back to article Devuan debuts version 4.0 – as usual without a hint of the hated systemd

Devuan Linux, the distribution first created by a team of self-described "veteran Unix admins" who opposed Debian's adoption of systemd instead of sysvinit init, has reached version 4.0. Devuan Chimaera 4.0 is based on Debian 11.1, and version 5.10 of the Linux Kernel. That version of the kernel enjoys long-term support until …

  1. Joe W Silver badge

    Ok, I'll switch!

    "the chance to install a desktop environment without also installing pulseaudio"

    That's great news, and (for me personally) more of a selling point than the absence of systemd (which is also welcome, as erratic behaviour of systemd is difficult to analyse, as it is interwoven into such a great part of the base system. I had really weird network problems with an older laptop - that I finally traced back to systemd.

    But then maybe I am just not experienced enough with systemd - but then maybe I don't want to spend that time [*]

    Where was I? Oh, right. pulseaudio. It has come a long way, and is much more stable than it used to be, but that is not saying much (YMMV - a lot). The idea EsounD (the predecessor, afair) was based on seemed tempting to me at that time, to be honest. Not sure where it took a wrong turn.[°]

    [*] once I used Linux because I liked tinkering and problem solving. Now I use Linux because I am sick of tinkering and problem solving.

    [°] nah, I'm not going to do the obvious and lay blame on a single person, as correlation does not directly imply causality.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Ok, I'll switch!

      All the cool kids are disabling pulseaudio and installing pipewire.

      Depoetterisation is within reach, my friends!

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: Ok, I'll switch!

        Oh Dog, another one?

        I'm convinced that the main problem with sound on Linux is the churn. OSS, Esound, ALSA, Pulseaudio, each of them needing to support it's predecessors' APIs or else break applications.

        I doubt that it can be fixed now.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Ok, I'll switch!

          No, that can't be fixed, but you can fix a lot of problems by not using pulseaudio.

          Pipewire supports pulseaudio, JACK, ALSA and gstreamer applications.

      2. Munchausen's proxy

        Re: Ok, I'll switch!

        Pipewire gave me almost as much trouble as pulseaudio, so it joined pulseaudio on my 'taboo never install' setting.

        I still have never found a need for either in what I do with a computer (including listening to multiple sound sources simultaneously)

        1. gerdesj

          Re: Ok, I'll switch!

          Pipewire has only really recently started being considered vaguely stable. You play with software with sharp edges then you get cut 8) I tried it out nine months back, and reverted back to Pulse quite quickly. Two weeks ago I reinstalled it (and also got my TPM 2.0 working but that's besides) and it works rather well for me. This is on Arch.

          Today I wasted a few 10s of minutes on a laptop with the latest W10 that decided to stop using the built in mic and the first effort with a USB one. It used to work until roughly last Patch Tuesday. Sound is hard, really hard to get right for all use cases. There are so many combinations of hardware, software and your perception.

          Do give it another go but make sure you are close to but not on the absolute bleeding edge. Or wait a year or two and everyone will be using it.

          Sound on Linux, for me, is getting pretty decent. I use my laptop and the built in mic and speakers work as well as possible - ie quite shit. I plug in my Logitech one ear n mic boom USB thingie and it works. I pop my Samsung Buds in and they work too via Bluetooth. If I don't make changes too often or too quickly then everything from browser to Teams (soz) gets it right.

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Ok, I'll switch!

      Given that pulse seems to cause so much grief to so many people (including, from time to time, me), can anyone explain why most popular distros include it by default?


      1. gfx

        Re: Ok, I'll switch!

        Ususally it works and it plays sound from multiple sources together. When using an external DAC and not want everything downsampled to 44.1kHz then you'll have to look into that.

        Lately when the monitor awakes it send the sound to HDMI instead of the prefered optical output.

        There is a setting for that somewhere in some file, but I forgotten where.

    3. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: Ok, I'll switch!

      I’ve used Void Linux for years (no systemDunce - Void uses runit) and I find that just using ALSA is fine for my needs. Grabbed, my audio needs are limited - vlc, firefox and zoom. But I suspect most people have similar modest sound requirements.

      Pulse is just another lump of unnecessary crap vomited out from the same systemDunce bod.

      1. Ganso

        Re: Ok, I'll switch!

        I am a simple man, I see Void Linux, I upvote

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    And there's a Raspberry Pi build...

    Woohoo. Now I have the chance to play with two toys at once; I've been looking at both of them.

    All I have to do is get all these other projects out of the way first...

    For the team: --->

    1. Arbuthnot the Magnificent

      Re: And there's a Raspberry Pi build...

      I've been using Devuan Beowulf on a Pi 3b for months, as a Pi-Hole / access point, it works really well.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Delighted with this

    For serious audio work pulse audio is a nightmare, and up till now I'd got round it by deleting the server. Now I won't have to bother. With that and systemd gone, I can get back to a truly lightweight and fast install.

    An official Raspberry Pi version solves another problem for me as well.

  4. Allonymous Coward

    I don’t use Devuan

    But that’s just laziness. Ubuntu hasn’t *quite* annoyed me enough to switch yet, and my distro-hopping days finished a decade ago.

    I still leave a torrent running for their ISOs though, and I’m glad they exist. Choice is a good thing, possibly one of the greatest things about this particular ecosystem.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I've been using it as the Devuan testing version since the underlying Debian version became their stable version. There were a few updates a day or so ago but not very many and none today. These "testing" versions can be everyday usable well before they become officially stable.

  6. Lon24 Silver badge


    I've given up on it. The fight to get Exim4 on Raspbian Buster to use the correct acceptable FQDN was just too much for me and many others. Switched to postfix and it just works out of the box.

    Devuan are ahead of the RPi people on a Bullseye release. Wonder if they have cracked the 64 bit video issues?

    1. oiseau Silver badge

      Re: Exim

      I've given up on it.

      Ahh ...

      I had a rather complicated issue with Exim when they upgraded to 4.94.2, which (for security related reasons) turned out to be incompatible with any configuration file/s used/generated with previous Exim versions.

      No problem with that except that on upgrading, the installer presented the option of keeping the existing configuration files, which is a good thing when updating any package and the option most if not all desktop users would/will select.

      The problem was that as a result, the upgrade to 4.94.2 silently broke my system's MTA, generating a really big problem which went unnoticed for a good while.

      But the maintainers did not see this as a bug in the 4.94.2 package.

      Go figure.


    2. gerdesj

      Re: Exim

      "The fight to get Exim4 on Raspbian Buster to use the correct acceptable FQDN was just too much for me and many others."

      Not sure what that means. I've been an Exim lover for 20+ years and can make it do all sorts of things but hang around the users mailing list - for decent advice. Generally, if you post a question which shows some evidence of reading the spec or at least attempting to interpret it, then you will get a very decent answer. Some of the responses may seem a little abrupt at times (JH!) but it is in my opinion one of the best mailing lists around. It's up there with Samba and Netdisco (possibly the politest ML ever) .... I digress.

      FQDN really means what I call myself and what you call yourself. You say HELO (or EHLO) and I say ...

      Inbound, you say HELO: You have one system and two MX ie two external IPs. You bind two "internal" IPs to the Exim box and NAT port 25 inbound accordingly. Pop this into exim4.conf and create a file that maps the two internal IPs to the HELO name that you should report back to a connecting system. I've called the file mailhelo. The file will have two internal ip addresses followed by a colon and the HELO name to respond with.

      smtp_active_hostname = ${lookup{$received_ip_address} \

      lsearch{/etc/exim4/mailhelo} \


      Outbound, I say HELO: I can't honestly remember but it would probably involve your routing table and policy based routing and getting Exim using two routers in its routers section. Exim is easily the most flexible MTA ever but it's bloody complicated. If Postfix does the job for you then use it.

      Exim doesn't have to be too complicated. I seriously recommend creating a custom config. On Debians and derivatives (Ubuntu etc) that means creating /etc/exim4/exim4.conf. A well crafted exim config is often a thing of beauty.

  7. pavel.petrman

    Devuan is the Firefox of the OS world

    As with the Web and more generally Internet being usurped by Google, the OS world is more and more contaminated by systemd (frankly I wouldn't be much surprised to find it in Windows 12 or XER or whatever number follows the looming 11). If both keep their trajectory for a few more years, we'll soon be reading about changes to the ad-blocking api of systemd browser module. That is if our Dell E5220s and Thinkpad X201s will not have given up the silicon ghost by then.

  8. steelpillow Silver badge

    Will it still "just work"?

    To echo a common sentiment here, I now use Devuan as much because it "just works" as for any other reason. I confess, the pulseaudio installed with my MATE desktop just works, at least with all the apps and drivers I ever tried.

    Will be interesting to see if a pulseaudio-free install choice works as invisibly.

    1. 7teven 4ect

      Re: Will it still "just work"?

      I found, using devuan with the mate desktop, the audio device setting was not persisting as it should. Is this still the case with 4.0?

  9. Steve Graham

    I never installed Devuan. I just changed the repo location and when a package was upgraded, it got the Devuan one. After several years, I don't think I have any original Debian packages left un-upgraded.

    All my machines still use sysv init in spite of the fact that I've disliked it since my first encounter (Solaris in 1993?). I must investigate some of the alternatives, in the next few decades.

  10. BenDwire Silver badge

    A quandry

    My Plex / Squeeze media server is running an older version of Debian, and I was planning to install Buster with SysV init just because I use Buster on my desktop (albeit with SystemD). I have never seen the point of SysD on a "permanently on" machine without a GUI, so maybe this Duvian release is the one to make me switch?

    1. BenDwire Silver badge

      Re: A quandry

      I said Buster, but I meant Bullseye. Hardly surprising as I was running Buster 'testing' then recently allowed it to upgrade to Bullseye, which it did without much fuss, or anything getting broken*.

      Compare and contrast to some other operating systems ...


      1. BenDwire Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: A quandry

        And as if by magic, I upgraded from Debian 9 to 10, then from 10 to 11 and now I have an up-to-date system with no systemd. What was even more amazing was the ease in doing so - change the name in sources.list to buster, apt update, apt upgrade, apt dist-upgrade then change the name to bullseye and repeat. All done in less than an hour - I'm seriously impressed.

        And no, I really don't think that using a gui would have been in any way simpler!

  11. Artem S Tashkinov

    "the hated systemd" is hated by a very small group of very vocal mostly basement dwelling systems administrators who have nothing to do with serious infrastructures.

    Systemd opens up so many possibilities in terms of effective service management, no other Linux init system comes even close.

    But again, if you are a fan of pages long unmaintainable bash/shell scripts which make your lay off impossible for your company, then go for it.

    Running without systemd is of course very possible e.g. for embedded devices with very little resources but no one uses full featured desktop distros on them anyways.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Thanks for opening my eyes

      I know so much more since your post. Please sir, may I have some more?

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      ha ha ha ha oh were you being serious?

      (laughing harder now)

    3. tekHedd

      unmaintainable shell scripts

      "Linux is hard and I mock you for being good at it."

    4. rtfazeberdee

      Yep, its good the Devuan exists though, it keeps all the whiners in one place.

    5. EarthDog

      what's wrong with job security

    6. Anonymous Coward

      What a magnificent troll

      ^^^title says it all.

      It is of course quite possible to run even full desktop Linux without svchost.exe for Linux, or any other P**tterisation.

      My own use case is nothing intensive ... a light host for an Eclipse Mosquitto MQTT broker that various PLCs, etc., use to exchange data. In that role, Devuan has been wonderfully simple to set up and administer, and unfailingly available.

      That said, my daily driver for most things remains Ubuntu 20.04, although had to kill off pulseaudio before I could play music acceptably without random crackles and glitches.

    7. DrXym Silver badge

      Shhh stating the obvious reasons why systemd is a good thing will get you a lot of downvotes.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lennart, is that you?

    9. Zolko Silver badge

      Systemd opens up so many possibilities in terms of effective service management

      but that's the point, isn't it ? I DO NOT WANT all those services to be managed. Effectively, I don't want all those services AT ALL. I've been running Linux as main workstation on all my computers for 24 years, what problem does SystemD solve for me ?

      If YOU have some special use-case then install YOUR tools for that, why do you want to force them on all others who don't need them. For most users, SystemD is anywhere between useless to utter crap.

      1. rg287 Silver badge

        but that's the point, isn't it ? I DO NOT WANT all those services to be managed. Effectively, I don't want all those services AT ALL. I've been running Linux as main workstation on all my computers for 24 years, what problem does SystemD solve for me ?

        Sadly for you, you are the 0.5%. The dev teams of Fedora, SUSE, Debian all decided that - on balance - SystemD was less bad than init for the majority of users.

        I'll never get bored of linking this great SystemD talk by a... BSD developer, wistfully suggesting that he'd like a SystemD-similar stack for FreeBSD.

        1. Joe W Silver badge

          Nope, the team of DeadHat decided, forced it upon the world, and the rest followed because it was a fscking nightmare to disentangle the tendrils it pushed into any and every service. The dream of FOSS is no more and corporates steer the whole thing - ok, maybe a bit harsh, and unfair, and I want the devs to be paid, but it comes with downsides like systemd (to be fair, pulseaudio, which is a mess, sort-of-but-not-fully predates that).

          My life is too short to hunt for the correct documentation when systemd messed up my (what ever they use instead of resolve.conf) or networking in general, which always seems to happen just when I need it the most.

          I'll give the BSDs a shot next. They come with other problems :)

  12. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    recent hardware

    I was using Devuan and liked it, but then I purchased a new Dell laptop which wasn't supported by the stable release. I switched to MX Linux which is also good (and the installation was notably easier). Now that Devuan stable is using the 5.10 kernel I could go back to it, but I won't, due to inertia.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: recent hardware

      it could simply be that Debian's tendency to opt for stable vs cutting/bleeding edge (and Devuan being based on Debian) means that installing on bleeding edge hardware could always be an issue.

      To save money I usually do not get bleeding edge anyway. Devuan works well for me. I think I'll try the new one on an RPi and see how that goes.

    2. HereIAmJH

      Re: recent hardware

      I don't remember why I gave up on Devuan, whether it was a hardware problem, or not being able to get newer packages for software.

      I ended up trying Artix (based on Arch) a couple years ago and have been happy with it, mostly. Plasma with OpenRC and rolling updates. (no versions)

      I recently rebuilt one of my 'servers' using it. I just need to get the X2Go server working so that I can re-deploy it to it's tiny cubby where it will be mostly forgotten again for the next 5 years. (monitors my CCD cameras on a remote property) A problem that still exists after decades, apps install perfectly on one distro and need lots of tinkering to get running on another.

      I do kind of miss dpkg, but I'm learning new things with pacman.

  13. Jim-234

    Devuan can be a system saver for laptops with bad discrete graphics

    I ran into a couple Dell laptops that had discrete video chips from AMD that went bad and would crash a normal Linux or Windows install when it got going.

    Devuan worked right out of the box forcing the intel chipset video and let me use the laptops that would otherwise have been discarded.

    I'm sure with more work, I could have gotten another distribution to work, but these weren't exactly worth spending hours on.

  14. Bartholomew Bronze badge

    Happy days

    Currently running Devuan Beowulf 3.1.1, upgrade time to Chimaera!

    But first a quick "apt list --installed > installed_packages.txt" and a fresh backup. I have never had a problem upgrading, but it is always good to store information you might need just in case.

    1. Bartholomew Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Happy days

      Upgrade complete - everything just worked. A little over an hour for everything (including my backup).

      $ cat /etc/devuan_version


      1. Grumpy Rob

        My Rant - was Re: Happy days

        Running Devuan3 both at home and at work - and it just works! Will upgrade to 4 soon.

        What pushed me to Devuan were the occasions when I was shutting down my computer, and it said "running a stop job"!! I didn't *ask* it to run a XXXXing stop job, I *told* it to shut down NOW.

        I've been using Unix and then Linux since the mid-80's, and I get increasingly grumpy as people add more and more "features" that I don't need:

        - I don't have a problem with waiting a few more seconds while my computer boots up, I have to switch on the coffee machine too.

        - I don't add and remove network cards all the time, so stop renaming my eth0!

        - I don't want to boot a bazillion OS'es using different file systems, so stop messing with grub. I *used* to be able to remember the boot commands AND read the grub.conf for "old" grub, not any more. So I use extlinux, thanks.

        - I want my core files in the directory where I'm developing the code - not squirreled away somewhere weird where I can't find them without wasting time reading documentation on features that I don't want or need.

        - I want my log files in readable text format so I can quickly grep them for errors, etc. Not some binary blob bulls..

        Ah - that feels better. Now for a soothing cup of tea..:)

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: My Rant - was Happy days

          I’ve been done in by the stop job. Intensely annoying when some fails during shutdown. I know it’s failing, that’s why I shut the pissing thing down in the first place

        2. oiseau Silver badge

          Re: My Rant - was Happy days

          ... want my log files in readable text format so I can quickly grep them for errors, etc. Not some binary blob bulls..

          That's one of the resons Devuan exists: no systemd.


          1. CRConrad

            Re: My Rant - was Happy days

            That's one of the resons Devuan exists: no systemd.

            Yes, and the commenter you replied to included that in their list of primary reasons for using it. Like, you know, like one does in a discussion of a new release of an OS distro: The article says "It has this and that and those other features...", and reaaders chime in with "I don't care about that feature" or "This feature is why I use this distro" and so on.

            D'oh! yourself, Sherlock.

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