Saturday 19 November 2016

Goodbye to Ubuntu, hello Slackware

When I first read about the systemd I truly believed the linux community would be able to improve this init system. Or at least to stop it if not good enough to be used as replacement for sysvinit.

I was wrong. After a strong and poisonous debating Debian switched to systemd in Jessie. Several contributors left Debian and organised a fork called Devuan which is pushing for the init freedom.

Several distributions switched to this accessory kernel which has lost long time ago the qualification of init. I didn't realise I already had a small part of systemd in my home pc with ubuntu 14.04 until the day of when I upgraded the release to 14.04.4.
The kernel switched to the branch 4 for the old LTS and I wanted to upgrade. After running the usual apt-get update; apt-get dist-upgrade I rebooted the pc and I found that I wasn't able to login anymore in kde.

Opening a console and trying to login manually did not help. The login asked for username again immediately after entering the correct username.

For some reasons systemd.logind got a nervous breakdown after the upgrade.

Searching that particular issue on internet did not return any sort of documents. Only people with similar issues on different distributions which workarounds never worked for me.

After wasting 2 days I decided to reinstall from scratch ubuntu 14.04.4.
Good enough I had all my personal data on a different device and I do regular backups.
But what if this would happen on a production server, where the maintenance windows are well controlled and if you screw up the timeline you get your ass grilled by the users and if you cannot solve quickly this can affect your career.

After this happening I became more sensitive about systemd  taking over the linux ecosystem. The reports all around me were quite scary. Friends with servers unable to mount filesystems after a reboot.  User processes killed on logout. And yes, my bad experience with systemd logind. I needed to find a different distribution.

For my vm I'm using for personal projects I switched to FreeBSD. Simple, clear, robust. It was like rejuvenating 10 years. For the desktop I didn't feel confident enough to switch on this operating system. I started my search but nothing satisfied completely my needs.

Then I remembered a twit from the Debian systemd's mantainer.

"If you like obsolete software, I have heard that Slackware is looking for users"

Well, I can tell everything about slackware except it's obsolete.
I'm writing from a shiny Slackware 14.02 with a kernel 4.4.29.
The system comes with kde 4.14.21 and I was able to reinstall it from scratch in few minutes.
The slackware approach is for having super stable software. The slackbuilds repository covers all the missing with the sbo scripts working in a similar way the ports work on FreeBSD.

With slackware I got the same feelings I had with FreeBSD.
Stable, simple to undestand and simple to debug if any issue happens.

And this on Linux, an operating system I'm still in love.

So, goodbye  Ubuntu, hello Slackware. May your days be long and without systemd.


  1. Welcome to Slackware! And, exactly like you said, this operating system is stable, up-to-date and simple to understand.

  2. Welcome to Slackware :-)

    I wondered, for a while, if Slackware might adopt systemd. Those fears were put to rest when the Slackware team worked hip-to-hip with the eudev team to migrate Slackware to eudev. The only reason to do that is to avoid the systemd dependency, and they invested a lot of time and effort in it. They wouldn't have done that if they weren't determined to keep systemd out of Slackware.

    1. I think systemd could be part of slackware if the following things are true.

      1) it becomes stable enough to be accepted by slackware. Not in the long term I'm afraid. I'm following the bugs on debian and everyday there's an issue.

      2) The developers become more collaborative and stop blaming others for their faults. Probably the Hell will froze first :P