A New Init for Fedora 14

Apparently, a new project (to replace init, inetd, and cron) named systemd is nearing release and will be used to replace upstart in Fedora 14 (to be released in November – with Alpha Release due today!).

There is a healthy crop of init replacements out there, and the field is still shaking out. Replacing init – or specifically, System V init and init scripts – seems to be one of those never-ending projects: everyone has an idea on how to do it, no one can agree on how.

Let’s recap the current crop (excluding BSD rc scripts and System V init):

I am still waiting for the shakeout – it bugs me that there are dozens of different ways to start a system, and that none of them have taken over as the leader. For years, BSD rc scripts and System V init have been the standard – and both have stood the test of time.

My personal bias is towards SMF (OReilly had a nice article on it) and towards simpleinit – but neither has expanded like upstart has.

So where’s the replacement? Which is The One? It appears that no one is willing to work within a promising project, but rather starts over and creates yet another replacement for init, fragmenting the market further.

Lastly, if the current init scheme is so bad, why hasn’t anything taken over? Commercial UNIX environments continue to use the System V scheme, with the sole exception of Solaris which made the break to System Management Facility (or SMF). Why doesn’t HP-UX or AIX use SMF or Upstart if the current environment is horrible?

Sigh. It’s not that the current choices of replacement are bad – it’s just that there are so many – and more keep coming up every day. Perhaps we can learn something about the causes of this fragmentation from a quote from a paper written about the NetBSD rc.d startup scripts and their design:

The change [in init] has been one of the most contentious in the history of the [NetBSD] project.

Fedora 9 Announced

Yesterday Fedora 9 was announced. Using Fedora can give you a look at what may be in Red Hat Enterprise Linux down the road – and give you an exciting Linux distribution to boot.

There are a number of new exciting features to be found in Fedora 9. First, everything is updated to the latest versions, including GNOME 2.22, KDE 4.0.3, and Xfce 4.4.2.

Fedora 9 introduces the new filesystem ext4 as an option. While ext4 remains an experimental filesystem, it may be good to try it out. Like ext3, it remains compatible in both directions (an ext4 filesystem can be mounted as ext3, and vice versa).

Fedora 9 also replaces the System V initd process with an event-based replacement, upstart. Upstart was created and developed for Ubuntu Linux, and has spread to Fedora and Debian. Each process is started through a response to an event, and each process may generate another event.

Fedora 9 has several different spins or variations based on different sets of packages. For example, there could be a KDE spin, a GNOME spin, and a Xfce spin for example. The Fedora project has a page tracking spins for those who might be interested in custom spins.

This version of Fedora introduces support for Jigdo, which is a CD distribution mechanism that the Debian project has used for years. I’ve not used Jigdo, but the description given in the release notes suggests a large speedup if you have most of the data already.

It sounds like a very exciting distribution; I’ll be looking around my electronic wasteland to see where to install it.