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Debian leader says users can continue with SysVinit

Users of Debian GNU/Linux will be able to continue using SysVinit as their init system, despite the project having switched to systemd as the default, according to the leader of the Debian project.

Lucas Nussbaum (pictured) told iTWire that a package named systemd-shim had been made available for this purpose. It was already in the testing stream and would be available in the next release, Jessie, when that hits the download servers.

The Debian technical committee decided to change the default init system from SysVinit to systemd in February this year. There has been an avalanche of opposition from users for various reasons, mainly that the new system has unprecedented levels of complexity and seeks to take over the running of too many things.

This has not gone down well with those who believe in the UNIX way of doing things - one thing at a time and that done well.

In response to a query, Nussbaum said: "It is still possible to install and use sysvinit instead of systemd on Debian. However, there is software in Debian (e.g. GNOME's or XFCE's login and power management features) that now require specific interfaces which are provided by systemd components such as systemd-logind.

"For people wanting to use sysvinit or upstart as PID 1, there is a package (systemd-shim) that works as an emulation layer between systemd components like systemd-logind and an alternate init system: GNOME/XFCE talks to systemd-logind, which talks to systemd-shim (instead of systemd)."

Nussbaum said systemd-shim was likely to be available in Debian Jessie (it is already part of 'testing'). Jessie, the next release, is due to be frozen in November - which means no new packages will be added after that - and released within the next few months after bug-testing has been done and release-critical bugs have been fixed.

Asked whether Jessie would support secure boot - a system developed by Microsoft and implemented by all motherboard manufacturers wherein booting is governed by an exchange of cryptographically signed keys - Nussbaum responded: "In the current state of things, in order to run Debian Jessie, systems with a UEFI BIOS will need to have Secure Boot disabled (the availability of this possibility is a requirement in the Secure Boot specification for Intel-based systems).

"This makes the system return to the same level of security (no worse!) as the one available on classical non-UEFI systems."

He added: "There is also ongoing work on supporting systems with UEFI Secure Boot enabled, and we are hoping that this work will be finished in time for Debian Jessie."

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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.