Discuss how Session Inits (upstart) could be migrated to systemd

Registered by James Hunt on 2014-02-18

Upstart is currently used to manage users graphical sessions [1], both on desktop systems [2] and on Ubuntu Touch.

= Scope =

This blueprint is to discuss:

a) How the current Session Init architecture could be made to work should PID 1 be systemd rather than Upstart.
b) Whether systemd provides some sort of compatible framework.
c) Whether the current architecture should be switched to a systemd equivalent (if available).

= Current Architecture =

When the user logs in graphically, Upstart is run in session mode ('/sbin/init --user') for that user. In session mode, the Upstart Session Init runs as that user. Multiple sessions may be created per user in this way. Note that although running a Session Init does not predicate running upstart as PID 1, the current architecture allows Session Inits access to system-level events which are proxied to all sessions via the upstart-event-bridge [3]. This is used crucially to trigger all Session Inits to re-exec statefully when the Upstart package is upgraded. systemd's abilities in this area need to be investigated.

Further, facilities have been built upon Upstart running as a Session Init, most notably upstart-app-launch [4] which allows multiple instances of applications to be run on Touch in an apparmor-contained environment.

= Issues =

* Do we wish to retain the Upstart Session Init even when PID 1 is systemd?
* Need to understand how systemd's user session mode interfaces with PID 1 to find a strategy to replace the upstart-event-bridge(8).
* Need to find a way to replace the upstart-local-bridge(*) on Ubuntu Touch which is currently used to convert state changes in Android system services into Upstart events.
* Impact on upstart-app-launch?

= References =

[1] - https://wiki.ubuntu.com/FoundationsTeam/Specs/RaringUpstartUserSessions
[2] - Run 'cat /etc/upstart-xsessions' for upstart-managed graphical sessions.
[3] - http://manpages.ubuntu.com/manpages/trusty/en/man8/upstart-event-bridge.8.html
[4] - From the upstart-app-launch-tools package.

Blueprint information

Not started
Steve Langasek
James Hunt
Needs approval
Series goal:
Milestone target:

Related branches



= Discussion =
 * does systemd run on Android kernels?
  * stgraber says yes
* systemd and upstart user sessions can be available on the system in parallel, and switched between at runtime much more easily than switching between system inits (launch a guest session etc., no need to reboot). Does this mean we can do an all-at-once conversion, instead of running systemd and upstart session inits in parallel?
* switching will affect Unity's app life cycle management, which is not just a trivial job -> unit conversion (Jamie says ~ 10 lines of code for the AppArmor bits); there's even preliminary patches for systemd to do that, unknown if they already DTRT
* we have few enough jobs that this can be handled as an all-or-nothing conversion, and thus don't need to invest time trying to run both in parallel
* decouple kdbus transition from the session init discussion; kdbus is still a tech preview and far from production ready


Work Items

Dependency tree

* Blueprints in grey have been implemented.