What exactly is Clear's philosophy?

I’ve looked around in the About pages, I’ve looked around in the documentation, and I can’t find anything related to precisely what aims and principles Clear Linux is being developed with.

Like many others, I got very excited when I heard about Clear. The benchmarks reminded me of the disparity between Apple’s iPhones and Android devices using Snapdragon chipsets. There’s a big pack of distros competing neck and neck with each other… and then there’s one that’s out in front, running 2x-4x faster on many tasks. And that one is Clear. It benches faster than Windows in a lot of things, too!

Also like many others, my first thought was “I know that this seems to be a mostly cloud-targeted OS, but I could really use that Intel magic optimization in my daily desktop/multimedia work.” Windows is inefficient for me in a lot of interface and file management ways, macOS is limited to underpowered hardware (or completely unsupported if you go Hackintosh), and Linux works merrily until something upstream breaks and you have to spend a day fixing it. Clear sounds perfect. I need the stability it offers.

But then, whenever I see someone posting on here asking the devs about how to get some desktop-y proprietary stuff working, they say “this feature is proprietary and non-open-source”. Followed by a mic drop. Sorry, was that supposed to be an answer?

And yes, I know that you can hack a lot of this stuff together. But then we’re back into “hacking away at Linux just to install a few apps” land, and I can never get any work done when I have to wear both my “hacker hobbyist” hat and my “serious work day” hat at the same time. So I guess I’d like to know… is this a definite thing? Is Clear’s mission statement for-sure that closed-source addons are never going to have official bundles?

I can’t actually find anything in the PR pages about how staying open-source-only is their philosophy. It’s perfectly 100% fine with me if that’s what they’re doing, but I can’t see anything really hammering that in as the absolute goal. Maybe I’m blind. Correct me, I’d like that! My mind is open despite my ranting.

(PS, on a personal note, I do think that the development team needs to face the reality that a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life want to take advantage of their optimization, stateless cleanliness, and curated software. I’m sorry guys, the concept just makes too much sense! You did it too well, it’s perfect and now everyone wants it! :crazy_face:)

If Clear is meant to stay completely sterile, maybe they’d be open to considering a Fedora-esque offshoot?


From what I understand (as a user), the Clear Linux team really doesn’t want to get Intel sued for distributing patent encumbered software (ffmpeg), proprietary software Intel doesn’t have rights to (NVIDIA), or software whose use might violate other laws (libdvdcss). There seem to be proprietary drivers included for wi-fi, just like Fedora provides, but that’s about it, and it’s probable that there won’t be any more. I’m entirely open to an offshoot that has these features, though.

I didn’t realize we did? Which drivers are you talking about?

We’re somewhat limited in what we can say publicly - some things require that I go through a lawyer to get approval first. I’d rather say a little without having to do that :slight_smile:

Why be sorry? We’re cheering everyone on to do exactly that. :smiley:

Clear Linux can connect on one computer I have with a Qualcomm wifi chip and one with an Intel wifi chip. As far as I know, drivers for both are redistributable, but still not considered fully open source. I believe the only wifi driver that meets the official definition of open source or free software is ath9k.

Edit: rtl818x is also fully free

We do not include any out of tree kernel driver. Surely, all the in-kernel wifi drivers are considered fully open source?

Sort of. All are freely redistributable, but there are “blobs” of firmware whose source is not available. If you’re looking for something that is “fully open source,” that is why the FSF maintains a fork of the kernel called linux-libre. This is used by the PureOS and GuixSD distros, which are made by anti-copyright folks who have an ethical commitment to using only open-source or “libre” software, even at cost of losing compatibility. If the issue is legality, though, I’m pretty sure that using the mainline kernel is okay.