Friday, February 14, 2014

systemd analysis: a personal perspective

I have looked with passion the systemd case since a little more than two years ago. As some of you know my number one passion is innovation, sometimes I think than even more than freedom. From that perspective systemd is a great case for analysis.

To me, systemd is the confirmation of the existence of a establishment in the Free Software space. In early stages, yes, but is already there. People that changed the world once and, after being so long part of the solution, are little by little becoming part of the problem. Also about people that joined in the late nineties or first years in the XXI century this movement and know no other reality but the one they are living in. Many of them, from the innovation perspective, are nothing but qualified followers of the first group.

Do not give me wrong, I am not trying to be disrespectful or play "the smart observer" role here. I might be one of them. It is not up to me to judge this. Please take in consideration that the existence of these groups of people is nothing but the normal consequence of.... success and getting older. It is hard to scape from nature, right?

As usual in these cases, not just Lennart, but many of those who supported him, also those who sponsored these efforts, has suffered all kind of attacks. Sadly not just for technical, I mean ATTACKS. Even journalists have been involved. Yes, Free Software is also mature enough to have "yellow (technical) press" associated, political and business interests and people in different communities willing to use them against anybody who threaten the current status quo.

But this is something you have to be prepared to assume if you want to succeed in bringing key changes in mature environment. And Free Software is becoming a mature environment.

You cannot expect to change the current status quo if you are not able to assume heavy criticism. You cannot succeed any longer just by talking, trying to convince you are right from a technical level, being nice, transparent and open to get feedback. Playing as a good citizen is a must, of course, but is not enough any longer.

You need to sustain your effort for a while and have enough support (yes, financial too) to fight back while keep walking in the direction you believe in. If you are not strong enough, if you are not willing to make sacrifices, if you cannot or are not able to ignore the noise, the attacks from the establishment, no matter how popular they are or were, don't try it. Try instead to innovate in unexplored areas. It is
easier and more pleasant.

But is worse for all of us in the long run, I think.

To me there is a very interesting aspect to remark. Even if you want to change a pillar and you are ready to fight the dinosaurs (which is not a condition directly related with age, by the way), you need to have financial support, specially in key moments, to be able to execute your plans despite heavy criticisms. systemd would have never been successful without it, I think.

I cannot judge from a technical perspective if systemd is a step forward, one of those architectural changes that we all will regret or a very expensive road before getting a good solution. This post is not about technical evaluations or predictions. This post is about me believing that Free Software is still (also) about innovation, not just in new areas, but in those aspects that brought us here too.

No, we are not in the finish line. No, many of those who brought us here or are relevant today are prepared to take us to the next level. As in many other industries, the main forces against evolution are internal ones.

"If it works don't touch it" Or "Disrupting changes come through iterations" were popular statement among those who are not relevant any longer.... or will become. Should become.

Thanks Lennart, your sponsors and supporters for succeeding.... or die trying. My respects. I hope the future of Free Software will be in the hands of people like you.  we need it or something else will replace us. Maybe that is not bad either.

Two final remarks....
  • Please Lennart and colleagues, make sure systemd works very well. I do not want to eat my words in three years. There are some people out there willing to see me swallowing them ;-)
  • I regret writing about this today instead of some months ago. Now it has been too easy.
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