Init-Freedom times three: Linux distribution Devuan 3.1.0 brings “runit” with it

The development team of the Veteran Unix Administrators (VUA) has released Devuan GNU / Linux 3.1.0 “Beowulf”. The Linux distribution Devuan is based on Debian GNU / Linux. The specialty of Devuan is that not only systemd provides the init system. Instead, the distribution offers three alternatives to choose from: the classic SysVinit, the dependency-based OpenRC from the NetBSD and Gentoo projects, and from the new version also “runit”, a re-implementation of the “Daemon Tools”.

SysVinit comes from Unix System V, i.e. from the 80s, and simply starts processes and services in sequence. OpenRC is an init and supervisor system that scans similar but simpler start scripts to SysVinit and starts the required services based on the resulting dependency tree. Thanks to its modularity and POSIX conformity, it runs under GNU / Linux like the Alpine Linux used in Docker containers, but also under BSD.

“Beowulf” runs with SysVinit, OpenRC or runit as an init and supervisor system (runit still has to be installed manually). The user also has the choice between grub and LiLo.


The runit, which can also be selected in Devuan GNU / Linux as of version 3.1.0, does not work like OpenRC (optional) together with SysVinit, but is a complete replacement. It works in three stages (start, operation, shutdown). Runit was developed under the premise of keeping the code as compact, fast and portable as possible. It has a modular structure and even runs with the tiny “diet libc”. Server services are started by installing the service and setting a symlink. Removing the symlink deactivates the service. In 2020 a clear and easy-to-use Aadministration tool on behalf of “rsv” developed for runit in Rust. Runit cannot (yet) be selected directly during installation, it is installed afterwards via “apt-get install runit-init”.

The next and probably the last init system for the integration is likely “s6” are on the list of Devuan developers. This could make Devuan GNU / Linux the reference platform for alternative init systems.

Devuan GNU / Linux now also offers the slimmer LiLo (LinuxLoader) as an alternative to the GRUB2 boot loader. This is the boot loader from the early days of Linux, which replaced the temporary “loadlin” at that time. LiLo is controlled via an ASCII configuration file and simply starts a kernel with the necessary parameters. LiLo is under the BSD license.

If you need the complete PulseAudio framework instead of “just sound”, you will be happy about the new package “debian-pulseaudio-config-override”, which takes care of starting problems of the framework. Furthermore, security fixes from Debian GNU / Linux from 2020 and 2021 have been incorporated into Devuan. The new version also includes updated software such as Firefox ESR-78.7 and lightdm-1.26.04.

Devuan GNU / Linux 3.1.0 is now available free of charge on the project page for amd64 and i386 available as (minimal) ISO image, as server image and as live desktop. The system can be installed with or without unfree firmware via the expert setting. ARM CPUs like the Raspberry Pi are only supported by the community due to a lack of manpower.


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