Disabling systemd in Debian 8

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The change to systemd in Debian Jessie has led to some irritating default behaviour, such as tty2 to tty6 no longer being accessible using the Alt-F2 to Alt-F6 key commands. This can be fixed easily by reverting to a sysvinit-style boot:
apt-get install sysvinit-core systemd-sysv-
cp /usr/share/sysvinit/inittab /etc/inittab
apt-get purge systemd
This restores sysvinit-style boot along with tty2 to tty6. It may also introduce a 30-second hang while udev does its stuff. To get rid of the hang, edit the file
/etc/udev/udev.conf
The line
#udev_log="info"
needs to be uncommented and changed to:
udev_log="err"
It will be necessary to build a new initrd.img after modifying udev.conf, eg:
mkinitramfs -o /boot/initrd.img-3.16-3-amd64 3.16-3-amd64

After this the system should boot properly. Alt-F7 no longer switches into X as in earlier versions of Debian, but Alt-Fx (where x is the number of the tty from which startx was launched) does.

To make sure systemd doesn't get re-installed in future updates, apt-pinning can be used. Create the file:
/etc/apt/preferences.d/systemd
which needs to contain the following lines:
Package: systemd
Pin: release o=Debian
Pin-Priority: -1

Note that upgrades to some packages which had nothing to do with init in previous Debian versions may still cause mkinitramfs to generate a new initrd.img after systemd has been disabled. The system will still contain the libsystemd0 package, but this is for compatibility only and is not part of systemd itself.



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Last updated January 25 2016