Linux Distros without Systemd

All of your operating system recommendations use systemd (except Parabola which was listed as an alternative to a distro worth mentioning, so does that even count? and OpenBSD isn’t even a Linux distro). Why is this? Do you all have something against init freedom? Systemd has many problems like feature creep, connecting to Google servers, and being owned by big corpo Red Hat.

Have you ever thought about even mentioning Devuan as a systemd-free alternative to Debian or replacing Arch Linux with Artix Linux? What about adding Void or Gentoo to worth mentioning? Which systemd-free distro would you all recommend?

This sounds like regular Linux-politics, more than anything, and lets not get into that. I wont dismiss your concerns. Lets say your recommendation is a step beyond regular privacy.

Personally, I am fine with recommending the easy major Linux distros (Mint, Manjaro, Ubuntu) to new privacy enthusiasts, just to get them away from Windows or MacOs. They can sort themselves later if they want to systemd or not.

Gentoo is theoretically one of the best when it comes to auditability of open sourced software but it is not worth mentioning because you really cant seriously advocate Gentoo to the average joes of the general public. Thats asking for too much. I feel like Arch is likewise arguable at the worth mentioning section, for the same reason. Its just not accessible, and in fact a deterrent to normies.

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It mostly is. To be honest systemd is actually pretty good. I encourage people to check out The Tragedy of systemd (2019) by FreeBSD developer Benno Rice. Become more informed on the topic.

That being said I do use Alpine Linux and Gentoo (which use OpenRC) in addition to Archlinux and Debian. (Depending on the purpose). The latter two though don’t really need to be recommended as they have special purposes that require some background knowledge to operate.

Our site is mainly aimed at educating new users in regard to privacy. If users need to use a distribution like Gentoo or Alpine Linux then they won’t need us to tell them to do so.

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umm why do i need use open source alt for open source alt ?

To cater for your specific level of paranoia, I guess. Its fine. Ive used MX Linux (without the systemd variant as default) and I think its good. I’d say SysVinit is slightly behind the systemd variant because it sometimes break some minor functionality that you expect to work.

Specifically in my use case it broke functionality in AppImageLauncher. Other than that I wouldnt have known or notice anything different.

Maybe you should make a separate section for advanced users who actually know how to install a linux distro, just like the “experts only” section under browser addons. Then you can label Gentoo as an experts only distro that the general public shouldn’t use.

There are also countless “expert distros” that we could recommend. Exherbo being another one.

We do plan to do something like this however,

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That makes more sense, it also wont hurt dev’s feelings that their software isnt notable or worth mentioning.

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That is a great idea. Some of the recommended Linux distros are not really suited to beginners.
A beginner and advanced section would be a good idea :smiley:
Keeping in mind there is a learning curve in any GNU/Linux distro.

I agree with you on the underlying achitecture (boot process, CLI commands you need to memorize, etc) but lately the more popular DE are pretty much intuitive and behaves nearly the same way MacOS and Windows do. The only standouts are the tiling window managers like i3 and maybe the more esoteric ones like enlightenment, fluxbox etc.

connecting to Google servers

This is worrisome. What’s the point in switching over to Linux if you’re just going to give up your data to another evil corporation?

Can anyone verify if this is a severe issue and if there’s anything that can be done to restrict access to Google’s servers? Maybe blocking all Google’s IP addresses in firewall?

Devuan would probably be a good one if there is to be a list with:
‘advanced’ linux OS 's which is without systemd?

Devuan should be mentioned as a systemd-free alternative to Debian the same way Parabola is an libre alternative to Arch.

Must be not some fork over politics or other related nonsense.

I guess that rules out literally every FSF-endorsed distro (Trisquel, Parabola) and many distros without Systemd (Devuan, Artix Linux).

I do like the idea of having two categories, Desktop and Advanced, but Ubuntu is not a good distro to recommend with all it’s spyware, and Manjaro offers nothing except a graphical installer for Arch (something Artix has plus the fact that it doesn’t use Systemd). Fedora and OpenSUSE are probably good choices for normal people. It’s sad that some “experts” are advertising that you don’t need to know commands to use Linux and that you’ll never have to touch the terminal. This is false! Most of the help users receive will require them to use a terminal to enter commands, and for this reason users should be expected to know some basic commands such as “sudo apt update” or “sudo apt install firefox-chromium”. Debian is a good distribution for beginners and so is Devuan, the latter being a bit harder because more packages are requiring systemd. OpenVPN is difficult to use and setting up UFW as a killswitch is very frustrating. When I tried to use Mullvad’s VPN app, it would not work on any distro without systemd (or at least the ones I tried, Devuan and Artix), so I assume it’s a systemd problem.

Debian, Devuan, and Fedora are probably good choices for normal people with Fedora being the easiest to setup and install and the best for users who need newer software. I personally wouldn’t use Fedora since it’s controlled by a big corpo and it’s updates work similar to windows (as in you can’t work while it’s updating, it may have changed now but this is what I remembered when I tried the distro).

Arch Linux, Artix Linux, and Gentoo are probably the best choices for advanced users with specific needs. Artix is the easiest to install since some ISOs come with a graphical installer (if someone wants systemd + graphical installer, ArchLabs has the best installer), so I think it would be a good choice for users who want a rolling release distro. Gentoo being a source-based distro should be given an additional warning. I tried installing it once and I didn’t even get past the first part.

Trisquel and Parabola are FSF-endorsed distros which from what I’ve heard could make them impossible to install on most hardware (Debian is difficult to install if you don’t have the firmware).

Most importantly, Linux is not Windows or Mac, and users should know that. This isn’t an install and forget kind of thing. Users will need to learn how to use linux, how to upgrade, and what to do when things go wrong. Anyone can learn how to use Debian or Arch, and Privacytools.io should provide links to some resources on learning Linux. Gentoo is very difficult so it should be worth mentioning as an advanced distro that is not recommended for normal people, but for the experts who actually spent years learning linux and have specific needs, or for people who want to learn all about linux (in which case they can install Gentoo inside Virtualbox). If the OS section is updated, they should focus not only on which distros are good for users, but how they can get started with linux (try a VM before install? what to know? distro documentation? linux vs windows comparison), because a list of distros and nothing else is not very helpful.

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You cant claim that

and then say

We really cant expect breakages and outages to be address by a neophyte normie. Hence the recommendation for my Ubuntu, despite their shenanigans. Ubuntu works out of the box with little fiddling. And when you need to do something in the terminal and search about linux online, guess which distro pops up first?


I dont understand why you dismissed Manjaro. I’ve literally used Manjaro as a normie for 3 months wtih no significant terminal usage. I’ve only run terminal in the following instances:

  1. Converted videos for wife’s use via ffmpeg
  2. Ran a makepkg for protonmail bridge

Other than that its a GUI world, ready for primetime. My typical use case is gaming and web browsing and some light office document work by way of Libre Office.

I’ve had weird quirks, especially when my system goes to suspend and there are games running. But issues goes away after a reboot. Of all the distros I’ve tried, Manjaro has had the least breakages, least problems of all the Major distro I’ve tried.

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The point is we put a link to nonfree firmware or Debian documentation so they can learn how to use Linux. If we’re trying to reach out to people who are new to privacy, we should at least take them down the right path instead of promoting spyware services and giving them a false sense of privacy.

Privacy and convenience will never work together. Linux is more private than Windows but it is harder to install (but easier to use once you get used to it like I did). You can try using alternative frontends or modified versions of spyware like Ungoogled Chromium, Startpage, and Invidious, but doing that will only make the enemy stronger since we’re still dependent on Google. The same applies for Freedom and Security, or at least what you guys would say, considering the people here want a secure browser while I would promote browsers of freedom (Pale Moon due to being independent from Google and Mozilla).

I dismissed Manjaro simply because there’s no reason for anyone to use it. There exists many Arch derivatives that come with graphical or commandline installers to make everything easier for the user, some which are far better than Manjaro (ArchLabs and Artix Linux). If lack of breakage is the problem here then why not just recommend only fixed release distros like Noobuntu or even Windows? I used to use Linux Mint until it (probably the kernel or wayland) started crashing all the time (minimum 5x a day). Some friends of mine led me to Devuan and everything seemed to be fixed. If Debian/Devuan is considered too hard because of requiring to use commands to upgrade the distro version and nonfree firmware, then it’s because people don’t take the time to learn, so they should probably just stick with Windows or MacOS. I’m sure their threat model will allow for that along with using Google Chrome Incognito mode and Adblock Plus, along with a browser VPN (betternet? hotspot shield?), ProtonMail, and LastPass. Of course, I would never use any of those.

The terminal is used for more than just ProtonMail and video conversion. I use it to update my system, install packages, and in the past used it to run neofetch and openvpn. If something went wrong, I can look up the problem or ask a friend and fix the problem because I actually know how to use the terminal.

The beginner distros should be distros that users can use for desktop use and not have to endlessly compile software. No automatic update checker? Not a problem because updating the system is the user’s responsibility. That is why I would recommend Debian or Devuan for beginners because anyone who can follow instructions and use a terminal can use it. The advanced distros should be well known distros that allow you to build a system from scratch and have a lot of documentation and support, so Arch and Gentoo are the best, and Artix should be mentioned as an alternative to Arch (and maybe keep parabola?)

My point is simple. We want to pitch Linux to normies as a means for them to gain privacy. The competition is MacOS and Windows, which just work. We are up against that expectation. If they have broadcom and realtek drivers, and we recommend distros that wont work with them, they wont be able to switch because why would you choose a broken, non-functional experience (looking at this as an average user)?

Lure them with the easy distros first. Ubuntu and Manjaro does this easy. Only then it will be easier to preach about the sins of systemd and whatnot later. Right now normies isnt simply concerned with those yet. Let them take baby steps and be initiated.

To a certain extent, I agree that systemd is getting too big and it does too much.

But from a privacy point of view, almost any Linux distro with systemd is still a thousand times better than Windows. systemd does not degrade the user’s privacy. The problems of systemd are mostly hypothetical (big blob with possible code quality problems --> higher risk of single point of failure) or ideological (systemd goes against the Unix philosophy).

Out of the “major” distros, Gentoo and Slackware do not use systemd. Many smaller or newer projects exist as well, such as Devuan or Void Linux. And of course all the BSDs (that are not Linux). But none of these is recommended for Linux newcomers or average computer users.

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Isnt MX Linux one of the “major” or at least popular distros that doesnt use systemd by default?

If a normie started with Ubuntu or Manjaro they could just call it a day and not go any further, and as a result they won’t have the best privacy. Then if the next step is to preach about the evils of systemd (such as being owned by a big corpo) then maybe we should use the advanced section for those distros instead of only focusing on what normies should use.

MX Linux uses sysv by default but it isn’t a systemd-free distro because systemd is still installed. That’s like having Google Chrome installed on your computer but preferring to use Firefox instead. MX was the most bloated distro I’ve tried and comes with hundreds of unnecessary programs (and some telemetry) so I would never recommend it to anyone.

If you really think Debian and Devuan are too hard then why not just recommend them as advanced distros alongside Arch, Artix, and Gentoo (and possibly Parabola, Void, Alpine, and OpenBSD).

Just know that all linux distros, even the most stable ones, will break and that’s what happened to me with Linux Mint. This is why linux users (even ubuntu and manjaro users) should know how to use the terminal. Another thing about MX Linux is it’s installer and configuration tools are different from the rest and can take time getting used to, so there is another reason not to recommend that abomination of a distro.

I’d be very happy with just this and if all my loved ones decided to permanently switch to linux from windows or mac, I can die as a happy man.

EDITs: Also, what gave you the conclusion that Ubuntu or Manjaro will end the Linux journey of a newcomer? Distrohopping is a disease we all enjoy.

You say bloat. I’d say installing all the popular open source alternatives right off the bat and some games is a better showcase of what Linux and open source has to offer. When a normie sees a minimal install, they will ask, “Well what can I do with this?” You say we can install stuff and they will reply “Why didnt it come with additional software if it was free?”

Bloat may be used to our advantage. I wont mind if my distro had preinstalled LibreOffice, Gimp, a few games, Audacity, etc. They are popularly used for a reason.