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We consider linear multistage detectors with universal (large system) weighting for synchronous code-division multiple access (CDMA) in multipath fading channels with many users. A convenient choice of the basis of the projection subspace allows a joint projection of all users. Taking advantage of this property, the complexity per bit of multistage detectors with universal weights scales linearly with the number of users on the uplink CDMA channel, while other known multistage detectors with universal weights and different bases of the projection subspace keep the same quadratic complexity order per bit as the linear minimum mean-square error (LMMSE) detector. We focus on the design of two kinds of detectors with linear complexity. The detector of Type I is obtained as an asymptotic approximation of the polynomial expansion detector proposed by Moshavi The detector of Type II has the same performance as the multistage Wiener filter (MSWF) in large systems. Additionally, general performance expressions for large systems, applicable to any multistage detector with the same basis of the projection subspace (e.g., linear parallel interference canceling detectors), are derived. As a by-product, the performance analysis disproves the widespread belief that the MSWF and the polynomial expansion detector are equivalent. We show that, in general, the MSWF outperforms the latter one and they are equivalent only asymptotically in the case of equal received powers.