Tentative summary of the amendments of the init system coupling GR

This is an update of my previous attempt at summarizing this discussion. As I proposed one of the amendments, you should not blindly trust me, of course. :-)

First, let’s address two FAQ:

What is the impact on jessie?
On the technical level, none. The current state of jessie already matches what is expected by all proposals. It’s a different story on the social level.

Why are we voting now, then?
Ian Jackson, who submitted the original proposal, explained his motivation in this mail.

We now have four different proposals: (summaries are mine)

  • [iwj] Original proposal (Ian Jackson): Packages may not (in general) require one specific init system (Choice 1 on this page)
  • [lucas] Amendment A (Lucas Nussbaum): support for alternative init systems is desirable but not mandatory (Choice 2 on this page)
  • [dktrkranz] Amendment B (Luca Falavigna): Packages may require a specific init system (Choice 3 on this page)
  • [plessy] Amendment C (Charles Plessy): No GR, please: no GR required (Choice 4 on this page)

[plessy] is the simplest, and does not discuss the questions that the other proposals are answering, given it considers that the normal Debian decision-making processes have not been exhausted.

In order to understand the three other proposals, it’s useful to break them down into several questions.

Q1: support for the default init system on Linux
A1.1: packages MUST work with the default init system on Linux as PID 1.
(That is the case in both [iwj] and [lucas])

A1.2: packages SHOULD work with the default init system on Linux as PID 1.
With [dktrkranz], it would no longer be required to support the default init system, as maintainers could choose to require another init system than the default, if they consider this a prerequisite for its proper operation; and no patches or other derived works exist in order to support other init systems. That would not be a policy violation. (see this mail and its reply for details). Theoretically, it could also create fragmentation among Debian packages requiring different init systems: you would not be able to run pkgA and pkgB at the same time, because they would require different init systems.

Q2: support for alternative init systems as PID 1
A2.1: packages MUST work with one alternative init system (in [iwj])
(Initially, I thought that “one” here should be understood as “sysvinit”, as this mail, Ian detailed why he chose to be unspecific about the target init system. However, in that mail, he later clarified that a package requiring systemd or uselessd would be fine as well, given that in practice there aren’t going to be many packages that would want to couple specifically to systemd _or_ uselessd, but where support for other init systems is hard to provide.)
To the user, that brings the freedom to switch init systems (assuming that the package will not just support two init systems with specific interfaces, but rather a generic interface common to many init systems).
However, it might require the maintainer to do the required work to support additional init systems, possibly without upstream cooperation.
Lack of support is a policy violation (severity >= serious, RC).
Bugs about degraded operation on some init systems follow the normal bug severity rules.

A2.2: packages SHOULD work with alternative init systems as PID 1. (in [lucas])
This is a recommendation. Lack of support is not a policy violation (bug severity < serious, not RC). A2.3: nothing is said about alternative init systems (in [dktrkranz]). Lack of support would likely be a wishlist bug.

Q3: special rule for sysvinit to ease wheezy->jessie upgrades
(this question is implicitly dealt with in [iwj], assuming that one of the supported init systems is sysvinit)

A3.1: continue support for sysvinit (in [lucas])
For the jessie release, all software available in Debian ‘wheezy’ that supports being run under sysvinit should continue to support sysvinit unless there is no technically feasible way to do so.

A3.2: no requirement to support sysvinit (in [dktrkranz])
Theoretically, this could require two-step upgrades: first reboot with systemd, then upgrade other packages

Q4: non-binding recommendation to maintainers
A4.1: recommend that maintainers accept patches that add or improve
support for alternative init systems. (in both [iwj] and [lucas], with a different wording)

A4.2: say nothing (in [dktrkranz])

Q5: support for init systems with are the default on non-Linux ports
A5.1: non-binding recommendation to add/improve support with a high priority (in [lucas])

A5.2: say nothing (in [iwj] and [dktrkranz])


Comments are closed: please discuss by replying to that mail.

Debian Package of the Day revival (quite)

TL;DR: static version of http://debaday.debian.net/, as it was when it was shut down in 2009, available!

A long time ago, between 2006 and 2009, there was a blog called Debian Package of the Day. About once per week, it featured an article about one of the gems available in the Debian archive: one of those many great packages that you had never heard about.

At some point in November 2009, after 181 articles, the blog was hacked and never brought up again. Last week I retrieved the old database, generated a static version, and put it online with the help of DSA. It is now available again at http://debaday.debian.net/. Some of the articles are clearly outdated, but many of them are about packages that are still available in Debian, and still very relevant today.