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Bits about PureOS

Zlatan Todorić

Zlatan Todorić

Director of Technology
Zlatan Todorić

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There are were some questions floating around our community regarding PureOS compared to other distros, and I feel it is time to address them all in one go.

PureOS compared to other distros

Do PureOS and Tails have the same goals?

Yes and no. We both want to make secure, private and anonymous OSes but we approach the problem differently:

  • Tails has longer development cycles.
  • Tails is more focused on pure anonymity, privacy and security, not tailoring towards average end-users (by “average” we mean “average computer user” and not “average GNU/Linux user”). While Tails is not as complicated to use as Qubes, there still is very little attention paid to user experience.
  • Tails is a system that you don’t install onto a hard drive (last time I talked to Tails developers, they said they were writing code that even prevents you from installing it onto the hard drive).

On other hand, PureOS comes preinstalled on Purism’s devices and takes all security/privacy/anonymity aspect tailored towards a broader set of end-users.

  • PureOS will not take security measures that would, for example, make 99% of the web browsing experience almost impossible (Tails also doesn’t do this, but this mention is just an example to reflect our philosophy).
  • PureOS aims to be easy to switch from Windows/Mac as well for any other OS, while increasing security and privacy in great amounts compared to the two most popular desktop OSes.
  • PureOS doesn’t require any account, doesn’t send any feedback/telemetry to Purism (or any other company) and doesn’t spam with add-ons.
  • The combination is therefore meant to be easy to use (and pleasant to the eye) while being a very big step forwards in terms of freedom, privacy, security and anonymity.

SubgraphOS is an example of an OS that is more aligned with PureOS’ ideas.

What are the differences between Debian and PureOS?

Hopefully I don’t need to explain the long standing giant Debian. PureOS will tend to have least possible amount of deltas compared to Debian and it will try to forward upstream (and to Debian) all changes we make that make sense for wider community (Matthias and myself are also Debian Developers and we understand the importance of this). Said that, we have some differences: PureOS hosts only Free software – while Debian is officially only main, it does host and allows an option of having non-free software. PureOS will have more frequent changes and for now it will not have an real stable release in Debian sense (we consider PureOS stable for everyday usage as most of users experience the same with Debian Testing). PureOS already defaults to Wayland as default while Debian will still stay with X for at least one release. For final PureOS 3.0 release, the plan is also to switch from Debian Installer to Calamares and also PureOS will have kernel with grsecurity enabled (and of course our own configuration).

What package formats is PureOS going to use?

PureOS is based on Debian and thus we use the famous deb format for core system packages. Besides that, our plan is to have Flatpak as a convenient and secure complement to deb packages in the future. Flatpak is pretty advanced, is gaining momentum among application makers, and has a lively community.

Where are PureOS sources (to code)?

They are at repo.puri.sm/pureos/pool/main but the easiest way to get any code is to just do:

apt source <packagename>

How to upgrade to the latest stable version?

PureOS is in essence a rolling release and if you keep it up-to-date you’re already at the latest version. We release point releases (like now with the upcoming PureOS 3.0) to have better testing of features as well as having an image for our OEM ISO. There is no need to download every ISO we release if you update frequently, but it helps us with testing.

Why can’t I search apps in GNOME Software and why doesn’t installation work for some packages?

GNOME Software requires Appstream metadata to work properly, and we are in the process of implementing that machine. It will soon be ready, probably by our next “beta” release of PureOS 3.

The installation issue comes out because of migrations issues. Short explanation: our packages get synced from Debian into our archive called “landing”, there from landing they migrate to “green” which is what you have in your sources.list. So we basically have an additional testing step during this migration, but as those parts are new in our archive they sometimes might get broken. We are improving this daily so bear in mind that all can be resolved in your next update.

Why does PureOS default to GNOME?

We consider GNOME the most technically advanced and polished Desktop Environment out there. It also has the best support for Wayland and touchscreen devices, which is important for PureOS’ path. Those who need more features or a different look & feel can either go to extensions.gnome.org or install any other DE they need (you’re always just an “apt install” away from anything you want).

How can I contribute?

Talking about PureOS, sharing to your and wider community, sending bug reports, code, art and coffee to developers, all helps.