I’ve been away lately and as I have just returned to Linux space I am dismayed to discover the intrusion of systemd onto most major distributions.
I remember reading books like “Write your own computer games”, not sure of the title, back in the 80s and working on my VIC-20 and Commodore 64/128, Tandy 2000 and other computers I had over the years. Back in the Vic-20 and C-128 days I loved text adventure games. I remember the insane joy I had picking up 8086 assembly language and trying to write basic programs with it. I ended up working for a small startup in the 90s developing what became the first hardware and software for the internet cafe revolution. I didn’t get rich or anything, the project was abandoned. But the code was a throwback, pure assembly language and I loved it. That was really the last time I worked in assembly language. To be honest while it was fun you just couldn’t get things done in a reasonable time. The kind of things that needed to be done in those days. Not like before, when you just had to worry about text on the screen and a few variables. It seems trivial now, but a tic tac toe game was high technology back in the day. I’m reminiscing a bit, now it’s 2016, of course.
I remember when I got Slackware on all those floppy disks and installed linux, for the first time. I think it was on a 386, or 486. I had a 286 actually and I don’t think it could really run Linux so I upgraded. Slackware was awesome and I was finally in a special world. You see, I had access to mainframes and wang terminals and a dozen other cool things because my father was a scientist in a big business/research/science center (what it was is not important, only that I had access). But I was too young to really learn very much or understand what I had access to. So I mainly spent time in the basement on this little terminal in front of the box (in the box, actually) which looked like three or four fridges side by side, or something, playing ADVENTURE, or even more primitive games (really primitive stuff, reminiscient of bsdgames, but really very much simpler). I learned the OS, to navigate around and play the games, but I didn’t know what it was called.
During this time I had the usual assortment of an Atari 2600, a colecovision (which I traded for an intellivision on weekends with a friend) and so on. Eventually as I said above I got my first computer, the VIC-20, and began playing around with text adventure games and BASIC.
What I want to say is that there was this process, this feeling, this continuous wave of the next-coolest-thing and it formed a line, and it went straight from intelligence into hacking linux. I really liked linux. I understood on a deep level why it was better than dos and windows. I mean, I used CP/M on the 128 and I could feel how limited it was compared to some of the mainframes and terminal systems I had used. I was actually disappointed to use it.
With Linux, I loved how it was a command line system similar to the mainframes and how much stuff it had to find. It didn’t have the games Windows did, that was a draw, yes. But more than anything else Microsoft Office was really what held me back from switching over permanently from ‘IBM-PC+WINDOWS’. You see, IBM-PC+WINDOWS was a natural extension of the C-64/128, and then IBM-PC and what became of that. So it had Windows on it, and thats what people used because we were funneled into it.
But now, in 2016, after losing a ms-office key and getting the runaround at Microsoft (WHAT customer support?) I switched to LibreOffice permanently. It wasn’t so bad, they had even finally fixed furigana rendering by 2016, so I decided to stay. This started a chain of events facilitated by all major STEAM games being Linux-Compatible and today I can say I am finally Linux, all Linux, all the time, for the things that count. But now I see this awful thing called systemd.
I don’t have to tell you why systemd is bad. Everybody knows why it’s bad. It’s bad because it’s not UNIX. It’s everything I dislike about Microsoft Windows and modern-day Apple shit being forced on us. I really, strongly dislike that.
You see, there are only a few times I have ever switched distributions. I don’t see a big need to do so usually. I switched from Slackware to Mandrake back in the day because Mandrake represented something which looked a lot more cohesive and updated and better. It kind of represented a new idea of Linux for the desktop user and that really appealed to me. Finally. I thought, I would be able to convince the DOS and Windows users around me to use Linux. (Apple people were off the radar, macs were only ever used in SOME university labs and SOME offices, and they were never very much fun to play with. Hypercard was a big turn off for me, a big turnoff. Where was C? BASIC? Assembly? I digress.)
I eventually switched from Mandrake out to Red Hat and a few other distributions, settling on Mandriva, and some other misc. stuff, simply out of compatibility problems. The next big change came with Debian and Linux Mint. I never liked Ubuntu, but Linux Mint (and sometimes Debian on server side) was okay. Even back in the early 2000s I knew that Linux was basically ready for everyday desktop use. I will forever look back on those as the golden years.
Today however, and I am sorry for rambling, but perhaps that is just part of how I code, my creative process, or maybe I am just heartbroken. Today I am probably going to switch distributions again. Being a purist I considered going back to Slackware. But this time I wanted to try a source distribution and I have been hearing some very good things from Gentoo users.
My dear friend, you know who you are, who is just like me, you must fight this war. You must fight in the Linux Civil War. You use Ubuntu, Mint or Debian, because they were the leaders, the spearheads. But with Unity the first blows were struck. There were always rumblings but we always avoided them. But this time, with systemd, I fear, there is too much at stake. The level of bullshit being rammed down our throats from narcissistic asshole developers who don’t listen to their users and think they are God has reached a new level. And this isn’t just a window manager. There is too much to loose on this one. You must fight.
Everything is at stake on this one. This is the big one we were waiting for. Does Linux become just another monolithic, privacy invading, undocumented API, FUD-spreading shitball, or not? There is not going to be another chance after this. Take action now!
It’s time to change distributions again, just like in the past, and for all the reasons we can’t talk about. Make the switch again, like you did in the past, and for all the right reasons, like never before. Your /home will still be there. The default colors on your Desktop? It’s just a branding. Don’t let them install crap on your computer that you do not want.
You can go back to Slackware. It’s still there, in fact, it’s modern and better than ever. You can go to Gentoo. You should check out Gentoo. I would have used Gentoo if I didn’t use Mint. I am probably going to try Gentoo first because I have heard such good things about it. But no matter what, you must leave Debian and Ubuntu behind forever. You must go away from these distributions and never look back.
I spent a long time thinking today, why it is I use computers. I’m a hobbyist programmer, I guess I always have been. But on a deeper level, what do I use computers for, in the world of jobs and making money? Well, I use the scanner and printer, the word processor. None of this really minds whether or not I use a distribution with systemd. I remember how the Unisys ICON kicked ass too. It had some really neat games, but it felt limited, like it was locked down. You couldn’t get into it like you could with a Commodore 64. Still, I really enjoyed playing those games at school. It would have been better if they had a BASIC sandbox, even FORTRAN, anything we could code in. Pascal. Anything. But no. That was a huge missed opportunity for me and many others. But then again, i’m not a kernel hacker. I’ll be honest, I studied awk, tr, shell scripts and so forth in college and I passed with honors. But I never use those programs today. I code in Java, PHP, and a smattering of what I need to glue other things together. I love C, C++ and other languges. But I don’t use them right now. maybe on a future project. So why do I use computers? Am I really just holding on to some past idea of what a computer really should be? What if it was like in Star Trek and there was a ship’s computer? Did anyone care how it booted up or what the architecture was? No, not really. But then again, that’s a different society. A society which had solved many of our social problems. Really, this is why I think I am against systemd and why I will go so far as to ditch Debian and Ubuntu forever and adopt Gentoo (or go “back to Slack(ware)”).
I mean on one hand I don’t really care. I’d like to write the next killer game, or OS — like Flynn in TRON, make a million dollars, and quit. Nowadays that translates in to writing the next Flappy Bird, Angry Bird, or Pidgey Bird (Pokemon Go). So why do I care, I mean, I have to ask myself.
Because the reason why people are pushing systemd is not because they want to make improvements on the prettiness of pid numbers. It’s because they want to create a large exposed attack vector in linux architecture, so they can spy on you, so they can figure out what you like and don’t like, and then sell you stuff you like with targeted advertising and punish you for not liking what they want you to like. I think the notion behind all of it is just sad. They don’t understand. I mean, they do, but they just don’t care. Because they never read “You are a shark” or “Write your own text adventure games”. I know, not everyone can do that. Even if they wanted to, who has the time to do that stuff these days? Everybody is too busy playing Angry Birds, Candy Crush or Pokemon Go. I played those games too.
But sometimes I still like close Dota 2 type w, ps -auxww, or go into top and play with the options. It makes me feel like i’m safe. Maybe one of these days I’ll take a look at some kernel code or something in awk or ls or some cool important popular codebase or whatever and see if I can’t make it better. But then again, maybe I won’t.