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Grab your pitchforks: Ubuntu to switch to systemd on Monday

It's Debian all o'er agin, I tells ye!

The Ubuntu Project is set to move forward with a plan to make a controversial system management tool a key part of Ubuntu Linux.

On Monday, March 9, the Ubuntu maintainers will reconfigure code base for the forthcoming version of the OS so that it uses the much-debated systemd suite of tools to handle core initialization tasks and manage system daemons.

That means that when Ubuntu 15.04 ships (presumably in April), all new Ubuntu installs will be running systemd by default.

It's a move that's sure to annoy some. When the Debian Project announced that it was switching to systemd last year, it sparked an angry protest by old-school admins who wanted Debian to stick with the familiar Unix System V–style init software to handle its startup and management chores.

That didn't stop Debian from following through on its plan, though, and the systemd naysayers were forced to take their metaphorical ball and go home – to a new, systemd-free fork of Debian, known as Devuan.

Ubuntu already doesn't use old-style init; it uses an alternative called upstart. But that won't prevent a few grumbles from those who'd rather just leave things as they are – to say nothing of those who just plain don't want systemd.

Use of systemd tends to be a polarizing issue among the Linux faithful. Sysadmins either appreciate how the software eliminates some of the hassles of earlier init systems, or else they absolutely hate it.

Among the top criticisms of systemd are that it tries to take control of too much of the system, that its monolithic design goes against traditional Unix philosophy, and that the things it aims to "fix" aren't actually broken.

Equally important, critics argue that as other projects begin to depend on systemd to perform key OS functions, removing or replacing systemd from Linux systems becomes increasingly difficult, and that Linux and systemd might eventually become synonymous – whether users like it or not.

It doesn't help that systemd's main developers aren't known for being the easiest to work with. Linus Torvalds once called systemd coder Kay Sievers a "f*cking prima donna," and systemd creator Lennart Poettering has said he doesn't want anything to do with the Linux kernel development community, which he thinks is "awful."

That said, Ubuntu's decision to use systemd by no means makes it an outlier. Debian uses it (in Testing as a tech preview) as has been mentioned, and Ubuntu is largely based on Debian. Red Hat and Suse have also both made the switch.

Ubuntu's move won't happen right away. There's plenty of testing to be done, and if the switch to systemd causes too many problems for other software, the maintainers will revert to upstart as a contingency plan and put off systemd to a later release.

If all goes well, though, then all distributions based on Ubuntu 15.04 "Vivid Vervet" will boot to systemd, with one exception. Ubuntu Touch, the flavor for mobile devices, will not be making the switch just yet, owing mainly to the "ancient" kernel it uses. ®

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