Debian May Be Leaning Towards Systemd Over Upstart
Written by Michael Larabel in Debian on 17 January 2014 at 11:29 AM EST. 87 Comments
While no official decision has been reached yet, it looks like Debian's technical committee may be leaning in favor of using systemd as the default init system over Upstart or other alternatives.

For months now the Debian Technical Committee has been tasked with deciding between systemd and Upstart for the future init system of the Linux distribution that also has a FreeBSD kernel port, etc. The debate has been long and ongoing. Among other opinions, Ian Jackson of the committee came out last month in favor of using Upstart while Russ Allberry came out in favor of systemd.

Since our last article on the matter, Bdale Garbee also came out in support of using systemd. Bdale stated, "It's now clear to me that systemd is technically superior as an init system to upstart...I think systemd should be our choice for a new default init system for Debian GNU/Linux. Where I think we still need to focus attention is on how to manage the transition, and how to make *any* new init system default for Linux palatable for Debian's non-Linux ports."

Keith Packard of Intel and Debian's newest tech-cttee member, voiced his opinions on the matter this week. Keith ended up being in support of systemd and his opinion basically came down to, "I believe that Debian will need to support multiple init systems going forward, even on Linux. However, on Linux, I believe that the vast majority of Debian users would be best served by encouraging them to use systemd by making that the default."

Keith also added, "In contrast, upstart has a developer community limited to Canonical employees and others who are able and willing to sign the onerous CLA associated with that software. I believe as a result, upstart development has flagged and now lags far behind systemd in several key areas."

Keith also said during an IRC meeting this week, "[if Upstart were to be used] because of the [Canonical Contributor License Agreement covering Upstart], I believe that upstart in Debian would be a permanent fork, and take significant resources away from other key development efforts." In that IRC log is also much more in-fighting and debating about Debian's future default init system.

As another possible indicator that the technical committee is leaning towards defaulting to systemd on Debian GNU/Linux, Ian Jackson wrote in the meeting summary, "If systemd is the default on Linux, what opinions do we want to state, if any, [regarding] non-Linux ports at this stage?"

We'll see soon what the Debian technical committee officially decides upon for the operating system's default init system.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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