This page documents the position statement of individuals who suggest that Debian should adopt upstart as the default init system. Before editing this page, please see the instructions on how debates work. If you are not the maintainer of a position statement, and have a suggestion or change to make, please contact the maintainer.

Upstart Position Statement

Upstart is a modern, well-tested, event-based init system. It is used on tens or hundreds of millions of servers, desktops, cloud instances and embedded systems throughout the world. Debian should adopt it as the default init system for the jessie release.



Upstart vs. SysV init

We've gotten a lot of mileage out of sysvinit in Debian, but its limits have been showing for a while - indeed, it was these limits that led to upstart being written in the first place.

There is no reasonable justification for Debian continuing to inflict sysvinit's limitations on users today.

Upstart vs. systemd

In terms of overall feature uplift of the init system itself, there is really rather little to distinguish upstart from systemd. Both would represent a huge step forward for Debian over sysvinit. If Debian did not adopt upstart, systemd would certainly be my second choice.

But despite the init systems being comparable at the feature level, there are reasons that I think upstart is a better fit for Debian than systemd.


It's true that upstart is not a very popular package in Debian. But to imply that this is because the package lacks appeal with Debian users ignores the fact that the upstart packaging has given precedence to technical correctness at the expense of its popularity: it currently conflicts with an Essential: yes package, which deters people from trying it, or having tried it, to keep it installed. This Conflicts is present because we should be driving towards the goal of having one init system installed on users' machines, not two; and while in the short term this means upstart has seen fewer early adopters in Debian, this should not trick the TC into believing that upstart is unfit.

systemd upstream paints a utopian vision where upstream services all ship with systemd unit files that Just Work everywhere (despite the fact that even trivial failures to comply with Debian policy in systemd units submitted upstream by Red Hat employees result in non-portable systemd configurations). This is a vision informed by a belief that distributions are "just" packaging. It downplays the major significance of the integration work that distributions do, and justifies treating distributions as passive consumers who don't need to be consulted before making sweeping changes to their core architecture. This vision serves systemd upstream well. It serves Debian and Debian's users less well.

We are having this debate because Debian's commitment to technical excellence gives it a pivotal position in the greater Linux community. Debian should not be swayed by fearmongering arguments that if it doesn't pick systemd, it will be all alone. Others always pay attention to the decisions Debian makes, and while Debian may have sat on the sidelines of the init decision up to now, that doesn't mean other distributions won't be paying attention when we do make a decision.

Position Statement Maintainers