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? Desktops? Details / Notes Other ports
4MLinuxDW BusyBox  ? no JWM i386, i686
Adélie Linux SysV + OpenRC apk yes KDE, Xfce, FluxBox, i3, IceWM, OpenBox uses musl libc, currently in beta stage arm, arm64, x86, ppc, ppc64 (See for details)
Alpine LinuxDW BusyBox + OpenRC apk (custom) yes  ? uses BusyBox + musl libc + OpenRC i386, armhf
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  ?
CRUXDW SysV + /etc/rc.* tar.xz based yes OpenBox arm
Cucumber LinuxDW SysV from #Slackware yes Xfce Kernel version 4.9 LTS, GNU Userspace utilities i686
Dragora GNU/Linux LibreDW SysV + perp tar.xz based yes Xfce, IceWM, spectrwm 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 Odroid-XU3/XU4
GentooDW SysV + OpenRC[1] Portage yes no 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 + BootScripts 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
januslinux busybox + runit npkg + prt-get yes XFCE, DWM, OpenBox, i3, Sway, TWM Fast and compact Linux distribution which uses musl libc aarch64, armv7h, armv6h, mips, mipsel
KaNaPi bash script file system yes XFCE and Sugar educational + game apps armhf and i686
Milis Linux (Beta) SysV MPS  ?  ? created with LFS; has a few of its own tools  ?
MisiProject SysV + OpenRC PISI yes MATE armv7h
NuTyXDW SysV cards yes GNOME, KDE5, LX(DE,Qt), Lumina, MATE, Xfce, Enlightenment, WindowMaker, (Black,Flux,Open)Box, icewm, jwm, i3 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  ? (2) previously used systemd; was rebuilt around sysV init because systemd proved unsuitable for a stable storage system no
PCLinuxOSDW SysV APT+RPM yes MATE and KDE no
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 Package Manager yes LXDE Puppy Linux's position on systemd i386
SlackwareDW SysV + /etc/rc.d/rc.* installpkg, pkgtool, slackpkg yes KDE and Xfce i586, s390, arm
Source Mage GNU/LinuxDW simple-init Sorcery yes  ? source based i386, i486, i586, i686
Void LinuxDW runit xbps yes LXQt supported libcs: glibc, musl armv6, armv7, i686

Non general purpose:

  • 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

Unclear what init system they use:

Name Init Package mgmt amd64? Desktops? Details / Notes Other ports?
Tiny Core LinuxDW BusyBox  ? yes FLTK/FLWM  ; (also: "CorePlus") (also "piCore" edition, for Raspberry Pi) i486
Sanity Linux BusyBox pkgsrc  ?  ? (formerly, "Pür Linux"), source-based, ports  ?
QuirkyDW ? ? yes ? (3) armhf, i386
LinuxConsoleDW ? ? yes MATE and LXDE tailored to gaming / educational use i686


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

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-libre OpenRC (2) pacman pkg manager; "LTS Arch snapshot versions"; amd64, i686
Obarun s6(-rc) + 66 x86_64
Parabola nosystemd editionDW OpenRC / GNU+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. Multiple WMs: JWM+iceWM+fluxbox; amd64, i486
TrisquelDW 9 Stretch > Ubuntu 16.04 upstart LXDE and MATE desktops; amd64 and i386
DevuanDW 8 Jessie SysV / OpenRC XFCE desktop; supported architectures: amd64, i686, arm (see: /embedded, and notes)
KNOPPIXDW merge of stable, testing and unstable SysV (video: "Defying systemd") employs systemd-shim
MX LinuxDW 9.3 Stretch SysV (Mepis+antiX) XFCE desktop; includes antiX remastering n persistence tools; supported architectures: amd64, i386
GNUstep Live CDDW 9 Stretch SysV GNUstep using WindowMaker; amd64, i686
WindowMaker Live(2)DW 8 Jessie SysV both WindowMaker + XFCE are preinstalled; amd64, i386
Devuan based
Name Init Details / Notes
Exe GNU/LinuxDW SysV features Trinity Desktop Environment; amd64, i686
Refracta OpenRC (2) (3) amd64, i386; also: (Refracta Devuan 2) Openbox, eudev

Gentoo based

  • Calculate LinuxDW OpenRC init; Cinnamon, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE, or Xfce (wiki spamfilter block to project site:
  • Chromium OS (2) upstart init (boot-design doc)
  • Funtoo LinuxDW FAQ (source-based; uses git-housed, distributed Portage tree and Funtoo overlay) OpenRC init; amd64, i486, i686, sparc64
    • Slontoo (based on Funtoo) OpenRC; XFCE 4.12, MATE 1.12
  • Redcore LinuxDW OpenRC or SysV init; serves pre-built binary packages from repository; openbox window manager

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

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 LinuxDW (based on Slackware64-current) IceWM+ROX; supported architectures: i686, amd64
  • Salix OSDW i486, i686, amd64
    • ConnochaetOSDW (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
  • EasyOS (2)(3)(4) aufs layered filesystem, containers; ROX desktop
  • #januslinux
  • 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+)
  • (xref) Void Linux
  • XBian (based on Debian) media center distribution for the Raspberry Pi, CuBox-i, and other arm devices (init: Upstart)

Linux from scratch

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

Special purpose

  • 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, Nokia N950, Nokia 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 "suitable for kids from 3 to 12 and teachers" ?; XFWM + LXDE desktop; i486, i686
  • Porteus KioskDW BusyBox init; lightweight kiosk
  • Smoothwall Express Community Edition firewall O/S, provides a web interface
  • TinyPaw-Linux (based on CorePlus) a self-described "passive & aggressive WiFi attack distro"

Live-only distros

  • 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
  • Parted Magic ?what init system?, liveboot distribution providing disk partitioning and data recovery tools. Openbox WM; i486, i686, x86_64 FOSS? (licensed GPL)
  • 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
  • SystemRescueCdDW (Gentoo/OpenRC based system rescue disk) JWM, Xfce; i586
  • 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

Embedded devices


  • 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 LinuxDW Turkish distro (sysvinit + python init scripts) x86_64
  • Plamo LinuxDW Japanese Slackware-based distro; i486, amd64
  • Vine LinuxDW Japanese Debian-based distro, Kanji support across most applications; Japanese input support via FreeWnn or Canna input server; i686, powerpc, x86_64
  • WifislaxDW(3) Spanish Slackware-based distro; i486

See also

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