Devuan Beta Release

After two years in development, a beta release of the Devuan distro has made it into the world (Devuan is a registered trademark of the foundation). Devuan is a very Debian-ish distro. In fact, it basically is Debian, with one notable absence. Devuan doesn't use systemd. In fact, that's its main claim to fame. Devuan was created to offer an alternative to Debian fans who were alienated by the controversial switch to systemd.

systemd is one of those topics that either reduces people to tears of rage or shrugs of indifference. Many desktop users are completely unaware of what it is, or why they should care. Then there are those who think it's a good thing—after all, it was about time we replaced the system v init process.

And it's true; the old init process that Linux and UNIX systems had been using was well past retirement age. It was born in a different age when multicore processors were a distant dream. Back then, users didn't seem to be in a rush when they started their machines. They were happy for the operating system and userspace applications to load at a leisurely pace.

Today, in the busy hustle and bustle of the 21st century, we all want our computers to boot fast. Whether that's due to a genuine need or the power of marketing is arguable. But the truth is that PC manufacturers and OS developers keep pushing boot times down. If Linux is to stay competitive, it has to excel in all areas, including boot times.

systemd was one of the many solutions to the problem. Most developers realized there was no need to start up applications and services one by one. They could be started in parallel. Of course, it's not quite as simple as that. Some services rely on others, which need to load first. Resolving those dependencies makes parallel init systems innately more complex than the good-old system V approach.

But computers are becoming more complex as time passes. It's a fact of life. So why are so many people upset about systemd?

Well, for the most part, people don't like the way it attempts to do so many different things. It exceeds the traditional responsibilities of an init system, adding multiple "improvements" and "optimizations" to make a faster running system. The problem is that this breaks one of the key UNIX design philosophies—that a system should be composed of many small programs, and each of them does one thing well.

When systemd became the default init process of the Debian distribution (and its many derivatives) the result was less choice for power users. As systemd took charge of so many elements of the system, they were no longer able to use alternative services and processes. And, for the many who disagreed with the "systemd way", there was little choice but to switch to a different distribution entirely.

This was a bitter blow to those who loved Debian but hated systemd. Debian's many fans love the design philosophy that makes it one of the top Linux distros. They adore the packaging system and the high degree of customizability, among many other aspects.

But with the entire Debian world switching over to systemd, it looked like they would have to abandon all these benefits. For some, that was too high a price to pay, so they banded together to re-create Debian without systemd.

Devuan is available for download now. You can find several download links here. As the beta release is quite new, the servers currently are very busy, so I recommend downloading via torrent.

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