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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: 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.

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