A list of non-systemd distributions (revisited)

Inspired by but not fully agreeing with without-systemd and their list of distributions we began editing our own.  Hopefully we can keep up the pace and discover new additions but we honor suggestions and contributions from others.

Other than the list of distributions there is also a forum for such distributions and projects nosystemd.icyboards.net Why it was needed is answered here

If you have direct recent experience with any of the following on the list of distributions please add your comments, correct the list, add more, it would be nice to be able to track all of them, but we can’t.  Whether positive or negative reviews and criticism we would gladly host it, as long as it appears honest.

Free and Open-Source (FOSS) linux operating systems without systemd in the default installation

GNU/Linux distributions

Arch Linux derivatives

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

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: calculate-linux.org)
    • 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
    • PrRescue rescue cd supporting nilfs2 and btrfs; architectures: i686, amd64
    • 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)(3) OpenRC; LFS boot scripts with sysVinit, s6, and runit; “pacman” package manager  (note: this does not really exist anymore, it was abandoned and the effort of the Cromnix creator was transferred into Artix Linux)
    • 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)

Slackware Linux (and derivatives)


  • 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 Linux for 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+)
  • sta.li (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. wikipedia.org :: 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



6 thoughts on “A list of non-systemd distributions (revisited)

  1. you know i thought about adding fig os to the w/osd wiki, perhaps you could add it here: fig os / formerly refractahrpup https://archive.org/details/Puppy_Linux_Refractapup

    the internet archive was and is the only place i know where you can download an .iso for it. the isos are done by allytonx, an archivist from the puppy linux community. fig os was a hybrid of refracta and puppy tahr, it still includes some files from librepup (tahr based.) it is mostly a modified refracta.

    the most unique feature of fig os (inspired by puppys self-described “reckless” everything-as-root philosophy, with some added sanity) is that it is a proper user-level-account-based debian (devuan) with a “root desktop.” icewm is running as user, like it should. programs run from icewm run as user– like they should. the instance of pcmanfm (which provides the desktop icons) allows you to click on desktop icons that run as root.

    if that sounds horrible, kill the script that spawns the root desktop (/root/desktops) and then kill pcmanfm– no more root desktop. delete, rename or move /root/desktops and it wont come back, even on reboot. im spoiled by it, ive got the convenience of puppy and its just as easy to run user-privileged apps from the menu, or super-t opens a user-privileged xterm.

    what else has fig os got? an educational programming language and 44 (or 88) page tutorial, a minimalist remaster script written it in that language, so if you dont want to modify and/or redistribute a cd-sized iso you can modify and/or redistribute a 60k script instead. im looking for a future where distros are superseded by free software apps– mkfigos takes about 20 minutes (not including download time) to modify refracta and produce a new bootable .iso, unsupervised. most of that time goes to the squashfs– with lower compression, you can produce the .iso in closer to 5 minutes (a good setting for modification/debugging.)


  2. It seems as most of the list was compiled from Distrowatch research and anything not on distrowatch is up for grubs from whatever comes up first on glueglue. I corrected the record, check and see if it is OK.


  3. I made a note on the wiki of nosystemd.org as well with the edit, I hope they notice soon.

    Do you have anything against distrowatch, why not make a listing submission there as well? I think they take a year to submit unless they can tell it has been an ongoing project for longer than a year.

    On the indication of architecture, since I am not familiar with slackware other than briefly trying vector, is i486 correct for 32bit, I see i686 and other notations about it. Is this about the PAE difference?


  4. Well, liveslak is not a distro in itself. It’s just a series of scripts to make a Live Edition out of Slackware proper.
    I think that too many entries in the Distrowatch database are unfit to call themselves a “distro”. Anything which won’t survive on its own without the “mother distro” is just a side project as far as I am concerned.
    I did get recognition from Distrowatch in the form of a donation, for which I was grateful.


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