Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bedrock Linux?
See the Introduction to Bedrock.
How does Bedrock Linux Work?
The exact details may change drastically from release-to-release, but the
general concept is explained here.
Why should I use Bedrock?
- If you would like features or packages available in Linux distributions, but
not all available in the same Linux distribution at the same time. For example,
if you would like your system to be mostly stable and unchanging, like Debian
or a Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone, but would like access to cutting-edge
packages from Arch, Bedrock Linux can provide this simultaneously and
- If you would like to have access to other Linux distributions readily
available for purposes other than access to their functionality. For example,
if you regularly assist people who use a variety of Linux distributions and
would like to be able to test possible solutions on your own box without using
- If you have issues with packages from Linux distributions that are unique to
that distribution and would rather simply use another distribution's package
for this specific issue than debug the root of the problem.
- If you would like to try for extremely high uptime while still doing
distro-upgrades if you are limited yourself to a single machine. See Why
should I not use Bedrock? below for the catch.
- If you want a toy with which to play.
Why should I not use Bedrock?
- If you are happy with all of the functionality provided by another Linux
distribution, and you have no interest in features it does not provide, it
would likely be best to simply use that other Linux distribution.
- If you value stability/reliability, note that while this is a priority for
Bedrock Linux, Bedrock Linux is still largely new and untested; a
tried-and-true stable/reliable Linux distribution such as Debian or a Red Hat
Enterprise Linux clone would likely be better suited.
- If you value security, note that Bedrock Linux probably has the highest
attack surface of just about any Linux distribution, mostly because its attack
surface is the sum of the attack surfaces of just about every other Linux
distribution combined. While steps can be taken to alleviate this to some
degree, ultimately, a locked-down Bedrock Linux can never truly reach the
security offered by a locked-down standard Linux distribution.
How can I contribute?
- Pop into IRC and ask around.
- Take a look at the issues and, if you feel you can tackle
something, discuss it with "paradigm" in
Or make a new issue if you have an idea.
- There is always a need to improve the documentation. For example, you could
add instructions for setting up an obscure distro as a client Bedrock Linux,
or something as simple as fixing typos. Once you have something to submit,
stop by the website git
How is this different from/preferable to using a virtual machine?
Bedrock Linux's functionality differs from virtual machines in three key ways:
- Bedrock's ability to access programs from other Linux distributions is
largely transparent once set up. One can, for example, have a RSS feed reader
from one Linux distribution open a link in a browser in another Linux
distribution, all running in an X11 server from a third Linux distribution.
This all happens transparently; it all feels like one single cohesive Linux
distribution. Virtual machines cannot do this type of transparency nearly as
- Bedrock's ability to access programs from other Linux distributions has
extremely minimal overhead as compared to virtual machines. This is especially
true with respect to 3D/video acceleration, which "just works" (assuming no
proprietary driver issues) as well as it does in a normal Linux distribution.
Such things typically do not work very well at all in virtual machines.
- Bedrock, by its very design, interweaves other Linux distributions together;
it ensures they share quite a bit. This means if there is a security
vulnerability in one of the clients, there is little to stop it from affecting
the rest of the system. Virtual machines, by their very design, sandbox the
clients, such that an attack on one of them will have a difficult time
propagating to others.
When will $RELEASE be released?
If there is an estimate for a release, it will be stated in the index page for
the specific release. If not, then it will be released when it is done.
Why that name?
Bedrock Linux does not do very much by itself; rather, it is the foundation
upon which other Linux distributions are placed. Initial ideas for a name were
intent on reflecting this fact. Other proposed names included "Foundation
Linux", "Frame Linux" and "Scaffolding Linux". The name chosen has nothing to
do with the television show The Flintstones.
Where do the release names come from?
All of the Bedrock Linux releases are named after characters from the
Nickelodeon television program Avatar: The Last Air Bender.
What are the system requirements?
The system requirements are listed in the specific pages for each release. This
is done in case changes between versions alter the system requirements. The
system requirements for the initial alpha can be found
Why does this need to be its own distribution?
For much of Bedrock Linux's development, it was simply a set of scripts on top
of Debian. It became apparent, after months of using it, that there would be a
number of benefits to make this its own Linux distribution. If you do not find
any value in the items listed here you're more than welcome to try to use the
Bedrock Linux utilities on top of another distribution.
- The base distribution should require minimal maintenance over long periods of
time. Ultimately, even long-term supported Linux distributions will lose
support and have to be upgraded or replaced eventually. One of the advantages
of Bedrock Linux is that these distro-upgrade situations can be significantly
less painful when the distro is a client; however, this advantage is not
available for the base itself. If the base is made to be as minimal as
possible, this should decrease the amount of things that need to be updated
and maintained. As Bedrock Linux approaches maturity, this could
theoretically be brought down to perhaps one or two executables other than
the Linux kernel itself. It is difficult to properly express just how nice it
is to never worry about how a major change to how things work under the hood
of your Linux distribution could possibly take down your system, as the
vitals of the system remain relatively static.
- The base distribution is effectively entirely overhead. Ideally any resource
usage (disk space, RAM, CPU, etc) should be minimized. Most major
distributions available are far larger than necessary as a base on which
other distros should be placed as Bedrock Linux clients, and most minimal
distributions were found to lack features Bedrock would need (as they were
intended to be entirely minimal, rather than the basis for a full-blown
desktop/server/etc). This is particularly important on resource-limited
devices, such as ASUS Eee PC's, where Bedrock Linux's early development and
usage took place.
- Much of what Bedrock Linux needs to do to properly utilize clients requires
direct control over key files, such as /etc/profile. While many Linux
distributions do offer means to properly remove individual files from the
package manager's control, such as utilizing dpkg-divert, as the number of
files which need this treatment grow the advantages of using an existing
- Much of what Bedrock Linux needs to do to properly utilize clients requires
direct control over what happens during boot. For example, if one would like
to be able to choose which device manager to use from which client, special
functionality must be built into the boot process to properly handle deciding
which device manager to call when, if any. Attempting to integrate such
functionality into existing boot systems is not an appealing task when a
(very simple) home-grown init could suffice instead.
On which distribution is Bedrock Linux based?
Bedrock Linux is not based on or an offshoot of any other Linux distribution;
it was written "from scratch." It has unusual twin goals of needing to be as
minimal as possible while supporting the features necessary for a full-blown
desktop. Rather than attempting to tweak an existing distribution into such a
shape a new one was made from the ground up.
This sounds overly-ambitious. Do you really think you can pull this off?
An argument could be made either way if Bedrock Linux was still in the planning
stages, prior to any functional release, but since Bedrock Linux was publicly
announced along with a functional (if unpolished) alpha: yes. Not only is it
possible, it has been done, and the necessities for you to see this for
yourself have been made available if you don't want to take my word for it.
Much work needs to be done such as polish and the addition of many features,
but the core idea has been proven quite definitively to work.
What about Bedrock BSD or Bedrock Android or Bedrock Something-Else?
It should be noted that no other operating system family has such a disparate
variety of userlands which all run on the same kernel. Bedrock Linux's
strengths wouldn't be nearly as beneficial anywhere else. Attempting to do
something such as Bedrock Linux will inherently require leveraging
operating-system-specific tools, and so it may require a fair bit of additional
research to port Bedrock Linux's tools to another platform.
Bedrock Linux is still under heavily development and changes quite a bit
between releases. It may be best to first wait for Bedrock Linux to settle on
one strategy before putting the efforts to port it elsewhere to avoid wasted effort.
- Porting Bedrock Linux to one or more of the BSD operating systems may be
- Differences in things such as chroot(), namespaces, cgroup, etc may
make it take a fair bit of work.
- The Bedrock Linux FUSE utilites may "just work" on the BSDs.
Android's utilities may be dependent on Android's patches to the Linux
kernel. However, "traditional" Linux programs seem to run fine on the
Android kernel. Thus, any port of Bedrock Linux to android would likely
require an Android kernel to be used.
The Android file system layout is significantly different from traditional
Linux distributions. PATH and bind-mount system changes may be required.
Android does some unusual things with its UID/GIDs. For example, does not
seem to be a UID-username map at /etc/passwd as one would expect from other
Linux-based operating systems. UID namespaces and brc-style translation
programs may be necessary.
- This may be possible. Most of the issues mentioned for the other platforms
are unlikely to happen here.
- The low-level differences between Windows and Linux are quite significant,
and thus the possibility does not seem promising; however, no serious
investigation has been done to confirm this.
- No investigation has been done into porting Bedrock Linux to OSX.
- If the BSDs look promising, at least Darwin could be possible.