I'm in disbelief

I was tempted by Clear Linux, because of all the promises made and the benchmarks I saw. It’s linux, so I expected some suffering, but at least some performance gain in compensation. My thinking was that these guys at Intel are a bunch of highly professional people, they may be able to get this thing right.

I wanted to set up a virtualized environment with a GUI and it seemd like Clear Linux was a perfect fit, although I know that Linux is always hiding some surprises for you.

I would like to run it on a small machine with an Atom J1900 (has VT-x) and a 120 GB SSD, that has previously run Windows Server 2012R2 with Hyper-V and up to 10 virtual machines without a hiccup (some on an external SATA drive).

So I start up installing Clear Linux 32850 and of course it’s not trivial to get a simple thing like the installation running. So I have to find the right flashing tool (Etcher worked), switch the UEFI settings in the BIOS, play around with the settings for the USB storage and stuff to finally get into a prompt, where I have to start the installation myself. Why? What decade are we in now? But well aware that the biggest surprises are yet to come, I wander on in my journey.

Fine I setup a password for the root and enter the installation process. So the first thing I stumble upon is a hopelessly outdated disk partitioning, I would date it 1984 by aperance.

A slight hint in the installation process indicates that I might need to name the partitions in some certain way, for Clear Linux to recognize them, how is not specified, until you do something and get a warning. Nobody considered to include that information in the installation process, you have to go and ask Google. Why?

Searching for help online I find that you can even add “_F” to the naming of the partition, to automatically format it, which doesn’t work if the drive is not already formatted with the required format. To be sure, the _F has to be added differently depending on if it’s a SWAP drive or BOOT drive. WHY?

So the partitioning ask me about filesystem and in the Linux-world-interpretation-of-user-friendliness it suggests 8300… And no specifications anywhere about any other possible options like EF00 or 8200. Because?

After realizing that this is definitly not plug-n-play, I wonder where the option to format the drive manually is? Didn’t find any… eeeeh? So I leave the installation and format the relevant boot drive from the command line and restart the installation.

Now I’m finally allowed to proceed with the installation and it seems like I have a successful install until after a reboot. For some reason I can’t login with the root password, in disbelief I try to enter it close to 10 times, also hitting caps-lock. Fortunately I made an admin user with the same password that successfully logs in. Then I try changing the root password and it accepts the password that it didn’t accept at the login. WTF?

Then I realize that the specified minimum for the disk size, doesn’t allow for a GUI. So I decided that I wanted to do a new fresh install, as I didn’t want to insult the Linux installation with resizing the partition. So I made a fresh install, only increasing the disk size of the root partition and adding the desktop UI bundle. Aparrently the added UI bundle failed to install and the installation process was abruptly halted with a message about what information I had to send to the developers.

OK, so trying again with the exact same settings and voila! Installations completes and boot fails…

I don’t understand why anybody chooses to run Windows, this is so much more fun! But I’m not sure I would trust my data to somebody who can’t even make a reliable installation process.

Our installation method is “spartan” on purpose/by design. If you want a more “guided” installer, we just don’t offer one like that right now and it is not planned. We let you make bad choices in the installer menus because we believe that everyone should be able to decide for themselves whether they want the basic flow with canned values, or deviate. But if you decide to deviate, there is no hand-holding - you have to understand what you’re doing. We do offer manual pages for those that don’t, but again, the tool isn’t there to hold your hand in the process.


I guess you downloaded the server iso, whose installer has a TUI, not a GUI.

Like the one here:

Well, you actually can install from the desktop ISO with GUI installer. You only need a larger USB thumb drive, and the tutorial is quite helpful:



I think you just sold Hyper-V to me :smiley:

I guess I could reconfigure the desktop into becoming a more minimal KVM server, but as I’m not very experienced with Linux, I just suppose that I’m going to get into too much trouble, breaking dependencies and stuff.

It’s really hard to break dependencies on this distribution…

I think installing from Desktop iso is straightforward, but in OP’s case, he installed Clear from server ISO, and that’s much harder.
In any case, don’t be so mean on a new user please.


This is how everyone (nearly) learns GNU/Linux. It is trial and error, lots of reading man pages, reading code, and posting in various forums / mailing lists. In the end, you know much more about how computers work.


My bad accept my apology Fredrick Schack yes the Clear Linux GUI desktop iso installer using Rufus to burn a usb drive is very straight forward.

I made a documentation request on GitHub.

In my understanding, the major differences between desktop and server ISO are:

  • GUI vs TUI installer
  • Different selections of default bundles

You’d always be able to installer a very minimum system from desktop live ISO, by removing bundles you don’t need. For example in your case, just don’t install any bundles named like desktop or desktop-apps.


Clear Linux is as Auke said - highly flexible. The cost of the flexibilty is complexity which makes Clear Linux harder to install than, say, Ubuntu. But it is not really designed for the same audience as Ubuntu. The big features of Clear Linux are it’s OSTree model and statelessness. These are innovations versus the traditional GNU/Linux distro and require a learning curve to understand. It’s a great distro because of these properties, but it is not necessarily a great distro for a first time Linux user (Ubuntu likely better for that.)

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I use the TUI every time even for desktop installations. Because it is so simple – why mess around with a mouse when you can be up and running in a few quick key strokes!? Quick lightweight server iso with superior cpu optimization and a killer tcp stack to delta in dependencies at record breaking speed but ONLY IF YOU WANT 'EM!!! How can you beat that?

I understand your frustration and i also had a lot of it in the years using Linux and other OSes, but it will getting better. Even if it is hard sometimes and cost a bit more time, use failures to build knowledge, on the long run you will need less and less time to handle such “problems”.

I administrate various systems, Windows, Linux, Unix based and have to say that seen in a whole, the Linux/Unix based systems are a lot more stable. Sure, you may have a bit more work to set them up, but in most cases you can set, forget and they will run forever if you keep em patched. There is a good reason why most of critical and complex systems run on Linux/Unix.

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You just need to use the Desktop ISO and remove the Desktop Bundle as part of your install. Them you will get the exact same as the server ISO.

That’s ‘how’ bundle works on Clear. You don’t need to worry about break dependencies using then.


Clear Linux is the closest distro I can find for a bare metal install with minimal compromise. Like most people who tried CL, it often throws me off as far as Linux experience I have with many distros I tried/used over the years. I had to wrap my brain to new approach CL brings to Linux (e.g. stateless design, package management, etc) which was completely new to me. I even have to look at backup strategy very differently than what I used to.

Before trying CL, my general expectation for a Linux distro is either…

  1. Full-featured, yet bloated.
  2. Minimal, yet too much compromise.

You can take any distro and configure it to a middle ground but it involves too much work.

So far, CL gave me the best middle ground. I did spent time reading online Docs and forums to get to a state where I want my installation to be. Lean, yet not much compromises.

I guess people will always expect things to work out of the box with some level of “hand-holding”. Most Linux distro may have achieved this at some level. But Linux will always be linux, constantly evolving, constantly changing. This has cause highs and lows for many people.

I am using CL for six months now on my home lab, since then I have made countless install and different ways to run my apps.

At the latest, I have CL running as my server/baremetal OS hosting 7 virtual machines running rancher OS which is all part or a Rancher/Kubernetes cluster running all my container apps.


Interesting! How has the experience been for you with that set up? Have you tried or considered metallb? Or cloud-native?