Init – the carrot that leads the donkey.

In news few of us would have dared to predicted: Ubuntu is to switch to the ‘Systemd’ init system after years of using home-grown rival ‘Upstart’.

The decision, which was announced by Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth on his official blog, follows confirmation by Debian’s Technical Committee that it intends to transitions to the systemd system management daemon from its next major release onwards.

In a post ‘Losing Graciously’, Mark Shuttleworth explains as “Ubuntu is quite centrally a member of the Debian family,” following it in switching to systemd “[is] a decision we support.”

Upstart In Ubuntu

Ubuntu has used upstart, an event-based init system both developed and maintained by Canonical, since the 2006 release of Ubuntu 6.10. Alongside Ubuntu and its various official and unofficial derivatives, Upstart is also used in RHEL 6, WebOS and Google’s Chrome OS.

Debates on which system is better have long raged in the Linux community, though few of those championing from the sidelines have been able to fully grasp the technical complexities involved.

In reaching their decisions both Canonical and Debian have been mature and responsible. Thought electing not to use it, Debian were still able to praise Upstart from a technical point of view, highlighting its “code quality, rigorous testing and clarity of purpose”.

‘Ubuntu switching to systemd will have little obvious impact for end-users’
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The entire Upstart vs. systemd saga is so protracted, drawn out and entrenched that it’s hard to adequately summarise the salient points from each camp on these pages. But now we have a decision; now that most of the major Linux distributions are in tune, those points no longer matter.

For end-users Ubuntu switching to systemd will have little in the way of obvious impact. Developers, hackers and distribution makers used to Upstart will encounter changes, and may need to rework system scripts to adapt to and/or take advantages of new opportunities afforded by the change.

No Timeframe

Debian plan to integrate systemd as default in their 8.0 release (codenamed ‘jessie’). This has no firm release date, which makes predicting when we’re likely to see Ubuntu follow suit a little harder.

No timeframe for the arrival of systemd in Ubuntu has been mentioned, though Shuttleworth has said he ‘will ask members of the Ubuntu community to help to implement this decision efficiently …safely and expeditiously’ and create appropriate transition plans.

Read More on Shuttleworth’s Blog

Image Credit: Sam Hewitt
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