From SysV init via Upstart to systemd

Future

The developers of Upstart or systemd all justify their new developments with technical arguments. Whereas Upstart replaced the somewhat poorly maintained and no longer up-to-date SysV init, the systemd makers justify their new build by stating that they want to turn Upstart's concept around, putting it on its feet instead of its head.

The developers would probably deny any entrepreneurial reasons behind the decisions. Nevertheless, Canonical has a CLA for Upstart, so it can provide the necessary software under a proprietary license if needed, such as on mobile devices. Upstart is also a well-adjusted part of Ubuntu after a long period of development, and Canonical pays most of its developers. In other words, Canonical is unlikely to throw the init program overboard without good reason.

The developers of systemd, however, work for Red Hat. The company has not officially commented on the plans, but it certainly is practical to have the experts for the new system on your own payroll. Canonical will not change for the time being because of reasons stated. Fedora also has a unique feature that cannot be readily reconstructed because of the complexity of systemd. Whether this technology contest – which also affects Wayland and Mir, as well as Unity and Gnome – benefits or harms the Linux community is still uncertain. In particular, the supporters and developers of smaller distributions will be observing the conflict closely.

Some systems have already opted for systemd (such as Arch Linux), but others are just staying with SysV init (Debian) or using their own versions of the boot system, such as OpenRC (Gentoo). Thanks to the free licenses of the two boot systems, a retroactive change is also possible in a pinch.

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