Hugh Pickens writes:
Systemd has turned into the Godzilla of Linux controversies. "Everywhere you look it's stomping through blogs, rampaging through online discussion threads, and causing white-hot flames that resemble Godzilla's own breath of death," writes Jim Lynch. Now Sam Varghese reports at iTWire that although Linus Torvalds is well-known for his strong opinions, when it comes to systemd, Torvalds is neutral. "When it comes to systemd, you may expect me to have lots of colorful opinions, and I just don't," says Torvalds. "I don't personally mind systemd, and in fact my main desktop and laptop both run it."
Oh, there's been bitter fights before. Just think about the emacs vs vi wars. Or, closer to systemd, the whole "SysV init" vs "BSD init" differences certainly ended up being things that people had "heated discussions" about. Or think about the desktop comparisons.
I'm not really sure how different the systemd brawls are from those. It's technical, but admittedly the systemd developers have also been really good at alienating people on a purely personal level too. Not that that is anything particularly new under the sun _either_: the (very) bitter wars between the GPL and the BSD license camps during late-80s and early-90s were almost certainly more about the persons involved and how they pissed off people than necessarily deeply about other differences (which existed, obviously, but still).
Torvalds was asked if systemd didn't create a single point of failure which makes a system unbootable if it fails. "I think people are digging for excuses. I mean, if that is a reason to not use a piece of software, then you shouldn't use the kernel either."
This is a problem with many long-term projects. When the project starts, everyone is inexperienced in the developing technology. However, after a decade or so, a core or regular contributors develop a style of collaboration which can be impenetrable to newbies. Linux kernel development is an extreme example but I understand that it occurs to a lesser extent with Perl development. In this case, a skills gap has occurred where people are either doing elementary stuff, like deploying blog software on cheap virtual hosting, or they're doing bleeding-edge stuff on their own infrastructure. This situation is worsened because the virtual hosting providers don't update their packages unless there is a pressing security issue. So, the lowest common denominator is a five year old interpreter and two year old set of modules. Steps have been taken to improve advancement, portability and uptake but differing use cases will perpetuate a divide.
Returning to Linux kernel development, relatively few people have to venture into kernel-space and those who do may not be aware of typical use cases which are understood by regular contributors.