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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:13PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:13PM (#128049)

    A bug that affects even just one user is as important as a bug that affects thousands of users, or even millions of users. It's easy to say, "It's one user!" when you aren't the one affected, but your attitude will quickly change when you are the person suffering from the bug's effects!

    You won't be saying it's a "rare fault" when it's your Fedora system that no longer works because systemd crashed during the upgrade, ruining the system!

    Rare bugs aren't less important. They're just as important as any other bug. And they should be fixed quickly, not years later, or even never!

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

    by Arik (4543) on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:21PM (#128050) Journal
    I will argue that these particular bugs are indeed, in and of themselves, less important and should not be fixed.

    Now hold on, hear me out.

    The thing is, the two problems that he mentions are not just bugs. They are bugs, but they are not JUST bugs. If they were just bugs, it would be a minor annoyance.

    What makes them critical show-stoppers, not just minor annoyances, is the flawed systemd *design*. Most programs can throw a page fault now and then, and we wont mind. Just as long as it's not PID1. Better to put something with a simple, robust design in PID 1 than to bother fixing the bug at issue.

    And the second - the poor log interface. Again, on a sane system that would not be any more than a minor annoyance. So the log viewer sucks, what did you expect? Close it and open the logs with your choice of text editor, doh. It's the bad design choice of using a binary log file that makes this minor annoyance into a show-stopper bug.

    So, fix the *problems* yes, but don't fix these particular *bugs*. Because as long as you stick with this fundamentally wrong-headed design, minor bugs will continue to turn into show-stoppers on a regular basis. 
    --
    If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:29PM (#128051)

      So these bugs are just symptoms of the greater bug, which is that systemd is fundamentally broken and needs to be discarded?

      I can agree with that.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:40PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 21 2014, @05:40PM (#128054)

        So these bugs are just symptoms of the greater bug, which is that systemd is fundamentally broken

        Yes AC you are basically correct although a little vague. The fundamental brokenness is in the design. If they scrap this batch of code and start over, they'll end up with another steaming pile equivalent to this one, because (follow the money) their core philosophy is wrong. Nobody wants to turn linux into a gnome desktop bootloader except people paid to do exactly that. Nobody wants to bring windows software development architecture (weakly interacting massive programs, inner platform effect taken to an extreme, who cares about security or debugging all that matters is feature-lists, etc) into linux except people paid to do it. The recent success is due to product tying, so the only hope of linux survival is simply to drop gnome, or whatever else gets product-tied in.

        I escaped and get to laugh from the freebsd equipped sidelines so I don't have a dog in the fight anymore, although the savage destruction is sad to behold.

        • (Score: 1) by Nuke on Monday December 22 2014, @12:10AM

          by Nuke (3162) on Monday December 22 2014, @12:10AM (#128162)
          " to turn linux into a gnome desktop bootloader "

          LoL, you've ruined my keyboard! That puts it in a nutshell.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:21PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:21PM (#128068)

    > Rare bugs aren't less important. They're just as important as any other bug.

    That is only true in a world in which the developers have infinite resources.
    Since they don't, it ain't.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:28PM (#128069)

      Right, so it makes sense that the systemd bugs mentioned recently haven't been fixed immediately. But why are some of them taking years to be fixed?

      If Red Hat and whoever else is pushing this systemd crap doesn't have the resources to do the job properly, then they just couldn't do it at all.

      It's better for us not to have systemd at all, then it is for us to have our systems trashed repeatedly by systemd bugs like these.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:44PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21 2014, @06:44PM (#128076)

    Are you flat-out stupid? Developer time (like any time) is limited, so you need to prioritize what bugs you spend time fixing, and the bugs that affect more people are the biggest bang for your back (or maximum utility, if you prefer).

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @12:05AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 22 2014, @12:05AM (#128159)

      You're the one who's fucking stupid, obviously. THIS IS A GODDAMN PID 1 BUG! Outside of a kernel bug, IT'S AS SERIOUS OF A FLAW AS YOU CAN GET! Don't you know a goddamn fucking thing about how Linux works? Jesus Fucking Christ! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! This bug is not excusable, you sick sack of donkey shit. THE LINUX SYSTEM WON'T EVEN BOOT BECAUSE OF THIS BUG, BECAUSE SYSTEMD IS CRASHING YOU FILTHY SON OF A BITCH! What the fuck is wrong with you? Seriously!

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by digitalaudiorock on Sunday December 21 2014, @07:43PM

    by digitalaudiorock (688) on Sunday December 21 2014, @07:43PM (#128096)

    Rare bugs aren't less important. They're just as important as any other bug. And they should be fixed quickly, not years later, or even never!

    Of course. What if it's just a very rare race condition or the like? They might be "rare" only because they're in fact a timebomb waiting to take down your mission-critical server.