Ubuntu to ditch Upstart and switch to systemd

Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth says that Ubuntu will switch to systemd ditching their own Upstart init system.

The decision taken by the Debian technical committee, to use systemd, left Canonical with two choices – either user Upstart and patch things heavily against the upstream or adopt what Debian is choosing.

Canonical already have more than they can handle on their plate and projects like Mir continue to get delayed, so it’s wise to stick to upstream instead forking everything or suffering from NIH syndrome. This way Canonical will be able to use it’s engineering talents on other areas which can improve Ubuntu instead of re-inventing the wheel.

However it was a ‘defeat’ for Canonical which was fighting hard to get Upstart in Debian and it was also a matter of ‘pride’. Shuttleworth criticized systemd for being ‘invasive’ and attracted un-necessary anger from the free software community.

Mark made the announcement in a blog post titled ‘losing graciously‘. Praising Upstart he said, ” Upstart has served Ubuntu extremely well – it gave us a great competitive advantage at a time when things became very dynamic in the kernel, it’s been very stable (it is after all the init used in both Ubuntu and RHEL 6 ;) and has set a high standard for Canonical-lead software quality of which I am proud.”

Then he talked about switching to systemd, “Nevertheless, the decision is for systemd, and given that Ubuntu is quite centrally a member of the Debian family, that’s a decision we support. I will ask members of the Ubuntu community to help to implement this decision efficiently, bringing systemd into both Debian and Ubuntu safely and expeditiously.”

systemd is certainly not going to make into Ubuntu 14.04 and there is no clear deadline as to when it will arrive. Mark says “It will no doubt take time to achieve the stability and coverage that we enjoy today and in 14.04 LTS with Upstart, but I will ask the Ubuntu tech board (many of whom do not work for Canonical) to review the position and map out appropriate transition plans. We’ll certainly complete work to make the new logind work without systemd as pid 1. I expect they will want to bring systemd into Ubuntu as an option for developers as soon as it is reliably available in Debian, and as our default as soon as it offers a credible quality of service to match the existing init.”

Lennart Poettering, the co-creator of syetemd welcomed the move, “This was a tough decision to make for Ubuntu! I am pretty sure it wasn’t easy for them. I certainly believe it is the right decision, of course. I’d like to welcome Ubuntu to the +systemd community! I am looking forward to a fruitful collaboration! Let’s hope we can leave the past behind us, and work together in future!”

With this move Canonical has slowed the alienation of Ubuntu from the rest of the Linux community. It also shows that Canonical also understand that it can’t fork it’s path too much from the mainstream Linux community, especially from mommy Debian. In a nutshell it’s a wise and welcome decision by Ubuntu leadership and will help them focus on more pressing issues which will help make Ubuntu better.

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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