"We don't want to be forced to use systemd in substitution to the traditional UNIX sysvinit init, because systemd betrays the UNIX philosophy," a group of unnamed "veteran UNIX admins" writes at the campaign's website, debianfork.org.
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Systemd, essentially, is a piece of software designed to be the first thing that runs in a given Linux session, initializing the various services required for a user to do work. It's a replacement for the venerable init process, which dates back to the days of Unix. According to its proponents, it's a badly needed modernization of an archaic process, letting systems boot faster and reducing system resource overhead.
Critics, however, are suspicious of systemd. The aforementioned Unix philosophy cited by the debianfork.org group states that "software should do one thing, and do it well" - a principal that a piece of software as broad-based and unitary as systemd arguably violates. Skeptics like kernel developer Ted Ts'o, Slackware founder Patrick Volkerding and many others have cited "mission creep" as a serious concern.
While the website protesters state that they're prepared for the task of forking Debian, former Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon expressed incredulity at the idea.