Librem 14 laptop

Hi everyone
I’ve joined here to get some information about a laptop that has been gifted to me by someone who effectively left it at my home in the middle of a natural disaster a couple of years ago. They moved on, meant to get back here, couldn’t and have gone overseas. So its mine. Its a pretty generous gift I think. I don’t know the spec of it but I am told that its pretty well kitted out.

I don’t know how old it is but its in excellent shape. Thing is that is that it has Qubes installed from the last owner which they clearly aren’t missing, hence my gift.

I know little to nothing about Linux let alone Qubes. When I start it up I get to a log in screen but no further. It has “Pureboot” when it boots up. I have experience with installing Windows on things like Dells where I just hit F12 when it is booting up and boot from a usb. I’m assuming that there is a similar menu on this laptop?

So, firstly, can Windows run on this machine? Probably a sacrilegious question in this forum! Or does this laptop only run Qubes, or Purism’s own OS or other linux OS? And secondly, is there an online place where I can find how to do this?

I hope this makes sense. I’ve been sitting on this laptop for a while and its now time to do something with it.

Thank you for any assistance.



Yes and no.

Most of us think you’re nuts to want to do that.

But we will fight to the death for your right to do it.

As to whether it’s possible, I could only guess, but my guess is that it would mostly work.

Be aware of the kill switches; if you want to go online (with whatever OS you end up installing) the relevant switch must be on, or you can try until you’re blue in the face and won’t get anywhere.


I think you might run into some complications with Windows, given that the Librem 14 is composed of as much open hardware as possible… drivers, etc.

You should be able to install a variety of Linux distributions without much problem. The default OS for Purism’s hardware is PureOS, though. You could choose a distribution that looks good to you, install it on a live USB, boot the USB, and see if everything works for you. (It’s trivial to find instructions online.)

You could certainly try Windows on it, too. If it doesn’t work, then go for a Linux distro instead.

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I have a Librem 14 that runs Coreboot rather than Pureboot. So, I can’t speak to the Pureboot experience, but I can say this:

I had an experience where I had covid and was feeling bad and I just wanted to play a Windows game with my friend but my Windows laptop’s hardware was too old, or maybe Microsoft was doing the planned obsolescence or whatever.

So, just in the nick of time to join for gaming, I ripped out the Windows hard drive from the other machine and booted it on the Librem 14 from within a hard-drive-to-usb converter.

It ran perfectly fine, basically. You see, Windows is the evil one. Some Windows machines won’t run PureOS, but probably all Purism machines could run Windows. Because the idea of Windows and systems that deprive users of freedom is to take away from your ability to do whatever you want. For example, if you run Windows on the Librem 14 maybe Windows will become evil and do an update that infects the hardware with malware so you can’t go back to PureOS. It is unlikely, but not impossible, since Microsoft does not allow the user to inspect the source program of how Windows is built.

But if PureOS had a malware like that, the users would fork it and make a version without the malware, and then everyone would switch.

The only unusual problem I had on my Librem running Windows was that the default driver management of Windows did not install the correct Intel Integrated Graphics drivers by default. Usually, in my experience, Windows (it was Windows 10 in my case) likes to be fully automatic. If you put it on a machine, it has the drivers for that machine automatically without user intervention.

For some reason, on my Librem, that didn’t happen and so I had bad performance in video games until I got the official Intel Windows drivers from the Intel website.

Also, the following day when I went back to PureOS and removed the Windows from my Librem, I had a weird feeling as though I had done something evil and betrayed the good will of people who fought for justice in this world and who had allowed me to partake of their efforts. I actually don’t have any suggestions with how to overcome this feeling, it might just be an emotional condition that never goes away after running Windows 10 on freedom respecting hardware.

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Thank you for replies. I should have left the bit about Windows as it has detracted from my main question which is how do I get the laptop to boot to a menu where I can use a usb to instal say the Pure OS?

This laptop is a bonus really so installing a Linux OS would be a good project. Or us there some pureboot documentation as I can’t find any.

As I said, on Dells I just hit F12 and I’m in the necessary menu. There must be something similar, I’m thinking, for pureboot.

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On my Librem 14, I hit the ESC key during boot and get to the necessary menu likewise.

Pureboot, however, is (or can be) different. I’m not the expert on it, but you’ll want to read up on it using other Purism resources. Laptops purchased with Pureboot out of the box come with some kind of special flashdrive-sized key physical device that allows the user to unlock them or give them permission to access boot controls or something like that, for security. Other people know more, so I’m probably describing this totally the wrong way and being uninformed. The solution isn’t me, but for you to review online resources.

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Funny you should mention that. This laptop has two small memory sticks I think in the case. One is plastic, one is metal. Plus it has a mouse.

Now the plot thickens. I’ll keep digging. Interesting laptop!

The PureBoot menu provides options to boot from a USB drive if needed.



Here, although I will not provide support for Windows, so wait around until someone else does it for you.

If you are using PureBoot with the Librem Key, disconnect the Librem Key first. PureBoot will provide you a prompt to insert it, but choose “Skip” at that point to access the full menu. Then select Boot Options → USB Boot, select your USB drive, then (usually) the first boot option to boot from that partition.

The first prompt may also say other similar wording such as “Exit to boot menu”, etc.

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hmm, my reply is not so good.

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Thank very much for taking the time to reply to this thread. I find it interesting.


Before proceeding then I think you need to have a clear idea of what direction you want to go in.

Your current configuration (Pureboot and Qubes) is like maxed out privacy and security - and that is 100% a good place to be - but it may not be where you want to be (given that you mentioned the W word :wink:).

If you are thinking that you just want to learn Linux then I would suggest leaving the firmware as Pureboot and reinstalling the operating system (from scratch), making it PureOS. Assuming that there is nothing on the laptop that you want to keep.


Again, thanks for the replies. And thank you for the poster who let me know how to get into the boot menu.

As for direction I’ll install Linux, probably qubes as that is what it appears to be friendly with. I have been checking out this system and I think I’ll go that way. I realize that its a pretty intense OS but I’m not totally naive to Linux. I used Ubuntu for a while and then used Zorin for a good while and mucked around a lot with Raspberry Pis (!). But regrettably I need Windows for other parts of my life which dictate this.

I appreciate the offer of help and I may take that that up if I get stuck.

One last question would be how difficult would reinstalling qubes and getting to link up with the Librem key it has? Or is that a bridge too far with me mixing up my ambitions with my capabilities? :slightly_smiling_face:


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Reinstalling Qubes is comparatively easy. I use balenaEtcher for writing the ISO to a USB drive, but feel free to use any compatible tool for the task.

The Librem Key is designed to work with PureBoot to provide cryptographic tamper protection, so it does not interact with Qubes by default.

The one thing about the QubesOS installer is that it likes to put buttons you are supposed to push in the upper left corner sometimes. Completely counterintuitive at least for me. Also sometimes it’s just not obvious where you’re supposed to click (particuarly the first time it boots into Qubes OS and you have to click on QubesOS in the middle of the screen to do the configuration).

I’ve done something like six installs of QubesOS in the last month uprgrading a couple of machines to 4.2. (Many of them because I borked a previous install on my Librem 13 laptop; it was an iterative process given all my customizations.) So I know it pretty well now, but it really breaks a lot of conventions.

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I test a variety of Linux distributions on a regular basis. Qubes is great, but if you aren’t interested in its unique learning curve you could also install PureOS, Debian, Fedora, etc. We ship either PureOS or Qubes.

If you need Windows for specific things only, you could consider running it in a VM.

If you really want to install Windows, you will have to switch firmware, as PureBoot cannot boot Windows. I’m not sure if SeaBIOS (our other firmware option) can boot current versions of Windows. There are also unofficial UEFI firmware builds for Librem devices that will probably work.

As others have mentioned, the Librem Key primarily works with PureBoot. Once you have your OS installed, use OEM reset to initialize the Librem Key and related details (Main menu → Change configuration settings → OEM Factory Reset / Re-Ownership).

On the other hand, if you want to skip the Librem Key for now until you are more acquainted with Linux, PureBoot, etc., you could consider using Basic Mode. You can always return to normal mode and set up the Librem Key at any time.


I would just like to add - as a matter of simplification to you if you choose to re-install Qubes over PureBoot - that this is very well documented on the OsResearch site. They show a step-by-step procedure with screenshots for each action required to install Qubes 4.x, specifically on a Heads payload situation. Pureboot is coreboot firmware with Heads payload, so this will document all the steps one by one, from USB Anaconda install to rebooting Qubes and finish Qubes setup. Then it follows on with taking ownership of the states, that is the LibremKey HOTP secret shared with the TPM (firmware anti-tampering validation) and then signing /boot with the LK RSA Signing Key (the mechanism that checks the integrity of the boot volume’s content)
Here is the link: Step 4 - Installing Qubes and other OSes | Heads - Wiki

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Thank you to everyone who chipped in here. I’m going to go for a qubes re instal and will follow that guide. I don’t need the key really. I’m not quite ready to plot world takeover just yet so shouldn’t need this level of security.

Great board. Thank you all!

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It can, I have briefly used Windows 11 Enterprise on my Librem 14 recently to update various firmware, then formatted it after to fresh install Qubes OS R4.2.0.

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My condolences.


Well if there was any silver lining, there was actually no firmware to update on the Librem 14 itself.