Linux distributions without systemd

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(Available without standard GNU tools)
(Devuan based: hpyerbola is, in fact, arch-based)
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| {{Distro|Exe GNU/Linux|}}{{DW|exe}} || SysV || features Trinity Desktop Environment; amd64, i686
| {{Distro|Exe GNU/Linux|}}{{DW|exe}} || SysV || features Trinity Desktop Environment; amd64, i686
| {{Distro|Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre|}} || OpenRC || ([ 2]) "LTS Arch snapshot versions + security/stability patches ported from Devuan"; amd64, i686
| {{Distro|Refracta|}} || OpenRC || ([ 2]) ([ 3]) amd64, i386; also: ([ Refracta Devuan 2]) Openbox, eudev
| {{Distro|Refracta|}} || OpenRC || ([ 2]) ([ 3]) amd64, i386; also: ([ Refracta Devuan 2]) Openbox, eudev

Revision as of 20:19, 25 May 2018

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

A separate page Linux distributions without systemd/unlisted covers additional distributions which do not adequately meet these criteria.


General purpose


Name Init Package mgmt Details / Notes
4MLinuxDW BusyBox  ? JWM window manager; supported architecture: i386, i686
Alpine LinuxDW OpenRC apk (custom) uses BusyBox and musl libc, supported architectures: i386, x86_64, armhf
Bedrock Linux BusyBox / any any Bedrock Linux can utilize any of a large number of init systems as provided by other distributions
CRUXDW BSD-style initscripts tar.gz-based ports; supported architectures: arm, x86_64
Cucumber LinuxDW SysV from #Slackware Kernel version 4.9 LTS, GNU Userspace utilities, XFCE desktop; i686, x86_64
Dragora GNU/Linux LibreDW Runit  ? desktops: IceWM, spectrwm, XFCE desktop; i585, x86_64
Fatdog64 LinuxDW dumb-init gslapt, SFS Loader (3) x86_64; also FatDogArm for Raspberry Pi2 and Odroid-XU3/XU4
GentooDW OpenRC[1] Portage If Portage is pulling in systemd, please read this. Further suggested reading.
GoboLinuxDW SysV + BootScripts filesystem a source-based distribution which employs a unique file structure (not FHS); supported architecture: x86_64
GuixSDDW GNU Shepherd Guix provides advanced package mgmt features such as transactional upgrades and roll-backs; i686, x86_64; FSF-approved
KaNaPi Bash scripts filesystem educational+game apps; desktops: XFCE and Sugar; supported architectures: i686, x86_64, armhf
Milis Linux (Beta) SysV MPS created with LFS; has a few of its own tools
MisiProject SysV PISI armv7h, x86_64
NuTyXDW SysV cards inspired by LFS & BLFS; its "cards" pkg mgr can install individual or grouped binary packages, and can compile source pkgs from "ports"
OviOS LinuxDW SysV pacman (2) previously used systemd; was rebuilt around sysV init because systemd proved unsuitable for a stable storage system
PCLinuxOSDW SysV APT+RPM desktops: MATE and KDE; supported architecture: amd64
Plop LinuxDW SysV (PXE/liveboot) designed to rescue data from a damaged system, or to backup and repair operating systems; supports: armv6l, i486, x86_64
Puppy LinuxDW SysV Puppy Package Manager Puppy Linux's position on systemd i386, x86_64
SlackwareDW SysV pkgtool, installpkg, ... supported architectures: amd64, i586, s390, arm
Source Mage GNU/LinuxDW custom scripts Sorcery source-based; i386, i486, i586, i686, x86_64
Void LinuxDW runit xbps supported architectures: armv6, armv7, i686, x86_64. supported libcs: glibc, musl

Non general purpose:

  • RancherOSDW a minimalist Linux distribution designed to host Docker containers. Supported architecture: x86_64
  • TLD Linux for server environments (no desktop support except for running VNC/RDP sessions for virtual machine management GUI) ; i686, x86_64

Unclear what init system they use:

Name Init Package mgmt Details / Notes
Tiny Core LinuxDW  ?  ? FLTK/FLWM desktop; i486, x86_64 (also: "CorePlus") (also "piCore" edition, for Raspberry Pi)
Sanity Linux In progress (Open to Suggestions) pkgsrc (formerly, "Pür Linux"), source-based, ports
  • QuirkyDW (3) supports armhf, i386, x86_64
  • LinuxConsoleDW ?what init system?, offers 32 and 64bit editions; MATE or LXDE desktop, tailored to gaming / educational use


  • CruxEX (based on #CRUX) (2)(3) x86_64 available only as a zip file, no iso; LXDE desktop
  • Uplos32 (2) (based on #PCLinuxOS) targets i386 machines; uses APT+RPM package mgmt

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
Obarun s6-rc x86_64
Parabola OpenRC EditionDW OpenRC [2],[3] A part of the GNU project; x86_64, armv7h, i686; FSF-approved

Debian based

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

Name Debian version Init Details / Notes
antiX LinuxDW 9 Stretch SysV flexible remastering and persistence tools. Multiple WMs: JWM+iceWM+fluxbox; amd64, i486
DevuanDW 8 Jessie SysV / OpenRC XFCE desktop; supported architectures: amd64, i686, arm (see: /embedded, and notes)
KNOPPIXDW merge of stable, testing and unstable SysV (video: "Defying systemd") employs systemd-shim
LMDE(Linux Mint Debian Edition) 8 Jessie SysV (faq) Cinnamon or MATE desktop; amd64, i386
MX LinuxDW 9.3 Stretch SysV (Mepis+antiX) XFCE desktop; includes antiX remastering n persistence tools; supported architectures: amd64, i386
Window Maker Live(2)DW 8 Jessie SysV both windowmaker + XFCE are preinstalled; amd64, i386
Devuan based
Name Init Details / Notes
Exe GNU/LinuxDW SysV features Trinity Desktop Environment; amd64, i686
Refracta OpenRC (2) (3) amd64, i386; also: (Refracta Devuan 2) Openbox, eudev

Gentoo based

  • Adélie Linux uses Gentoo's Portage, Alpine's(?) APK package manager, and musl-libc x86 (32/64), PowerPC (32/64), MIPS (32/64), ARM (32-bit)
  • Calculate LinuxDW OpenRC init; Cinnamon, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE, or Xfce (wiki spamfilter block to project site:
  • Chromium OS (2) upstart init (boot-design doc)
  • Funtoo LinuxDW FAQ (source-based; uses git-housed, distributed Portage tree and Funtoo overlay) OpenRC init; i486, i686, x86_64, sparc64
    • Slontoo (based on Funtoo) OpenRC; XFCE 4.12, MATE 1.12
  • 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

Puppy Linux based

  • Legacy OSDWSF (previous name: TEENpup) focused on supporting Pentium 3 and 4 (Sept2017 release ships Linux kernel v2.6.18)

Other pages listing more Puppy Linux derivatives: [4][5][6]

Slackware based

  • Absolute LinuxDW (based on Slackware64-current) IceWM+ROX; supported architectures: i686, amd64
  • Salix OSDW i486, i686, amd64
    • ConnochaetOSDW (based on Slackware+Salix) removes upstream proprietary software and binary blobs, ships free (libre) software only. IceWM; supported architectures: i486, i686
    • SlackelDW (based on Slackware+salix) amd64, i486, i686
    • Slint (2) (3) (based on Slackware + Salix) accessible to visually impaired users (speech and braille device)
  • SARPi (2) Slackware ARM on Raspberry Pi
  • SlaXBMC (2)
  • Superb Mini Server (2) fluxbox WM; i486, amd64
  • Vector Linux (2) i486, amd64
  • ZenwalkDW suported architectures: amd64, i486, i686

Available without standard GNU tools

  • #Alpine Linux
  • EasyOS (2)(3)(4) aufs layered filesystem, containers; ROX desktop
  • JanusLinux (2) BusyBox init, musl libc; supported architectures: x86_64
  • NanoLinuxDW BusyBox init; (derived from Tiny Core Linux : microcore) SLWM window manager. Requires only 14 MB disk space
  • 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 + SysV, 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

See also

Personal tools