My list of recommended systemd-free Linux based operating systems

July 20, 2021

Not everyone likes systemd. While it’s a great operating system, it lacks a proper init system. ;) Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list with some of the more popular systemd-free alternatives out there.

The list is in alphabetical order to not favour anything in particular, but it’s perhaps no secret that I personally like (and use) Gentoo and Alpine Linux myself.

Operating system Init
Alpine Linux OpenRC
Artix Linux OpenRC
Bedrock Linux Supports any init.
Calculate Linux OpenRC
CRUX BSD-style init
Devuan OpenRC
Funtoo OpenRC
  s6 + s6-rc
Gentoo OpenRC
Guix Shepherd
Hyperbola OpenRC
KISS Supports any init.
Linux From Scratch sysvinit
Obarun s6
Parabola OpenRC
PCLinuxOS sysvinit
Pentoo sysvinit
Slackware sysvinit
Void Linux runit

A few notes about the list

I have tried most of them myself, but not all of them. I did not add every alternative that’s available out there. My criteria for this list is that they’re widely known and has been around for a considerable time.

If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly and easy to set up and use alternatives, I can personally recommend Devuan, which is a fork of Debian by multiple people from Debian and the community. Another options are PCLinuxOS, which is intended to be easy to use. I have not tried it myself though.

And feel free to send me any recommendation that you think should be on this list as well.


MX Linux

A couple of people have recommended me MX Linux. I have chosen to not include MX Linux. Partly because they include systemd by default—even though they default to sysvinit—and partly because I feel like they’re a bit too political for my liking.


  • 2021-08-24 - Added Guix.


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