A list of non-systemd distributions (revisited)

last revised on March 26th 2019

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.  We also have a smaller list of 78 based on Distrowatch data and search engine with a description of each distribution and ranked by popularity.

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 and not vindictive in nature.  So please write a review of the distribution you are using and we will gladly post it.

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

  • antiX Linux (2) sysV init; flexible remastering and persistence tools. Multiple WMs: JWM+iceWM+fluxbox; amd64, i486  (note: Openbox works fine in antiX)
  • Devuan (2)(3) sysV init; XFCE desktop; supported architectures: amd64, i686, arm (see: /embedded, and notes)
      • CROWZ Fluxbox, Openbox, JWM
      • Dynebolic an FSF-approved distribution geared toward users engaged in multimedia production
      • EterTICs EterTICs GNU/Linux-Libre is a 100% libre distribution designed for Latin American community radio environments.  Possibly the first libre distribution to do so.  amd64, i386
      • Exe GNU/Linux features Trinity Desktop Environment; amd64, i686
      • fluXuan using fluxbox, based on MiyoLinux/Devuan/Refracta amd64
      • Good Life Linux
      • GNUinos (2) a Libre distribution; openbox wm; amd64, i686
      • 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
      • Nelum-Dev1 Openbox, XFCE, or MATE desktop
      • Refracta (2) (3)  also: (Refracta Devuan 2) Openbox, eudev, OpenRC ; amd64, i386;
      • Star Linux ships XFCE, Fluxbox, Openbox, Jwm, i3
      • VenenuX ships LXDE (i386)
      • Vuu-Do Linux Openbox or MATE desktop
  • Elive Linux (2)(3)(aka Enlightenment live CD) sysV init; Enlightenment WM; i486
  • Free of Boxes a live-ony image distribution XFCE desktop; (currently in beta)
  • KNOPPIX(2)(3) (video: “Defying systemd”) employs systemd-shim; sysV init
  • MX Linux(2)(3) (Mepis+antiX) XFCE desktop; includes antiX remastering n persistence tools; supported architectures: amd64, i386
  • PostX OpenRC; openbox wm
  • TRIOS Mia OpenRC/ZFS rolling release; XFCE4 wm, rEFInd EFI manager, OpenRC init
  • 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

Gentoo (and derivatives)

  • Gentoo Linux (2)(3)default init is OpenRC. If Portage is pulling in systemd, please read this. Further suggested reading
    • 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
      • Bentōō a user-friendly version of Funtoo linux to new users; x86 platforms (64-bit and 32-bit) with optional pre-configured GNOME and Plasma desktop editions.
    • 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
    • Mazon OS. Mazon OS is a KISS-style operating system built from the Linux From Scratch project. Mazon OS features a custom package manager, called bananapkg, which is implemented as a shell script.
    • 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”
    • Olean Linux. Olean Linux is a Linux distribution from scratch, based on LFS and BLFS concepts. It uses a rolling release update system.
    • Venom Linux. Venom Linux is source based Linux distribution based on Linux From Scratch (LFS) with a BSD-style init system.

Puppy Linux (and derivatives)

Slackware Linux (and derivatives)

Independent

  • 4MLinux (2)(3) (BusyBox init) JWM window manager; supported architecture: i386, i686
  • Adélie Linux evolved away from Gentoo, utilized the abilities of Alpine’s APK package manager, and based on musl-libc, strives for full Posix conformity, while porting to x86 (32/64), PowerPC (32/64), MIPS (32/64), ARM (32-bit)
  • aldOS (2) upstart init, eudev, ConsoleKit2; MATE desktop
  • Avouch Linux. Avouch Linux is a desktop distribution available in GNOME, KDE Plasma, LXQt, and Xfce flavours.
  • 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
  • OS108. OS108 is a desktop-oriented operating system that is based on NetBSD and features the MATE desktop.
  • 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
  • Sculpt OS. Sculpt OS is small distribution of the Genode Operating System Framework. Sculpt uses Genode as a base userland with the NOVA microhypervisor as its kernel. Sculpt supports running legacy OSes as virtual machines using VirtualBox and hardware assisted virtualization. Sculpt features a package manager with packages for virtual machines, a port of the Arora web browser, and games.
  • 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 foradel virtual machine management GUI) ; i686, x86_64
  • Void Linux (2)(3) (runit, xbps) supported architectures: armv6, armv7, i686, x86_64. supported libcs: glibc, musl (last on the list of independents deserves a first place otherwise)

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

 

Please also check a smaller list of 78 distributions based on Distrowatch data and its search engine, with a description of each distribution and popularity ranking (based on Distrowatch visitation of pages).

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

  1. You may want to file your distribution with Distrowatch.com
    After initial listing it takes a year of active development for them to show on their active list.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Devuan FTW! | Piotr J. Walczak – Techno Blog

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