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Bedrock Linux Userland

Bedrock Linux is a Linux distribution composed of user-selected components from various other Linux distributions. For example, with Bedrock one may use the installation process from one distribution, the init from another, a window manager from a third, and a web browser from a fourth. Bedrock strives to make these components work together as transparently as possible such that for day-to-day operations it is not readily evident that the various components were originally intended for disparate distributions.

This repository contains all the userland code for a Bedrock Linux system. It can create a script which may be used to install or update a Bedrock Linux system.

Building the installer/updater

On a Linux system, install the build dependencies:

  • Standard UNIX utilities: grep, sed, awk, etc.
  • autoconf
  • autopoint
  • bison
  • fakeroot
  • gcc 4.9.1 or newer
  • git 1.8 or newer
  • gpg (optional)
  • gzip
  • libtool
  • make
  • meson 0.38 or newer
  • ninja-build
  • pkg-config
  • rsync
  • udev (build-time only)
  • wget

Ensure you have internet access (to fetch upstream dependencies), then run:

make GPGID=<gpg-id-with-which-to-sign>

to build a signed install/update script or

make SKIPSIGN=true

to build an unsigned install/update script.

The build process can be customized in the same fashion as most make and C projects:

  • You may use -jN to tell make to parallelize the build process with N jobs.
  • You may set CFLAGS to pass flags to the C compiler such as -Os and -march=native.
    • Bedrock's components must be statically compiled. The build system sets -static in various places. Do not set -dynamic or otherwise try to change away from a static build.

This will produce a script such as:

which may be used to install or update a Bedrock Linux system.


  • Install another, traditional Linux distribution.
    • Select a filesystem which supports extended filesystem attributes.
  • Setup users, networking, etc as one would typically do.
  • Reboot into the fresh install.
  • Get the bedrock-linux-<version>-<arch>.sh script onto the system, either by building it locally or getting a pre-built version from elsewhere.
  • Run the script as root with the --hijack flag.
  • Follow the prompts.
  • Reboot. Re-select the new install at any bootloader prompt.
  • You're now running Bedrock Linux, but with only the initial install's files. To leverage Bedrock's features, we need other distribution's files as well.
  • Run brl fetch --list to see the various distributions which Bedrock knows how to fetch.
  • As root, run brl fetch <distros> to acquire upstream distribution files.
    • If this fails, you may need to manually look up release and mirror information for the desired distribution and provide the information with --release and --mirror flags.

Basic usage

A Bedrock Linux system is composed of "strata". These are collections of interrelated files. These are often, but not always, one-to-one with other, traditional Linux distributions. Bedrock integrates these strata together, creating a single, largely cohesive system with desirable features from other distributions.

To list the currently installed (and enabled) strata, run:

$ brl list

To list distros which can be easily acquired as strata, run:

$ brl fetch --list

To acquire new strata, run (as root):

# brl fetch <distros>

Once that has completed, you may run commands from the new strata. For example, the following series of commands make sense on a Bedrock system:

$ sudo brl fetch arch debian
$ sudo pacman -S mupdf && sudo apt install texlive
$ man pdflatex
$ pdflatex preexisting-file.tex && mupdf preexisting-file.pdf

Bedrock's integration is not limited to the command line. For example, graphical application menus or launchers will automatically pick up applications across strata, and Xorg fonts installed from one stratum will be picked up in an X11 graphical application from another stratum.

If there are multiple instances of an executable, Bedrock will select one by default in a given context. If there are hints it can pick up on for which one to use, it is normally correct. brl which can be used to query which Bedrock will select in a given context. For example:

$ # arch, debian, and centos are installed.
$ # running debian's init, and thus must use debian's reboot
$ sudo brl which -b reboot
$ # only arch provides pacman, so arch's pacman will be used
$ brl which -b pacman
$ # yum is a python script.  Since yum comes from centos, the python
$ # interpreter used to run yum will also come from centos.
$ sudo yum update
$ brl which $(pidof python | cut -d' ' -f1)

If you would like a specific instance, you may select it with strat:

$ # arch, debian, and ubuntu are installed
$ # install vlc from arch
$ sudo pacman -S vlc
$ # install vlc from debian
$ sudo strat debian apt install vlc
$ # install vlc from ubuntu
$ sudo strat ubuntu apt install vlc
$ # run default vlc
$ vlc /path/to/video
$ # run arch's vlc
$ strat arch vlc /path/to/video
$ # run debian's vlc
$ strat debian vlc /path/to/video
$ # run ubuntu's vlc
$ strat ubuntu vlc /path/to/video

To avoid conflicts, processes from one stratum may see its own stratum's instance of a given file. For example, Debian's apt and Ubuntu's apt must both see their own instance of /etc/apt/sources.list. Other files must be shared across strata to ensure they work together, and thus all strata see the same file. For example, /home. Such shared files are referred to as "global". Which stratum provides a file in a given context can be queried by brl which:

$ # which stratum is my shell from?
$ brl which --pid $$
$ # that query is common enough the PID may be dropped
$ brl which
$ # which stratum provides ~/.vimrc
$ brl which --filepath ~/.vimrc
$ # global indicates all stratum seem the same file; not specific to any
$ # stratum.
$ brl which --filepath /bin/bash
$ brl which --bin pacman

If you would like to specify which non-global file to read or write, prefix /bedrock/strata/<stratum>/ to its path.

$ brl which --filepath /bedrock/strata/debian/etc/apt/sources.list
$ brl which --filepath /bedrock/strata/ubuntu/etc/apt/sources.list
$ # edit debian's sources.list with ubuntu's vi
$ strat ubuntu vi /bedrock/strata/debian/etc/apt/sources.list

brl provides much more functionality which can be read from brl --help.

A concrete list of everything Bedrock can integrate, work-arounds for known limitations, and other useful information may be found at


To sanity check your work (e.g. before upstream changes to Bedrock Linux), install:

  • shellcheck
  • cppcheck
  • clang
  • gcc
  • tcc
  • scan-build (usually distributed with clang)
  • shfmt (
  • indent (GNU)
  • uthash
  • libfuse3
  • libcap
  • libattr


make format

to standardize the formatting of any changes you may have made, then run

make check

to run various sanity checks against the code base.

Where To Get Help