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toward making an informed choice, consider the available alternatives

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

  • Artix Linux (2) (replaces Manjaro OpenRC) Arch + OpenRC + eudev
  • Obarun(2)(3) uses s6-rc; (x86_64)
  • Parabola GNU/Linux-libre OpenRC Edition (2)(3) A part of the GNU project; x86_64, armv7h, i686; FSF-approved

Crux (and derivatives)

  • Crux (2)(3) mailinglist BSD-style initscripts, tar.gz-based package system + ports; supported architectures: arm, x86_64
    • CruxEX (2) x86_64 available only as a zip file, no iso; LXDE desktop
    • Kwort Linux (2) (3) Uses BSD-style initscripts; x86_64

Debian derivatives

  • antiX Linux 2 sysV init; flexible remastering and persistence tools. Multiple WMs: JWM+iceWM+fluxbox; amd64, i486
  • KNOPPIX(2)(3) (video: "Defying systemd") employs systemd-shim; sysV init
  • LMDE 2 (Linux Mint Debian Edition) (faq) sysV init; Cinnamon or MATE desktop; amd64, i386
  • MX Linux(2)(3) (Mepis+antiX) XFCE desktop; includes antiX remastering n persistence tools; supported architectures: amd64, i386
  • Vine Linux (2)(3) Kanji support across most applications; Japanese input support via FreeWnn or Canna input server; i686, powerpc, x86_64
  • Window Maker Live(2)(3) sysV init; both windowmaker + XFCE are preinstalled; amd64, i386

Devuan (and derivatives)

  • Devuan (2)(3) sysV init; XFCE desktop; supported architectures: amd64, i686, arm (see: /embedded, and notes)
    • Exe GNU/Linux features Trinity Desktop Environment; amd64, i686
    • GNUinos (2) a Libre distribution; openbox wm; amd64, i686
    • heads 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) openrc init ; Hildon desktop; architectures: armel, armhf and amd64
    • MiyoLinux Openbox or i3 window manager
    • Refracta (2) (3) amd64, i386; also: (Refracta Devuan 2) Openbox, eudev, OpenRC

Gentoo (and derivatives)

  • Gentoo Linux (2)(3)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 (2) OpenRC init; Cinnamon, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE, or Xfce (wiki spamfilter block to project site:
    • Chromium OS (2) upstart init (boot-design doc)
    • CloverOS OpenRC; FVWM or, at boot, install and load any DE/WM via ~/.bash_profile
    • 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 (2) security-focused live CD; i686, x86_64
    • Porteus Kiosk (2) BusyBox init; lightweight kiosk
    • Redcore Linux(2) 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 (2)(3) (Gentoo/OpenRC based system rescue disk) JWM, Xfce; i586
    • 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 (2)(3) i386, x86_64; (also CLFS, aka Cross LFS supports additional architectures: mips, powerpc, ppc64, alpha, sparc, hppa, arm)
    • Cromnix GNU/Linux(2) OpenRC; LFS boot scripts with sysVinit, s6, and runit; "pacman" package manager
    • IPFire (2)(3) (forked from IPCop, based on LFS) firewall distribution for x86 and ARM-based systems; armv5tel, i586, x86_64
    • Milis Linux Milis Isletim Sistemi
    • NuTyX(2) its "cards" pkg mgr can install individual or grouped binary packages, and can compile source pkgs from "ports"

Puppy Linux (and derivatives)

  • Puppy Linux (2) (3)(4) Puppy Linux's position on systemd i386, x86_64
    • Legacy OS (2) (3) (previous name: TEENpup) Pentium 3 and 4 (Sept2017 release still has Linux kernel v2.6.18)
    • ToOpPy Linux (2) liveboot, operates completely in RAM; JWM desktop
    • pages describing the MANY additional Puppy Linux derivatives ---} (1)(2)(3)

Slackware Linux (and derivatives)

  • Slackware (2)(3) supported architectures: amd64, i586, s390, arm
    • Absolute Linux (2) IceWM+ROX; supported architectures: i686, amd64
    • AUSTRUMI (2)(3) bootable live CD, to be run from RAM (iso images via ftp)
    • ConnochaetOS (2) 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(2) japanese-language distro; i486, amd64
    • Porteus (2)(3) lightweight modular live CD/USB; i486, amd64
    • Salix OS (2) (2) i486, i686, amd64
    • SARPi (2) Slackware ARM on Raspberry Pi
    • Slackel (2) amd64, i486, i686
    • SlaXBMC ( 2)
    • Slint (2) (3)
    • Superb Mini Server (2) fluxbox WM; i486, amd64
    • Vector Linux (2) i486, amd64
    • Wifislax(2)(3) i486
    • Zenwalk (2)(3)(4) suported architectures: amd64, i486, i686


  • 4MLinux (2)(3) (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)(3) sysV init; Linux Kernel version 4.9 LTS, GNU Userspace utilities, XFCE desktop; i686, x86_64
  • Dragora GNU/Linux Libre (2)(3) 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)(3) sysv init + BootScripts a source-based distribution which employs a unique file structure (not FHS); supported architecture: x86_64
  • Guix System Distribution (2(3)(GuixSD) provides advanced package mgmt 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
  • LinuxConsole 2018 (2) offers 32 and 64bit editions; MATE or LXDE desktop, tailored to gaming / educational use
  • Lombix (still alpha) sysV init; source compiled; eack pkg in its own directory (not FHS); no initramfs, no PAM; fluxbox wm
  • 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 (2) previously used systemd; was rebuilt around sysV init 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 + LXDE desktop; i486, i686
  • Pisi Linux (2) (sysvinit + python init scripts) x86_64
  • Plop Linux (2)(PXE/liveboot) designed to rescue data from a damaged system, or to backup and repair operating systems; supports: armv6l, i486, x86_64
  • Quirky (2)(3) supports armhf, i386, x86_64
  • RancherOS (2) a minimalist Linux distribution designed to host Docker containers. Supported architecture: x86_64
  • Sanity Linux (2) (formerly, "Pür Linux") source-based, ports
  • SliTaz GNU/Linux (2) (Lightweight live CD/USB using BusyBox + SysVinit) supported architectures: armel, i386, x86_64
  • Source Mage GNU/Linux(2) (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)(3) FLTK/FLWM desktop; i486, x86_64 (also: "CorePlus") (also "piCore" edition, for Raspberry Pi)
    • TinyPaw-Linux (based on CorePlus) a self-described "passive & aggressive WiFi attack distro"
  • TLD Linuxfor server environments (no desktop support except for running VNC/RDP sessions for virtual machine management GUI) ; i686, x86_64
  • Void Linux (2)(3) (runit, xbps) supported architectures: armv6, armv7, i686, x86_64. supported libcs: glibc, musl

Linux distributions available without standard GNU tools

  • Alpine Linux (2)(3) (musl libc, BusyBox + OpenRC) supported architectures: i386, x86_64, armhf
  • Easy Linux (2)
  • JanusLinux BusyBox init, musl libc; supported architectures: x86_64
  • Minimal Linux Live (2) Linux kernel, GNU C library, and BusyBox init; i386, x86_64
  • NanoLinux (2)(3) BusyBox init; SLWM window manager. Requires only 14 MB disk space
  • Sabotage Linux (musl libc + BusyBox init) i386, x86_64, MIPS, PowerPC32, ARM(v4t+)
  • (musl libc) x86_64, armhf
  • Void Linux (2) (runit, xbps) supported architectures: armv6, armv7, i686, x86_64. supported libcs: glibc, musl
  • XBian (based on debian) media center distribution for the Raspberry Pi, CuBox-i, and other arm devices (init: Upstart)

Android derivatives

the Android operating system uses a Linux kernel. :: Android

  • Android-x86 (2) Android O/S, ported to x86 platform (bootable on x86 hardware). Supported architectures: i386, x86_64
    • AndEX Oreo 8.1 runs apps from Aptoide App Manager and Google Play Store on touchscreen x86 laptop
  • AOSP
  • LineageOS (2) successor of CyanogenMod
  • Replicant (2) is the free (libre) version of Android. FSF-approved

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 (2) a Linux based alternative OpenSource firmware suitable for a variety of WLAN routers and embedded systems
  • DevuanEmbedded (xref: Devuan GNU+Linux)
  • Gargoyle work is underway to port Gargoyle to the latest version of LEDE
  • 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 (2) (xref: LEDE Project) provides a fully writable filesystem, and package management.
  • PiBox (BusyBox init) an embedded distribution for the Raspbery Pi
  • postmarketOS (2)(3) a touch-optimized, pre-configured Alpine Linux tailored for smartphones and other mobile devices
  • ProteanOS (2) (BusyBox init) an FSF-approved Linux-libre distribution for embedded systems

BSD-derived operating systems

wikipedia :: Comparison of BSD operating systems

  • DragonFlyBSD(2)
  • FreeBSD(2) amd64, arm, i386, and so on
    • BSD Router Project (2) (BSDRP) an embedded free and open source router distribution ; i386, amd64
    • ClonOS (2) platform for virtual environment creation and management; amd64
    • GhostBSD(2) amd64; GTK3 graphical libraries featured
    • HardenedBSD(2) (3) a security-enhanced fork of **FreeBSD; amd64
    • MidnightBSD(2)(3) GNUstep graphical libraries featured
    • TrueOS (formerly: PC-BSD) OpenRC; desktop/workstation oriented; Lumina desktop environment; amd64 (the "Pico" release also supports arm)
    • FreeBSD subprojects tailored for embedded devices
      • FreeNAS(2)
      • NAS4Free(2)
      • OPNsense(2) tailored for firewalls and routers. amd64 and i386
      • pfSense(2) virtual appliances as liveUSB or embedded devices
      • RaspBSD(2) special build of FreeBSD (2016) for RaspberryPi and other embedded devices; desktops: Openbox and LXDE; armhf
  • NetBSD(2) emphasizes portability, across many architectures
    • MirBSD aka "MirOS"
  • OpenBSD(2) emphasizes portability, standardization, correctness, proactive security and integrated cryptography
    • Bitrig(2) focuses on using modern tools, e.g. git and LLVM/clang; and targets only modern platforms, e.g. amd64, armv7
    • Fuguita (architecture: i386) Japanese
  • PureDarwin

other UNIX-like

  • MINIX (2) microkernel O/S, with user mode divided into small, insulated modules to enhance system reliability
  • illumos (formerly OpenSolaris) derivatives
    • DilOS
    • OmniOSOmniOS Community Edition(illumos)
    • OpenIndiana(2) (modern OpenSolaris, illumos)
    • SmartOS (2) (illumos)
    • Tribblix ( 2) an OpenSolaris-derived distribution with a retro feel, based on the illumos core
    • XStreamOS(2) (illumos kernel)
    • v9os (2) server-only, IPS-based minimal SPARC distribution of illumos
  • Sortix
  • Redox


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