Ataraxia and the need for a stricter list of distros

A while ago someone I didn’t know contacted me in reddit about the list of distributions without systemd, suggesting I should add ataraxia linux.  Ataraxia Linux was very similar to kiss-linux, source based, musl, but featuring an array of init and service supervision systems available to choose.  A few weeks ago, someone (turns out to be the same person) added a comment to this blog to this more precise list of “linux distributions without systemd” and suggested I should add Ataraxia to the list, and I did.

Then a comment comes in by someone who is really going through the list of distributions and also has been reviewing the narrow list of distributions, or systems, built on musl instead of glibc.  He alerted me to the fact that Ataraxia is now using systemd as its default init system.  It didn’t strike me as odd in the beginning, even though I had recently given it a try.  I was under the impression, never tried, that systemd couldn’t be built on musl as it wasn’t even written in C.  So I asked that same guy, who turns out to be the distro owner of ataraxia, how has he  achieved this, and I got a single word response:  “patching”.Ok, so Ataraxia is dropped from both lists now, but this is not all.  It is a trend among the distributions that do not use systmed as init to be open to either parts of systemd, as elogind, in order to support complex popular desktops and the software that are developed within those platforms.  The same distributions will also have as default audio management pulseaudio, attempt to have gnome and its associated desktop variations functional, etc. etc.  This can be perceived as cheating in a way.  It is almost like an effort to circumnavigate around a legal clause.  Like if there was a law around this community of distros not to use systemd as init, but you can use it for everything else it does.  First offender that comes to mind is MX linux and its relatively recent popularity according to Distrowatch statistics.  MX uses antix scripts to start the system but has the entirety of systemd installed and used by software instead of substitution libraries.  Systemd is not running but it could if you chose to, you just “turn it on”.

The point I am trying to make is we should be differentiating the choice of alternatives on technical merit (simpler, smaller, more controllable, faster/more responsive, non-redundant, easier to audit and troubleshoot, etc.) and the political matter behind its use.  Systemd clearly and since its inception was financed and promoted with money from the giants of the computing industry.  RedHat at its start was the joke of the computing industry, but it made an entry with a big bang.  Especially in the US, apart from the frenzy of AOL (an internet provider for the computer illiterate) the entire country was flooded with disks that supposedly substitutes windows with linux.  It really didn’t, and in the few occasions that it did boot it was so dysfunctional and frail most people gave up trying.  But it did flood the world with free CDs to install redhat.  That is a large funding start not given to just anyone without a goal to match the financial backing.  In other words, someone co-signed those loans to make redhat what it is.  Well, years passed and IBM came out of the “blue” and bought RedHat, or should I say made their relationship known with a public engagement.  If Red-Hat had failed and created too much negative turmoil, IBM would have kept its distance.

For every public voice that came out in the past 10 years in any public forum to criticize systemd in technical or other merit, 10 more voices would “instantly” pop-up to discredit not the content of the criticism but the person voicing this criticism.  In the best case scenarios where real known experts voiced their concern, the discussion was diverted to a “manageable” topic:  systemd vs sysvinit.  Since systemd is better than sysvinit, and it is newer, modern, it is better.  Hence there is no need for more discussion, let the best system prevail as a monopoly.

Many other corporations diverted tremendous funding as to be present and part of the booming open and free software industry.  Why?  Because if you can’t beat your challengers, you might as well join them as to dominate them with financial power from within.  Google, Microsoft, Oracle, HP, IBM, Cisco, Motorolla, have all contributed open and free code.  Lately Facebook has also joined the circus and before you know it the most popular distros are incorporating Facebook’s code into their package building and management.

There is a big difference between someone writing code on their free time and without direction and control, willing to share it with others, allow others to contribute, help, criticize, locate bugs and assist development, without direct financial interest, and large corporations hiring people to code under their direction with a specific “financial motive and goal”, to dominate and increase profits.  Directly or indirectly.  The first group may indirectly expect some user support and financial help to keep doing what they have started, the later group writes code with specifically dictated goals, guidelines, and are only doing it because they are paid to do it.  When the mafia stopped developing consolekit nobody really stepped up to the plate to continue the labyrinth development consolekit had become.  ConsoleKit2 did receive some attention but then it fell victim to the orphanage of linux packages.

I am asking this question, is the aim of not using systemd solely on technical merit, a better, simpler, faster, more manageable system is here and available, or is it an attempt to block and cleanse linux from mega-Corporate influx and control?  In the second case any code contributed under any license by any large corporation, written by replaceable employees, should be resisted and not utilized.

Can we really have such a system?



18 thoughts on “Ataraxia and the need for a stricter list of distros

  1. ” In the second case any code contributed under any license by any large corporation, written by replaceable employees, should be resisted and not utilized.

    Can we really have such a system?”

    Not with the linux kernel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok, we don’t have hardware made open and free by large corporations, we have some free hw (libre-kernel) and some not so free. So, beyond the kernel, can we have the rest ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This bit caught my attention: “For every public voice that came out in the past 10 years in any public forum to criticize systemd in technical or other merit, 10 more voices would “instantly” pop-up to discredit not the content of the criticism but the person voicing this criticism.”

    Just over the past few days, hundreds of Tweeters were up in arms because Microsoft had to be exterminated with a shotgun for porting their Microsoft Edge to Linux “because it was built on evil old Google Chrome.” And that irrational attitude from chemtrailers, flatearthers, communists, agnostics, radicals, activists that plant bombs and abort helpless babies while not eating anything with a face, is the real failure of the Linux desktop. I presume Linus Torvalds must be bitterly disappointed as he had something else in mind, something better and more wholesome.

    And the Linux community would have been better off with a handful or less good distros, not 300. Read my article on the Arches if you like. Some eleven of them all displayed the very same stupidity which is how packages get (un)managed when trying to install a number of them in a go. The second irritation is when updates start failing less than a week into new installations. The SSD gets formatted to remove dysfunctional crap when it boots into a blank space with a flickering cursor or three lines of verbal diarrea after it worked perfectly until switched off before bedtime. All my Arches did that, systemd or no systemd.

    As for Edge, it is built on The Chromium Project’s Blink Engine, ditto Brave, Chrome, Vivaldi and Opera. (There could be more). I have checked time and again and dear old Firefox keeps gobbling up some 1.5GB RAM while Chrome uses 700-880MB for the same set of jobs, so I don’t understand the big RAM issue.

    What I am doing is pointing out an irrationality within the Linux community, of an opinionated bunch of detestable radicals that lack factual basis. I did expect more from IT people that administrate systems based on LOGIC. As I found very little. The good guys are either few or very quiet.

    And, as for the privacy issues, the very same people post pics of the male member, tits & fannies online, describe their fantasies (even here on WordPress) in a most graphical way. Once one had done that, what other things should you try and keep private? Facebook pulled the joke on such fools.

    I am on Ubuntu Budgie, the OS that works so well that it won’t shut down.

    As for Windows 10 Pro, I never had any isue with it and it had worked rather well, stable, fast just like the Edge browser that I had, even on Android. I found that the alarmist critics never even installed and tried it but that their vociferous criticism was based on presumptions and that ugly thing called hate, instead of a factual position.

    As I said, they won’t eat meat but kill unborn, helpless little humans, then post on their status “don’t say anything negative.”

    As a corporate IT sysadmin, what would I care about systemd or FOSS vs the hell of gates as long as my people can do email, spreadsheets, databses, type a proposal or make a presentation? I would work with ANY dear OS that can:

    Run a browser
    Offers LibreOffice
    Store my data locally, backed up to a remote server
    Shut down when asked to
    Boot up when asked to.

    Two OSs did that for me over the past decade or so: Mint Cinnamon and then Windows 10 Pro. The others, so many distros, failed in so many ways that I can’t understand the focus on systemd as even that bias stems from some sort of radicalism.

    And that makes Linux suspect in the minds of the general public.


  4. You are a user, not a system administrator, so all you care about is the end product that is served at your anglican church. If it tastes good and is digestible then it is blessed, so you can get off and attend the next room’s Klan meeting. You are clueless on what it would take to run a “mail server”, or a file server, … your technical concern is whether your ubuntu will poweroff or suspend, and if ms10 does it better then this is it. No values, no principles.

    The “general public wants”, that is a long story and discussion among people who share some common values and principles. It is quite obvious we don’t. I have defended women’s rights to access health services and decide what to do with their bodies, and I will till I die. I have clashed and injured myself several times fighting for equality. It is the only thing worth fighting for. I am not going to seat here and discuss anything of human importance with a “human hater”.



  5. Does mobinmob want to express that it might be possible with some of the non-Linux-kernel based systems, such as OpenBSD?


  6. Any “attempt to block and cleanse linux from mega-Corporate influx and control” would be unrealistic. The whole hardware and software industry wants Linux because it has become THE cloud OS and that’s where big money is. Another issue is the GPL, the mega-corporate’s most beloved license. If you want a free and open source OS in the original spirit, it can definitely no longer be Linux.

    There still might be some opportunities in the BSD family, though it may not be easy for different reasons. Haiku might also be interesting, at least as a desktop OS.


  7. I did not realize mx-linux was systemd… in (apparently) a round-about manner.

    I will be removing it from my home ASAP. Thanks for that heads-up; I never guessed it.


  8. Instead of having parts of systemd (like elogind and libelogind that I believe was produced by Gentoo, where many people use it, some even use systemd instead of the home default openrc) they install the entire thing but don’t use it as init. I don’t think this is much worse than using elogind. is the only site I have found that states on the front page a promise, systemd and elogind will not ever come here. Obarun is proof that you can have a DM and KDE-plasma working without it, by substituting consolekit2 on its dependencies. But you will never see Gnome supported in Obarun, it will not work because of this.


  9. @schillingklaus: I believe that the goal is unattainable and largely problematic. I just offered a piece of software that makes this clear without having to explain the reasons. I could just as easily have replaced the kernel with xorg with the same effect.


  10. This happens on antiX-19.xx (debian stable).

    apt purge elogind
    Reading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information… Done
    The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
    gvfs-common gvfs-libs libatasmart4 libblockdev-fs2 libblockdev-loop2 libblockdev-part-err2 libblockdev-part2 libblockdev-swap2 libblockdev-utils2 libblockdev2
    libgdata-common libgdata22 libgoa-1.0-0b libgoa-1.0-common libjansson4 libldb1 liblmdb0 libnfs12 liboauth0 libsmbclient libtevent0 libudisks2-0 python-talloc
    Use ‘sudo apt autoremove’ to remove them.
    The following additional packages will be installed:
    Recommended packages:
    The following packages will be REMOVED:
    elogind* gvfs* gvfs-backends* gvfs-daemons* libpam-elogind* udisks2*
    The following NEW packages will be installed:
    0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 6 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
    Need to get 149 kB of archives.
    After this operation, 6,877 kB disk space will be freed.
    Do you want to continue? [Y/n]

    So it is possible to remove on antiX, though I don’t think it is a good idea.


  11. It is not antix, in every distro I install one of the first things I do is remove gvfs and udisks2 … I like to know what is mounted and what is not and when. Even my cd/dvd drive is disabled and if I want to read/write something I do it manually. So to me it makes no real difference.

    I tried this distro called split linux, based on void, and used their base image. Nano is not included, only vi, so I thought void is trying to make their base system really tight and spartan. I try pstree to see how their containers and docker is/are running, no pstree, psmisc is not installed. So I take a hard look and what IS installed, and a full suite of pulseaudio is active in a base image. If that is not a turn-off to discard the exploration project, what is. You can’t have things like nano or mc/mcedit but you need a pulseaudio to have audio ready to go. Maybe they should add a youtube-cli into their base system, and a facebook-cli to go with their zstd compression.

    You say it is not a good idea, ….. care to elaborate? People like things like gvfs and pulseaudio, and udiskie, and clicking menu items that need root rights. But marketing shouldn’t be that important in open/free software. Maybe marketing with stricter principles to fewer users may have a future that everyone undermines these days. It is like a communist party or a labor union appealing to management to join. Fuck them, they have their own union, the state!


  12. I removed elogin from AntiX 19, and nothing bad happened. Consolekit was not installed instead.

    I could not remove dbus, just prevent the daemon from running. In Debian 9, it was still possible to uninstall dbus while keeping gtk3.


  13. I should have put that better. What I meant was that I would not advise our users to remove elogind unless they really know what they are doing. Including elogind is useful for those that do not want systemd, but still want the ‘ease’ of auto mounting or those that have installed a lightweight desktop environment such as Xfce or MATE without having to go through hoops to keep systemd/libsystemd0 at bay. Sure, it’s not perfect, but hardly sucking up to the boss.


  14. Sabotage (on our long list) is also explicitly careful about keeping Poettering’s monstrosities out, and also threats like Rust.

    Its developer considered renaming it to DonQuixoteOS, because the whole quest is like a fight against indmills.


  15. The political and the technical motivation are not quite unrelated. The capitalist-imperialist sponsors of the Linux Frustration deliberately design Linux systems to be unmaintenable without expensive support contracts and redhatted henchmen with expensive certificates.


  16. Or sell expensive support contracts and use low skill low pay labor to do support.

    I am beginning to think that journald works the way it does so nobody ever sees the tons of errors systemd creates, while it is restarting the same problematic services.

    I agree nevertheless with what you are saying.


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