So I was trying to help a first time poster find out why docker wasn't started on his Ubuntu 18.04 - this is the thread.

In trying to help him, I was asking about the output of systemctl status docker, since I was 100% convinced that if you use Ubuntu, you are also using systemd as the Init system.

However, as it turned out, he finally posted this output: System has not been booted with systemd as init system (PID 1). Can't operate.

I'm not sure if this is because that's how WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) works, or if it's another reason. But anyhow the case is, that if it's not running systemd I'm not really aware how to help.

So this got me thinking a little bit further: How much can you change and customize on your Ubuntu system before it's not official anymore? I tried to search here, and found this earlier thread. But this only touches upon applications, and I'm thinking more if you're actually changing and customizing core system components.

So to sum up:

  • Is there a limit to how much of the core system you can change, and still expect support on this site? If yes, where is that line (approximately)?
  • Or is it OK to hack all that you want (as long as you started on an official Ubuntu distro), but knowing the risk that the more you change your system from default, the harder it might be to get help?
  • And finally, in the particular case: Does anyone know if it's a WSL issue that systemd might not be the Init system? And is it something that we/I generally need to consider when trying to help, that there might be another Init system than systemd? (I must confess that before this, I didn't even think this was a possibility).
  • 1
    Old Ubuntu versions (pre 18.04) were using Upstart or Sysvinit. However, if they had upgraded to 18.04 from an older system they may still be on Sysvinit or Upstart. There is nothing stopping uses from using sysvinit or upstart, other than that most stuff isn't written for those systems now. WSL systems should be SystemD, but if it's not then it's possible they're using wsl1 or an old WSL deployment. That doesn't make it offtopic here, the old form of checking services should still work sudo service docker status for example.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 3:33
  • 1
    @Thomas you mean pre-15.04? Only 15.04 itself had the option to switch between upstart and systemd for the system services iirc, and I think between 15.10 and 16.10, upstart was still used only for user sessions. Upstart is no longer in the repositories, so users would have to build it themselves to switch.
    – muru
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 3:45
  • @muru doesn't stop them using sysvinit, nor does that necessarily make it offtopic if they've adjusted their system to use sysvinit instead of systemd.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 3:47
  • I also believe that systemd has been default since 15.04, which means any distro without systemd would most likely be EOL. You're also right that the old way of checking still works, but the output may differ, which makes it harder to troubleshoot if you don't know what to expect. But it sounds like that's just another possibility that must be considered when giving troubleshooting advice. Commented May 23, 2021 at 6:46
  • 2
    I think this can be boiled down to a duplicate of Can I ask about a problem with a non-Ubuntu kernel here?. If you installed an Ubuntu, then no matter what you do to it, it's still an Ubuntu and on topic here.
    – terdon
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 13:32


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