Artist's depiction of the Linux process reaper Artist's depiction of the Linux process reaper

In another example of boldness and forward thinking innovation, systemd has dropped support for reaping defunct processes allowing them to stay in the process table until the system is rebooted.

The move is heralded by the systemd developers as a bold move forward into a better future of process communication.

“We just don’t think processes need to get reaped,” Lennart Poettering, lead developer of systemd, is quoted as saying. “We gave it a lot of thought at Red Hat, internally, and we think this is an outdated way of thinking about processes.”

In fact, the systemd developers believe that processes and, more importantly, process IDs need to go away completely.

“With the development of D-Bus, we really don’t see a reason to have process IDs at all. Each process gets a unique bus name and we don’t see any reason to not use those to refer to the individual ‘processes’ going forward.”

“Keeping a unique bus name around consumes very little memory and because everything is asynchronous there’s no user lag for sending signals to those clients that are no longer listening.”

Still, the systemd developers are aware that people may be attached to their process IDs.

“We don’t plan on immediately deprecating process IDs. We have a daemon, systemd-processidd, that is going to be responsible for translating between D-Bus and more outdated operations.”

During the transition the venerable and extremely outdated utility ps is being replaced with the much more simple to remember and invoke systemctl process-list.

“We think it’ll be a net gain for new users,” Poettering said.

If you need even more control, the old standby flag --output will work with the new process-list command. You can get your process list in JSON or XML.

Given how venerable the process ID idiom is, the developers are moving forward slowly and with caution so as to not upset long-time Linux users. The change is expected to be out in all stable releases of systemd by the end of the week and ps will be completely removed by the end of next month.