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posted by janrinok on Sunday December 21 2014, @04:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the show-stopper-or-rare-event? dept.

Noted Linux expert Chris Siebenmann has described two catastrophic failures involving systemd.

One of the problems he encountered with systemd became apparent during a disastrous upgrade of a system from Fedora 20 to Fedora 21. It involved PID 1 segfaulting during the upgrade process. He isn't the only victim to suffer from this type of bad experience, either. The bug report for this problem is still showing a status of NEW, nearly a month after it was opened.

The second problem with systemd that he describes involves the journalctl utility. It displays log messages with long lines in a way that requires sideways scrolling, as well as displaying all messages since the beginning of time, in forward chronological order. Both of these behaviors contribute to making the tool much less usable, especially in critical situations where time and efficiency are of the essence.

Problems like these raise some serious questions about systemd, and its suitability for use by major Linux distros like Fedora and Debian. How can systemd be used if it can segfault in such a way, or if the tools that are provided to assist with the recovery exhibit such counter-intuitive, if not outright useless, behavior?

Editor's Comment: I am not a supporter of systemd, but if there are only 2 such reported occurrences of this fault, as noted in one of the links, then perhaps it is not a widespread fault but actually a very rare one. This would certainly explain - although not justify - why there has been so little apparent interest being shown by the maintainers. Nevertheless, the fault should still be fixed.

 
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:03PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:03PM (#128045)

    There's a maxim in software testing that goes like, "For every user who reports a bug, there are thousands of affected users who didn't report it."

    I think that's exactly what we're seeing with systemd. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people are getting fucked by it and its numerous flaws. That's why it's such a controversial subject. Yet only a very small fraction of these people ever both to report these systemd bugs.

    The rest of us don't bother, because we're moving on to Slackware, or FreeBSD, or OS X, or even Windows. We're done with Linux. Why should we waste our time reporting bugs with software we didn't want to ever use in the first place, and will likely never use ever again?

    So when I see two bug reports, I know that realistically, we're talking about probably 20,000 to 50,000, if not more, users who experienced the same problem. That's a serious issue, if you ask me.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by choose another one on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:36PM

    by choose another one (515) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:36PM (#128053)

    Yes, but... thing about a fatal bug in init is that you have a dead system, which is one reason people are wary of new init systems and systemd in particular.

    Given that, and that these reports are issues on upgrades (not new installs where users may just give up), and are repeatable crashes (not a one-off retry and never see it again), I think you will end up with a much much higher fraction of the affected userbase reporting the issue.

    > The rest of us don't bother, because we're moving on to Slackware, or FreeBSD, or OS X, or even Windows. We're done with Linux.

    Um, Slackware is not Linux these days ???

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:44PM (#128055)

      Slackware may use the Linux kernel and include open source software, but it's clearly very different from most other contemporary Linux distributions.

      I tried it out recently. It's still stuck in the 90s. The user experience was more like what I remember from when I used Xenix and Digital UNIX way back. It doesn't offer any of the good stuff that Linux distros have offered us since the mid 2000s.

      Slackware uses the Linux kernel, but it's not a Linux distribution in the modern sense of the term.

      • (Score: 2) by novak on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:54PM

        by novak (4683) on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:54PM (#128057) Homepage

        I'm not really sure what you're talking about. Are you complaining about the lack of a package manager or is there something else?

        I keep hearing this "slackware is stuck in the 90s," and I can't say I agree. Especially if you're installing a server which you don't need a whole lot of software on, slackware is a really good system.

        If you have a list of things you think are wrong/old, I'd be genuinely interested to see them. I bet I think most of them are features.

        --
        novak
        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:17PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:17PM (#128066)

          Yes, the lack of a modern package manager is a good example. This doesn't just affect installing software with many dependencies, but also easily keeping software updated.

          But there's also the manual configuration of just about everything. I can install Ubuntu, and have a working desktop system within a few minutes, with only limited, unavoidable manual configuration (like specifying passwords and such). It's the complete opposite when it comes to Slackware.

          Slackware has avoided the really bad new stuff, like systemd, only because it has avoided pretty much everything that has been supported by most distros since 2000!

          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:30PM

            by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:30PM (#128071)

            the manual configuration of just about everything.

            Doing it by hand = doing it wrong. If not puppet or chef, something homegrown. Computers are supposed to eliminate manual labor, not move it to keyboard/mouse.

            Less than 10 minutes from cold dead iron to working and that includes the freebsd install. Images are of course much faster and seem limited solely by NAS bandwidth (which means pretty fast, except when it isn't...) I guess there's ways to automate OS installers but I'm not doing that enough to be motivated to set it up. I would guess slackware can't be much worse than freebsd.

            • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:32PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:32PM (#128073)

              Why would I want to waste my time with Puppet or Chef when I'm just installing Linux on a single workstation for my own personal use?

              I just use Ubuntu, which sets up everything I need for me, so I don't have to do it myself. Slackware does none of this.

              • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:45PM

                by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:45PM (#128077)

                on a single workstation

                Thats a world far away from me... I suppose when you reinstall due to hardware failure or whatever, its nice to be automated and do it in minutes/seconds instead of hours of rework.

                Then again you probably have a lot less work to do... No need to screw around with single signon and kerberos and all that

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by novak on Sunday December 21 2014, @07:08PM

            by novak (4683) on Sunday December 21 2014, @07:08PM (#128083) Homepage

            I can also have a working desktop within minutes on slackware. Seconds, if you're talking about post OS install. It probably takes longer in ubuntu unless you consider unity a working desktop, which is sort of a stretch (could be wrong about time to install new GUI in ubuntu, as I never run it. I tried 8.04 once and hated it.). I don't know what magical things there are in other distros that slackware lacks, but I'm guessing GUI menus.

            That being said, the reason that slackware doesn't suck is that it requires you to manually configure things. Now... I do prefer having a package manager, but most things are just better when not poorly automated as by ubuntu and friends. Slackware doesn't come with nearly as much crap pre-installed and pre-configured.

            If you don't want to spend five minutes setting up your machine the way you want it then enjoy systemd. That's exactly the kind of attitude that birthed it- features first, ease of use before configurability, users are lazy/idiots and must not have any work to do, and a shiny exterior.

            --
            novak
            • (Score: 1) by fido_dogstoyevsky on Sunday December 21 2014, @10:31PM

              by fido_dogstoyevsky (131) <{axehandle} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday December 21 2014, @10:31PM (#128145)

              can also have a working desktop within minutes on slackware. Seconds, if you're talking about post OS install. It probably takes longer in ubuntu unless you consider unity a working desktop, which is sort of a stretch (could be wrong about time to install new GUI in ubuntu, as I never run it. I tried 8.04 once and hated it.). I don't know what magical things there are in other distros that slackware lacks, but I'm guessing GUI menus.

              I'm converting from Opensuse to Slackware. The only things I have problems with (1) are things I haven't found out how to do yet (and these are much smaller than the problems I had in going from, say, Windows to OSX (2) or Win98 to Vista (3)).

              I haven't had any trouble at all with any of the package managers (choice for them, too) in installing/removing software. If you don't like CLI there's always Gslapt (which is good for when I'm feeling lazy).

              It's simple, it works, it's reliable and, when you change your mindset less than you thought you might have to it's also easy. Sounds pretty 21st century stuff to me.

              ------------------------------------------------------------------

              (1) Instead of continuing "doing stuff" with Opensuse and playing with Slackware by dual booting I'm "doing stuff" with Slackware and kept Opensuse on another partition for handholding - haven't needed it yet.

              (2) Had to at work, not on my PC.

              (3) Vista was the big impetus to get me to try Linux (Mandrake)

              --
              It's NOT a conspiracy... it's a plot.
    • (Score: 2) by novak on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:50PM

      by novak (4683) on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:50PM (#128056) Homepage

      Um, Slackware is not Linux these days ???

      Obviously it is, but I would say that Slackware is GNU/Linux, and most of the rest are transforming into something called systemd/Linux. Sure, that's a bit of an overblown gripe now, but with systemd busy replacing every userspace service, it probably won't be for long.

      Right now if you run systemd it might only change your init system, but it's going to replace a lot more, and odds are, given its history, that a lot of that won't be optional.

      --
      novak
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @02:18AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @02:18AM (#128203)

        Since when was "GNU" a synonym for "SysV UNIX"?

        • (Score: 2) by novak on Monday December 22 2014, @02:36AM

          by novak (4683) on Monday December 22 2014, @02:36AM (#128206) Homepage

          Never. The same amount of time that systemd was only an init system.

          --
          novak
    • (Score: 2) by jackb_guppy on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:05PM

      by jackb_guppy (3560) on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:05PM (#128060)

      At this point Slackware is not "Linux". Linux is kernel. "Linux" now is Debian and Redhat with systemd and the trash it brings.

      "Linux" is not longer an inclusive set of functions that make system. There was a day, that "Linux", I could use any old piece of equipment and it would work and run. Windows keep dropping support and abandoning old equipment. Now "Linux" with g++/gcc can no longer be ran on a 128MB machine. It does not use the swap space - IT MUST BE FULLY IN MEMORY to work. How stupid!

      And about PID 1, another poor stupid design. I can PID 1 as an old design from year days, but today, PID should be any random value, instead of lazy programming trick. Future with any PID allows and multiple entres on multiple PIDs, so systemd is not another parallel "OS/Kernel" with multiple modules directly linked to itself.

      Where is the elegance in program design? Plans for security? The benefits of "Linux" of old?

      Damn old MS is everywhere! Now we call it Redhat and Debian.

      • (Score: 2) by Arik on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:43PM

        by Arik (4543) on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:43PM (#128075) Journal
        Slackware is GNU/Linux. Redhat and Debian represent an incipient fork to be called 'CoreOS.'
        --
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
        • (Score: 4, Funny) by FatPhil on Sunday December 21 2014, @11:35PM

          by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Sunday December 21 2014, @11:35PM (#128153) Homepage
          Lennux
          --
          Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @11:12AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @11:12AM (#128280)

          And Linus, the fuck, is totally onboard.

          FUCK him. He betrayed us.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by zocalo on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:14PM

      by zocalo (302) on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:14PM (#128065)

      Yes, but... thing about a fatal bug in init is that you have a dead system, which is one reason people are wary of new init systems and systemd in particular.

      I think that's the difference and crux of the problem right there. The systemd team have demonstrated more than once that they regard fixing bugs in their code as either someone else's problem or not as important as adding the next great feature. That's not a problem unique to systemd (far from it), but with systemd it is in one of the few places where you simply can't afford to have that kind of attitude - another being the kernel itself. It's an approach leads to code that has more than a passing resemblance to a house of cards, and when that particular house of cards is also the foundation upon which other projects sit things you are risking the whole lot coming crashing down.

      --
      UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:30PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:30PM (#128072)

        I don't get your signature. What does UNIX have to do with circumcision?

        • (Score: 2) by DECbot on Sunday December 21 2014, @08:04PM

          by DECbot (832) on Sunday December 21 2014, @08:04PM (#128106) Journal

          Unix sounds like eunuchs.

          --
          cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @11:56PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @11:56PM (#128156)

            OK... But eunuchs are usually circumcised, not just at the foreskin, but the scrotum and testes, too. So it still doesn't make any sense.

            • (Score: 2) by khedoros on Monday December 22 2014, @12:42AM

              by khedoros (2921) on Monday December 22 2014, @12:42AM (#128178)
              Do you argue the correctness of every pun that you read? Most of them don't stand up to any kind of scrutiny.
              • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @01:00AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @01:00AM (#128187)

                Most puns that I've ever seen have not been as dumb and contradictory as that particular one.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @02:02AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @02:02AM (#128196)

              "UNIX?"
              "Eunuchs? No, they are not even circumsised. They are savages!"

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @03:04AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @03:04AM (#128214)

                Thank you! That one finally makes sense. He should replace his signature with what you just wrote.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23 2014, @07:04AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23 2014, @07:04AM (#128611)

          Circumcision is a biblical metaphor. Colossians 2:11 "...in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ..." The GP speaks of UNIX as a religion.

      • (Score: 2) by lajos on Monday December 22 2014, @02:14PM

        by lajos (528) on Monday December 22 2014, @02:14PM (#128317)

        I think that's the difference and crux of the problem right there. The systemd team have demonstrated more than once that they regard fixing bugs in their code as either someone else's problem or not as important as adding the next great feature.

        No, that's not the crux of the problem.

        Nobody is stooping you from checking out the repo, firing up your fav text editor, fixing bugs and submitting patches.

        The real problem is people bitching about open source bugs without putting their actions where their mouth is.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:53PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:53PM (#128078)

    Guilty as charged. I have no interest in systemd, so when I encountered numerous bugs, I just purged systemd from my systems, and figured the folks pushing this crap down everyone's throats will eventually discover them on their own.

    The worst of the bugs was that an fsck that required manual intervention was impossible without either assigning the disk to another system, or exploiting bugs in systemd's consoled/logind.

    I run some systems ext4 without a journal. Ext4 without a journal is very fast, and probably helps ssd longevity a bit too. One of these systems crashed (hardware), and when bringing it back up, needed to do an fsck. fsck -a failed, so it dropped to a single user shell-- all good so far. But, this system had migrated to systemd when Debian decided to make it default (this is a dev box running Jessie). I gave the root pword. Tried to type a command, but no echoing. and after hitting enter, got "bad command", then a password prompt again. I type reset. I got very lucky it turns out. nearly everything I typed had the first character eaten. So, I typed lls, and got an ls. I typed llls at the pword prompt, and also got an ls listing. Hmmmm... systemd executes stuff typed at the password prompt as root! Playing some more, since I had got some garbage echoed back, and not just the characters I had typed. I tried lls a bunch of times, and even got the cleartext root password echoed back to an lls with some garbage pre-pended. Wow! So, eventually I ran ffsck /dev/vg_xxx/root and fixed the system. Then purged systemd, and installed sysvinit-core again.

    Another of the unintentionally migrated to systemd jessie boxes also went down for the same reason. It ran a journal on its rootfs, but I wanted to make sure things were ok, so ran "shutdown -rF now" and got back an error. Turns out systemd breaks the ability to schedule an fsck on reboot!

    Systemd is not ready for prime time-- I found several, what I would call release critical bugs, just interacting with it for a few minutes-- I wonder if the devs do any QA at all. I purged systemd and pinned to -1 on all (hundreds) of systems I manage, and never looked back.

  • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Sunday December 21 2014, @08:03PM

    by HiThere (866) on Sunday December 21 2014, @08:03PM (#128105) Journal

    Maybe, but Fedora21 was NOT ready for release. I tried to install it, got as far as disk partitioning, and it never found a single one of my disks. So I installed Debian testing on that drive, and it didn't hiccup, not only finding the disk I intended to install it on, but three others as well. (Two were usb disks, and one was my main system disk.)

    I really expected better of RedHat than this. This isn't even up to beta quality.

    --
    Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @11:10AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @11:10AM (#128279)

    Linux is full of feminists and faggots these days. They have taken over. Linus, with his fat ugly wife (was fat and ugly when he married her) approves (and loves systemd). Fuck him. Fuck his system.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @05:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @05:19PM (#128397)

      He IS a Finn. I assumed he was looking for the rest of the shark (or whale, as it may be.)