A list of non-systemd distributions (revisited)

last revised on February 26th2020

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 65 linux distributions without systemd as init with a summary description and link to their site.

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

  • Alfheim Linux OpenRC init, Openbox; beta status as of Jan 2018
  • Artix Linux (2) (replaced Manjaro OpenRC and Arch OpenRC gradually becoming independent of Arch) Utilizes OpenRC, Runit, and S6 as init systems; amd64
  • Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre OpenRC (2) “LTS Arch snapshot versions + security/stability patches ported from Devuan”; amd64, i686 is deprecating this linux base and moving to OpenBSD.
  • Obarun (2)(3) uses s6 s6-rc and its own 66 service management; (x86_64) on top of Arch.
  • Parabola GNU/Linux-libre OpenRC Edition (2)(3) A part of the GNU project; x86_64, armv7h, i686; FSF-approved
  • Spark Linux (sinit init ssm service manager) Arch Linux without systemd, with a few lines of script for an init and another few lines of script for service management.

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 great in antiX)
  • Devuan (2)(3) sysV or OpenRC 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
      • 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
  • Free of Boxes (1) a live-ony image distribution XFCE desktop;
  • KNOPPIX(2)(3) (video: “Defying systemd” & article) employs systemd-shim; sysV init
    Since 8.6 Knoppix ships without systemd, it has elogind on, and a conflict package called no-systemd – welcome to systemd-liberation club Knoppix-community.
  • MX Linux(2)(3) (Mepis+antiX) XFCE desktop; includes antiX remastering n persistence tools; supported architectures: amd64, i386
  • PostX OpenRC; openbox wm

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
    • 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)
    • 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 (Turkish only website
      ex: http://www.milis.gungre.ch/ (dead link).
    • 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.  (Russian only site must allow yandex scripts to run in order to function well if you speak Russian, not that yandex scripts are any worse than google scripts used everywhere else)
    • 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
  • Alpine Linux (2)(3) (musl libc, BusyBox + OpenRC) supported architectures: i386, x86_64, armhf
  • Ataraxia Linux (ex-JanusLinux) BusyBox init, musl libc; supported architectures: x86_64
  • 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
  • Easy Linux (2)
  • 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
  • Kiss-Linux  A  Linux distribution with a focus on simplicity and privacy.  Entirely built from source (Gentoo style) kiss pkg manager, musl, busybox.
  • 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
  • Minimal Linux Live (2) Linux kernel, GNU C library, and BusyBox init; i386, x86_64
  • MisiProject sysV init, using pisi package manager; armv7h, x86_64
  • Moebius Linux armhf changelog minimal (no X) distro currently focused on RaspberryPi v3
  • NanoLinux (2)(3) BusyBox init; SLWM window manager. Requires only 14 MB disk space
  • 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
  • Sabotage Linux (musl libc + BusyBox init) i386, x86_64, MIPS, PowerPC32, ARM(v4t+)
  • 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
  • sta.li (musl libc) x86_64, armhf
  • 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)
    • Project-Trident.org (runit, xbps, zfs) supported architectures: armv6, armv7, i686, x86_64. supported libcs: glibc, musl (last on the list of independents deserves a first place otherwise)

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

 

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

  1. Hi yee all,

    I’m not in charge of KISS Linux, just interested by this distro –which I have not installed by the way.

    The link to KISS Linux is broken. The former site seems abandoned. Please now follow:

    https://k1ss.org/

    It seems that the same Dylan has also conceived neofetch & sowm

    https://k1ss.org/projects

    Regards

    Like

  2. Hi yee all!

    Although I’ve been following sysdfree since 2017 (if my memory serves me well), this is only my second comment. Hope the question that follows is not off-topic and will be useful somehow.

    => Is there a particular reason ALT Linux is not included on this (revisited) list?

    ALT Linux is a Russian project. Surprisingly, it’s a Mandrake derivative (a common point with PCLinuxOS), maybe completely forked since.

    There seems to have many versions available (as for DEs and targeted architectures too), and also… as for init systems. –Of course, the description of ALT on Distrowatch does NOT insist on the latter point or even mention it. (But you had guessed it, hadn’t you?)

    Besides, the ratings of the users’ reviews are quite good: almost only 9s and 10s out of 10. (These users reviews are the only reason I still consult Distrowatch…)

    https://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=ratings&distro=alt

    The thing is: as for readability, the “offer” of ALT Linux is a bit messy. But it’s rather complete. For instance, a few nights ago, I was able to download an ISO of ALT for i586 (!) with GNUstep (!) and sysv-init (!) –Have not installed it yet. If/when I do, I may write a short feedback.

    see:
    https://en.altlinux.org/Starterkits

    I consider ALT worth mentioning because the distros that still support 32-bit versions get fewer and fewer… For instance, PCLinuxOS (the subject of the last topic published on sysdfree when I write this message) has dropped 32-bit in its official versions –it’s still possible, though, to find a community edition for i686 with Trinity desktop.

    Regards

    Like

  3. Out of luck and coincidence I had come to contact with Dylan days before the official announcement of KIss was made. I believe it was due to a comment he had left here about his system. The misunderstanding came as we had no clue this wasn’t publicly announced before, and wrote about Kiss before Kiss existed. This made such a surge of interest that I believe Dylan hasn’t slept long ever since. But he was expected to make a more detailed presentation of Kiss-Linux here and the specific reasons he created it.

    Like

If your comment is considered off-topic a new topic will be created with your comment to continue a different discussion. This community is based on open and free communication, meaning we must all respect all in minimizing the exercise of freedom to disrupt such communication. Feel free to post what you think but keep in mind the subject matter discussed. It is just as easy to start a new topic as it is to dilute the content of an existing discussion.

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