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toward making an informed choice, consider the available alternatives

  • Arguments against systemd - a wiki sub-page containing discussion+links arranged under topical subsections:
    • Breaking promises, immaturity, and (in)stability
    • Scope creep
    • Absurd bugs and responses
    • Conceptional problems
    • Scope creep leads to vulnerabilities
    • Poor design
    • Ignorance of fundamental operating system concepts

further reading (external links)

open-source operating systems without systemd in the default installation

Linux distributions

GNU & Linux --> GNU/Linux   "A distribution, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts."

Arch Linux derivatives

Crux (and derivatives)

  • Crux (2) mailinglist BSD-style initscripts, tar.gz-based package system + ports; supported architectures: arm, x86_64
    • CruxEX (2) x86_64 (LiveCD produced by Arne Exton, based on Crux) kernel 4.12.10; LXDE
    • Kwort Linux (2) (based on CRUX) Uses BSD-style initscripts; x86_64

Debian derivatives

  • antiX Linux (2) (based on Debian 9 "Stretch") sysV init; flexible remastering and persistence tools. Multiple WMs: JWM+iceWM+fluxbox; amd64, i486
  • Elive Linux (aka Enlightenment live CD) sysV init; Enlightenment WM; i486 (Feb2018 release is based on Debian "wheezy")
  • Free of Boxes A live image distribution based on Debian 9; XFCE desktop; (currently in beta)
  • KNOPPIX (video: "Defying systemd") debian-based, employs systemd-shim; sysV init
  • LMDE 2 (Linux Mint Debian Edition) sysV init; based on Debian 8(Jessie); Cinnamon or MATE desktop; amd64, i386
  • MX Linux (based on Debian stretch 9.3) (Mepis+antiX) XFCE desktop; includes antiX remastering n persistence tools; supported architectures: amd64, i386
  • PostX (based on Debian 8 "Jessie") OpenRC; openbox wm
  • TRIOS Mia OpenRC/ZFS forum (rolling release, based on Debian Jessie) XFCE4 wm, rEFInd EFI manager, OpenRC init
  • Window Maker Live (based on Debian 8 "Jessie") sysV init; both windowmaker + XFCE are preinstalled; amd64, i386

Feb 2018 fact-checking: Devuan still provides only 170 (approx) packages, drawing the rest from Debian repositories. So currently listed among derivatives, vs separate TOC page section.

  • Devuan (2) sysV init; XFCE desktop; supported architectures: amd64, i686, arm (see: /embedded, and notes)
    • CROWZ (based on Devuan 1.0.2) Fluxbox, Openbox, JWM
    • Dynebolic (based on Devuan) an FSF-approved distribution geared toward users engaged in multimedia production
    • Exe GNU/Linux (based on Devuan) features Trinity Desktop Environment; amd64, i686
    • Good Life Linux (based on Devuan)
    • GNUinos (based on Devuan) a Libre distribution; Supported architectures: amd64, i686
    • heads (based on Devuan) The Heads incognito live OS, intended as a systemd-free alternative to Tails, the Amnesia incognito live OS
    • Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre OpenRC (2) "LTS Arch snapshot versions + security/stability patches ported from Devuan"; amd64, i686
    • Maemo Leste (2) (3) (based on Devuan 2.0 Ascii) openrc init ; Hildon desktop; architectures: armel, armhf and amd64
    • MiyoLinux (based on Devuan) Openbox or i3 window manager
    • Nelum-Dev1 (based on Devuan) Openbox, XFCE, or MATE desktop
    • Refracta (2) (3) (based on Devuan) amd64, i386; Nov2017: (Refracta Devuan 2) Openbox, eudev, OpenRC
    • Star Linux (based on Devuan) ships XFCE, Fluxbox, Openbox, Jwm, i3
    • Vuu-Do Linux (based on Devuan) Openbox or MATE desktop

Gentoo (and derivatives)

  • Gentoo Linux default init is OpenRC. If Portage is pulling in systemd, please read this. Further suggested reading
    • 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 Linux (based on Gentoo) OpenRC init; Cinnamon, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE, or Xfce
    • Chromium OS (2) upstart init (boot-design doc)
    • Funtoo Linux (2) FAQ (source-based; uses git-housed, distributed Portage tree and Funtoo overlay) OpenRC init; i486, i686, x86_64, sparc64
    • GaryOS (2) Based on Funtoo/Gentoo; x86 platforms (64-bit and 32-bit)
    • Pentoo (based on Gentoo) security-focused live CD; i686, x86_64
    • Porteus Kiosk (based on Gentoo) BusyBox init; lightweight kiosk
    • PrRescue Gentoo-based rescue cd supporting nilfs2 and btrfs; architectures: i686, amd64
    • Redcore Linux (2) (based on Gentoo) OpenRC or SysV init; serves pre-built binary packages from repository; openbox window manager
    • Slontoo (based on Funtoo) OpenRC; XFCE 4.12, MATE 1.12
    • SystemRescueCd i586 (Gentoo/OpenRC based system rescue disk) JWM, Xfce
    • NOTE: additional Gentoo/*BSD subprojects exist, providing ports to various BSD-derived operating systems. See: Gentoo/Alt

Linux From Scratch (LFS) and derivatives

  • Linux from Scratch i386, x86_64; also CLFS (aka Cross LFS) supports additional architectures: mips, powerpc, ppc64, alpha, sparc, hppa, arm
    • Cromnix GNU/Linux (2)(3) (based on Linux From Scratch) OpenRC(default installed); LFS boot scripts with sysVinit, s6, and runit
    • IPFire (2) (forked from IPCop, based on LFS) firewall distribution for x86 and ARM-based systems; armv5tel, i586, x86_64
    • Milis Linux (based on Linux From Scratch) Milis İşletim Sistemi
    • NuTyX (based on Linux From Scratch)

Puppy Linux (and derivatives)

Slackware Linux (and derivatives)

  • Slackware amd64, i586, s390, arm
    • Absolute Linux (based on Slackware64-current) IceWM+ROX; supported architectures: i686, amd64
    • AUSTRUMI (based on Slackware) bootable live CD, to be run from RAM (iso images via ftp)
    • ConnochaetOS (based on Slackware+Salix) removes upstream proprietary software and binary blobs, ships free (libre) software only. IceWM; supported architectures: i486, i686
    • LiveSlak by mdrights; mdrights is a Chinese social rights movementist; amd64
    • Plamo Linux (based on Slackware) japanese-language distro; i486, amd64
    • Porteus (Slackware based lightweight modular live CD/USB) i486, amd64
    • Salix (based on Slackware) i486, i686, amd64
    • SARPi (2) Slackware ARM on Raspberry Pi
    • Slackel (based on Slackware+salix) amd64, i486, i686
    • SlaXBMC (2) (based on SlackwareARM 14.2); amd64, i686, arm
    • Slint (2) (3) based on Slackware + Salix
    • Superb Mini Server (2) (based on Slackware) fluxbox WM; i486, amd64
    • Vector Linux (based on Slackware) i486, amd64
    • wifislax 2 (based on Slackware) i486
    • Zenwalk (2) (3) (based on Slackware) suported architectures: amd64, i486, i686


  • 4MLinux 2) (BusyBox init) JWM window manager; supported architecture: i386, i686
  • aldOS (2) upstart init, eudev, ConsoleKit2; MATE desktop
  • Bedrock Linux (2) (BusyBox / any) Bedrock Linux can utilize any of a large number of init systems as provided by other distributions
  • Cucumber Linux (2) sysV init; Linux Kernel version 4.9 LTS, GNU Userspace utilities, XFCE desktop; i686, x86_64
  • Dragora GNU/Linux Libre (2) Runit init; desktops: IceWM, spectrwm, XFCE desktop; i585, x86_64
  • Fatdog64 Linux (2) (3) x86_64; also FatDogArm for Raspberry Pi2 and Odroid-XU3/XU4
  • GoboLinux (2) sysv init + BootScripts a source-based distribution which employs a unique file structure (not FHS); supported architecture: x86_64
  • Guix System Distribution (GuixSD) provides advanced package mngmt features such as transactional upgrades and roll-backs; i686, x86_64; FSF-approved
  • KaNaPi (2), (3), (4) educational+game apps; desktops: XFCE and Sugar; supported architectures: i686, x86_64, armhf
  • Linux Console MATE or LXDE desktop, 32bit and 64bit versions, tailored to gaming / educational use
  • MisiProject sysV init, using pisi package manager; armv7h, x86_64
  • Moebius Linux armhf changelog minimal (no X) distro currently focused on RaspberryPi v3
  • OviOS Linux (Independent) previously used systemd; was rebuilt around Sysvinit because systemd proved unsuitable for a stable storage system.
  • Parted Magic liveboot distribution providing disk partitioning and data recovery tools. Openbox WM; i486, i686, x86_64 FOSS? (licensed GPL)
  • PCLinuxOS (2) (3) (4) APT+RPM package mgmt; provides 2 desktop versions: MATE and KDE; supported architecture: amd64
    • Uplos32 (2) (based on PCLinuxOS) targets i386 machines; uses APT+RPM package mgmt
  • PicarOS "suitable for kids from 3 to 12 and teachers"  ; XFWM; desktop environment: LXDE; i486, i686
  • Pisi Linux (sysvinit + python init scripts) x86_64
  • Plop Linux (PXE/liveboot) designed to rescue data from a damaged system, or to backup and repair operating systems; supports: armv6l, i486, x86_64
  • Quirky (2) 93) supports armhf, i386, x86_64
  • RancherOS a minimalist Linux distribution designed to host Docker containers. Supported architecture: x86_64
  • SliTaz (Lightweight live CD/USB using BusyBox + SysVinit) supported architectures: armel, i386, x86_64
  • Source Mage GNU/Linux (a source-based distribution) i386, i486, i586, i686, x86_64
  • TAZ (2) (SliTaz fork) (also: a gentoo-based version ) runs entirely from RAM; openbox desktop
  • Tiny Core Linux, (2) FLTK/FLWM desktop. i486, x86_64 (also "piCore" edition, for Raspberry Pi)
  • TLD Linux for server environments (no desktop support except for running VNC/RDP sessions for virtual machine management GUI) ; i686, x86_64
  • Univention Corporate Server v4.2 (Sept 2017) GRUB menu offers choice of systemd or sysvinit
  • Void Linux (runit, xbps) supported architectures: armv6, armv7, i686, x86_64. supported libcs: glibc, musl

Linux distributions available without standard GNU tools

Android derivatives

Linux distributions tailored for embedded devices

  • CeroWrt
  • ChibiOS/RT 2, forum ARM7, Cortex-M0, Cortex-M3, Cortex-M4, PowerPC e200z, STM8, AVR, MSP430, ColdFire, H8S, x86
  • DD-WRT
  • DevuanEmbedded (xref: Devuan GNU+Linux)
  • Gargoyle
  • LEAF (Linux Embedded Appliance Framework) xref: Bering-uClibc
  • LEDE Project (2) (3) (OpenWRT sibling / successor) Linux Embedded Development Environment
  • libreCMC (LibreWRT successor) supports a wide range of routers, plus some small single board computers. FSF-approved
  • OpenWRT (xref: LEDE Project) provides a fully writable filesystem, and package management.
  • PiBox (BusyBox init) an embedded distribution for the Raspbery Pi
  • ProteanOS (2) (BusyBox init) an FSF-approved Linux-libre distribution for embedded systems


  • FreeBSD amd64, arm, i386, and so on
    • BSD Router Project (2) (BSDRP) an embedded free and open source router distribution based on FreeBSD; i386, amd64
    • ClonOS (2) FreeBSD-based platform for virtual environment creation and management; amd64
    • GhostBSD amd64, GTK 3 graphical libraries featured
    • HardenedBSD (2) (3) a security-enhanced fork of FreeBSD; amd64
    • MidnightBSD, GNUstep graphical libraries featured
    • RaspBSD special build of FreeBSD (2016) for RaspberryPi and other embedded devices; desktops: Openbox and LXDE; armhf
    • TrueOS (previous name: PC-BSD) lightweight, desktop/workstation oriented; provides Lumina desktop environment; amd64, arm ("Pico" release)
  • FreeBSD derivatives tailored for embedded devices
    • FreeNAS
    • NAS4Free
    • OPNsense (based on FreeBSD and pfSense]) tailored for firewalls and routers. amd64 and i386
    • pfSense virtual appliances as liveUSB or embedded devices

Other BSD



Illumos (formerly OpenSolaris)



Plan 9


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