Devuan Linux is a Debian fork, built by self-described Veteran Unix Admins, that aims to provide a free and open-source operating system without the controversial systemd init system.
First announced in November 2014, with the initial Devuan Jessie release in May 2017, the distro emerged in response to concerns and debates within the Linux community about Systemd’s design, complexity, and its potential to centralize too much control over system processes.
Today, exactly one year, ten months, and one day after the previous stable 4.0 Chimaera release, Devuan 5 Daedalus is here, so let’s see what’s changed.
What’s New in Devuan 5
Powered by Linux kernel 6.1 LTS, Devuan 5 Daedalus comes fully rebased on the latest Debian 12 Bookworm. This brings all the benefits of that release, the biggest being the completely refreshed package base.
On the desktop side, the distro includes the latest and greatest Xfce 4.18 as its default desktop environment. GNOME 43 and the latest KDE Plasma 5.27 are available in the distro’s repos if you wish to install another.
Application-wise, you can find in the default Daedalus’ installation Firefox 102.13esr, LibreOffice 7.4.7, and Parole Media Player 4.16.
Unfortunately, the installation is a big annoyance. Forget the Calamares GUI interface and the well-structured command-line approach used by Arch and Gentoo. Here you have an odd mix of both, with console and graphical windows opening and closing.
So, unless you’re an experienced Linux user who knows what you’re doing, the chances of successfully installing the operating system the first time are small.
The good news is that once you’ve instantiated it, thanks to its systemd-free and bloatware-free nature, Devuan 5 works lightning fast, and you’ll be impressed by the speed of all operations.
Under the hood, libseat1, a library providing runtime access to user, seat, and session management, is now used by xserver-xorg-core to control rootless startx and access to input and video devices.
On top of that, users can now experience a Wayland desktop without elogind, the systemd project’s logind, by installing libpam-ck-connector, sway, and seatd.
Devuan 5 Daedalus is available for i386, amd64, armel, armhf, arm64 and ppc64el architectures. The links to the installation ISO images are on the project’s download page.
I had mixed feelings after testing the Devuan 5. This brings us to our conclusion. If you are an experienced Linux user and an avid advocate of the GNU philosophy – one who is always ready to point out that it isn’t called Linux, but GNU/Linux – then Devuan is all you need.
Built on the foundation of the living legend – Debian, Devuan will provide you with stability, reliability, and speed.
However, for everyone else looking for a systemd-free Linux distribution, I have one solid recommendation: enter the Void. On top of that, I highly recommend the recently released MX Linux 23 if you still want it to be Debian-based.