Replacing sysv-rc by OpenRC on Debian

I won’t comment once again systemd, I think my mind set on the topic and future will tell if I was right or wrong. Still, dislike for the humongous scope self-assigned by systemd does not equate to consider that sysv-rc cannot be improved, it does not mean being stuck with sysv-rc for life.

Good thing is OpenRC is still being developed (latest release: 7 days ago) and, being portable over BSDs, is very unlikely to follow systemd path. Switching Debian 8.8 from sysv-rc over openrc (assuming you already got rid of systemd) is just a matter of installing it:

apt-get install openrc

for file in /etc/rc0.d/K*; do s=`basename $(readlink "$file")` ; /etc/init.d/$s stop; done

Then after reboot, removing sysv-rc:

apt-get --purge remove sysv-rc

rm -rf /etc/rc*.d /etc/rc.local

You might want then to edit /etc/rc.conf (for instance for LXC containers rc_sys=”lxc” option), check status with rc-status, check services according to runlevels in /etc/runlevels.

Update: also works with Debian 9.0 just released. But do not bother removing /etc/rc*.d, they now belong to package init-system-helpers, a package that “contains helper tools that are necessary for switching between the various init systems that Debian contains (e. g. sysvinit or systemd)”, essential on which other packages depends on (like cron). I actually asked for init-system-helpers not to force people to have in /etc directories that makes sense only for systemd or sysv-rc but, so far, got no real reply, but a WONTFIX closure – apparently the fact that update-rc.d would require /etc/rc*.d is the main issue, while update-rc.d handles perfectly the fact that /etc/runlevels may or may not exists.

For more details about OpenRC, I suggest to read Debian’s Debate initsystem openrc listing pros and cons.

 

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Using a fast and reliable, still not obsolete, desktop environment with Fluxbox

Something like 6 years ago, I already described desktop environment I used over years. I was, since then, decently satisfied by KDE/Plasma/however you name it. Mostly because kmail works properly with IMAPS and handle CardDav-cloud server out of the box, because Dolphin is the best file browser (immediate filter and group files and directories by day are the feature I enjoy most and none other file browser I know got right) and the rest (akregator, korganizer with CalDav) ok.

But systemd arrived. I was curious at first and encouraged, on this very blog, people to give it a try. But soon  enough I found out I was faring better without, reaching the conclusion that “Point is with systemd, I’m able to do less and it takes me more time”. I moved away from systemd and, then, as consequence, of Debian. And I found out that KDE was increasingly getting dependant on systemd, with bug reports about regression in their software being closed advising to use systemd.  It led me, in 2015, to ask on /. Will You Be Able To Run a Modern Desktop Environment In 2016 Without Systemd? as follows:

Early this year, David Edmundson from KDE, concluded that “In many cases [systemd] allows us to throw away large amounts of code whilst at the same time providing a better user experience. Adding it [systemd] as an optional extra defeats the main benefit“. A perfectly sensible explanation. But, then, one might wonder to which point KDE would remain usable without systemd?

Recently, on one Devuan box, I noticed that KDE power management (Powerdevil) no longer supported suspend and hibernate. Since pm-utils was still there, for a while, I resorted to call pm-suspend directly, hoping it would get fixed at some point. But it did not. So I wrote a report myself. I was not expecting much. But neither was I expecting it to be immediately marked as RESOLVED and DOWNSTREAM, with a comment accusing the “Debian fork” I’m using to “ripe out” systemd without “coming with any of the supported solutions Plasma provides“. I searched beforehand about the issue so I knew that the problem also occurred on some other Debian-based systems and that the bug seemed entirely tied to upower, an upstream software used by Powerdevil. So if anything, at least this bug should have been marked as UPSTREAM.

While no one dares (yet) to claim to write software only for systemd based operating system, it is obvious that it is now getting quite hard to get support otherwise. At the same time, bricks that worked for years without now just get ruined, since, as pointed out by Edmunson, adding systemd as “optional extra defeats its main benefit”. So, is it likely that we’ll still have in 2016 a modern desktop environment, without recent regressions, running without systemd?

I replied once to comments in this article, for instance (not that l like to quote myself, but I’d rather avoid repeating myself):

Yeah and no. As pointed out in the article, the culprit is upower. But upower is mandatory for KDE power management. So it does not really matter whether it is Powerdevil that requires systemd or upower. ConsoleKit2 recently gained support? Was ConsoleKit2 actually been packaged? Does upower supporting ConsoleKit2 been packaged? If not, user experience wise, that is not palatable. And moreover, what to expect from upower? Did they not purposefully removed pm-utils support, that worked until then, in favor of systemd? Why removing support for a working solution (pm-utils) and, later, much later, adding support for some ConsoleKit2? What is the exact plan of ConsoleKit2? Providing some systemd-like interface without being systemd? Is that what ConsoleKit2 offers that pm-utils could not? If so, wow long will it work, to attempt to write a parallel to systemd, in order to make sure that all the software that in the past worked without systemd can now work with the systemd alternative? Just as a reminder, ConsoleKit2 exists “because there isnâ(TM)t currently a standard for system actions like suspend/hibernate anymore. We use these features in Xfce and it would be nice to keep the session manager and power manager in sync (i.e. you inhibit something and the session manager doesnâ(TM)t see it). Obviously thereâ(TM)s systembsd in the works, so this is a stop gap until that matures (however long that may be). But Iâ(TM)ll happily continue to maintain and support ConsoleKit2 as long as someone finds it useful”. https://erickoegel.wordpress.c… [wordpress.com] The acknowledged benefit of systemd, as pointed out by Edmunson (link in the article) was to drop code. If ConsoleKit2 and al needs to write code to compensate from all the dropped code, following systemd, that unlikely sustainable. The stop gap project won’t do. And it is really the funny thing now with systemd: if you dont want it, you need to write everything that it does because all the anterior/historical parts, good or bad, are getting deprecated and removed. So in order not to use systemd, you need to clone it. Bonkers. Hence the question: will KDE be still usable in 2016 without systemd.

Since then, I noticed a few other small issues which I did not bother to report: the answer would have been the same. So it is near one year later after my question asked on ./ and the answer is grim. More KDE parts got broken for me (sound, etc).

So I resorted to old answers, tested previously using desktop. I found Fluxbox to be the easiest to set up in a way that suits my needs.

Along with fluxbox, you need tint2 and xcompmgr, all properly packaged in Devuan. Then it is just a matter of editing files in ~/.fluxbox (after starting it once):

~/.fluxbox/startup :

#!/bin/sh
#
# fluxbox startup-script:
#
# Lines starting with a '#' are ignored.

# background image
fbsetbg ~/.fluxbox/backgrounds/selje.png &
# modern panel
tint2 &
# desktop transparency
xcompmgr -c &
# sysinfo panel
conky &
# required for dolphin to show up cleanly
export XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP=kde
# desktop pager
fbpager -w &
# XMPP client
pidgin &
# cloud sync client
owncloud &
# gpg/ssh agents
eval "$(gpg-agent --daemon)" &
eval "$(ssh-agent)" &
# screen temperature
redshift &

[...]

~/.fluxbox/keys :

Control Mod1 A :Exec urxvtc
Control Mod1 I :Exec firefox
Control Mod1 M :Exec kmail
Control Mod1 E :Exec emacs
Control Mod1 D :Exec XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP=kde dolphin

[...]

# if these don't work, use xev to find out your real keycodes
XF86AudioRaiseVolume :Exec amixer sset Master,0 2%+
XF86AudioLowerVolume :Exec amixer sset Master,0 2%-
XF86AudioMute :Exec amixer sset Master,0 toggle
#XF86AudioPlay
XF86AudioPrev :Exec /usr/local/bin/switch-sound
XF86AudioNext :Exec /usr/local/bin/switch-redshift

[...]

# sleep fluxbox CTRL-ALT pause
Control Mod1 127 :Exec sudo hibernate-ram

[...]

~/.fluxbox/init (just to set of fluxbox toolbar since we use tint2 instead) :

session.screen0.toolbar.visible: false

~/.conkyrc (need to be edited, for instance eth device names, etc):

conky.config = {
 alignment = 'bottom_left',
 background = yes,
 border_width = 1,
 cpu_avg_samples = 2,
 default_color = 'white',
 default_outline_color = 'white',
 default_shade_color = 'white',
 draw_borders = false,
 draw_graph_borders = true,
 draw_outline = false,
 draw_shades = false,
 double_buffer = yes,
 use_xft = true,
 font = 'Oxygen Mono:size=10',
 gap_x = 25,
 gap_y = 25,
 minimum_height = 5,
 minimum_width = 5,
 net_avg_samples = 2,
 no_buffers = true,
 out_to_console = false,
 out_to_stderr = false,
 extra_newline = false,
 own_window = true,
 own_window_class = 'Conky',
 own_window_type = 'override',
 own_window_colour = '#3d3d3d',
 stippled_borders = 0,
 update_interval = 2.5,
 uppercase = false,
 use_spacer = 'none',
 show_graph_scale = false,
 show_graph_range = false
}

conky.text = [[
# in red if sound off
${if_match "[on]" == "${exec amixer get Master | egrep -o '\[on\]' | tail -1}"}$
{color #4d4d4d}${else}${color Dark Salmon}${endif}
# assume left/right channels have same volume level
${execbar amixer get Master | egrep -o '[0-9]+%'| sed s/\%// | tail -1}
############
#${color #4d4d4d}$hr
${color grey}↑${color #4d4d4d}${upspeedgraph eth2 25,140} ${color grey}↓${color 
#4d4d4d}${downspeedgraph eth2 25,140}
###########
#${color #4d4d4d}$hr
#${color grey}CPU: ${color white}${i2c isa-0228 temp 2}°C$color - MB: ${color wh
ite}${i2c 9191-0290 temp 1}°C
###########
#${color #4d4d4d}$hr
${color grey}Name PID CPU% MEM%
${color lightgrey} ${top name 1} ${top pid 1} ${top cpu 1} ${top mem 1}
${color lightgrey} ${top name 2} ${top pid 2} ${top cpu 2} ${top mem 2}
${color lightgrey} ${top name 3} ${top pid 3} ${top cpu 3} ${top mem 3}
${color lightgrey} ${top name 4} ${top pid 4} ${top cpu 4} ${top mem 4}
${color lightgrey} ${top name 5} ${top pid 5} ${top cpu 5} ${top mem 5}
${color lightgrey} ${top name 6} ${top pid 6} ${top cpu 6} ${top mem 6}
${color lightgrey} ${top name 7} ${top pid 7} ${top cpu 7} ${top mem 7}
]]

shot.png

With this setup, the only thing I actually miss is a icon-tasklist.

Getting back suspend/resume with KDE 5’s powerdevil and no systemd by installing an obsolete version of upower

Using a package out of date since more 2 years ago does not sound like a success story but that is the only way so far I found to get suspend/resume to work without systemd within KDE5 without headaches. pm-suspend and pm-hibernate, on the command line, work perfectly though.

Why? Because Powerdevil, KDE’s power management tool, use upower which itself deprecated pm-utils support in favor of systemd.  So, no matter whether your hardware can actually suspend and hibernate, no matter if the kernel, GNU/Linux itself, can handle, upower won’t.

When calling upower -d, it should output something with can-suspend and can-hibernate. Since they dropped support for pm-utils, it won’t if you don’t use systemd . It’ll behave as if it knew what it was doing except it does not.

I filled a bug report and this one was discarded very fast. Martin Gräßlin immediately marked it as RESOLVED DOWNSTREAM with the comment “This works fine on Debian testing. Please get in contact with your distribution to figure out why this broke in your Debian fork. You might consider of course to install systemd”. You get the idea.  Thanks to Michael Palimaka, I got confirmation that it was tied to upower version (which I guessed beforehand because of several related messages by some Ubuntu or else users – hence the mention “with upower 0.99.3 and Devuan” in my report title) and he listed working solutions: using systemd; using ConsoleKit2; using upower <=0.9.23.

Using systemd to fix a problem caused by an attempt not to use systemd? Not an option. Using ConsoleKit2? Except I have no knowledge of ConsoleKit2 being packaged yet, neither do I know which release of upower actually got ConsoleKit2 support.

So I went for the third option, the lamest obviously, that is installing obsolete, unsupported software, and put in on hold. It can be done as follow:

echo "deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian wheezy main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/oldstable.list
apt-get update
apt-get -t wheezy install libgnutls26 libgcrypt11 libtasn1-3 libusbmuxd1 libimobiledevice2 upower libupower-glib libplist1
echo "upower hold" | dpkg --set-selections

Then a call to upower -d gives:

Daemon:
 daemon-version: 0.9.17
 can-suspend: no
 can-hibernate no
 on-battery: no
 on-low-battery: no
 lid-is-closed: no
 lid-is-present: no
 is-docked: no

It is better but still no good. As root it’ll work, though. You need to add some PolicyKit rule to allow regular users to use it. The following assumes that powerdev group exists and that your regular users are in this group (if they are not, add them with adduser thisuser powerdev):

echo "[Suspend power group override]
Identity=unix-group:powerdev
Action=org.freedesktop.upower.suspend
ResultAny=yes
ResultInactive=yes
ResultActive=yes

[Hibernate power group override]
Identity=unix-group:powerdev
Action=org.freedesktop.upower.hibernate
ResultAny=yes
ResultInactive=yes
ResultActive=yes" > /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/power-group.suspend-override.pkla

Now, if done properly, upower -d returns:

Daemon:
 daemon-version: 0.9.17
 can-suspend: yes
 can-hibernate yes
 on-battery: no
 on-low-battery: no
 lid-is-closed: no
 lid-is-present: no
 is-docked: no

Logout and login should be enough to have back suspend and hibernate within KDE5.

So this works. For now. But there is no doubt, this is wrong in so many ways. I wonder for how long it will be possible to run a modern desktop environment on GNU/Linux, and not on systemd/whatever.

 

Fixing privileges to mount USB Keys with polkit

After switching to Devuan, I got suddenly dolphin complaining that it cannot mount an USB Key. Since Devuan is back to polkit to get rid of systemd (but polkit is probably part of the problem too), the fix is to add a /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/auto-mount.pkla with:

[Allow Automount]
Identity=unix-group:plugdev
Action=org.freedesktop.udisks2.filesystem-mount
ResultAny=yes
ResultInactive=yes
ResultActive=yes

And make sure users belong to plugdev.

You should try: systemd and KDE activities

Not really a very informative post, but I thought you’d be interested into the following:

I moved most of my computers to systemd. On most of them, the boot process is tremendously faster. I haven’t noticed any problem (with somehow heterogenous hardware – but all i686/IA64/AMD64 though). Plus logs got more relevant messages. Have a try!

Also, I finally understood what KDE activities are for. It’s, contrarily to what I assumed beforehand, not a bigger subset of virtual desktops. It’s some kind of mini-session instead. For instance, each morning, I usually browse 5 or 6 news websites. Before KDE activies, either I typed their URL in my Konqueror page or I used bookmarks. I only created an activity “News” with a Konqueror open on each news website. And, now, I just fire and shut down this activity whenever I want to read news and that’s it: it’s fast to start and shut down and it saves me lot of clicks or keystrokes. Other example? I also created an activity to watch vidéos. I fire it up and, tada!, I get plasmoids that give me direct access to the relevant directories where I store such files. Really neat. It’s fast. It just lack a bit of polishing/KDE integration. But I’m sure that a work in progress.