Choosing a distribution

Rashkae ubuntu at
Tue Nov 6 18:50:48 UTC 2007

Chris Jones wrote:
>> Ubuntu - Debian just use one run level.   If you don't install or at  
>> least prevent gdm et al. from starting then you have the equivalent.   
>> And, as you say, run startx as needed.   Of course, there's always  
>> the argument that you shouldn't use X on a server at all - more  
>> software=more problems...
> I am a long term Fedora user myself and I'm quite use to the way init 
> levels are used there. I currently experimenting with ubuntu (pretty 
> happy I must say), but I fail to see the advantage of the debian/ubuntu 
> way of doing things with one init level. Being able to drop down to init 
> 3, to fix some X issue, then jumping back to 5, without rebooting was 
> very useful.
> I'm sure there must be some reasoning, so maybe someone could try and 
> convince me why the debian/ubuntu way is better ;)
> cheers Chris

Switching to runlevel 3 just to do system maintenance before rebooting 
is the wrong thing to do.  There's no harm in it for a single user 
desktop, but in theory, Runlevel 3 enables all network deamons / server 
software for network use.  The correct way to 'fixing' X problems is to 
use Runlevel 1 (Single User Maintenace mode, or rescue mode) and that 
still works the same in Ubuntu.

As for your example of fixing X while the system is running *without* 
rebooting, for most X failures, that still works as normal.  Either gdm 
fails to start, or you kill gdm, fix X, then restart gdm service,  you 
don't need to hop around runlevels to do that.  The only time you would 
need rescue mode operation is if X was so badly mussed/bugged that it 
completely locks up.

For most real world situations, there's no need to have both runlevel 3 
and runlevel 5 as boot options.. The only question is, do you want a 
display manager to start by default or not?  If the answer for you is 
not (runlevel 3 users), simply remove gdm from your services start up. 
(You can delete the link file, use the command line sysV update utility 
whose syntax I forget, or the nifty GUI startup services manager, 
whatever floats your boat.)

If you really do need to create additional runlevel so your computer 
boots differently depending on how you configure it, you're free to do 
so.  Runlevels 3, 4, and 5 are available for you to customize however 
you desire.  (Since there is no innittab anymore, I think you need to 
specify your desired runlevel in the kernel boot parameters.  But that's 
ok, methinks, having all your custom created runlevels in the Grub boot 
menu makes more sense.)

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