The bleeding edge: systemd

Curious about these shiny new things i keep hearing about, i set up a test desktop system using using systemd as the init system (yes, that means using systemd-sysv in place of sysvinit -- so i had to remove an essential package for this to work).

A system-crippling bug was naturally the result of living on the bleeding edge, but fortunately it was resolved with a trivial patch.

In all, i'm pretty happy with some of the things that systemd seems to get right. For example, native supervision of daemon processes, clean process states, elimination of initscript copy-paste-isms, and socket-based service initiation are all obvious, marked improvements over the existing sysvinit legacy cruft.

But i'm a bit concerned about other parts. For example, all the above-mentioned features fit really well within a tightly-tuned, well-managed server. But systemd also appears to rely heavily on complex userland systems like dbus and policykit that would be much more at home on a typical desktop machine. I've never seen a well-managed server installation that warranted either policykit or dbus. Also, given the bug i ran into -- when PID 1 aborts due to a silly assertion, your system is well-and-truly horked. Shouldn't a lot more attention to detail be happening? I'd think that a "recover gracefully from failed assertions" approach would be the first thing to target for a would-be PID 1.

I'm also concerned about the Linux-centricism of systemd. I understand that features like cgroups and reliance on the spiffiness of inotify are part of the appeal, but i also really don't want to see us stuck with only One Single Kernel as an option. The kFreeBSD folks (and the HURD folks) have done a lot of work to get us close to having some level of choice at this critical layer of infrastructure. It'd be good to see that possibility realized, to help us avoid the creeping monoculture. I worry that systemd's over-reliance on Linux-specific features is heading in the wrong direction.

So my question is: why is this all being presented as a package deal? I'd be pretty happy if i could get just the "server-side" features without incurring the dbus/policykit/etc bloat. I already run servers with runit as pid 1 -- they're lean and quite nice, but runit doesn't have systemd's socket-based initiation (or the level of heavyweight backing that systemd seems to have picked up, for that matter).

I understand that Lennart is resistant to UNIX's traditional "do one thing; do it well" philosophy. I can understand some of his reasoning, but i think he might be doing his work and his tools a disservice by taking it this far. Wouldn't systemd be better if it was clearer how to take advantage of parts of it without having to subscribe to the entire thing?

Of course, i might be missing some nice ways that systemd can be effectively tuned and pared down. But i've read his blog posts about systemd and i haven't seen how to get some of the nice features without the parts i don't want. I'd love to be pointed to some explanations that show me how i'm wrong :)

Tags: systemd