Devuan, the Debian Fork

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Mattias Geniar, November 29, 2014

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Some more systemd drama.

As many of you might know already, the Init GR Debian vote promoted by

Ian Jackson wasn’t useful to protect Debian’s legacy and its users

from the systemd avalanche.

This situation prospects a lock in systemd dependencies which is

de-facto threatening freedom of development and has serious

consequences for Debian, its upstream and its downstream.

After Ian Jackson, one of the core contributors to Debian, resigned last week, other maintainers have decided to fork Debian to a new distro called “Devuan", that swears by the freedom of chosing your own init-system to manage services.

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.

So the Debian community splits. Most will follow the systemd “official” version of Debian, I’m sure, and a small fragment will follow the Devuan distro. This won’t be the last Debian fork either. Some will disagree with the Devuan-way, and fork yet again – believing they are acting in the true spirit of open source.

I don’t have enough systemd experience to say whether I hate or love it. I see the pro’s and con's everyone always screams about; the fact that systemd tries to manage too much. That the unix philosophy of having many independent tools – focussed on one job, working together – is left behind. The systemd-resolver DNS cache poisoning. The binary logging. The single-point-of-possible-failure systemd introduces. But this not worth dividing a large community over.

The move of forking Debian is bad for everyone: it means less resources for Debian, even lesser resources for Devuan, and an even more confusing landscape for beginning and experienced Linux users and system engineers to pick a distro they like. Surely, we don’t need yet another Linux distribution.

I’ll follow the Devuan movements, but I don’t see this growing to a large community – unless Debian seriously f$%és up.

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