[svlug] Inits, sysV, systemd, uci, etc.

Jesse Monroy jesse650 at gmail.com
Sat Jan 3 01:10:16 PST 2015

I've got a dog in this fight.

In years past, I had a great illusion of creating a computing cluster.
At the time, I called it BUDs (BSD Unix Distributed simply). The
allusion to California's #1 cash crop was intentional - much to the
horror of my room mates.

Back on track, My first task was to create tunnels between systems,
then my insurmountable task was at hand -

    * REMOVE ALL UNNECESSARY FILES - text and binary

I made good progress in identifing text files - that were plainly for
different languages. Then I proceeded to identify binaries that had no
MAN entry. More than 10% of binaries had no reference - much of the
FreeBD documentation team preferred to imitate the 3 wise monkeys.
Yes, this was a deadend.

Eventually, I reached the boot process. Here in 2004 you'll see my
second attempt to document the boot process. And as far as I know, no
one used used this. But I did pubicize it again and again - as I


Around this time a host of efforts were underway to get *BSD on to
embedded devices. Included in them was PicoBSD, which sometime
afterwards put forward UCI (Unified Configuration Interface Project)

YES UCI, one of those projects no one has heard of - unless (of
course) you are developing for MIPS on linux. (Which by the way MIPS
development was start at NETBSD, not OpenBSD, and not one of the minor
*nux (at least to my knowledge)).

For those of you unacquainted with UCI it is prized in the wireless
community and industry because it is unencumbered with heavy UI (User
Interface) issues -- like (X) windows, hald, keyrings,
source-registry, kworker, and various unused and unwanted utilities.

As matter of fact, most of the modern wifi AP (Access Points) and
Routers - use OpenWRT which rely on UCI to do most of the
configuration. The graphical interface to many of these wifi devices
is a rather light-weight, but powerful webserver - known as
''uhttpd''. The admin graphical interface is called LuCI - this
because it uses LUA (http://www.lua.org) and UCI

Table of Hardware - OpenWRT


LuCI – Technical Reference

== Fast forward to me ==

So now it's been almost 15 years since I tried my hand at trimming the
boot process, and I find myself full circle - but this time on the
Arduino Yún. Oddly enough the same sort of computing power is at
hand**. Now - up until 4 weeks ago I would have praised the Raspberry
Pi for its innovation, but today I see this toy as much, much better.
(I won't go into Pi shortcomings here)


== Now to the Dog Fight ==

At this point, I am unlikely to head or help much with any effort to
trim the general UI and/or boot process. But in reading Steve Litt's
notes (and blog post) just before the year's end got me to thinking.


Back in the early 2000's I made a public statement at an SVLUG
meeting. Someone said I should talk to Jef Raskin - I said, "Jef Who?"


I meet Jef about a year or two before he died. He did mention he was
fighting cancer, and he also mentioned he did hide his academic degree
from Jobs and Apple because he was afraid of descrimination.

So last night in the row (ruckus), I was going to throw in my two
cents, but decide perhaps I could find some better words. Below you'll
read Jef Raskin's essay on elements for a better UI, but in fact the
same principles can be used to fix the BOOT PROCESS.

Title: The Humane Interface (c) 2000
Author: Jef Raskin
ISBN: 0-201-37937-6

In Chapter Six - ''Unification'', Jef puts it plainly. It is worth quoting.
pg 99-100

In trying to create a general-purpose interface that takes into
account the requirements that we have delineate in the previous four
chapters, we find that basic changes from present practice are
necessary. Many directions are possible; one tack is to see what we
can do within the limitations of the Internet and with hundreds of
millions of computers and information appliances that exist and that
are being manufactured today.

The most common personal computer hardware configuration is nearly
universal at present. By taking a point of view that emphasizes the
commonality of physical actions across almost all applications, using
the common hardware elements, rather that looking at vast disparity of
tasks, we can develop a general yet simple interface.

The list of actions a user can take to influence content--be that
context textual, graphical, or multimedia--can be arranged into simple
taxonomy, which allows us to describe any application's interface in a
uniform way. This organization can help guide us in simplifying
interface designs. Implementating a universal undo/redo facility also
helps to develop a unified interface, eliminating much of the need for
individual programs to handle error recovery.

Different applications have different commands, and a user cannot in
general use the command from Application A while working in
Application B and vice versa. By liberating command from applications,
we eliminate the inherent modality of applications. The total number
of commands a user must master drops dramatically with this kind of
unification, primarily because unification rids us of the immense
duplication of commands. (... at this point Jef goes into an example

At this point I'll outline Jef's design:

1) basic changes from present practice are necessary
2) emphasizes the commonality of physical actions (...) rather that
looking at (the) vast disparity of tasks
3) (list user actions) "into simple taxonomy"
4) implement a universal undo/redo facility
5) (use general commands to) "eliminate the inherent modality"

You might ask, Will any of these suggestions come into being?

I think not. For the course of things to change, it requires that
programmers give up their ego. YES, I said ego.

Anyone of the boot processes you can name has some person's ego
embedded. Whether that ego is impressed by their professor or that ego
is developed by self-study, matters not.

Is 'UCI' the answer? I think not. At best, it is part of an answer.
Is 'systemd' the answer? Yes, it will work best for maintaining fiefdoms.
Is 'sysVinit' the answer? No. sysVinit was form to placate corporate
entities that still remain, and as many friends remind me - the
emperor still has no clothes.

What about Upstart, et al? I respond, "Up who?"

In closing, I'd like to remind my many friends in the SVLUG community
- I'm stuck in El Paso, Texas; and likely the smartest computer person
in town (but only because I'm the only computer person in town).

Cheers, best to all.
Hope to see you when I return in March of this year.


** Arduino Yún is equivalent to the Pentium II, except now we have
wifi (802.11g/54Mbits vs. 802.11b/11Mbits in 2000), 100Mbit ethernet,
USB2 (with microport) http://gct.co/usb-connectors/

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