[SOLVED]Replacing systemd on LMDE 4

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Barnabyh
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[SOLVED]Replacing systemd on LMDE 4

Post by Barnabyh »

Hi there, has anyone replaced systemd on LMDE4 with the old sysv init using instructions from the Devuan team and their repos? Any experiences to share?

Thanks.
Last edited by Barnabyh on Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
deepakdeshp
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by deepakdeshp »

This would be tough. AFAIK nobody has done it. Why so much against system D?
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David Chiang
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by David Chiang »

deepakdeshp wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2020 8:29 am
This would be tough. AFAIK nobody has done it. Why so much against system D?
The only reason I can think of are compatibility problems with old system software still in use, that would justify such a move. Otherwise, I don't see any advantages. On the other hand, I wouldn't consider systemd a holy grail, as a lot of scepticism has accumulated among Linux developers for various reasons over the past five years. Security loopholes can be closed, but I wouldn't accept commercially motivated code that secretly accesses Google services either. In any case, Linus Torvalds is not exactly enthusiastic about some features in systemd, since the developers stubbornly refuse to respond to the arguments of their critics. It's not the purpose of systemd that is in the crosshairs, but the methods implemented in it.

I would say that as long as there are no noticeable disadvantages for the normal user and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, there is no reason to look for an alternative. But one day there will be a better alternative, and that’s as sure as eggs is eggs! :wink:
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by ajgreeny »

deepakdeshp wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2020 8:29 am
This would be tough. AFAIK nobody has done it. Why so much against system D?
That has often been my thought as well!

I used to use the old init commands to stop processes and now use systemctl instead; both work well so I can not see why there has been so much "anti" feeling about systemd.
What am I (and you) missing here?
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antikythera
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by antikythera »

I think you'd have to start with a Devuan base and add Mint repositories and packages to that. I doubt you could successfully convert an LMDE4 systemd installation to sysVinit.

I guess the issue with systemd stems back to paranoia about NSA involvement which is of course bunkum. 30 other myths about it debunked by Lennart Poettering on his blog:

http://0pointer.de/blog/projects/the-biggest-myths
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by Barnabyh »

What David said in his first paragraph. I didn't and still don't like the way it was pushed down our throats and am too much used to my own startup scripts from Slackware. Having to access binary files to read a journal just rubs me the wrong way. In addition there are security concerns, the machine-id file being the least, and bad experiences with systemd being responsible for plenty of hangs, and quite long ones at that, at shutdown. This hasn't been a problem in LMDE so far but shines a bad light on it if in comparison the old inits were perfectly fine.

I thought if Cinnamon does not depend on it it might be doable. I'ld probably have to replace network manager with something from antiX, or there may be something shimmed from Devuan?

Thanks.
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by Barnabyh »

I'll probably go the way antikythera suggested. Though that will necessitate a new install, not quite what I hoped for. But it may be something for another machine or to try in Vbox first. That's always a good idea anyway :D .
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by t42 »

Barnabyh wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2020 10:36 am
the machine-id file being the least
Yes indeed, even less so as it is not a security but a privacy concern. Unlike gethostid which was in Unix long before systemd it is not hardware sensitive. It is easy to 'harden' machine-id by making it not readable by anyone or by generating a new one on each boot or even to transfer specific id to another machine with kernel boot option systemd.machine_id= .
Last edited by t42 on Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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David Chiang
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by David Chiang »

antikythera wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2020 10:24 am
I guess the issue with systemd stems back to paranoia about NSA involvement which is of course bunkum. 30 other myths about it debunked by Lennart Poettering on his blog.
So far this is no wonder, as he has rightly been massively criticized from several sides in recent years, especially because of his systematic defence tirades. Linus Torvalds lost all confidence in his work and was forced to remove him from his development team. This guy is so convinced of his project that he rejects any criticism, no matter how justified. At least half of all "myths" are his own invention, as they never came from an official body. Probably the most striking disruptive factor in his behavior is the uncooperative attitude he adopts towards the users. All I can say is that I am not the least bit impressed by his article, it only reflects his personal point of view, which unfortunately does not correspond to reality. You can think about systemd what you want, but it is a fact that a part of the freedom of how to start and initialize a system has been lost!
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by antikythera »

Barnabyh wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2020 10:42 am
I'll probably go the way antikythera suggested. Though that will necessitate a new install, not quite what I hoped for. But it may be something for another machine or to try in Vbox first. That's always a good idea anyway :D .
Please let us know the outcome, sounds an interesting project to undertake. VM or spare machine first is definitely what I'd opt for, I don't have the inclination or concentration to give it a go myself at present otherwise I would scratch that itch.

@David - rightly or wrongly I can understand Lennart's position and frustrations too, he's just doing his job after all. Linus is notoriously as belligerent and difficult to work with so I'm not surprised they departed ways acrimoniously. There will always be stark differences of opinion among these highly intelligent but also highly strung developers. The myths come from social media channels and forum posts.

I have no issue using systemd personally as long as it works quietly in the background without disrupting what I am doing. So far I've never had any stability issues or had it prevent me from doing anything to my system that I need or wanted to.
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by Barnabyh »

Please let us know the outcome, sounds an interesting project to undertake.
Certainly. I may get to try this over the new year period.
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by David Chiang »

antikythera wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2020 12:08 pm
I have no issue using systemd personally as long as it works quietly in the background without disrupting what I am doing. So far I've never had any stability issues or had it prevent me from doing anything to my system that I need or wanted to.
As I said at the beginning, as long as it's not ostensibly dangerous to my privacy or security, I could live with it. But the problems that have arisen from the GNOME desktop environment dependencies that are implanted with it should not simply be ignored. The further development of systemd should definitely be observed with an eagle eye!
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Re: Replacing systemd on LMDE4

Post by Barnabyh »

So, I actually did this sooner than expected and can report it is certainly possible to build something LMDE-like on top of Devuan without too much hassle, in the space of probably two hours or so for a rudimentary install. Of course it's not as convenient and easy as just installing something ready but it's doable.

The whole procedure was done in VirtualBox 6.1.16, with 24 GB of space set aside and 8 GB of Ram, just to be sure it wouldn't run out.

1. I had the full Devuan 3.0.0 image still on the hd. First attempt did not work out for some reason. Maybe it had something to do with allowing Devuan to check for updated packages in the repos. It returned an error that some language and dictionary files could not be found and even failed at the next steps, the Grub and as a fallback Lilo install options. Second try I went with an automated default install that gives us Xfce4. The netinstall.iso is also an option if you like it more trimmed but I think it's quite nice to have Xfce as a fallback. It can always be removed later anyway.

2. Added LMDE repositories from my main install and imported the missing key with

Code: Select all

apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://pool.sks-keyservers.net:80 --recv-keys A6616109451BBBF2
One difference is that Devuan does not use sudo by default so one has to become root to execute above or set this up yourself straight away. I didn't because I first wanted to know whether it will be worth the effort.

3. Set sources to prefer "debbie". Updated and upgraded the system to latest.

4. Installed mint-info-cinnamon and mint-common which pulls in some basic libraries for an LMDE system, mint-translations, mint-sources and xapps.

5. Proceeded with cinnamon-session instead of mint-meta-cinnamon. The latter would have installed the default set of packages for the Cinnamon edition, all of them, but also yanked out too many existing packages at this stage. We can still install it later.

Cinnamon-session removes packagekit, rtkit, slim, synaptic, system-config-printer and the meta package task-xfce-desktop, leaving Xfce otherwise intact. This is the main step and installs a basic LMDE desktop although not sure why tint2 and xwayland are part of it. If you try and remove tint2 it will install mate-panel and mate-polkit instead. UPDATE: Tint2 can be force removed with

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dpkg --purge --force-all tint2
but this will mark cinnamon as a broken package. Similar for xwayland with gnome-session-bin. If one is serious, could these be rebuilt without said dependencies? FURTHER UPDATE: Whatever pulled in gnome-session-bin, it appears this can be removed again without causing problems.

6. Reinstall Synaptic - no penalty here.

7. Next I added a few themes, blackbird, bluebird and numix-gtk themes because at present Cinnamon will still look like stock.

8. Added gdebi. Interestingly, this actually works better in the Devuan setup and shows up in the menu with a minty package icon. In my standard upgraded LMDE 4 it does not show up and starting gdebi-gtk from a terminal gives a crippled interface without dialog.

9. Installed debian-system-adjustments which makes your system more mint-like and adds the mint theme to the boot loader. Installed apturl, mint-mirrors, mint-upgrade-info and mintupdate.

10. Installed lightdm and slick-greeter.

11. Reboot or log out and back in again. I believe I had already logged in to Cinnamon and changed the session in slim before it was removed. In any case, lightdm also provides an option to change the desktop session, although this functionality is hidden behind the mountain icon. Ok, pressing F1 in slim also isn' that intuitive.

In VirtualBox, enable 3d acceleration to get rid of the warning in Cinnamon.

12. And that is that, really. From here on it's just a matter of adding missing applications and art to achieve our goal and possibly remove some carried over from Xfce. I like to keep Mousepad around and the Xfce task manager but could get rid of the Ristretto picture viewer, the media players it comes with and Xfburn.
In Synaptic we have the Mint sources panel with its entries for maintenance and getting missing keys added in the background. The Mint software centre is not there yet.

13. We don't have a terminal yet in Cinnamon. Installed Gnome terminal and Gnome screenshot.

14. Installed some ubuntu fonts from the repository and the packages darkmint-gtk-theme, mint-artwork, some mint backgrounds, mint-themes, mint-x and mint-y icons.
Applying the right theming the desktop looks quite slick already and deceptively Mint.

15. The Network manager icon in the tray is a bit out of place next to Wicd and looks like duplicating functionality. It is crippled and not doing anything but unfortunately it seems it can't be removed. I tried and it showed up again after a reboot. Trying to uninstall network-manager will remove Cinnamon so I guess weĺl have to live with that applet sitting there - a small price to pay.

16. Added mint-meta-codecs for multimedia.

17. Added mint-report, mintinstall, mint-backup and timeshift. Personally I don't care much for the welcome screen at this stage, nor for mintnanny, so have left this out. You will get the welcome screen if you install mint-meta-core or mint-meta-cinnamon.

18. Install apt-file.

19. We may install the mint keyring but have added keys already in the beginning.

20. Last thing left to do is importing external sources used in the proper LMDE install. See how/if VPN client will work with syvinit.

So far it all seems to be working and looks good too! Now we can export it to a raw image and convert to iso for a real install.
Last edited by Barnabyh on Tue Dec 22, 2020 3:47 am, edited 5 times in total.
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antikythera
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Re: [SOLVED]Replacing systemd on LMDE 4

Post by antikythera »

Well done and good write up :D
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Re: [SOLVED]Replacing systemd on LMDE 4

Post by Barnabyh »

Thank you. If anybody got anything to add, please do.
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