The ongoing Turf War within +Arch Linux continues over systemd.

I read yet another “I AM LEAVING!” email on the arch-general mailing list this morning citing this article; and the reason why the author of the email was leaving.

Now I want to be fair and say initially I thought the blog post was pretty good, it seemed to give some valid reasons and kind of explained to a non developer like myself the ins and outs of why it ‘might’ (depending on the side of the fence you sit?) be better to run with systemd.

I was just starting to warm to the author when I got to the final paragraph;

“You can yell all you want, yet Arch Linux will slowly move towards systemd. Initscripts will probably keep working for a long time, but they will eventually disappear. It doesn’t help if you insult us for it. It doesn’t help if you state a thousand times that you leave Arch over “the systemd issue”. We don’t care. You can either embrace systemd and enjoy all its advantages, provide an alternative or use another distribution. We don’t care. We make Arch for ourselves, and for the ones that like it like we do. Whether we have a million users or one hundred users – we will keep making it the distro we like. Deal with it.”

I love the bit where it says that insults etc don’t help. I agree, that doesn’t *help* but then the author smacks them in the face with “We don’t care. ” he then goes on, ever the Freedom loving diplomat, to say in a nutshell ” Do as we say or fook off! ” and yet again repeats ” We don’t care. ”

Then the true colours are revealed ” We make Arch for ourselves. ” what an arrogant statement? Firstly who is this “We”? Some sort of secret handshake society? I wonder if they all sit at a round table meditating past Arch users who’s ashes are ensconced in niches behind them?

And the final tragedy ” We don’t care about, or how many users we have. ” like that’s an argument winner isn’t it? I wonder if as a child you used to knock the game board off the table when you realised you was about to lose?



  1. “We” are the people who actually contribute to Arch. And “we” decide what happens with it, because “we” need to do the work to make it happen. It’s a matter of motivation, not a matter of politics. Do I want to spend hours of my free time to make something work that I won’t even use? Not unless you pay me. If you do all the work, send me the patch, and I find it acceptable, I’ll include it – and at that point, you made Arch what you wanted it to be, simply by contributing a single patch – you have become part of the mysterious “we”.

    Regarding the systemd topic, contributing an alternative means a lot of work, and so far I have not seen anyone even trying. The guy who put the most work into an alternative is Tom, who is actively working on the old initscripts, even though he is a big systemd fan.

    Finally, I wonder why you think Arch ever cared about how many people use it. Some people say “if this happens, I’m leaving Arch” and make it sound like a threat. If our primary audience were those users, then we would be Ubuntu. Our primary audience are people who like the operating system we make, and people who are willing to do the work if they think something should be done differently. Why do you think Arch is known for its great community? Because everyone who was unwilling to contribute to it has left Arch eventually.

  2. Thomas.
    So if the person who works on, for example, pacman says “I don’t think we should do this.” You’d take notice then would you? Or what about the people who submit bugs? Do the “We’s” take any notice of them? Or how about the people of the forum? Or what about the mailing list members? Or people who write How-to’s or their experiences on their blogs? Are these people not contributing just the same? Are they not giving up their free time and paying for resources out of their own pocket in support?

    I don’t see it as politics I see it as attitude. According to Hollywood when Emperors entered Rome after hacking the Germans to bits a slave stood behind them on the chariot whispering ” _Remember thou art but a man._ ” you seem to be telling me (Maybe I’m wrong?) that some members are above other people and therefore have a right to treat them with utter contempt?

    You kinda shoot yourself in the foot tbh. ” _Our primary audience are people who like the operating system we make_ ” clearly a large proportion do not like what [you] make at the minute but of course sticking your fingers in your ears and going ” _La, la, la I’m not listening_ ” is really sensible.

    I totally agree with you leaving mailing lists (or forums) by flouncing off with determination is a stupid thing to do.

    It’s a bit like committing Hara-kiri, everyone is taken aback for two seconds but ultimately you’re still dead.

    I have learn’t over the years that staying and standing your ground causes people far more grief than leaving. As I say, if you leave you’re soon forgotten.

    *Doing the work* does not entitle anyone to dictate to others I would hope you ‘do the work’ for love, enjoyment, the benefit of others and yes the praise and gratitude of others. The minute you you believe that gives you the right to dictate to others is the moment you lose peoples respect. That’s why people are emailing appalling personal attacks.

    The thing is, if there wasn’t a problem then I wouldn’t have anything to write/moan about. Clearly there is a problem and folding our arms and putting our angry face on and saying ” _If you don’t like it sod off._ “is not solving it. 🙂

  3. nobody at arch dictates to others. following the dev-public mailing list, i haven’t seen any of the people who actually contribute, i.e., developers & package maintainers, really unhappy with systemd.

    those unhappy are users — reporting a bug or two is not the same as developing & maintaining code. of course those who do the actual work decide what they want to do with their time. why should they feel obliged to work for the “benefit, praise, and gratitude” of others?

    they do what they like to do, and allow others to share in the benefit, i.e., use their distro. and on top of that, they actually do listen to sensible requests and arguments of their users.

    the only problem the arch community has are a few loudmouthed users who think they can force the developers to listen to them. why the heck should they? they’ve made up their mind, and everybody else can either take it or leave it. but why make that into a drama?

    i came to arch recently, and i don’t have the time at the moment to get into the nuts & bolts to the point where i could contribute meaningfully. i’m a grateful parasite, and if i don’t like what i get, i’ll have to either find something else or help change things so that i do like them.

    whining & yelling does not help anyone, and using a free distro does not entitle anyone to decide where it should go.

  4. I suspect you are a developer? You are wrong of course, users have as much right as any one else. Of course “Developers are not complaining” it’s what they want to implement duh! That’s a bit like saying “The shop is not moaning about putting the prices up.” of course they’re not.

    Having used Arch myself since Voodoo (Man that was a long time ago) I don’t see why as a happy user for all those years I should, in your view, piss off because suddenly changes are forced on me? If that is you opinion on the correct manner for something that is free as in money then you really sadden me but more importantly sadden me for the free software culture. I’ve spent the last ten years being weaned off the attitude that you should pay for everything, that companies tell you what you *will* have. The free software culture is about community that means listening to all sides even if you disagree with them. Maybe that’s a UK thing where we believe in freedom of speech?

  5. thanks for not reading my comment and replying anyway.

    i wrote i was new to arch linux, didn’t have the time to get into it and contribute, and considered myself a parasite, even though a grateful one.

    i have no idea where you get the idea that people like me (or you), who don’t contribute anything but their opinion, should be able to tell those who do the work, what they can do or not with their free time?

    you write a blog, so does the fact that i read it give me the right to tell you what to write? i don’t think so. i can either keep reading it, or not, as i wish. same thing with arch linux, or any other distro.

    the arch developers don’t claim to be saints. they lik what they do, for whatever reasons, and if you like it too, you can use it. what makes you think they need your approval do decide how they proceed?

  6. phani
    On the contrary, I read what you wrote. Does being “New to Arch” preclude you from being a developer or something? For all I know you may well be one?

    Before you accuse me of not contributing I think you should do a little bit more research. You’ll find I run an Arch Linux blog, ran a UK Arch Linux forum for a while and co-host a podcast with an Arch Linux section. Not that I feel the need to explain my credentials to anyone.

  7. Peter,

    Your blog post perfectly described what I thought after having witnessed this whole systemd fiasco.

    Technical issues aside (I like systemd, but at this point I couldn’t care less about which init system I use), how the Arch community as a whole and especially some developers conducted themselves are appallingly unprofessional and unnecessary rude. It’s downright depressing to see that so many users in the Arch community express so much hostility toward people who disagree with or voice concern over the whole systemd issues and accusing them of not contributing anything to the community, like what Mr. phani did to you in this post’s comment. I might be wrong here, but it seems that these recent actions of the developers have attracted new users that are very, very different from the old Arch users that I knew and loved.

    Like you, I was also caught in the crossfire and accused of being a parasitic user who only whine and does not contribute anything back to the community, despite the fact that I edited/wrote multiple Arch Wiki’s articles, maintained several package on AUR, and filed a bug… Oh wait, they no longer consider filing a bug report a worthwhile contribution, right?

    To be honest, after all of this, I have had enough. It’s not worth contributing my time toward Arch any more if this is really the current attitude of the developers and the community.

    Sorry for the rant, but I feel very frustrated and sad by this whole event.

  8. auser
    Agreeing with me can seriously damage your friendship levels. 😀
    I detest anyone who sneers at other peoples contribution levels. What they fail to realise is that even a user is in fact contributing by the very fact of using it. I appreciate everything a developer does of course, I do, but it’s like the UK saying “For want of a nail the war was lost.” basically it means the smallest thing can have a huge impact and people continually screaming “Developers, developers, developers.” really don’t get community. That’s why Ubuntu is so successful, the product is not to my tastes and I see some Ubuntu users complaining now and then but, and it’s a big but, the main priority for them is community. They bend over backwards to find areas for people to contribute in the smallest of ways they don’t all lay prostrate on the ground going “Developers, developers, developers.” 😀

    Personally I have no intention of ‘leaving’ as the more people try to *force* me to do something the more I dig my heels in and as I’ve said before *staying* pisses them off far more than leaving. I have switched two of my machines to Manjaro mainly as a kind of protest at the crazy, pathetic install procedure Arch currently forces you to follow. (13 steps for Christ sake, is this 1997?).

    Any time you want a rant feel free to post a comment here (Or add me on G+ if you’re on there?) Cheers.

  9. You just don’t get it at all… I won’t even try to explain.

    PS “we make Arch for ourselves” was always a “true color” of Arch. Actually it’s true for almost all open source projects. People do open software to fit _their_ needs. If it fits yours, that’s great, if no – participate or fuck off. Trolling and shouting won’t help. Arch was made by developers for developers and stayed this way. Fortunately for many reasons it fits other people too. It was always this way. It’s simple distribution from developer point of view and it has been this way forever.

    Oh and by the way… it’s rolling release so changes are inevitable. You should be glad we’ve got strong and sane dev-team!

  10. fasd: Interesting concept “You just don’t get it at all… I won’t even try to explain.” and then you go on to vent your spleen with incorrect and ill informed observations. I suspect you just couldn’t control yourself? You clearly do not understand that many original users of Arch Linux including myself was very happy with the “We make Arch for ourselves” statement, that statement held true up until Judd stopped managing the project it would seem? And then it was not made the way some of the community members liked that’s why there are complaints most are like myself with five or more years of Arch Linux usage under their belts or did you think we are new to the project?

    if no – participate or fuck off. Trolling and shouting won’t help.” I think that just about says it all to be honest, a swearing tirade which hysterically is beginning to be presented very much like the complaints that you are complaining about as in ‘not listening’, ‘trolling’ and ‘offensive behaviour’. Arch is NOT made by developers for developers, it is made by developers for everyone. Also you clearly do not understand the concept of ‘Rolling Release’ rolling release has nothing whatsoever to do with the core system it is to do with how you update your system, the concept being “You never have to install again.” nothing more nothing less.

  11. Peter:
    “Arch is NOT made by developers for developers, it is made by developers for everyone.” – yeah right, that’s why we’ve got GUI configurators for everything… It’s not like they think only about themselves and dismiss users, no. Didn’t you heard Torvalds talking about open source and selfishness? Nobody is paying dev-team for doing what they’re doing. They doing it for fun, to make Arch what _they_ think would be great OS. OS that fits _their_ needs. Yes, they respect users opinions but HARD DECISIONS MUST BE MADE. Ship needs strong captain. Go and scrub the deck.

    “Also you clearly do not understand the concept of ‘Rolling Release’ rolling release has nothing whatsoever to do with the core system it is to do with how you update your system, the concept being “You never have to install again.” nothing more nothing less.” – I can’t believe you’ve got 5 years of Arch experience writing nonsense like this… Go back in time, start your own distro, don’t touch core system at all and try to roll it successfully for 10 years, I dare you. In one point you’ve got semi-right i.e. rolling-release is described as “never have to install again” BUT noone ever said you can just leave core system and upgrade your applications forever. There’s more to the picture and CHANGES ARE INEVITABLE.

  12. Peter:
    Thank you, that was one amazing argument.

    You’re taking this to much as a personal attack. Whole mess is not because of devs, but because of users. And I think it was not so many users in number but very loud ones. Arch in recent years gained a lot of attention and obviously many of new users… well, doesn’t get it. Do you see Fedora users blaming whole world with every occasion when devs change it upside down? I can’t understand why people are so blocked mentally against changes. This is not Debian, nor Slackware, you wanted to live on the edge so you got it. You can’t expect rolling-release bleeding-edge distro not to change! Arch devs explained many times why they choose systemd. Period.

  13. @fasd Thanks for providing a nice example of how elitist and toxic Arch “community” has become lately.

    Let me repeat myself again that it’s not the technical reasons why I choose to abandon Arch. I actually *like* systemd, you know. It’s because of people like you, fasd, and the way some of the devs behave themselves toward many people who disagrees with them during this whole systemd fiasco that made me leaved. In short, I refuse to be a part of the community that condone these kind of behaviours.

    Oh, and I’ve also been using Arch since around 2007, am I a “new” user by your standard too, fasd?

    My hat are off to you, Peter, for deciding to stay and endure people like Mr. fasd here. For me personally there are other open source projects out there that I’d rather contribute my time and efforts to. It’s has been a great 5 years, but it’s time to move on.

  14. auser: I don’t know if you listen to our podcast? you’ll hear me suggest that a certain community adopt the KDE manifesto IT’S REALLY WORTH READING problem is some members have got so power crazy they have forgotten what free software is all about.

  15. I didn’t know you also do a podcast, Peter. I will be checking it out (just start following you on G+).

    Regarding the manifesto, while Arch certainly could use one, the problem with the project goes deeper than that. It’s the lack of a proper (let alone open) governance that’s killing Arch. Hell, I was once one of the many who ridiculed Debian for its “bureaucratic” governance model and processes. But now, after all these years (and the final straw being this incident), I finally understand why an open source project needs to have a functional and open governance in order to become successful and thrive.

  16. AHHHHHH!

    I agree with you so hard it hurts!!! Especially some of your comments down here! As I was reading your detractors’ arguments, I was responding in my head, and then I look down and see you actually responding with the same points!

    The insinuation that bug reports are not “real” contributions is indeed sickening. Small contributions like bug reports, wiki authorship, and so on add up quickly. You can’t just exclaim that programming contributions are the only important ones because Arch is NOT JUST CODE. There are tons of other things that go into a distro.

  17. Holy cow! I cannot believe the attitude of some the the Arch developers. Excluding the whole systemd debate, the attitude and comments towards fellow humans are atrocious. Personal attacks, swearing, etc. I thought we had evolved beyond childish playground name calling.

    I only started using Arch a few months ago, because I like the bleeding edge, I like control and I enjoyed some of the documentation produced by the community.

    That said, this whole concept of FOSS being selfish is a sign of the current shift in culture. Decades ago, I always said that open source was communism/socialism that works. Well, my faith in it is rapidly failing. Open source was not about doing it for me … it was about making the world a better place. Breaking the hold of big greedy companies, and providing an environment where innovation can thrive. There was no I about it, when I fought in the board room, promoting Linux over windows servers. I spent hours configuring servers for free in companies, to demonstrate the Linux was a viable solution.

    I may not have contributed development time, but I did aid the adoption of Linux in companies. These companies pay the big vendors like Redhat, which in turn pay for additions and inclusions in the kernel and other systems feeding the open source community, giving us all jobs and putting food on the table. I did not do it for recognition, I did it to change the world, to make it a better place for everyone.

    So seeing the current bun fights is very disheartening. This attitude of fit in or fuck off, is not what many of us joined the opensource movement for.

    At the end of the day we need to look past the me, and look to the future we create for everyone. Everyone has to play there part, and creating divisions in the community like this, with out show any diplomacy and tact can only lead to failure. Think about it. Someone like me, who has a lot of clout in a multinational company get disillisioned with FOSS due to a few self centered people. I then start promoting IBM AIX, or Windows or some other propriety system and my company switches. Others do the same, less revenue for the big distros, etc. Downward spiral sort of stuff. I may be overstating things, but ultimately, like most companies, and empires, they collapse from the inside out and not from external threats. Its divisions like this which can lead to larger splits and problems in the community.

    I am not leaving yet, nor do I think a threat of leaving would do much good. But people need to stop thinking of themselves and look at the bigger picture sometime.

  18. Nathan: TBH threatening to leave is pathetic, in most cases nobody gives a toss if you stay or leave most people who post those toe curling cringing emails “I find I can no longer…..” are making themselves look silly.

    I too am saddened by the attitude, it is not in keeping with the FOSS ethos clearly the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

  19. People need to give Arch the thumb (pointing downwards) it is the Roman way of saying “Kill it!” and then move on to Ubuntu or even Linux Mint – and forget Arch since they’ve already forgotten you by their attitude above! We can do without Self-opinionated, hedonistic fools like that on Linux. They are no better than the Trolls they emulate. Hugo Shepherd

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