upstart beyond Ubuntu 12.04

Dear developers,

At UDS-O in Budapest a year ago, there was much discussion about the future
of the plumbing stack in Ubuntu; with buzz about systemd and about GNOME
changing to depend on it, many asked if Ubuntu would stick with upstart or
switch to systemd. The decision at the time was to stick with upstart
through 12.04, and revisit the question after that.

With 12.04 more or less in the bag, the gears have started to turn for
planning 12.10 and beyond. This has included a thorough review of our
choice of init system by the Foundations Team, in consultation with members
of the Desktop and Server Teams.

Although there were some very good reasons to consider a switch to systemd,
such as improved alignment with others in the Linux ecosystem around the
plumbing layer, we've concluded that on balance it would not be in Ubuntu's
best interest to move. Just as we had a rocky transition to move Ubuntu to
native upstart jobs, with some of the feistier bugs just now squashed in
12.04 - five releases after the initial switch to upstart - a move to
systemd would also be a bumpy ride. Where upstart has now undergone a trial
by fire by being included in two successive Ubuntu LTSes, systemd has not
yet been included in any released enterprise distribution. Network Manager
is supported, but support for complex server networking is not in evidence.
A switch to systemd would mean a whole new round of distribution integration
bugs to keep us occupied between now and 14.04.

Sticking with upstart presents its own set of challenges; if other
distributions adopt native systemd units for starting services, we will be
less able to share work with those distributions. That would be
unfortunate, but compared with destabilizing the core of Ubuntu for several
cycles while we shake out a new set of bugs, this certainly seems the lesser

Of course, those who have been following the development of systemd know
that it's much more than an init system. Between the upstream merge of udev
and systemd sources, and the various dbus interfaces the systemd suite now
provides for the desktop, you can count on there being a systemd source
package in Ubuntu 12.10... it just won't be the init daemon, which will
remain upstart.

The Ubuntu Foundations team has committed to supporting upstart going
forward beyond 12.04, and working to ensure it meets the needs of Ubuntu and
flavors on desktops, servers and beyond. I look forward to talking with
folks at UDS next month about this topic.

See you in Oakland,


Re: upstart beyond Ubuntu 12.04

By Olav Vitters at 04/26/2012 - 04:32

[ removed upstart-devel as I am not subscribed + don't want to start a
upstart vs systemd thread ]

On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 10:23:45PM -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
Some new functionality indeed depends on it (GDM multi seat). Other than
that the idea is more about interfaces, though that might cause
difficulties (e.g. if not communicated well what is depended upon like
the timezone stuff).


I'm interested to know if:
- Upstart will stay forever
- Upstart vs systemd will be decided again in e.g. 6 months time or a
multiple of that
- What would make systemd acceptable?
- If decided that systemd is possibly ok, what help is needed (e.g.
expertise, knowledge in Debian, etc)?

To be clear: I don't really care about systemd vs upstart. My slight
preference for systemd as it could allow to remove some GNOME code (in
gnome-session) and because Mageia uses it.

Re: upstart beyond Ubuntu 12.04

By Steve Langasek at 04/26/2012 - 16:56

Hi Olav,

On Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 10:32:23AM +0200, Olav Vitters wrote:
Yes, we are very interested in making sure we get the interfaces right.

Nothing in software is forever, but this is not a decision that we plan to
revisit. We believe, as we have since its first deployment, that upstart is
the right boot architecture for Linux both now and in the future. And
contrary to the hype, upstart has a significant head start on systemd now in
terms of real-world burn-in, which isn't going away. If there are no
compelling reasons to switch to systemd now, I don't think it's realistic to
think that's going to change in the future.

It would be a very large multiple.