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The head of Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution and the creator of the upstart init system, has announced that it will switch its init system to the Red Hat-developed systemd.

This follows a decision by the Debian GNU/Linux project to make systemd its default init for the next release, Jessie, which is due to be released in November. Debian serves as the base for Ubuntu.

Canonical head Mark Shuttleworth said in a blog post on Friday that since Ubuntu was "centrally" a member of the Debian family, it supported the Debian decision, which came about through a casting vote from the head of the Debian technical committee.

Hence, "I will ask members of the Ubuntu community to help to implement this decision efficiently, bringing systemd into both Debian and Ubuntu safely and expeditiously," he wrote.

Shuttleworth said that upstart had served Ubuntu extremely well – "it gave us a great competitive advantage at a time when things became very dynamic in the kernel, it’s been very stable (it is after all the init used in both Ubuntu and RHEL 6 ;) and has set a high standard for Canonical-lead (sic) software quality of which I am proud."

The Debian debate on its default system ran for a very long time and turned acrimonious in the end. The technical committee was tasked in November with deciding on the default init for Jessie.

Keith Packard, Russ Alberry, Don Armstrong and tech committee chief Bdale Garbee opted for systemd while the other four - Colin Watson, Steve Langasek, Andreas Barth and Ian Jackson - expressed a preference for upstart.

Garbee made his decision on a casting vote on February 11 at 7.35am; this means it was late Tuesday evening in Australia when his post came to the mailing list.

Shuttleworth's decision will come as something of a surprise to his detractors; it paints him as a much more pragmatic person than he was thought to be.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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