Saturday, January 10, 2015

Gentoo is not ready for systemd

This is mostly just a rant into the aetherwebs, and it won't make a lick of sense to someone who doesn't manage a Gentoo Linux system.

You have been warned.  Move along.

Yeah, I know systemd is optional (for now) on Gentoo.  The thing is, unless you take specific steps to avoid it, it just happens to your system.  This is a bad way to introduce such a fundamental change.

Several months (a year?) ago, my emerges simply stopped working.  There were package conflicts all over the place, and I didn't have time to untangle everything and get to the bottom of it.  So, I just stopped updating.  Obviously, as a Gentoo user, I hated this.

Now, months later, I decided to build up a new system on my newly-obsoleted laptop.  It looks to me like systemd is the future, so I go that route.

Here's what doesn't work, out of the proverbial box:
  • Service configurations usually adjusted in /etc/conf.d/
  • DHCP
  • crons
  • webalizer
  • Dropbox (at least, the way I use it)
I was able to figure out how to get dhcp working via NetworkManager, and that got me to the point of a functional-ish system at boot.  That was the easy part.  Next, I transitioned what system cron jobs would fit into cron.hourly and such.

I still haven't figured out how to set up user-specific timer jobs that run on a schedule (say, every 15 minutes).  The file formats are simple enough for services and timers, but I can't get ssytemctl to recognize the files I place in ~/.local/share/systemd/user/.  In theory, though, that should all work, and it would be worth figuring out and moving forward.

It's also worth noting that the Gentoo Handbook and other documentation has thus far not been updated to support users building with systemd by default.

Here's what is flat-out broken for me, that I had working in my previous system:
  • Dropbox running in the background, launched the first time my user logs in.  Since Gentoo completely disables running anything out of /etc/init.d, I would need to write my own service file, which I'm not prepared to do.
  • Webalizer running just before the apache log gets zipped up by systemd.  This is probably as simple as specifying "run this task just before you rotate the apache log", but I don't know enough about the guts of systemd's log rotation for that.
For now, I think I'm going to revert my new system back to OpenRC.  It's the path of least pain, now that I know how to exorcise systemd from a box.  During this whole process, I got my old system's portage tree untangled.  I basically had to move the world file to a temporary location, untangle the system dependencies, depclean everything, restore the world file, and re-emerge it all. 

See, most of what my Linux system does is act as a web server, and a Dropbox client.  I have several cron jobs that rename files in Dropbox which get uploaded via IFTTT and other automated means, and sometimes these files have characters in their names that aren't valid on Windows.

Suffice to say that right now a systemd-based Gentoo system significantly fails to meet my specific needs.  If it was just a desktop workstation, and I wanted the latest version of Gnome I would probably stick with that.

Hopefully these issues will get resolved in the future.  Maybe I'll even help that to happen.  In the meantime, my main Gentoo system is dropping systemd. I have other priorities.

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