Version bump to systemd-43 / Move to /usr

(This is the same as the news item but I want this to get maximum exposure.)

Read ALL of this, it’s important to everyone using systemd.

Up to systemd[=42] we installed boot-critical components to / and others to /usr. This split was causing issues with respect to tmpfiles, intrinsic dependencies and dependencies on stuff on /usr.

systemd[=43] finally removes this split and installs everything but udev and pam stuff to /usr.

This won’t matter much to you if you don’t have /usr split from / (it should not be split; cf.

Even if you don’t have /usr != /, you need to update all packages that install to /${LIBDIR}/systemd/system because that got moved, too, of course. I’ve rev-bumped all packages, that install their own custom systemd units but even after you’ve updated those, you’ll still have some in /${LIBDIR}/systemd/system. Find out which package they belong to (use cave owner) and re-install them.

Should you forget to do so, you might end up in systemd’s emergency mode. If that happens, don’t panic. Get your network connection up and continue updating/re-installing. You’ll live, I promise.

There might be orphaned systemd units left behind. Check those on your own and decide if you need to move them to /etc/systemd/system. If you do, don’t forget to systemctl disable and then enable them.

You’ll also have some broken symlinks in /etc/systemd/system pointing to /${LIBDIR}/systemd/system. To fix those, all you have to do is disable and re-enable the respective unit. Here’s how to do it quickly and easily:

for link in $(find -L /etc/systemd/system -type l); do
systemctl disable $(basename ${link});
systemctl enable $(basename ${link});

Final sanity checks:

1. Is /${LIBDIR/systemd gone? If so, carry on; if not, you missed a step. Go back and find out which one.

2. No broken symlinks in /etc/systemd/system anymore? (“find -L /etc/systemd/system -type l” doesn’t output anything) If so, carry on. Otherwise, you missed a step. Go back and find out which one.

If you do NOT have /usr separated from /, you’re done now and it should be safe to reboot if you so desire.

If you do have /usr separated from /, you’ll have to use an initramfs (preferrably created by dracut) for booting from systemd[=43] onwards.

The first step to using an initramfs is enabling CONFIG_BLK_DEV_INITRD in your kernel, recompiling and installing it. If you want to switch from a custom initramfs to dracut, don’t forget to empty CONFIG_INITRAMFS_SOURCE in your kernel configuration either if you have been using it before.

If you want to use dracut (sys-boot/dracut[>=14]), install it and add


to /etc/dracut.conf. If you have some weird configuration, you might need to add further dracut or kernel modules. In general, though, dracut is going to pick up everything you’ll need to boot.

Now run dracut to create your shiny new initramfs:

dracut -H <initramfs filename incl. path> <kernel version>

e. g.

dracut -H /boot/init-3.2.5.gz 3.2.5-00001-gf74dd96

-H (or –hostonly) tells dracut to build an initramfs for the machine it’s running on. Leaving it out should create a HUGE generic initramfs that should bascially be able to boot everything. In reality, leaving -H out usually builds something that doesn’t boot anything.

Next, update grub’s config so that it includes a root= parameter for the kernel command line and your new initramfs, e. g.:

(for grub-0.9x’s menu.lst)
title Exherbo Linux
root (hd0,1)
kernel /kernel-3.2.5-00001-gf74dd96 root=/dev/primary/uselv
initrd /init-3.2.5.gz


(for grub-1.9x’s grub.cfg)
menuentry “Exherbo Linux” {
set root=(hd0,1)
linux /kernel-3.2.5-00001-gf74dd96 root=/dev/primary/uselv
initrd /init-3.2.5.gz

Do NOT forget the root= parameter. It’s essential.

(Of course, you need to adjust paths and filenames to your setup but if I need to tell you that, you shouldn’t be using Exherbo in the first place.)

If you’re using a custom initramfs, you must make sure that you mount /usr as early as possible but definitely before systemd (/sbin/init) starts. If you’re rolling your own initramfs, you should know how to accomplish that.

After you’ve updated your grub configuration, systemd is updated and your kernel is ready, too, say a little prayer 😉 and reboot.

Best regards, Wulf

I am and have been working on quite a few F/OSS projects:
  • Exherbo (Nick: Philantrop)
  • Gentoo (Nick: Philantrop)
  • Calibre plugin iOS reader applications
  • Calibre plugin Marvin XD
  • chroot-manager
  • stuff on github
  • Lots of other projects
  • If you like my work, feel free to donate. 🙂

    4 thoughts on “Version bump to systemd-43 / Move to /usr

    1. Hello Wulf,

      thanks for the very good explanation.
      What I did after upgrading to systemd-43, to find out which packages to reinstall regarding systemd, was:

      cave search -m */*::installed -k MYOPTIONS systemd

      This gave me all the packages I installed so far with systemd support.
      What I did not find out, how to filter the list of packages with names only (no details).

      Keep up the great work!


    2. Quick question: by /usr separate from /, do you mean that /bin for example is just a symlink to /usr/bin or that / and /usr are on the same partition? Is it ok to just merge the two by doing:

      #mv -r /bin/* /usr/bin
      #rm /bin
      #/usr/bin/ln -s /usr/bin bin

      For all of the directories in / (root)?

      1. No, by “separate /usr” I people who have a /usr that’s not located on the same partition as / itself. So, this: “/ and /usr are on the same partition”.

        And, no, you can’t just move things around like that. You should increase the size of your / partition and move /usr back onto it or use an initramfs as described. Unless you have a simple way to make / larger, you should probably use dracut.

        1. Ah ok, just misunderstood 🙂 I have plenty of space on my root partition and /usr is on the same partition. Thanks for clarifying!

    Leave a Reply