Librem 5 and systemd/pulseaudio

Over the last years, two packages were most controversial in linux: pulseaudio (almost dead, at least one can easily uninstall it in most distros with no harm) and systemd (still present in a lot of distros, many of them even require it to run at all).
My question is: will the new mobile OS developed by purism for librem 5 require systemd to work?

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I’d say not to worry about this “little wars”.
The new achievement would be to have a free HW/FW/linux kernel (w/ separated baseband!).
Then many new distros can show up easily (Gnome/KDE, non/systemd, …)

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while i can’t fully follow the assesment i still think this is a valuable hint not to unecesarily depend on components when it comes to driver & daemon development.

so any daemon for a system like libre 5 should never hardly depend on systemd (which is bad habit in many projects already) or other such components.

The Librem 5 will run Pure OS. Pure OS runs systemd. So by default the Librem 5 will be running systemd. The same will be true of PulseAudio. If you do not like either of these packages, you can install a distro without them, because the Librem 5 will not be locked to a particular operating system (like Android phones are). You will be FREE to install Devuan the systemd-less Debian or any other GNU/Linux distro (or non-gnu operating systems).

So, short answer: yes, PureOS requires systemd.


@blendergeek, please explain to us how useful an open system is if it depends on poorly written, unstable code? I don’t believe Purism can claim their devices have security benefits if the PureOS is running systemd. I am of the opinion that if anyone who is serious about their security purchases these systems, they would need to install a different OS.

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one can argue entire linux kernel to be “poorly written, unstable code”.
While I like simplicity of the rc scripts and raw alsa with jack - I do acknowledge benefits of PA and systemd. PA allows me easy consumer-level traffic routing with little overhead (bt headset anyone? easy), systemd allows almost instantaneous boot and replaces many (otherwise required) subsystems.
PureOS depends on debian, not on systemd. If you can replace systemd with openrc or even legacy init in debian - similarly you can do it in pureos. same for PA. you can use raw sound driver (whatever it will be) but be ready to deal with limitations (or complications).
So this discussion is pointless. You always can replace anything with anything in gnu linux - with different level of complexity. Because it is an open system. Package dependency is not an excuse, you can always force/override dependency, each package management system gives you that level of discretion.


@ruff, why is this discussion useless? Are you serious about comparing the quality of the linux kernel and systemd?

I am actually interested in an answer to my concise question: how can you justify all the work going into making hardware more open if you are going to have things like systemd or even binary blobs installed on top?

I don’t know if you represent this company, but I was hoping for a more official answer. I guess I find it pretty hard to believe that a company like Purism is actually interested in the security of my data. I want to be shown wrong. Arguing that systemd is good software and that the kernel is unstable is not going to convince those needing security to trust Purism. In fact it has the opposite affect.


Just to get this out there - I have no affiliation with Purism.

But when you buy Purism hardware, you are buying the option of hardware killswitches, and as-free-as-possible modern hardware. If you want to go fully blobless, you can buy a Libreboot Thinkpad with pre-2008 hardware. Buying Purism supports a company that is trying (and I believe making progress) to deblob modern hardware.

You also get a much more aesthetically pleasing machine, at least in my opinion, though that’s a minor point.

And because you control your laptop when you buy from Purism, you can install whatever (Linux) OS you want. There is nothing particularly special about PureOS - it’s a Linux distro like any other. It chooses to have a few things by default, while other distros choose other things by default.

If you don’t like systemd, then install whatever distro you please that doesn’t use it. From what I can tell, PureOS is meant to make Linux accessible to the general public, most of whom have no clue about using Linux at all, and so certainly won’t be concerned about systemd as long as it “just works,” and given Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and many of the most popular distros use systemd, I don’t think anyone can really argue that it doesn’t work.

Yes, it’s not really the UNIX way from what I can tell, and it does have its problems, but it gets the job done, and that’s what most people care about. They don’t want to fiddle with settings and config files. They just want to turn on their computer and have it work.


So my comparison of kernel and systemd (both opens source, both free, both community-driven) is inadequate. but your comparison of systemd and binary blob is ok? This is exactly the reason this discussion is pointless. because it’s based not on arguments but on emotions. People call this trolling nowdays. earlier it was called flamewars.

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@winter ruff is absolutely right. I have often heard that systemd and pulse are not unixy or whatever, but I have never heard that they pose a significant security threat. If you wanted to bring attention to poorely written code, why did you not pick OpenSSL? At least there would be a base for discussion, as that library actually caused real-world problems. There are so many pointless details that various people adopt as their pet peeve and ask

“Why does or doesn’t Purism do XYZ, because that is the only valid way to do stuff?”

And the answer to these questions is usually simple: Because the majority of sensible people does not agree with you.

Just let Purism do their thing. It’s good. Let them focus on the real battles.
If you don’t like details, find like-minded people and contribute patches that give people a choice.

Don’t ask what Purism can do for you, ask what you can do for Purism
        - JFK

taylor-williamc: I understand what Purism is doing. Thanks for explaining further though. I would like to be able to point customers to a good non-Windows solution rather than build one for them.

ruff, Caliga: I guess you don’t have any problems with systemd. If you would like to understand the problem, I am sure you can to do the research yourself WRT OpenSSL, systemd, Linux, etc., and also learn from your experiences. I don’t need to explain. However, it’s pretty odd that you expect me to believe some random stranger on the Internet just because s/he says so. Oh and ruff, be careful with the name calling. Apparently it’s not allowed around here :wink:

I notice you tagged me to

I do not see how I have such a duty. I merely answered your question regarding the necessity of systemd to PureOS and suggested alternatives for those who do not like systemd. I neither am a systemd apologist nor am I a systemd basher.

In answer to your question, an open system is useful even when it depends on “poorly written unstable code” because it gives YOU the opportunity to remove said code. Closed systems do not give you that.

This is not a comment on how good systemd is. I am merely answering your question as written.


In my experience, both pulse and systemd are very stable, very useful and good overall software. Expecially for embedded systems, they are basically mandatory to avoid quirks and lower the burden of maintaining a system stable.

Besides, they are now the standard and hugely popular. The screeching minority who say they are unstable and/or poorly written are - indeed - a clueless screeching minority.