In many ways, Devuan is very similar to the OS it was forked from: Debian. Most of its packages come directly from Debian repositories, only a few (381 as of today) were re-build for Devuan, wiping systemd from their dependencies.

The project started back in late 2014, while systemd screw its way into Debian – and most of common Linux distros. Systemd is accused to be more than a replacement to init, as it takes on parts of the boot process and runtime operations. Contradicting UNIX philosophy. Aggressively integrated itself into Linux core components. Systemd implies more reboot, targets desktop users, left of non-Linux kernel users (Debian had to drop their kfreebsd architecture), … is known to be buggy, when not described as broken by design, or identified as a trojan.

On the other hand, Poettering is backed by its employer, Red-Hat. Systemd is not the first pike of crap we can usually find in all package managers, such as PulseAudio or Avahi (the ones you should usually blacklist). No surprises, after these, Poettering is immune to criticisms, and can pretty much follow his ideas ignoring complaints from the community he’s dismantling.

In this context, a group of Debian users and contributors, identifying themselves as “Veteran Unix Admins”, organized and eventually came up with Devuan. So far, their objective is to drop systemd dependencies from Debian Jessie. Re-build a community around what made Debian strengths, while abiding to the UNIX philosophy.

The first time I read about Devuan, their web page was pretty ugly and minimalist. Last week-end, I checked it back and noticed they released their second Beta: time for giving it a look.

PXE install works exactly as we’ve been used to with Debian. So far, I’ve been setting up a KVM server, an OpenLDAP, an apache-based reverse proxy, a DHCP, a Squid proxy, a TFTP server, … there’s virtually no difference with Debian. The few things I could note being the devuan-baseconf and devuan-keyring packages or the /etc/devuan_release file.

My only complaint so far, is that some packages still ship with systemd services configuration (acpid, apache2, apt-cacher-ng, cron, munin-node, nginx, rsync, rsyslog, ssh, udev or unattended-upgrades files in /lib/systemd/system). Being a Beta release, I’m satisfied enough confirming that all these process work perfectly using scripts from /etc/init.d or /usr/sbin/service. Although for a first “stable” release, I would very much like to see a “clean” copy of Debian.