Devuan 1.0.0 RC Released!
Debian, the father of Ubuntu, the grandfather of Linux Mint, and one of the most popular server distributions of all time, went through a time of turmoil when the decision was made to use systemd in April of 2012.
Many of the developers decided that they wanted to stick with sysVinit instead, believing that systemd went against the UNIX way of doing things and would result in a loss of control for the end-user. This caused said developers to leave the Debian team and create a new distro: Devuan.
More information about systemd and what the major change that many Linux users may have already transitioned into without even knowing it, can be found here.
Many home users likely never noticed the change from init to systemd in their distributions (assuming they are using one that made the switch), but powerusers and people who deal with things serverside most definitely had to learn to go about things slightly differently.
Devuan has been delayed for quite some time, initially a release was planned for 2015, and then two beta editions in 2016 came to light, but now, finally as of April 21, we have a release candidate that seems to be a very near-to-finished product. Debian 'Jessie' users can also safely migrate to Devuan 'Jessie' as well as Debian â€˜Wheezyâ€™ users can safely upgrade; which might be good for some to know. More information can be found in this git document on how to safely migrate.
A Look Inside Devuan
For this article, I decided just to run a LiveUSB of Devuan, rather than install it; as I personally have chosen not to run Debian on my home machine in the past due to it's lack of proprietary software. Now, many GNU/Linux users actually prefer to run minimal or no properietary software or drivers, opting to stay with everything being 'free' and open-sourced.
However, I use a lot of software that do not fall into said categories on a daily basis, and have no interest in changing that; not to mention odds are usually in favour of driver issues when I don't use a distro that supports proprietary code.
So, once I had made my LiveUSB, I booted into the system, and was met with the very familiar bland and mostly default Xfce desktop and colours I remembered from my last encounter with Debian. Everything ran smooth and fast even on the LiveUSB, except for one thing that I mentioned earlier...Driver issues; I had no WiFi! I wasn't surprised really.
My laptop does not have an ethernet port, as it's a Dell Inspiron 13 2in1 folding laptop, so I was stuck without an active internet connection while writing this article; so no updates were done, no playing with the package manager or installing anything. Whatever came with Devuan is what I had.
Devuan came with all the generic necessities that most distributions have; GIMP for image editing, VLC for video playing, LibreOffice for your office suite, Firefox for browsing the web. However it also came with a couple pieces of software I've not encountered before: A music player called Quod Libet, and another program called Ex Falso, which is an audio tag editor; A handy little addition to package by default, I must say, I usually keep Picard handy myself, so I liked seeing this.
Devuan came with a variety of wallpapers and a surprising amount of theme variations than I had expected out of a distro like this.
Again, I really want to comment on the speed of the system. It's not unheard of or unsurprising that many LiveUSB systems run a tad bit slower than they do compared to being run off your hard drive after being installed; your little USB stick likely is far less powerful afterall. However, this Devuan ran like a bolt of lighting even when in the live environment.
Heck, I would go so far as to say it was the fastest I've ever seen. Now, whether that translates over to when it's installed and connected to the internet or not, I'll never know; but I'd be curious to see if others are finding the speed of it to be so blazing fast themselves too.
Without having an active WiFi connection, my testing was rather limited of Devuan, but I'm not really super concerned about that. What I more look forward to, is seeing how Devuan progresses in the future, and I'm wondering if Devuan will become a major competitor against Debian once it is released.
Will major distributions like Ubuntu and Linux Mint Debian Edition move to use Devuan as their base, rather than Debian?
Will server administrators choose to switch their systems over to Devuan rather than use the tried and true Debian?
I have a feeling that when Devuan is fully released, it may send shockwaves across the community. Time will tell!
What are your thoughts?
Debian with proprietary software is very easy to install and proprietary software is no argument against Debian. Neither is outdated software. Newer versions of packages are available by using stable-backports repositories or installing testing-releases.
Just download the non-free iso and run the installer. All essential proprietary drivers will get automatically installed (e. g. iwlwifi for Intel WLAN cards): https://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unofficial/non-free/cd-including-firmware/
As long as you install the GNOME desktop, you’ll get a nice and polished desktop which will work flawlessly out of the box.
I’ve written a bit about how beautifully Debian works on recent hardware on diaspora* (it’s in German unfortunately, maybe Google Translate can help): https://joindiaspora.com/posts/9143004
It’s entirely possible to use proprietary software in Debian, you’re absolutely right. However, by default using the official default release it’s comprised of open-sourced software only, and so when I referred to Debian not being my choice distro due to it’s lack of proprietary software that was what I was referencing. I personally am of the view of, “If I’m going to use a number of proprietary softwares and drivers, I might as well use Ubuntu / Manjaro / Mint / etc” rather than taking Debian, and then building it up. Just personal preference though!
It was about time. Perhaps this will help, for people used to Debian.. however this release won’t change significantly systemd position in pretty much every major distribution except Gentoo, as it is rather convenient (for the devs, lookin’ at you, Arch). Or at least that’s my 2c.
Runit on Void works like a charm in its simplicity. There are many interesting distributions around, and the lack of systemd is a good reason to try them.
Take a look at TriOS. It’s a Debian Jessie + OpenRC + XFCE. Made in Serbia (the distro is in English).
Support forum: https://foss.rs/
Quod libet and Ex falso are children of the same project. I’ve tried to like Quod libet, but I just can’t get into it. Ex falso, on the other hand, I really like. It’s usually my tagging program of choice whenever I install a new distro. The library behind it (Mutagen) also made its way into the late Exaile media player, and perhaps a few others.
I do not think that Devuan will have any impact, actually. While I am not happy with SystemD, it mostly works. And it is possible to run stock Debian with other init systems. So while I appreciate the efforts, and while I *could* imagine forks of Linux Mint or Ubuntu to base on Devuan, on the long run I do not think that there will be much interest.
I guess this will just stay a Debian fork, probably with a stable but small user base. But I think that’s OK. Alternatives are good.
Nay, no impact. Even more so it will be forgotten rather soon. My 2 Cent.
The systemd turmoil … yeah well … it’s not that you need to adjust it every day. And if you need to adjust it for many systems you likely do it in some automated fashion. No brain twister on the long run. And new technology keeps coming anyway.
Debian will keep going because oft it’s strong user and developer base. And others will leverage that.
Does the world *really* need another FOSS fork? Sounds like an under-funded, minor player so far if the multi-year delays and ultra boring desktop is any indication.
Best of luck to them though. Anybody who donates time to do what they think will improve the lot of humanity deserves the best of luck, however arguably ill-advised their splintering of the limited resources available to FOSS may be.
Devuan is about to become what Debian should be, and I do wish them the best of luck. I’ve been running beta2 (and am still running it) on a Fujitsu Desktop, a Samsung R510 laptop, and on 4 hosts in an Elasticsearch Cluster in an ESXi 5.5 (amd64) environment – absolutely no issues at all.
Systemd and all that comes with it is IMO a very bad move that could seriously harm Linux in the long run. The success of Devuan (fingers crossed!) might bring the major distributors back to reason.
It’s all about having a choice. That’s the Linux way of doing things.
At 61+, I am a newish Linux user, leaving MS OSs after 20+ years (DOS 5.0 thru to XPSP3) of MS software. First with Ubuntu, then CrunchBang due to the Unity desktop and then again to Linux Mint due to the #! distro’s abrupt termination.
Mint was/is reasonably OK and mainly works as expected but then I saw it was affected by the systemd issue that is now present in almost all Debian based distros.
Not being a specialist or developer, a technical opinion I can back up and argue for is beyond me.
But having read enough about it, the whole thing brings back to me my difficult transition from W3.11 to W95, with the end of the familiar *.ini files I understood so well to the obscure, undocumented and imprevisibly changing innards of *the registry* with it’s unchecked control over everything within the OS.
My gut feeling is that this systemd development is *not* a good thing for Linux and the main reason I will (eventually) have everything running either Devuan or a non-systemd distribution.
But (I know, it’s only RC2) things have to really improve, dramatically improve: NO WAY (IMHO) is it acceptable that a 4.4Gb DVD installation will install so much unneeded software while at the same time it does not easily set up a fully working wireless connection to be able to continue with the installation of whatever you want to install.
While the majority of users wanting/willing to move to Devuan will have a readily available WiFi connection, just a few will have a wired connection at hand, something that has evidently not been taken into account by the Devuan devs.
Download TinyCore Linux or the last of the old CrunchBang installs (to just name two) and you get a quickly detected and perfectly working wireless connection from the start, maybe needing a driver if you card is not listed.
That the Devuan RC2 DVD does not do the same thing is beyond me.
I will happily/paciently wait for the next Devuan version and see what’s corrected and improved, hoping to be able to install Devuan on all my machines in the near future.
This said, my heartfelt gratitude to all the developers working hard to set things straight in the Linux environment and implement what Debian *should* be.