List of free systemd distributions

SysV Init was replaced by systemd de facto in most current GNU / Linux distributions. In the middle of that transition, other distros already opted for modified systems such as Upstart based on the init daemon, which was present in Ubuntu, ChromeOS, openSUSE, Debian, Red Hat, Fedora, etc.

The new systemd is much more complex than the old systems, something that did not fit very well with the Unix philosophy of implementing simple programs. Besides that, the fact that it saves the registers in binary has not been liked by many either. However, it must be said that it has made some tasks easier and that it also has its advantages. Nevertheless, still upsetting many users who still prefer the classic system ...

For all those who want to run away from systemd and stick with the classic, you should know that there are many distros that are still free of this other system. And it's not just Devuan (a Debian variant without systemd that has become quite popular).

Here I show you an interesting list of systemd-free distributions:

  • Devuan: it is basically a Debian without systemd, going "one step back" in this sense to rid its users of this new system. In fact, its name comes from the fusion of the word Debian + VUA (Veteran UNIX Admins).
  • Alpine Linux: is another of the distributions without systemd that you can find. It is based on musl and BusyBox, to be much lighter and safer.
  • artixlinux- This joins the various existing distributions based on Arch Linux. A fairly agile distribution to run fast and without systemd.
  • Void: it's one of those rare distributions. It is not a fork of an existing one, but it is made from scratch, with its own package manager and using SysV init. It is a powerful option, but it may not be the best if you are looking for something simpler and you are not very experienced. Although if you want to try something different, it is a great option.
  • Slackware: a classic for the "old" linuxers. One of the most popular and complicated distributions, along with Gentoo and Arch. But like these, it is super flexible, powerful and very good for those users who are more advanced. In this case it uses a weird scripting system, it is not the SysV init, but it is a BSD-style like those used by some * BSDs.
  • Gentoo y funtoo: another of the distros aimed at the most experienced users due to its difficulty, but equally wonderful. This distro also distances itself from systemd using OpenRC.
  • GUIX: another of the distributions that get rid of systemd, in this case GNU Daemon Sherped is used as init system. It is not an easy distro to use, and it uses a transactional package management system.
  • antiX Linux: another of the free systemd distributions, and based on Debian.
  • CRUX: is another distro based on BSD-style scripts and very light.
  • PCLinuxOS: If you like the Mandrake distro then you should try this fork which still maintains the SysV init.
  • Adelie Linux: a fairly young project that aims to respect three fundamental pillars on which it rests: being fully POSIX-compatible, multi-architecture compatibility, and flexible.
  • obarun: another more based on Arch, with all that that implies, as well as focusing on transparency and simplicity. In this case, it uses a strange system called 6s instead of systemd.
  • Kiss Linux: its name already gives an idea of ​​what it is, that is, it follows the principle KISS. It is an independent project, created from source, with BusyBox and its startup system.
  • LIGURES- It can't be considered one of the common distros either, but it's free from systemd. It is based on Gentoo and uses two options as substitutes for systemd: openRC or s6.

If you are not very skilled in the Linux world or do not want complications, I personally recommend that you stay preferably with Devuan… If you are an advanced user or want to try other alternatives, you are free to choose any of the others.


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  1.   Senpai said

    Hello;
    I think it should also be added to MXLinux because by default it does not work with systemd, although it comes installed in case someone needs to start with it, but it must be done from the advanced options of Grub and changing it manually by the user.
    a greeting

  2.   one of some said

    Personally I use Artix with OpenRC, I have triple boot with Arch (I have not uninstalled it yet and it helps me to compare) and Windows 10 for games.

    I use OpenRC because it seems more mature, easy to use and it seems to me to have a more future since it indicates that some BSD is also going to use it.

    The nice thing about having Artix and Arch on the same laptop is that you can compare performance, boot times, etc. What I can say is that Artix gives Arch a big kick in everything except the computer shutdown which is faster in Arch. In general everything works better, even Plasma starts much faster from the login screen until the prompt appears. desk. I have the same in both but if I notice that with each update of systemd Arch it gets worse, especially the boot times that have shot up from a year to this part. It is true that Intel patches (Meltdown, Specter, etc.) influence but they would also influence Artix and the difference between one and the other is enormous.

    1.    G3O4 said

      Very good review and thanks for this comparison.
      … Besides, add "Knoppix" to the list of distributions without Systemd. Very complete distro if there are any.

    2.    G3O4 said

      @ unodetantos thank you ...

  3.   nemecis1000 said

    what is the difference between one and the other and which is the best and in which aspects is it better. Security?

    1.    one of some said

      They are exactly the same in everything except init. They have the same packages, in fact Arch's repos (except core) are in Artix but in my opinion they are as a backup for their repos. I understand that they plan in the medium term (if time and resources allow it) to have full control of the repos and thus not have those of Arch in the configuration. I imagine that this is in case they slip a dependency on systemd (this is a personal opinion) since they have completely removed any rest of systemd, you will not find shim or libsystemd-dummy or anything similar.

      As for security, as the same as Arch, depending on how you secure it, you will have it, although by not having systemd, it is sure that the maintainers of the different inits take the security issue much more seriously than the people of systemd and therefore I take sitting down that this alone is safer.

      By the way, you can also install AUR packages without problems, I have installed a few and zero problems.

  4.   Bruno said

    It is worth mentioning that the init system is S6, not 6S. In the case of Artix, it offers 3 versions with different inits: openrc, S6 and runit.