Linux distributions without systemd

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This article lists Linux distributions which :

  1. have a default init system other than systemd
  2. are open source (accessible source code available for the content of the distributed IMG or ISO)
  3. are actively maintained and provide contact information of the developers
  4. have a website and/or provide end user support via a well-established and maintained forum/mailinglist

A separate page Linux distributions without systemd/unlisted covers additional distributions which do not adequately meet these criteria.


General purpose


Name Init Package managers amd64 Supported Desktop Environments/Window Managers Details / Notes Other ports
4MLinuxDW BusyBox  ? no JWM i686
Adélie Linux SysV + OpenRC apk yes various, multiple uses musl libc

arm, arm64, x86,
ppc, ppc64
(See about)
Alpine LinuxDW BusyBox + OpenRC apk yes various, multiple uses BusyBox + musl libc + OpenRC i386, armhf
ALT LinuxDW SysV or systemd APT+RPM yes various, multiple repo has both sysvinit and systemd, official distros use the latter while many official starterkits use the proper one i586, x86_64, aarch64 (primary); armhf, mipsel, e2k (beta); riscv64, ppc64 (alpha)
Ataraxia Linux sinit kagami yes various, multiple Fast and compact Linux distribution which uses musl libc and busybox userland tools i586, aarch64, armv7l, armv6l, armv5tel, ppc, ppc64, ppc64le, mips, mipsel, mips64, mips64el, riscv32 and riscv64
Batocera LinuxDW SysV  ? yes  ? minimal distribution dedicated to running retrogaming software i686, armhf
Bedrock Linux BusyBox
/ any
any  ?  ? Bedrock Linux can utilize any of a large number of init systems as provided by other distributions  ?
tar.xz based yes OpenBox arm
Cucumber LinuxDW SysV from
yes Xfce Kernel version 4.9 LTS, GNU Userspace utilities i686
Dragora GNU/Linux LibreDW SysV +
tar.xz based yes Xfce, IceWM,
Linux Libre distro i586, amd64, arm(64),
microblaze, mips,
powerpc(64), s390x
Fatdog64 LinuxDW dumb-init gslapt, SFS Loader yes (3) FatDogArm for
Raspberry Pi2 and
GentooDW SysV + OpenRC[1] Portage yes AfterStep, Awesome, Blackbox, Enlightenment, Fluxbox, GNOME, IceWM, KDE Plasma, LXDE, MATE, Openbox, WMaker, Xfce If Portage is pulling in systemd, please read this. Further suggested reading. i486, i586, i686, alpha,
arm, hppa, ia64, mips,
powerpc, ppc64, sparc64
GoboLinuxDW SysV +
file system yes awesome a source-based distribution which employs a unique file structure (not FHS) no
GuixSDDW Shepherd
(pure Guile)
GNU Guix yes Xfce and GNOME provides advanced package mgmt features such as transactional upgrades and roll-backs; FSF-approved i686
KaNaPi bash script file system yes XFCE and Sugar educational + game apps armhf and i686
LinuxConsoleDW ? ? yes MATE and LXDE tailored to gaming / educational use i686
Milis Linux SysV MPS yes various, multiple Uses own customised ports system that called "talimatname" and also can use binary package system. It is inspired by LFS.
MisiProject SysV + OpenRC PISI yes MATE armv7h
NuTyXDW SysV cards yes various, multiple On 2019/02/11 the new Nutyx-based YaoLinux (2) distro using systemd has been announced while Nutyx proper will continue to use SysV init. Inspired by LFS & BLFS; its "cards" pkg mgr can install individual or grouped binary packages, and can compile source pkgs from "ports" i686
OviOS LinuxDW SysV pacman yes No desktops (servers only distro) (2) previously used systemd; was rebuilt around sysV init because systemd proved unsuitable for a stable storage system no
PCLinuxOSDW SysV apt-rpm yes Plasma 5
Unofficial: LXQt, Trinity, MATE, Xfce
Plop LinuxDW SysV yes  ? (PXE/liveboot) designed to rescue data from a damaged system, or to backup and repair operating systems armv6l and i486
Puppy LinuxDW SysV Puppy
yes LXDE Puppy Linux's position on systemd i386
SlackwareDW SysV + /etc/rc.d/rc.*
yes KDE and Xfce, various i586, s390, arm
Source Mage GNU/LinuxDW simpleinit-msb Sorcery yes  ? source based i386, i486, i586, i686
Tiny Core Linux
BusyBox tce-load yes FLTK/FLWM, JWM, fluxbox, icewm, openbox, hackedbox Also: "CorePlus", "piCore" (Raspberry Pi), and "dCore" (can use Debian or Ubuntu packages converted into SCE files) releases. i486, x86_64, armv6, armv7hf
Venom LinuxSFDW SysV + /etc/rc.*
(looks between PCLinuxOS and CRUX)
scratchpkg yes MATE, Xfce, LXDE Sources-only distro just like Gentoo’s ideals, but instead follows KISS principle no
Void LinuxDW runit xbps yes AfterStep, Awesome, Blackbox, Enlightenment, Fluxbox, GNOME, IceWM, KDE Plasma, LXDE, MATE, Openbox, WMaker, Xfce supported libcs: glibc, musl armv6, armv7, i686


Arch Linux based

Arch Linux's package manager is Pacman.

Name Init Details / Notes
Artix LinuxDW OpenRC/runit eudev, replaces Arch-OpenRC and Manjaro-OpenRC
Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libreDW OpenRC (2) pacman pkg manager; "LTS Arch snapshot versions"; amd64, i686 FSF-approved
ObarunDW s6(-rc) + 66 x86_64
Parabola nosystemd editionDW OpenRC/Shepherd [2],[3]; A part of the GNU project and FSF-approved; x86_64, armv7h, i686

Debian based

Debian's package manager is dpkg and APT. See DebianReleases.

Name Debian version Init Details / Notes
antiX LinuxDW 9 Stretch SysV flexible remastering and persistence tools. WMs: JWM+iceWM+fluxbox; amd64, i486
DevuanDW 8 Jessie and 9 Stretch SysV / OpenRC XFCE desktop, et al; architectures: amd64, i686, arm (see: files and /embedded)
GNUstep Live CDDW 9 Stretch SysV GNUstep using WindowMaker; amd64, i686
KNOPPIXDW merge of stable, testing and unstable SysV (video: "Defying systemd") employs systemd-shim
MX LinuxDW 9.3 Stretch SysV (Mepis+antiX) XFCE desktop; supported architectures: amd64, i386
TrisquelDW 9 Stretch > Ubuntu 16.04 upstart LXDE and MATE desktops; amd64 and i386
WindowMaker Live(2)DW 8 Jessie SysV both WindowMaker + XFCE are preinstalled; amd64, i386
Devuan based
Name Init Details / Notes
EterTICs GNU/Linux SysV XFCE4 Desktop; amd64, i386; 100% Free Software, Kernel-free and processing FSF recognition.
Exe GNU/LinuxDW SysV features Trinity Desktop Environment; amd64, i686
RefractaDW SysV + OpenRC (2) (3) amd64, i386; also: (Refracta Devuan 2) Openbox, eudev

Gentoo based

  • Calculate Linux DW SysV + OpenRC; Cinnamon, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE, Xfce
  • Chromium OS (2) upstart init (boot-design doc)
  • Funtoo Linux DW FAQ (source-based; uses git-housed, distributed Portage tree and Funtoo overlay) OpenRC init; amd64, i486, i686, sparc64
    • Slontoo (2) (based on Funtoo) OpenRC; XFCE 4.12, MATE 1.12
  • Redcore Linux DW SysV + OpenRC; serves pre-built binary packages from repository; KDE Plasma, LXQt, OpenBox

NOTE: Additional Gentoo/*BSD subprojects exist, providing ports to various BSD-derived operating systems. See: Gentoo/Alt

based on Other

  • CruxEX (based on #CRUX) (2)(3) x86_64 (using linux kernel 4.18); available only as a zip file, no iso; LXDE desktop
  • Uplos32 (2) (3) (based on #PCLinuxOS) targets i386 machines; uses APT+RPM package mgmt

Puppy Linux based

  • Legacy OSDWSF (previous name: TEENpup) focused on supporting Pentium 3 and 4 (Sept2017 release ships Linux kernel v2.6.18)

Other pages listing more Puppy Linux derivatives: [4][5][6]

Slackware based

  • Absolute Linux DW (based on Slackware64-current) IceWM+ROX; supported architectures: i686, amd64
  • Salix OSDW i486, i686, amd64
    • ConnochaetOS DW (based on Slackware+Salix) removes upstream proprietary software and binary blobs, ships free (libre) software only. IceWM; supported architectures: i486, i686
    • SlackelDW (based on Slackware+salix) amd64, i486, i686
    • Slint (2) (3) (based on Slackware + Salix) accessible to visually impaired users (speech and braille device)
  • SARPi (2) Slackware ARM on Raspberry Pi
  • SlaXBMC (2)
  • Superb Mini Server (2) fluxbox WM; i486, amd64
  • Vector Linux DW i486, amd64
  • ZenwalkDW suported architectures: amd64, i486, i686

Available without standard GNU tools

  • #Alpine Linux ___ (xref: listed in "Independent" table, above)
  • EasyOS (2)(3)(4) aufs layered filesystem, containers; ROX desktop
  • #Ataraxia Linux ___ (xref: listed in "Independent" table, above)
  • NanoLinuxDW BusyBox init; (derived from Tiny Core Linux : microcore) SLWM window manager. Requires only 14 MB disk space
  • Sabotage Linux (musl libc + BusyBox init) i386, x86_64, MIPS, PowerPC32, ARM(v4t+)
  • #Void Linux ___ (xref: listed in "Independent" table, above)
  • XBian (based on Debian) media center distribution for the Raspberry Pi, CuBox-i, and other arm devices (init: Upstart)

Linux From Scratch (LFS)

Linux from Scratch DW is not a distribution, it is a book instructing how to build your own Linux system from source.
LFS can be used with SysV. i386, x86_64; (also CLFS, aka Cross LFS supports additional architectures: mips, powerpc, ppc64, alpha, sparc, hppa, arm)

Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) is a project that continues where the LFS book finishes.
It assists users in developing their systems according to their needs by providing a broad range of instructions for installing and configuring various packages on top of a base LFS system.

special-purpose distributions

  • IPFire (2)(3) (forked from IPCop, based on LFS) firewall distribution for x86 and ARM-based systems; armv5tel, i586, x86_64
  • Maemo Leste (based on Devuan Ascii) for Nokia N900/N950/N9 and Motorola Droid 4 mobile phones, Allwinner tablets, and Raspberry Pi 2, 3
          and Olimex Lime 2 SBCs[7] mainline Linux; OpenRC init; Hildon desktop; architectures: armel, armhf and amd64
  • PicarOS (2) "suitable for kids from 3 to 12 and teachers" ?; XFWM + LXDE desktop; i486, i686
  • Porteus Kiosk DW BusyBox init; lightweight kiosk
  • RancherOSDW a minimalist Linux distribution designed to host Docker containers. Supported architecture: amd64
  • TLD Linux for server environments (no desktop support except for running VNC/RDP sessions for virtual machine management GUI) ; amd64 and i686

liveboot-only distributions

  • AUSTRUMIDW bootable live CD, to be run from RAM (iso images via ftp)
  • heads (based on Devuan) The Heads incognito live OS, intended as a systemd-free alternative to Tails, the Amnesia incognito live OS
  • Liveslak Liveslak is the project which generates the ISO images for many variants of the Slackware Live Edition. Supported architectures: i486, i586, amd64.
  • Minimal Linux Live (2)(3) Linux kernel, GNU C library, and BusyBox init; i386, x86_64
  • PentooDW Gentoo-based security-focused live CD; i686, x86_64
  • PorteusDW (based on Slackware 14.2) lightweight modular live CD/USB; i486, amd64
  • SliTaz GNU/LinuxDW BusyBox init, uses tazpkg, lightweight live CD/USB, supported architectures: armel, i386, x86_64
  • TAZ (2)(3) (SliTaz fork) (also: a gentoo-based version ) runs entirely from RAM; openbox desktop
  • ToOpPy Linux (2) (based on PuppyLinux) liveboot, operates completely in RAM; JWM desktop

distributions tailored for Embedded devices

non-English distributions

  • aldOS Spanish distro, uses upstart, eudev, ConsoleKit2[8]; MATE desktop
  • mdrights live Chinese Liveslak-based distro, mdrights is a Chinese social rights movement; amd64
  • Pisi Linux DW Turkish distro (sysvinit + python init scripts) amd64
  • Plamo Linux DW Japanese Slackware-based distro; i486, amd64
  • Vine Linux DW Japanese PCLinuxOSbased distro, Kanji support across most applications; Japanese input support via FreeWnn or Canna input server; amd64, i686, powerpc
  • Wifislax DW(3) Spanish Slackware-based distro; i486

See also

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