Md at debian.org

tales of a debian maintainer

My position on the "init system coupling" General Resolution

I first want to clarify for the people not intimately involved with Debian that the GR-2014-003 vote is not about choosing the default init system or deciding if sysvinit should still be supported: its outcome will not stop systemd from being Debian's default init system and will not prevent any interested developers from supporting sysvinit.

Some non-developers have recently threatened of "forking Debian" if this GR will not pass, apparently without understanding well the concept: Debian welcomes forks and I think that having more users working on free software would be great no matter which init system they favour.

The goal of Ian Jackson's proposal is to force the maintainers who want to use the superior features of systemd in their packages to spend their time on making them work with sysvinit as well. This is antisocial and also hard to reconcile it with the Debian Constitution, which states:

2.1.1 Nothing in this constitution imposes an obligation on anyone to do work for the Project. A person who does not want to do a task which has been delegated or assigned to them does not need to do it. [...]

As it has been patiently explained by many other people, this proposal is unrealistic: if the maintainers of some packages were not interested in working on support for sysvinit and nobody else submitted patches then we would probably still have to release them as is even if formally declared unsuitable for a release. On the other hand, if somebody is interested in working on sysvinit support then there is no need for a GR forcing them to do it.

The most elegant outcome of this GR would be a victory of choice 4 ("please do not waste everybody's time with pointless general resolutions"), but Ian Jackson has been clear enough in explaining how he sees the future of this debate:

If my GR passes we will only have to have this conversation if those who are outvoted do not respect the project's collective decision.

If my GR fails I expect a series of bitter rearguard battles over individual systemd dependencies.

There are no significant practical differences between choices 2 "support alternative init systems as much as possible" and 3 "packages may require specific init systems if maintainers decide", but choice 3 is more explicit in supporting the technical decisions of maintainers and upstream developers.

This is why I think that we need a stronger outcome to prevent discussing this over and over, no matter how each one of us feels about working personally on sysvinit support in the future. I will vote for choices 3, 2, 4, 1.

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