOS6) impossible to upgrade in-place (the server had to be wiped & freshly installed)

  12. I stopped running a server at this point

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#5 2023-08-22 08:39:50

Camtaf
Member
Registered: 2019-11-19
Posts: 414  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

RedHat wanted to make money out of support contracts.

Systemd was to be the Linux equivalent of MS Windows Registry - a complex all in one place for configuration - which most people wouldn't understand - so therefore enabling them to sell support contracts to businesses.

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#6 2023-08-22 13:27:16

golinux
Administrator
Registered: 2016-11-25
Posts: 3,191  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

OT: Open letter to the Linux World
Date: Tue Aug 12 2014 - 15:35:49 EST
https://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/ker … 02496.html

Systemd: The Biggest Fallacies by Jude C. Nelson
https://sysdfree.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/186/

General Resolution: init system coupling
https://www.debian.org/vote/2014/vote_003

Combatting revisionist history
2015-02-25 20:23
https://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?t=120652

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#7 2023-08-22 13:40:12

alexkemp
Member
Registered: 2018-05-14
Posts: 302  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

Camtaf wrote:

which most people wouldn't understand

I believe this to be a key feature across the board.

I've more than once had to deal with an awful server error that took it off the web. The server board gave me remote, emergency access, but I then only had basic Linux tools to explore the disks (cd, ls, cat, grep, less). The error messages were all in well-known locations and - crucially - were in plain text. SystemD stores everything in binary. I would have been blind & helpless if that server had been using SystemD.

SystemD is about a transfer of power away from the admin & into the hands of the provider. That was also the MS trick, and the two are obviously well-suited to each other.

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#8 2023-08-22 16:18:08

chris2be8
Member
Registered: 2018-08-11
Posts: 273  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

I've recently found a new command most which is like less but automatically shows binary data in dump format. I've installed it on all my systems so I have some chance of making sense of binary data. But that's just a fallback although very worth having.

As far as Red Hat goes I've made a mental note to never use it again.

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#9 2023-08-22 17:55:37

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

This is all interesting, thanks. Keep it coming!

For my part, I developed web applications on Windows (mostly C++) during the 90s, starting in 1995. I went off on my own around 1999 and started looking around for a platform I could use to start my own web business. Microsoft and even Netscape (they were still doing their server at that point) seemed too expensive, and all the commercial database solutions likewise. Eventually I settled on a completely Open Source software stack, including Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl. For Linux, I went with Red Hat because it was very available off-the-shelf in the stores (I lived in NYC back then). I also consulted on Wall Street and was able to introduce some of the people I worked with to Linux, due to the easy availability of the retail version of Red Hat, and the ability to upgrade if/when they decided to put something into production, to the Enterprise version.

I went off Red Hat when they decided to discontinue the retail version of their software and instead split into just Fedora and Enterprise. I may be a little fuzzy at this point (it's been over 20 years now) but my recollection is that while previously there was a seamless upgrade path from their retail, off-the-shelf Red Hat, now there was no longer such a seamless path from Fedora to Enterprise, and I don't think Fedora had the same kind of support options that the old Red Hat had. They told us that Fedora was the cheapie version for "the community" (i.e. the unwashed masses who never buy support), there was either that or Enterprise, nothing in between. So I could no longer take a cheap (but supported) version of retail Red Hat Linux in to my Wall St buddies and show it to them and tell them that yes, they could buy support (important to those guys) and then have an easy path to an Enterprise version.

It seemed to me that Red Hat was fobbing off the "free" community with Fedora, and I felt kind of betrayed by the whole experience. I went off Red Hat and never looked at it again, because it was apparent to me back then that they were mainly focused on the money... but even then, they were being really stupid about it. I was working with some major Wall St players at the time (Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs) and it would have been great to introduce them to Linux in a way that gave them a cheap introduction, they could walk down to J&R Music World and buy a $40 package and play with it, and if they liked it, upgrade in place to the Enterprise. I was there at the front lines, in a position to get Linux into these major companies at that early point in time, when everything was frothy and there was opportunity everywhere. And, as I saw it, Red Hat just screwed the pooch. I was the guy who could have gotten Linux into those companies, the easy way, with upgrade paths to Enterprise, and they dropped the ball big time.

Anyway, after that I went to Slackware for a while, before settling on Debian, which I've used up until now. I stayed with Stretch as long as I could, because after that systemd was (as I understood it) even more embedded into everything, which made me uncomfortable just on principle. I worked with Microsoft products through the 90s, and I remember vividly how they worked to "embrace, extend, extinguish". At Banker's Trust I went to presentations from Microsoft and Netscape while the browser wars were still raging. I remember being so angry at Microsoft's behavior. Netscape had a good product and were trying to sell it, and Microsoft simply put them out of business by bundling a free browser with their OS. Not only that, but it was a shitty browser (IE6, groan) and then they also tried to "own" the Web by making everything on their desktop a "link" or whatever. And they added more and more layers of crap in their APIs and also extended the Web standards with their own proprietary extensions. It was horrible.

As such, if Red Hat is trying to make Linux into their own private impenetrable black box, like the Windows registry, then f*ck everything about that. One of the big reasons I liked Linux initially was its accessibility and transparency, and the fact that most everything was a file, and you could just go edit text files, and it was all these separate scripts and programs that did their one thing. You could pipe between programs and see the logs and plug and play, it was like walking out into the sunshine after the crap I had endured with Microsoft.

Old joke: How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: None - they just declare darkness the new standard.

I just wonder, though, HOW this all was allowed to happen by the community. Like, the process. Who decides what happens in "Linux", as a whole? I'm not familiar with that political scene, I know Linus is the guy who guides the kernel development, but who decided that Linux would have systemd, like, everywhere? Why did all distros feel like they had to have it? How did it "take over" the way it did. It feels like some kind of coup, but I'm sure there are community processes that are supposed to stop this kind of thing, surely? Or is it all so disorganized that it was just ripe for the plucking? The first company that came along (Red Hat?) with the money to pour into funding development, they got de facto control? Was it Gnome, I read that systemd was first in the sound drivers, or coming out of that, and then it was more tightly integrated into Gnome, and all the distros want to include Gnome, so that's how it spread? Is it a case of "get it into this one part of the system, then if other distros want to have the "current latest and greatest" sound drivers, then they have to drag in systemd too"? So the foot is in the door, but then how did it take over... everything? It's a very interesting question for me, the minutiae of how that happened exactly. I'm sure there should be lessons in there, which we should probably try and learn from.

Last edited by neilgunton (2023-08-22 18:57:38)

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#10 2023-08-22 18:21:28

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

golinux wrote:

OT: Open letter to the Linux World
Date: Tue Aug 12 2014 - 15:35:49 EST
https://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/ker … 02496.html

Systemd: The Biggest Fallacies by Jude C. Nelson
https://sysdfree.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/186/

General Resolution: init system coupling
https://www.debian.org/vote/2014/vote_003

Combatting revisionist history
2015-02-25 20:23
https://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?t=120652

Lots of good stuff in these links, thanks very much! One line that jumped out at me in the final article, "there was no debate". Very interesting how these things can happen, they creep in and before you know it, it's a fait accompli. Too late to do anything about it now! Oh well! Kind of reminds me of some other things that have happened more recently in the political realm, but we won't go into all that.

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#11 2023-08-22 18:38:17

golinux
Administrator
Registered: 2016-11-25
Posts: 3,191  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

neilgunton wrote:
golinux wrote:

OT: Open letter to the Linux World
Date: Tue Aug 12 2014 - 15:35:49 EST
https://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/ker … 02496.html

Systemd: The Biggest Fallacies by Jude C. Nelson
https://sysdfree.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/186/

General Resolution: init system coupling
https://www.debian.org/vote/2014/vote_003

Combatting revisionist history
2015-02-25 20:23
https://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?t=120652

Lots of good stuff in these links, thanks very much! One line that jumped out at me in the final article, "there was no debate". Very interesting how these things can happen, they creep in and before you know it, it's a fait accompli. Too late to do anything about it now! Oh well! Kind of reminds me of some other things that have happened more recently in the political realm, but we won't go into all that.

Having lived through it, I can testify that it was indeed the ugly, farcical manipulation that dasein analyzes so eloquently. Some of those speaking out were banned from the Debian developers mailing list. I got a warning. There was some debate on the Debian forum at the time but systemd discussions are now not even allowed afaik. When IBM bought Red Hat, everything started to come into focus, then Poettering moved to MS and then, fait accompli, everything became perfectly clear.

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#12 2023-08-22 18:43:35

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

One of the things that really depresses me about humanity is our propensity to want to control others. I always wondered how Linux was allowed to survive, why the big players didn't move to either squelch it or else control it and make it theirs. I guess systemd is the answer, by the looks of it. Very sad, everything good becomes corrupted eventually, seems to just be how we work.

How long before they work out ways to exclude Devuan from being able to decouple systemd? I'm sure it's in the works.

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#13 2023-08-22 18:47:55

Camtaf
Member
Registered: 2019-11-19
Posts: 414  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

Commercial companies want to own Linux, so far we have been able to keep going, & reject them, but for how long we can, I don't know, so I keep my hand in with the BSDs just in case... big_smile

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#14 2023-08-22 18:53:40

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

Camtaf wrote:

Commercial companies want to own Linux, so far we have been able to keep going, & reject them, but for how long we can, I don't know, so I keep my hand in with the BSDs just in case... big_smile

This did occur to me too, though I have no experience of that side of the aisle. FreeBSD or OpenBSD? Also I'm sure those cold, calculating minds have contingincy plans for the BSDs.

Yes, the last few years have made me somewhat jaundiced, not to mention paranoid.

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#15 2023-08-22 19:05:18

golinux
Administrator
Registered: 2016-11-25
Posts: 3,191  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

neilgunton wrote:

How long before they work out ways to exclude Devuan from being able to decouple systemd? I'm sure it's in the works.

That may end up depending on how many elves there are in the workshop. Devuan has been a labor of love for many of us but we are a small team that could use more hands on deck. Sadly folks love to USE Devuan but not many donate their time and talent(s) to help create it so the bus factor looms. We need redundancy and a new generation of creatives to keep Devuan on track. Care to dive in?

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#16 2023-08-22 19:12:56

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

I would love to contribute, but I have my plate full at the moment with various things that drain my energy. I'm not by any stretch a "new generation", lol, I'm mid-50s now and feeling it every day. Been trying to develop a website for the last 23 years, with some success and many failures, both personal and financial. At this point I'm deep in debt and making one last push to try and get my codebase into shape for growing the business into something that can be more self sustaining, or even great (I have ambitions to take on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, even Google, in places where it hurts). The problem is my website is completely supported by voluntary donations, and I am not a good salesman or pitchman for fundraising drives. Hence the debt. Taking care of 10+ neighborhood stray cats who drain both my time and my wallet, only adds to the stress levels. All of which is by way of explaining why, while I would certainly love to contribute, I am fighting to keep my head above water myself at the moment. Once I have built myself a boat to climb into and dry off, then I might have some spare resources to help Devuan. Sorry for the long explanation, just didn't want you to thing I'm blowing it off. I really would like to help, I'm just honestly stretched to the limit at the moment, in many different respects.

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#17 2023-08-22 19:30:38

golinux
Administrator
Registered: 2016-11-25
Posts: 3,191  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

Oh well . . . maybe someone else will wake up to the idea of becoming part of the solution . . .

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#18 2023-08-23 02:21:19

czeekaj
Member
Registered: 2019-06-12
Posts: 154  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

Well I've only been a user of gnu/linux for a few years I can count on one hand.
Most of the use started as typical user orientated tasks. With very little knowledge of the inner workings of the system.

Most of the auditing and configuration of my personal system has been all guess work and very little in the way of knowledge.
Access to good documentation and improving knowledge base would be well needed before a 'user' can turn into a contributor.

As such I've just been riding on the coat tails of people who have contributed. It's getting good but, again most I can do is maybe start hosting and doing small things. Maybe stumble into bugs and try to fix any small issues.

In terms of writing something to automate or make someones life easier is beyond my capabilities at the moment.

As far as systemd files still in devuan I have manually removed many of them without much issue.
I don't like seeing a systemd socket when I run netstat.
I know it's there for compatibility but I still am confused when running sysV init how this socket opens up by simply having systemd files present. 
As far my use goes removing these files has not broken anything.

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#19 2023-08-23 02:34:41

User479
Member
From: Central USA
Registered: 2021-11-07
Posts: 24  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

Perhaps another factor is that systemd started as an init system and was rather innocuous.  Later it started taking over so much other functionality - DNS, NTP, booting, etc, kinda like the proverbial camel getting its nose in the tent.

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#20 2023-08-23 02:41:52

zapper
Member
Registered: 2017-05-29
Posts: 878  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

The systemd situation makes me think of the climate situation in the world...  in  two way at least, it is very similar:

1: Just keep wasting resources willy nilly and when people complain about very real problems that are occuring, explain it away, do whatever it takes to get in the way of progress to be able to continue to waste resources as much as you want while the looming threat keeps getting bigger and bigger till even the most powerful people can't fight against it.

2:  It isn't about anything but greed.

It seems like people are very inherently opposed to not allowing the most powerful humans on the planet waste the planet's resources or electricity, etc...

Basically anything goes... type of bs. 

Like really?

Systemd like other redhat projects is a bloated hot mess. The more code there is to audit and check, the harder it is to find the bugs before they cause trouble.

What ninny thinks 1 million lines of code is needed for a protocol that's main job is to initialize the system?

A special type of ninny honestly...

a very dangerous one at that as well.

Might doesn't make right and yet, give specific people enough power and they will abuse it no matter what.

Even more so, the more you allow them to abuse it, the more they will seek new even more dreadfully dangerous ways to abuse it.

The linux kernel people and the gnu people should have both told redhat, F**K off you bully and promptly dropped their services regardless of what the head business yahoos wanted. Aka, people affiliated with redhat who believed the foolishness they were spouting.

This world's reality is not supposed to be controlled by narcissists or megalomaniacs or a-holes yet here we are.

Meh...


Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. Feelings are not facts
If you wish to be humbled, try to exalt yourself long term  If you wish to be exalted, try to humble yourself long term
Favourite operating systems: Hyperbola Devuan OpenBSD
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#21 2023-08-23 02:57:15

golinux
Administrator
Registered: 2016-11-25
Posts: 3,191  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

@zapper . . . that has to be one of your best posts ever!

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#22 2023-08-23 03:07:16

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

So, is this one of those places where it's ok to post certain types of political opinion, but not ok to post others?

I see an Administrator praising a very political post (at least, political to those of us who don't want to buy into the climate change narrative).

The same post has a very political signature, which seems ok.

What would the position be if I were to talk about all the things that I believe in, that seem to be (I'm guessing) kind of the opposite of what zapper seems to believe? Would I be chased off the forum, or ignored, or what?

I'm just curious, because I've been burned before by thinking I'm in a place where I can speak freely, and then I find out that only certain people with certain opinions can actually do that.

What if I support Donald Trump? What if I think anthropogenic climate change is a bunch of horseshit? What if I think Black Lives Matters is a corrupt movement made solely to produce racial division and polarization? Do I get to express those opinions too, or would that be "political"?

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#23 2023-08-23 03:24:26

golinux
Administrator
Registered: 2016-11-25
Posts: 3,191  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

@neilgunton . . . My comment was related to execution rather than content as it was rather structured analysis that didn't get sidetracked. zapper can often be whimsical and a bit silly too. He is like family.

As to your question . . . This forum does have a search function. smile

You might also want to look at The dev1galaxy.org (almost) No Code of Conduct.

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#24 2023-08-23 03:27:04

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

Why not just answer my question? What is the position on politics here?

Because I see one type of politics being posted freely, but no pushback from the other side... which makes me nervous, because I am on that other side, to be perfectly honest.

I don't like places where one type of political viewpoint is tolerated as being just "whimsical" and common sense, whereas other types of opinion are treated as being "political" and (usually, I find) used to push those people out. Subtly or not so subtly.

Last edited by neilgunton (2023-08-23 03:28:48)

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#25 2023-08-23 03:28:32

ralph.ronnquist
Administrator
From: Battery Point, Tasmania, AUS
Registered: 2016-11-30
Posts: 1,177  

Re: Can anyone fill me in on why and how exactly systemd took over Linux?

Nah. If you want to spout that shit you'll have to go elsewhere.

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