Below is a list of commonly asked questions with answers sourced from the Clear Linux* OS team and Clear Linux community forums.


What is Clear Linux OS?

Clear Linux OS is an open source, rolling release Linux distribution optimized for performance and security. See the about page for more information.

Why another Linux distribution?

The Clear Linux OS team felt that performance was left on the table with Linux software. Clear Linux OS takes a holistic approach to improve performance across the stack. We also wanted to take more modern approaches with OS updates and tooling.

Is it a derivative of another Linux distribution?

No. Clear Linux OS is a new Linux distribution. It is not a fork and does not have a parent Linux distribution.

Can others copy improvements from Clear Linux OS?

Yes, we absolutely love open source reuse and upstreaming improvements.

How often does it update?

The Clear Linux OS team puts out multiple releases a week, often releasing two or more times a day. This rolling release approach allows Clear Linux OS to remain agile to upstream changes and security patches.

Is telemetry required?

The telemetry solution provided by Clear Linux OS is entirely optional and customizable. It is disabled by default. If you do choose to enable telemetry, the data helps the Clear Linux OS team proactively identify and resolve bugs. See the telemetry guide for more information.

What is the default firewall?

Clear Linux OS packages iptables and firewalld as optional bundles, however, there are no default firewall rules. All network traffic is allowed by default.

Where are the files that I usually see under /etc like fstab?

Clear Linux OS has a stateless design that maintains a separation between system files and user files. Default values are stored under /usr/share/defaults/. Clear Linux OS starts with a mostly empty /etc directory to store user-defined configurations. See the stateless page for more information.

See this blog post for an example explaining how this is accomplished with /etc/fstab/ specifically.

Does it use the Intel Compiler (icc)?

No. Clear Linux OS uses open source compilers: gcc and clang. Clear Linux OS does not compile any packages with icc.

For a more detailed explanation, see this discussion on the community forum.


How is software installed and updated?

Clear Linux OS provides software in the form of bundles and updates software with swupd.

Flatpak* is an application virtualization solution that allows more software to be available to Clear Linux OS users by augmenting the software Clear Linux OS packages natively with software available through Flatpak.

Our goal is to have software packaged natively and made available through bundles whenever possible.

Does it use RPMs or DEBs packages like other distros?

No. Clear Linux OS provides software to systems in the form of Bundles. Under the hood, Clear Linux OS developers use the RPM format as an intermediary step for packaging and determining software dependencies at OS build time.

Individual RPMs and DEBs can sometimes be manually extracted and installed on a Clear Linux OS system with the right tools, but that is not the intended use case.

Why does it have a different approach to software management?

The Clear Linux OS team wants software installation and updates to be as efficient and error free as possible. Clear Linux OS packages software differently and uses a novel updater to solve some of the classic problems with how the software packages are on Linux.

For a more detailed explanation, see this discussion on our community forum.

Can I install a software package from another OS on Clear Linux OS?

Software that is packaged in other formats for other Linux distributions is not guaranteed to work on Clear Linux OS and may be impacted by Clear Linux OS updates.

If the software you’re seeking is open source, please submit a request to add it to Clear Linux OS. Submit requests on GitHub* here: https://github.com/clearlinux/distribution/issues

Software availability

What software is available on Clear Linux OS?

Available software can be found in the Software Store, through the GNOME* Software application on the desktop, or by using swupd search.

Is Google* Chrome* available?

The Google Chrome web browser is not distributed as a bundle in Clear Linux OS due to copyright and licensing complexities.

A discussion on manually installing and maintaining Google Chrome can be found on GitHub.

Is Microsoft* Visual Studio Code* available?

Yes. Find the CLI command for installing VS Code and other Flatpak apps in the software store. Installing Flatpak apps is also covered in our tutorial.

The Clear Linux OS team is working on a natively packaged version of Visual Studio Code for future release.

Join a community forum discussion about manually installing and maintaining Visual Studio Code.

Is FFmpeg available?

FFmpeg is a multimedia software suite, which is commonly used for various media encoding/decoding, streaming, and playback.

Clear Linux OS does not distribute FFmpeg due to well-known licensing and legal complexities (See https://www.ffmpeg.org/legal.html and http://blog.pkh.me/p/13-the-ffmpeg-libav-situation.html).

While Clear Linux OS cannot distribute FFmpeg, solutions for manually building and installing FFmpeg have been shared by users on GitHub and the community forums.

Is ZFS* available?

ZFS is not available with Clear Linux OS because of copyright and licensing complexities. BTRFS is an alternative filesystem that is available in Clear Linux OS natively.

A community contributed tutorial has been shared on how to manually install ZFS.

Can you add a driver that I need?

If a kernel module is available as part of the Linux kernel source tree but not enabled in the Clear Linux OS kernels, in many cases the Clear Linux OS team will enable it upon request. Submit requests on GitHub here: https://github.com/clearlinux/distribution/issues

The Clear Linux OS team does not typically add out-of-tree kernel modules as a matter of practice because of the maintenance overhead. If the driver was unable to be merged upstream, there is a good chance we may be unable to merge it for similar reasons.

Kernel modules can be individually built and installed on Clear Linux OS. See the kernel modules page for more information.