Planning on using Clear Linux on my next PC, but have a few questions

So I’m getting a new laptop in the next few months and I currently plan to use Clear Linux as my main OS. However, I’m concerned about the lack of a few key features:

  1. ffmpeg - it would be really nice to be able to watch h264 videos in Firefox. I know it can be compiled from source, but I’ve heard that doing so is not quite as safe as normally installing a bundle. I’d like to make sure that if I must compile ffmpeg it is at least possible to uninstall (using sudo make uninstall) afterwards.
  2. snapd - a lot of applications are available almost exclusively on the Snap Store and it would be useful to be able to install them. Is that possible on Clear?
  3. GNOME Software extensions - when I tried out the live media, GNOME Software was noticeably empty. Can Flatpak apps (or Snap apps for that matter) be managed through the Software app at the moment?

Clear sounds great - it’s constantly topping performance benchmarks and seems to have a pretty good package manager. However, I worry that it might not be ready for daily use, especially with these issues. As it’s rather trivial to use the command line to update software or compile it from source none of these are non-negotiable for me, but I’d certainly prefer for these to be available as bundles either now or sometime in the future.

This is totally understandable and we do want Clear Linux to have the best performance possible, including multimedia streaming and encoding. Unfortunately, there are some well-known licensing and legal complexities around ffmpeg and redistributing it. (See https://www.ffmpeg.org/legal.html and http://blog.pkh.me/p/13-the-ffmpeg-libav-situation.html).

As it sounds like you already know, there is a lively discussion and progress updates on GitHub: https://github.com/clearlinux/distribution/issues/429

The self-install solution @pceiley documented can do a sudo make uninstall. You can also install it in a separate folder under /opt/ffmpeg for example to visually isolate the files.

Thank you for sharing your perspective so far. I hope others can chime in with information and ideas about your other concerns.

1 Like

This should actually work, and there was previously a bug with it that caused it to be empty. As far as I know, this is fixed and you can install flatpak software just fine with Gnome Software.

Note, all of these topics have been discussed at our github issue tracker before and repeating the discussion here would be somewhat redundant. E.g. snap will likely not happen, simply because we’d rather offer native software than runtime, and flatpak has somewhat better integration and sandboxing features. If there is software missing in flatpak, I’d like to address that with flathub for instance, instead of asking for snapd support.

2 Likes

Good point there, I also tend to prefer Flatpak. On my current system Snap is kinda broken so I don’t really use it anyway. Just nice to have access to those apps.

As for gnome-software-flatpak, that might be more an issue with live media than with the distro, since the docs seem to imply it’s included with desktop

Possible, I usually don’t use the live media myself. I use flatpak through installed systems on a daily basis, though, but then again I really do not use gnome-software for that either :slight_smile:

I just confirmed gnome-software has flatpacks on an installed system, no issues there.

I also agree with the snapd decision, though it is more from the thought of a single tool to do the job. The more ways I have to install things the more convoluted my system becomes and the harder it is to update. A unified install/update method is critical to not only keeping a system secure but for ensuring a seamless UX.

I personally am not sold on flatpack and the gnome-software interface, I am a cli person so bundle works just fine for me but that is a personal thing.

This is on top of the technical reasons already given that I also agree with and find no need to rehash here as well.