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The question is to guide me to select an init for a system without systemd (runit, openrc, s6, dinit...).

I understand that this is a discussion question about personal opinions, but I honestly consider that it can be an interesting question for this place and that it can shed light for other users looking for an answer.

I also understand that since there is probably no correct answer, since it is based on the subjectivity of each one, there might be no way to formulate it for this place.

The question would be something like:

Currently, I find myself migrating my computers from archlinux to artix (a fork of archlinux but without systemd) for various reasons.

I'm an advanced user of archlinux for years, with knowledge in computing and engineering.

But I'm not sure which init to use instead. Can you tell me about your choices (runit, openrc, s6, dinit...) and why?

What you are mainly looking for is simplicity of use?, UNIX philosophy? Simplicity to create, start or stop services?

And if, as is likely the case, it is not a suitable question for Unix&Linux; would there be a place where I could ask it in Stack Exchange?

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    I find it intriguing that you expect would-be answerers of your example question to provide reasons, but you don’t provide yours (“for various reasons”). Nov 10, 2022 at 14:10
  • I was simply summarizing the question since I was not going to spend excessive time writing it knowing that it most likely has no way out. Obviously, in a case of "production", the question would be complete; but at present the reasons are irrelevant. Nov 10, 2022 at 16:49
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    Ah right, that makes sense. I wondered because it’s a somewhat common pattern, and it sometimes makes it harder to write a useful answer. Nov 10, 2022 at 17:05
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    After having a look at wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Comparison_of_init_systems, maybe go to IRC and ask on #gentoo (Libera Chat).
    – Quasímodo
    Nov 10, 2022 at 22:59
  • This is a good use case for reddit. Nov 22, 2022 at 0:34

2 Answers 2

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As indicated by Terdon, this question would need significant refactoring and rethinking to be acceptable on stack exchange.

Interesting questions don't always make good questions. Your question might be interesting to discuss, however stack exchange largely tries to avoid discussion and especially avoid back-and-forth debate.

What makes a good question?

Either: An Interesting problem described well

As presented here on meta, question describes one problem: "help, I'm inexperienced and don't know which direction next". That's not generally considered an interesting problem. It has one simple and brutal answer: "pick any direction then try it and see; there's no shortcuts to experience".

So you might want to rethink what you are asking and try to pick a solvable problem that others may have faced or, even better, others might be interested in solving for you.

Example:

Is there a way to determine the relative popularity of tools such as runit, openrc, s6, and dinit?

I'd like to chose between these and would like to base part of my decision on popularity, if this information is available. Is there a simple way to determine how popular particular packages are?

Whether or not you regard this as a great question, a good answer to this would put you much further forward. At the same time it is presents a problem which can be investigated. It's not really a discussion topic and does not invite opinion based answers.

Or: Point to a specific piece of missing knowledge

Sometimes you can even ask a question without a problem, but just searching for information. This type of question is tricky because it does need to be specific. It's rarely easy to specify what you don't know.

But there are times where you can. For example by pointing to something exhibiting behaviour you don't understand.

In the question you give us no clue on what it is you don't know. We are willing to assume you have done some reading on those tools prior to asking... its generally expected.

If you can describe some things you've read and explain where "the missing link" should go, then maybe we can help fill in that missing link


Give your requirements

Stephen Kitt pointed out that you hid some of your driving requirements:

Currently, I find myself migrating my computers from archlinux to artix (a fork of archlinux but without systemd) for various reasons.

It's unclear from this phrasing if getting rid of systemd is your intention for making the switch, or just a side effect.

If getting rid of systemd was actually your intent then you might be able to factor an acceptable question over on Software Recommendations.

You really need to be able to express what YOU want from a systemd replacement though. Asking others why they want it will most likely not go well.


Ask about just one tool

Please don't split your one question into 4, one for each tool, that won't help.

Whatever your question is, you should bear in mind that many engineers have a sort of tool box of knowledge. When an engineer discovers a tool that does what they need, they learn how to use it. Now that have that tool they don't have much need for others so they don't bother learning others unless some new need arises.

So if you ask an engineer why they use one tool over another, the honest answer is often "because I've learned that one, not the other".

Questions that ask for side by side comparisons of common tools almost universally fail. They require those answering to have good working knowledge of overlapping tools and usually end up with nothing but people talking about their favourite tool.

In other words side comparison questions very commonly degrade into religious like opinion. They rarely result in pragmatic comparison.

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As it stands, I am afraid that question wouldn't belong anywhere on Stack Exchange since, as you point out yourself, it is asking for opinions and discussion. You could try asking on the Arch Forums, I guess, but not here, sorry.

If you can change your question to make it something that can have an objective answer, then it would be on topic but you would have to ask about specific technical aspects of the various init systems.

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    I would second this assessment and add that even asking about and weighing the merits of specific technical aspects is difficult to do objectively. We usually want to see questions about employing specific technical aspects, i.e., in this case, issues that you'd get into after choosing between init systems.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Nov 10, 2022 at 9:54
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    In a certain way it's a shame. When asking a question, we tend to weigh where to ask it, based on where we could find sufficient number of people that know about the topic, the quality of answers and the time to wait for them. U&L is the best place to ask about Linux (&U), at least from my perspective, when weighing the where, irrespective of the objectivity of the question. Of course the rules of the site are there for a good reason, and my previous thoughts are not meant to complain about them. Nov 10, 2022 at 14:31
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    @schrodingerscatcuriosity U&L is a good place to ask about Linux but not a good place to have a discussion about it. Quite apart from the rules, the interface itself is not useful for discussions since answers can move about depending on their score and user preferences. The entire point of these sites from the very beginning was to not host discussions and long back and forth messages between users.
    – terdon Mod
    Nov 10, 2022 at 14:44
  • @terdon Of course. My point is that for discussions about technical knowledge, which is what I understand OP is seeking, U&L would be the best community to reach for. The platform on the other hand, to work properly, can't allow and is not designed for that kind of exchanges. Which is perfectly fine for the reasons you mention and others. There's a loss there I think, nobody to blame an unavoidable, but a loss anyway. Nov 10, 2022 at 16:22
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    Yeah, that's fair, @schrodingerscatcuriosity. In principle, chat would be a great place for it, but our chat is not very active.
    – terdon Mod
    Nov 10, 2022 at 16:32
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    At least our chat is not utterly deserted though, and a few people don’t mind spending time there when there’s something to chat about (like gardening). Nov 10, 2022 at 17:06
  • I am left surprised : U&L_SE actually gets some tag labeled distribution-choice. Could anyone tell how much more opinion-based whatever question about init systems would be ?
    – MC68020
    Nov 10, 2022 at 17:07
  • I am left surprised 2 : Of course only answers can be opinion based. These can easily be downvoted or even deleted. Closing whatever question for the reason it would trigger opinion based answers is nothing but an a-priori & arbitrary judgement.
    – MC68020
    Nov 10, 2022 at 17:12
  • @MC68020 This Meta question is not about "whatever question" regarding init systems. It is about a specific question about init systems. And that question is opinion-based.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Nov 10, 2022 at 18:14
  • Also, @MC68020, distribution choice questions don't need to be opinion based. If you have a specific set of requirements, then you can be given objective, data-based answers for what distribution(s) out there meet your needs. Here's a random example I just found. However, some questions, like the one in this meta post, are inherently opinion based and so explicitly off topic (see the "opinion-based" section).
    – terdon Mod
    Nov 10, 2022 at 19:11
  • @Kusalananda : With all due respect, the last statement of your last comment ("And that question is opinion-based" ) is itself opinion-based. "But I'm not sure which init to use instead. Can you tell me about your choices (runit, openrc, s6, dinit...) and why?" Who on earth can pronounce an objective judgement about the nature of that question ? Even if, I easily acknowledge that your experience as mod could back some possible fact that 99% of the answers such a question usually triggered (in the past) are of the kind : "openrc because systemd sucks"… tbc…
    – MC68020
    Nov 11, 2022 at 1:05
  • … stating that this very question is opinion-based is nothing but an opinion. Worse ? an a-priori judgement of value ? Even worse ? A belief !
    – MC68020
    Nov 11, 2022 at 1:06
  • Therefore, my opinion is that the wording is not appropriate. This sort of questions might not be appropriate on SE sites not because they are opinion based or would likely trigger opinion based answers but more simply because they just cannot get one unique "best answer" (not to be understood as in the badge definition). This very factual characteristic would also justify why I can often read many members of the community complaining about questions containing more than one question.
    – MC68020
    Nov 11, 2022 at 1:25
  • @MC68020 Well, a question that solicit opinion can very rarely have a single best answer. This is what we generally mean by a question being "opinion-based". Is it simply the word "opinion" you are uncomfortable with?
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Nov 11, 2022 at 6:09
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    Coming in late here, but I would not recommend the Arch forums for this, since it would also be quite off-topic there. From my understanding, the Arch Forums are pretty particular to having the question be about Arch (like Ask Ubuntu is for Ubuntu). I would recommend the Artix forums instead. Nov 17, 2022 at 0:41

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