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Linux distributions without systemd

From Without Systemd

This article lists Linux distributions which :

  1. have a default init system other than systemd
  2. are open source (accessible source code available for the content of the distributed IMG or ISO)
  3. are actively maintained and provide contact information of the developers
  4. have a website and/or provide end user support via a well-established and maintained forum/mailinglist

General purpose


Name Init Package managers arch Desktops? Details / Notes Security Fixes
Ataraxia Linux OpenRC neko (compatible with CRUX) amd64, x86, ARM, MIPS, PowerPC64 (big and little endians) and RISC-V GNOME, XFCE, DWM, OpenBox, BSPWM, i3, Sway, TWM source based, rolling through rolling
4MLinuxDW BusyBox none, “addons” i386, i686 JWM binary “addons”, fixed no
Adélie Linux OpenRC apk amd64, arm, arm64, x86, ppc, ppc64 KDE, Xfce, Fluxbox, i3, IceWM, Openbox fixed releases, source based, rolling(?), musl libc, beta through rolling(?)
Alpine LinuxDW BusyBox + OpenRC apk (custom) amd64, i386, armhf ? binary packages, fixed, BusyBox, musl libc yes
Carbs Linux sinit + runit KISS source packages amd64 ? snapshot releases, source based rolling through rolling
CRUXDW SysV + /etc/rc.* tar.xz based amd64, arm Openbox fixed releases, source based ports, partly rolling no
Dragora GNU/Linux LibreDW SysV + perp tar.xz based i586, amd64, arm(64), microblaze, mips, powerpc(64), s390x Xfce, IceWM, spectrwm fixed releases, source based, libre no
Fatdog64 LinuxDW dumb-init gslapt, SFS Loader amd64, arm binary packages, fixed no
GentooDW SysV + OpenRC[1] Portage amd64, i486, i586, i686, alpha, arm, hppa, ia64, mips, powerpc, ppc64, sparc64 no Source based, rolling yes
GuixSDDW Shepherd (pure Guile) GNU Guix amd64, i686 Xfce and GNOME binary packages, fixed yes
KISS busybox runit KISS source packages amd64 snapshot releases, source based, rolling through rolling
NuTyXDW SysV cards ? ? fixed releases, binary packages rolling through rolling
PCLinuxOSDW SysV APT+RPM amd64 MATE and KDE fixed releases, binary packages yes
Plop LinuxDW SysV none amd64, armv6l, i486 ? fixed releases, no packages no
Puppy LinuxDW SysV Puppy Package Manager amd64, i386 LXDE fixed releases, binary packages no
SlackwareDW SysV + /etc/rc.d/rc.* installpkg, pkgtool, slackpkg amd64, i586, s390, arm KDE and Xfce fixed releases, binary packages yes
Source Mage GNU/LinuxDW simple-init Sorcery amd64, i386, i486, i586, i686 ? snaphsot releases, source based rolling through rolling
Void LinuxDW runit xbps amd64, armv6, armv7, i686 LXQt binary packages, rolling through rolling

Non general purpose:

  • OviOS LinuxDW, Storage server, uses pacman, amd64
  • RancherOSDW a minimalist Linux distribution designed to host Docker containers. Supported architecture: amd64
  • TLD Linux for server environments (no desktop support except for running VNC/RDP sessions for virtual machine management GUI) ; amd64 and i686

Unclear what init system they use:

Name Init Package mgmt arch Desktops? Details / Notes
Tiny Core LinuxDW BusyBox ? amd64, i486 FLTK/FLWM ; (also: “CorePlus”) (also “piCore” edition, for Raspberry Pi)
LinuxConsoleDW ? ? amd64, i686 MATE and LXDE tailored to gaming / educational use


  • CruxEX (based on #CRUX) (2)(3) x86_64 available only as a zip file, no iso; LXDE desktop

Arch Linux based

Arch Linux's package manager is Pacman.

Name Init Details / Notes
Artix LinuxDW OpenRC/runit eudev, replaces Arch-OpenRC and Manjaro-OpenRC
Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre OpenRC (2) pacman pkg manager; “LTS Arch snapshot versions”; amd64, i686. Switches to OpenBSD, last Linux based release supported until 2022
Obarun s6-rc x86_64
Parabola nosystemd editionDW OpenRC / GNU+Shepherd [2],[3]; A part of the GNU project and FSF-approved; x86_64, armv7h, i686

Debian based

Debian's package manager is dpkg and APT. See DebianReleases.

Name Debian version Init Details / Notes
antiX LinuxDW 10 Buster SysV or runit flexible remastering and persistence tools. Multiple WMs: JWM+iceWM+fluxbox; amd64, i486
TrisquelDW 9 Stretch > Ubuntu 16.04 upstart LXDE and MATE desktops; amd64 and i386
DevuanDW 9 Stretch SysV / OpenRC XFCE desktop; supported architectures: amd64, i686, arm (see: /embedded
KNOPPIXDW merge of stable, testing and unstable SysV (video: “Defying systemd”) employs systemd-shim
MX LinuxDW 10 Buster SysV (Mepis+antiX) XFCE desktop; includes antiX remastering n persistence tools; supported architectures: amd64, i386
GNUstep Live CDDW 9 Stretch SysV GNUstep using WindowMaker; amd64, i686
Devuan based
Name Init Details / Notes
Exe GNU/LinuxDWSysV features Trinity Desktop Environment; amd64, i686
Refracta OpenRC(2) (3) amd64, i386; also: (Refracta Devuan 2) Openbox, eudev
Void Linux based
Name Init Details / Notes
Project Tridentrunitwas based on FreeBSD, switched to Void Linux base end of 2019

Gentoo based

Name Init Details / Notes
Calculate LinuxDW OpenRC init Cinnamon, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE, or Xfce (wiki spamfilter block to project site: calculate-linux.org)
Chromium OS (2) upstart init (boot-design doc)
Funtoo LinuxDW FAQ OpenRC source-based; uses git-housed, distributed Portage tree and Funtoo overlay. amd64, i486, i686, sparc64
Redcore LinuxDW OpenRC or SysV init serves pre-built binary packages from repository; openbox window manager

NOTE: additional Gentoo/*BSD subprojects exist, providing ports to various BSD-derived operating systems. See: Gentoo/Alt

Slackware based

Name Init Details / Notes
Absolute LinuxDW (based on Slackware64-current)SysV IceWM+ROX; supported architectures: i686, amd64
Salix OSDWSysV i486, i686, amd64
SlackelDW (based on Slackware+salix)SysV
Slint (2) (3) (based on Slackware + Salix)SysV accessible to visually impaired users (speech and braille device)
SARPi (2)SysV Slackware ARM on Raspberry Pi
SlaXBMC (2)SysV
ZenwalkDWSysV suported architectures: amd64, i486, i686

Available without standard GNU tools

  • EasyOS (2)(3)(4) aufs layered filesystem, containers; ROX desktop
  • Sabotage Linux (musl libc + BusyBox init) i386, x86_64, MIPS, PowerPC32, ARM(v4t+)
  • (xref) Void Linux
  • XBian (based on Debian) media center distribution for the Raspberry Pi, CuBox-i, and other arm devices (init: Upstart)

Linux from scratch

Linux from ScratchDW is not a distribution, it's a book on how to build your own Linux system from source. It can be used with SysV. i386, x86_64; (also CLFS, aka Cross LFS supports additional architectures: mips, powerpc, ppc64, alpha, sparc, hppa, arm)

Special purpose

  • IPFire (2)(3) (forked from IPCop, based on LFS) firewall distribution for x86 and ARM-based systems; armv5tel, i586, x86_64
  • Maemo Leste (based on Devuan Ascii) for Nokia N900, Nokia N950, Nokia N9 and Motorola Droid 4 mobile phones, Allwinner tablets, and Raspberry Pi 2, 3 and Olimex Lime 2 SBCs[7] mainline Linux; OpenRC init; Hildon desktop; architectures: armel, armhf and amd64
  • PicarOS “suitable for kids from 3 to 12 and teachers” ?; XFWM + LXDE desktop; i486, i686
  • Porteus KioskDW BusyBox init; lightweight kiosk
  • Smoothwall Express Community Edition firewall O/S, provides a web interface
  • TinyPaw-Linux (based on CorePlus) a self-described “passive & aggressive WiFi attack distro”

Live-only distros

  • AUSTRUMIDW bootable live CD, to be run from RAM (iso images via ftp)
  • heads (based on Devuan) The Heads incognito live OS, intended as a systemd-free alternative to Tails, the Amnesia incognito live OS
  • Liveslak Liveslak is the project which generates the ISO images for many variants of the Slackware Live Edition. Supported architectures: i486, i586, amd64.
  • Minimal Linux Live (2)(3) Linux kernel, GNU C library, and BusyBox init; i386, x86_64
  • Parted Magic ?what init system?, liveboot distribution providing disk partitioning and data recovery tools. Openbox WM; i486, i686, x86_64 FOSS? (licensed GPL)
  • PentooDW Gentoo-based security-focused live CD; i686, x86_64
  • PorteusDW (based on Slackware 14.2) lightweight modular live CD/USB; i486, amd64
  • SliTaz GNU/LinuxDW BusyBox init, uses tazpkg, lightweight live CD/USB, supported architectures: armel, i386, x86_64
  • SystemRescueCdDW (Gentoo/OpenRC based system rescue disk) JWM, Xfce; i586
  • TAZ (2)(3) (SliTaz fork) (also: a gentoo-based version ) runs entirely from RAM; openbox desktop
  • ToOpPy Linux (2) (based on PuppyLinux) liveboot, operates completely in RAM; JWM desktop

Embedded devices


  • aldOS Spanish distro, uses upstart, eudev, ConsoleKit2[8]; MATE desktop
  • mdrights live Chinese Liveslak-based distro, mdrights is a Chinese social rights movement; amd64
  • Pisi LinuxDW Turkish distro (sysvinit + python init scripts) x86_64
  • Plamo LinuxDW Japanese Slackware-based distro; i486, amd64
  • Vine LinuxDW Japanese Debian-based distro, Kanji support across most applications; Japanese input support via FreeWnn or Canna input server; i686, powerpc, x86_64
  • WifislaxDW(3) Spanish Slackware-based distro; i486
linux_distributions_without_systemd.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/12 15:56 by protonesso