There are many different types of Linux distributions, but some of the best and most popular ones are those that are based on Debian, Red Hat, or Arch Linux. These distributions offer a wide range of software options due to their popularity, and they are relatively easy to use. However, there are also a number of independent Linux distributions that offer users even more flexibility and control over their systems.
This article lists 15 independent Linux distributions that are built from scratch and independent of the Debian, Red Hat, and Arch Linux packaging systems. The article provides a brief overview of each distribution, including what makes it unique and why users might prefer it. The article also includes links to each distribution’s website so that readers can learn more and try them out for themselves.
1. Gentoo Linux
Gentoo Linux is a versatile and fast, yet powerful and flexible Linux distribution. Designed for both desktop and server use, Gentoo Linux is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions.
Gentoo Linux is a metapackage-based independent distribution, meaning that instead of installing a pre-compiled package, the source code for the package is downloaded and compiled on the user’s machine. This gives the user complete control over which packages are installed and how they are configured. Gentoo Linux is named after the fast-moving African antelope, the Gentoo (pronounced ˈdʒɛntuː).
Some of Gentoo Linux’s unique features include the following:
- Portage, Gentoo’s package management system, is the heart of Gentoo Linux. It is designed to be simple yet powerful, making installing and upgrading packages easy.
- Gentoo Linux supports a wide variety of architectures, including x86, PowerPC, SPARC, and ARM.
- Gentoo Linux is highly configurable and can be optimized for performance, security, or simply to fit your own personal taste.
- Gentoo Linux provides pre-compiled binary packages for those who prefer the convenience of not having to compile their own software.
Gentoo Linux offers many advantages over other distributions. Its advanced package management system, Portage, allows for very fine-grained control over installed software. With Portage, it is possible to install only the software you need and configure it exactly the way you want.
Gentoo also offers “fake” installs (OpenBSD-style), making it possible to install software without overwriting your existing system files. Gentoo’s package management system makes it easy to uninstall the software without fear of breaking your system. Gentoo also includes a number of handy tools for managing your system configuration files.
Gentoo Linux is a great choice if you are looking for a distribution that gives you complete control over your system. If you are willing to put in the time to learn how to use Gentoo, you will be rewarded with a powerful and flexible system.
PCLinuxOS is a Linux distribution that uses the APT-RPM package management system. It offers KDE Plasma, Mate, and XFCE desktops and several community editions featuring more desktops. It is easy to install and has a wide range of applications for the typical desktop user. The system configuration tools Synaptic and Addlocale enable users to manage software packages and add language support, respectively. Mylivecd can also be used to create a custom live CD.
PCLinuxOS offers support for graphics, sound cards, and many wireless networking devices right out of the box. PCLinuxOS comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions.
PCLinuxOS is based on Mandrake/Mandriva Linux and shares many of its features, such as the urpmi package management system. PCLinuxOS also includes a number of unique features, such as the pcc (PCLinuxOS Control Center), which makes it easy to configure your system.
PCLinuxOS is a great choice for those who are looking for an easy-to-use Linux distribution. It is especially well suited for those new to Linux or looking for a distribution that “just works” without much configuration.
3. Tiny Core Linux
Tiny Core Linux’s primary focus is providing a base operating system suitable for further development.
Tiny Core Linux provides a very small (under 10 MB) footprint and can be booted from a variety of devices, including USB drives and SD cards. It is also designed to be highly customizable so that users can create their own customized versions of the operating system.
Tiny Core Linux is not intended to be a general-purpose operating system, but it can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- As a rescue or live CD
- As a platform for development and testing
- As a lightweight desktop environment
- As a server operating system
Tiny Core Linux is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The 64-bit version is recommended for use on modern hardware.
4. Slackware Linux
Slackware Linux is one of the oldest surviving independent Linux distributions. It was first released in 1993 and is still being actively developed today. Slackware Linux is known for its stability and simplicity. It uses the tar package format and does not include a package manager such as RPM or deb. This makes it more difficult to install new software, but it also means that Slackware is very resistant to breakage.
Slackware Linux is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The 64-bit version can run on both 32-bit and 64-bit hardware.
KaOS is a Linux distribution that uses the pacman package manager from Arch Linux. It focuses on providing a desktop experience that is beautiful, simple, and easy to use. KaOS comes with KDE Plasma by default. KaOS is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The 64-bit version is recommended for use on modern hardware.
KaOS is a great choice for anyone looking for a high-quality Linux distribution. It is especially well suited for those who are looking for an alternative to the more mainstream distributions such as Ubuntu or Fedora.
Solus is a Linux distribution that uses the eopkg package manager from the Solus Project. It provides a curated set of default applications and a focus on quality over quantity.
The distribution follows a curated rolling release model and is available in three editions: Budgie, GNOME, and MATE. In addition to the core Solus operating system, there is also a Solus Software Center that provides access to a range of additional software.
Solus is suitable for use on both desktop and laptop computers. It includes a range of applications for general use, including a web browser, an office suite, media players, and more. The distribution is also available in a range of different languages.
Solus is a great option for those looking for a lightweight Linux distribution that is easy to use. It is also a good choice for those who are looking for an alternative to the more popular Ubuntu distribution.
NixOS is an independently developed GNU/Linux distribution that strives to stay ahead of the curve in system configuration management.
NixOS is unique in several respects. It has a declarative approach to system configuration management, whereby configuration specifications are written in a special purpose language, and all dependencies are specified explicitly. NixOS is also declarative with respect to system upgrades: an entire system can be upgraded atomically, and rollbacks are supported.
These properties make NixOS suitable for deployments where the highest level of reliability is required, such as large-scale server deployments. NixOS is also suitable for desktop systems, where it provides advanced features such as multi-user package management and rollback.
NixOS is free software, with all parts released under the GNU General Public License version 2 or later.
8. Void Linux
Void Linux is a general-purpose independent Linux distro based on the monolithic Linux kernel. It was created in 2008 with the goal of providing a lightweight, efficient, and portable operating system that could be used on any platform. Void Linux uses a rolling release model, which means that new versions are released constantly, and there is no need to wait for a new major release.
Void Linux is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions and can be installed on any platform that supports the x86 architecture. It is also available for ARM devices such as the Raspberry Pi.
Void Linux comes with a wide range of software pre-installed, including the Xfce desktop environment, the Midori web browser, and the VLC media player. It also includes a package manager called X Binary Package System (XBPS), which makes it easy to install and update software.
Void Linux is a great choice for anyone looking for a lightweight, efficient operating system that can be used on any platform. It is also a good choice for those who want to use a rolling-release model.
Mageia is a Linux distribution that was forked from the now-defunct Mandriva Linux. It aims to provide an easy-to-use and comfortable operating system for both beginners and experienced users. Mageia includes a wide range of software for office, multimedia, internet, gaming, and security purposes.
One of the most notable features of Mageia is its PackageKit-based graphical package manager, which provides an easy way to install and update software. Other features include support for a wide range of languages, automatic detection of hardware, and live CD/USB images.
Mageia is a great choice for those who are looking for an easy-to-use Linux distribution with a wide range of software. It is also a good choice for experienced users who are looking for an alternative to Mandriva Linux.
10. Linux From Scratch – LFS
Linux From Scratch (LFS) is a project with a single goal: to create your own custom Linux system from the ground up. This can be useful for many reasons, including learning more about how Linux works under the hood, creating a compact and efficient system, or building a system tailored specifically to your needs.
There are two main ways to get started with LFS: The Hard Way and the Easy Way.
The Hard Way is the original method of installation and is still used by many today. It involves manually downloading and compiling each component of the system one by one until everything is in place. This can be time-consuming, but it gives you complete control over every aspect of the system and can be very rewarding.
The Easy Way is a more recent addition to the LFS project. It uses pre-compiled binaries for some of the components, which can save a lot of time during the installation process. This method is not recommended for those who want to learn about the system in depth, but it can be a good choice for those who just want a working Linux system with minimal hassle.
No matter which method you choose, building an LFS system can be a challenging and rewarding experience.
11. Alpine Linux
Alpine Linux is a security-based, lightweight distribution that uses musl libc and Busybox. Alpine Linux was created in 2005 by a team of developers who saw a need for a smaller, more resource-efficient Linux distribution that could be used in embedded systems. The result is a minimalistic Linux distribution that takes up just 5 MB of space.
Alpine Linux is specifically geared towards security and offers a 2-year support cycle for the main repository. The community repository, on the other hand, is supported only until the next stable release.
Alpine Linux is ideal for use in containers as it is resource-efficient and has a small footprint. It is also one of the most popular distributions used in Docker images.
4MLinux is a lightweight Linux distribution with a strong focus on the four “M” of computing: Maintenance, Multimedia, Miniserver, and Mystery. It is available as both a desktop and server version and has minimal system requirements.
- Maintenance: 4MLinux includes a system rescue Live CD, making it ideal for troubleshooting and repairing your system.
- Multimedia: 4MLinux supports a huge number of image, audio, and video formats, making it perfect for your multimedia needs.
- Miniserver: 4MLinux includes support for DNS, FTP, HTTP, MySQL, NFS, Proxy, SMTP, SSH, and Telnet.
- Mystery: 4MLinux includes a collection of classic Linux games for your enjoyment.
So if you’re looking for a lightweight Linux distribution with a strong focus on the four “M” of computing, 4MLinux is the perfect choice for you.
13. Bedrock Linux
Bedrock is a Linux distribution aimed at allowing users to easily combine packages from multiple distributions, allowing for maximum flexibility and customization. It is a unique distribution in that it does not have its own package repositories but instead utilizes other existing distributions’ repositories. This allows for a much wider range of software to be available and also makes it easy to keep your system up to date.
Bedrock Linux is designed to be easy to use and customizable, making it a great choice for those who want a lot of control over their system. It is also a good choice for those who want to use multiple distributions but don’t want the hassle of managing different repositories.
If you’re looking for a distribution that is easy to use and customize, Bedrock Linux is a great choice.
14. Clear Linux OS
Clear Linux OS is a Linux distribution developed by Intel and designed for performance and security. It is a minimalistic distribution with a focus on speed and efficiency. Clear Linux OS is available in both server and desktop versions and can be run on a variety of hardware architectures.
Clear Linux OS is one of the most performant Linux distributions available, making it ideal for those who need a fast and reliable system. It is also designed for security, making it a good choice for those who are concerned about online threats.
If you’re looking for a distribution that is fast and secure, Clear Linux OS is a great choice.
15. SliTaz GNU/Linux
SliTaz GNU/Linux is a free and open source operating system designed to be lightweight and easy to use. SliTaz uses the Linux kernel and is built around the BusyBox utility suite. The distribution is also available in a Rolling Release development model.
The project aims to provide a simple, easy-to-use, fast operating system that can be used on low-specification computers. SliTaz is also suitable for use as a live CD or USB flash drive. The distribution can be booted from devices with a capacity of as little as 128 MB.
SliTaz is provided in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. The project offers a number of different editions of the distribution, each with a different desktop environment or window manager.
There are plenty of other independent Linux distributions out there, and these are just a few of the most popular ones. If you need a unique experience other than the mainstream Linux distros, give one of these a try. You may be surprised at how different they can be. But you might give a second thought to using some of those, if not all of them are not ideal for your day-to-day desktop experience. Despite this, you will still have a wild experience using these independent Linux distros. Who knows, you might find one that you really like and end up sticking with it!