Changes coming to Clear Linux' direction in 2020

Well, yes, Clear Linux isn’t on the list. Ubuntu, on the other hand, now offers setting up the root FS as ZFS (albeit marked as “experimental”).

You omit the fact that RHEL, SuSE/SLES, CentOS and all the other widely used production Linux OSs are not on the list, either.

ZFS isn’t accepted by the upstream Linux kernel - that has been, and will be, one of the main requirements for additions to the Clear Linux kernel. If that ever happens, you will see ZFS in every Linux distribution. If it doesn’t happen, it will remain an exotic feature that only some distributions will adopt.

Another note on ZFS, and I really would wish this is the last comment in this thread on ZFS, as I think it’s unrelated and it has been covered plenty elsewhere already:

It isn’t that difficult to compile and install a kernel with ZFS yourself on Clear Linux. If you’re competent at compiling software, this is relatively easy to do. Anyone who is serious about needing ZFS support and needing to benefit from Clear Linux optimizations should look into it. If there are significant problems with Clear Linux that would prevent you from doing this, we’d consider that a bug and we would fix it. However, from what I can see, there are no issues with anyone adding ZFS support to their own Clear Linux installations.

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You can install ZFS on RHEL, CentOS, SuSE, Alpine even if they don’t ship with it like Ubuntu does.

As for how straightforward it is to install ZFS from source on Clear: Linux distro review: Intel’s own Clear Linux OS | Ars Technica (search for the heading “Will it ZFS”).

As requested, I will comment on this no further.

Maybe not for you. For me it was pretty tricky. That said, yes, I agree, if you need ZFS, you should compile ZFS.

Ultimately, I decided to follow the Clear Team’s suggestion and use BTRFS instead, which breaks clr-boot-manager, and it has done so for two years. I’d love to fix the issue (and I can do it – time, tho).

Back to the topic at hand.

The Clear distribution is not the most user friendly. It doesn’t really need to be – one can trade a 10% performance hit for easier maintenance and more supported software – but I’m unlikely to convince my colleagues to run it on our cloud machines until 1) there’s better documentation 2) there’s better support and 3) noobs don’t get smacked down for suggesting something the core team doesn’t like for the 15th time this week.

I like what Intel is doing with Clear. I use it on my workstation. And it’s been fun to learn something new. For as long as I can get the software I need to use for my work to run on it, I’ll take the 10% performance boost.

But yes, please do give us more details as soon as you can. You scared me with the original post, but then un-scared me when you said desktop support wasn’t going away.

Thanks for all you do.


So, (1) is something we have people for, so if there is specifically something you think that we can improve on, I encourage you to let us know.

(2) is certainly a good point. While we try to be available to everyone, we can’t help everyone, and I’m sure it’s not clear at all to people what we can help you with and what we can’t. And our time is limited in many ways.

As for (3) - I really don’t want to come over as “smacking down” and it’s not anyone’s intention. We do try to politely point at previous discussion threads on the forums for things we can’t support (e.g. I’m happy to redirect questions about NVIDIA to doctorhu’s posts about it). That said, and I’ve said that in other projects too: I really encourage people to completely ignore me and invest their time on something that they think they can learn something about, even if it’s stupid or illogical. While I generally tell people “no” quickly, that shouldn’t be taken as a “go away” either - it just means that I’m going to be reluctant to invest my time. However, if users really want to get … ZFS to work, and put the time into it, write out what they have done, and identify pain points with it, then we’re going to be receptive to questions and be willing to answer them.


As a user I am disappointed in this decision.
I have moved all my machines over to Clearlinux now because I like the packaging and the modern linux principles it stands on.
I code and am quite comfortable in changing and shaping the look of the Desktop as I want it.

One thing that I hope you can keep around is just the Desktop environments, they don’t need to be skinned or themed or customised, just keep it around so people can still use the OS as a Desktop.

There were a few things I was curious about, why are some packages built for Clear when perfectly good implementations existed in Flatpak via flathub. VLC for example,Libre Office another.

If a good implementation exists in Flatpak it shouldnt need to be implemented as a bundle for the OS, that way it gives you Intel devs more time for other packages and it falls inline with your already stated modern linux environment.

Most of us here will customise their own Desktop, just please continue to support running Desktop enviroments and WM’s on Clear, ie:Gnome, i3, KDE etc.

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To repeat myself: GNOME will remain available. KDE/Plasma and Xfce4 will as well. We may decide to remove others, though, but we haven’t actually made a hard decision about that yet.


That is a good news,I’m only a user and really like CL with Gnome,I need a few extra packages and they are easy to install(thanks to forum).

This is very sad news for me… It seems to be time to abandon Clear Linux. As a desktop user I don’t see any use of Clear Linux after this move.


So what was your main intention to use Clear Linux anyways? I also use Clear Linux on desktops and don’t see why i should stop doing it after the statement. No offence, just interest.


Should we install your server iso with GUI so we can continue to get updates to Clear Linux and still have a desktop? Or is the desktop distro still going to get important version updates so we can still use it with confidence?

The server and desktop ISO’s all use the same content stream - you can install the server ISO and then install the desktop bundle to get exactly what is on the desktop ISO. You can similarly install the desktop ISO and remove the desktop bundle to get what is essentially on the server ISO.

In other words: We’re not removing the desktop ISO, and reinstalling is not needed. You will get updates no matter what - regardless of what image you used to install.


I think the decision is consistent with this. Why are you disappointed?

“In other words: We’re not removing the desktop ISO, and reinstalling is not needed. You will get updates no matter what - regardless of what image you used to install.”

This is good news for people who love to use Clear Linux desktop (like me) as a relief from Win10.
I guess the desktop programs such as Firefox, Geary, wine etc. will have to be updated using flatpaks at some future time when you decide to slow support for desktop apps. the important thing for me is the system updates will not be dropped.

I think it’s premature to come to that conclusion. Obviously, you’re going to do what you’re going to do.

The CL team has said they’ll continue to build the desktop ISO with optimizations (which is why we’re all here, right? For the optimizations?)

It doesn’t sound like anyone will be prevented from running the distro on their desktop. The change in direction seems to be more along the lines of, “We’re not going to spend time making a supported bundle for Aislerot and Minesweeper, nor is the core team able to help you install Nvidia drivers or ZFS (but the answer is in the forums). Instead we’re going to spend our time getting better performance out of your CPUs under docker or on Azure.”

I am not a CL team member, so I may be misinterpreting (which, to be fair, would be easy to do given the sorta fuzzy announcement), but If I’ve got it right, it’s exactly what I want – faster stuff at the core.


Will do – thanks.

I think you guys shot yourselves in the foot with the early direction of “If you want something bundled, just ask us and we’ll probably add it.” Because — I want ZFS will you bundle it? No? How about now? No? Why not? Now? :smiley:

I seriously don’t expect the core team to add bundles for everything. I think it’d be a good evolution if there were a single, curated, community source for unofficial bundles – sorta like Arch has the AUR. The challenge is that bundling stuff for Clear is not as easy as it is for traditional packaging systems. Maybe some people want to learn and lead the way, though?

But could you imagine answering the next “Will you bundle ZFS?” with, “No, but you can get it here at the Clear 3rd party bundle site.” That’d be great.

Well, you’re human and the Internet is imperfect: and maybe I overreacted. I think it’d be wise to communicate exactly what you’ve said above outside the forums – somewhere you ought to make it obvious that expecting to be able to bug a core team member daily about ZFS is asking too much. To be fair, you did put it into the FAQ.

Again: thanks for all you do.


Between the ‘About’ documentation and ‘FAQ’ we aim to give a broad indication of our direction and intent, but having said that, we can’t (and maybe don’t want to :wink: ) cover all eventualities.
I’d definitely encourage more people to look into the 3rd party bundling - we want more people to be able to helps themselves. If there are other issues that need to be addressed in the FAQ, please file a bug on github

I agree on the necessity of a “one and only” 3rd-party repository. It’s 2020 and still we haven’t learned anything from iOS AppStore or Google Play? People want a “one place to find them all” thing… How can I know if a bundle exists if I don’t know if a repository exists? How can I package a bundle if I don’t have a server to put it on? How can I be sure that repository isn’t actually shipping malwares? Centralised stores can guarantee security, avoid duplication, deprecation and garbage-bundles (or at least minimize them). It’s harder to do on the CL devs side, sure, but its a hundred times better than user-managed repositories, and TBH Intel isn’t really about to go bankrupt for that matter, so it shouldn’t be too much of an effort. Sure, it still is an effort, so financially speaking it depends all on the “seriousness” of the CL project (by seriousness I really mean the amount of money Intel is willing to put on it, not the dedication of the devs)


Why should Intel host or maintain a 3rd-party repository? There is a reason why it is called 3rd-party, because it is not maintained by the 1st and/or a direct partner. I don’t think it is a matter of money, but to maintain a repository and to guarantee that the packages are “save” need a lot of knowledged human ressources.

It makes more sense that the developer of a application (and the team and/or the community around the application) maintains and delivers the application to the end user. The distributor of the Linux (Linux is more or less only the Kernel, the rest are applications build on top of it) based distribution is responsible for its own modifications and/or applications but not for every application that can be run on Linux.

I fully understand your point, and i think it would make sense for Clear Linux (and also other distributions) to use Flatpak as a centralized service to deliver most of the applications to end users and it would be great if Flatpak would be accepted by developers as the way to distribute there applications. This would be like “the App stores”.