Lennart Talks Up The Power Of systemd-sysext For Testing /usr Changes
Written by Michael Larabel in systemd on 27 April 2022 at 05:22 AM EDT. 56 Comments
SYSTEMD --
Systemd lead developer Lennart Poettering is out with his first blog post since last September. Today he's relaying the power of the systemd-sysext component shipped as part of systemd for loading/merging "system extension" images on the system for manipulating the exposed /usr.

Systemd-sysext allows merging one or multiple "system extension" images into /usr via OverlayFS. This is done instantly and atomically at run-time for modifying the exposed /usr contents of the system. These system extension images can either be (optionally signed) images or plain directories located elsewhere on the system. These /usr changes aren't persistent and can be unmerged during run-time or otherwise lost at reboot.

Lennart is blogging about systemd-sysext for shining more light on this effort. Among the many possible use-cases for systemd-sysext are for loading debugging tools on an otherwise locked down operating system without developers needing to build in said debug components. Lennart also personally uses the systemd-sysext method himself for testing systemd changes at run-time right away. There's also other possible applications for making use of systemd-sysext for testing /usr changes by developers.


Those wanting to learn more about systemd-sysext can stop by Lennart's blog and the man page.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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