The Challenge To Be Free
Happy Independence Day USA!
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of the systemd virus that has infected Linux. A polished turd is still a turd. Now that systemd has spread beyond hive mind sycophants easily infatuated by shinny new things to folks charged with managing server farms, frustrated syadmins and engineers see systemd as the steaming pile that it is and are looking to escape the stink.
Some of us are astute enough to know when the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes and no amount of marketroid speak or fascist bullying are going to convince us otherwise. Indeed, I have heard confidential insider whispers that RHEL7 is experiencing the slowest uptake of any release yet. Spare me the accusations of FUD and your ad hominem attacks. Get your own blog if you feel such need as I have better things to do with my time than fence with systemd shills. Suffice to say, should be interestng to see how that all plays out. I’m voting with my feet. This article is presented in the hope it may be of value to systemd escapees interested in ZFS.
Alas, systemd is not Raleigh’s first astroturf campaign and no expense was spared on this one. Systemd free havens are few and far in between. Refugees are left with two basic approaches: 1) Surgical removal of systemd from their current distro of choice and maintaining a private source tree, or 2) Changing platforms. The first requires far too much work, and ever increasingly more effort as the systemd cancer continues to spread far beyond it’s initial scope as a replacement for the aging System V init and consumes subsystem after subsystem in it’s myopic quest to kill Linux as we know it under the thinly veiled pretense of reinventing it as something "better". Holding fast to my belief that resistance is not futile, I have been spending some months exploring the second option.
ZOL - Archlinux
Archlinux uses a rolling release model, shipping upstream project software’s "latest stable", sans the distro specific "enhancements and tweaks" favored by some distributions. Arch’s package manager, Pacman, simply put, rocks when it comes to keeping things up to date. Hence, Archlinux offers a nice platform for developers who want to focus on debugging their project software, not their platform. Or exploring ZFS on Linux.
At currently the number nine slot, evidently so do many others. A base installation of Archlinux provides us with a minimalist system platform to build out as we best see fit for the task at hand. This has given rise to a predisposition by some inclined towards elitism to opine that Arch is for "intermediate to advanced" users. I do not share that opinion. However, you’re going to need to be willing to spend time reading man pages, archwiki articles, etc. This article will leave you to your own devices once we have a working ZOL on root configuration suitable for a laptop device, i.e. single drive.
ZOL Systemd Pain Points
Happy Halloween ;D
To Systemd Or Not To Systemd….
An important factor to take under consideration when deploying ZOL on boot and root is whether "to systemd or not to systemd". Aye! Yes, that is the question. Yes, Virginia, you do have a choice!
Whatever else systemd may or may not be, it results in the potential for some pain points on a ZOL boot and root set up. It’s important to understand them as best one can and make at least some effort to second guess how they may impact your use case. This is no small feat given the complexity of systemd and the relentless reinvention of Linux by systemd developers. As more and more mainstream distros support zfsonlinux, I’ve no doubt these will be eased by those more adept than I moving forward. In the meantime, however, there are considerations and compromises to be made using zfsonlinux on systemd based distributions.
ZOL on boot and root
I want native ZFS goodness on Linux so I spent some time exploring. Discerning current from more dated best practices proved a bit challenging so I found myself bumbling about a bit. I expect this situation to be rectified as uptake of ZFS On Linux continues, ZOL stablizes, and comprehensive best practices are ferreted out. Follows are some personal notes to self and reflections documenting my adventures. End objective is a minimally installed base Linux suitable for further build out as a personal workstation. But first we’ve got some choices to understand.
"The perfect is the enemy of the good."