Librem Mini + Windows

Hi everyone,

I was interested in purchasing the Librem Mini. I’ve never used Linux though so I had some questions as I’m not computer savvy at all.

  1. I want to keep my private life separate from my professional life in one machine (the Mini). My professional life necessitates the use of Windows-dependent software. Is it possible to securely & privately use PureOS for personal things and, separately, Windows 10 for professional things on the Mini? If so, how would I go about doing that? If it matters, the Windows software I use is resource-intensive (3D modeling/CAD), not simple browsing/productivity.

  2. Which monitors is the Mini compatible with?

  3. How can I determine if my current Bluetooth keyboard, as well as USB mouse and camera, will work on this device without a hassle?

  4. If I purchase the Mini without a Wi-Fi card, which USB Wi-Fi adapters will work with the device when running PureOS?

Thank you!


The Mini has HDMI output and DisplayPort output (which can be used concurrently at 4K UHD resolution at 60 Hz).

That should make it compatible with just about any monitor.

The Mini does not support the USB-C altmode for DisplayPort over the USB-C connector.

That depends on whether you make freedom from blobness, freedom from blackbox software, your highest priority.

If you do then I think your best approach is to purchase with the WiFi card included.

If you don’t then assuming that it’s the same hardware interface as in the laptops then I think people have had good success with an Intel module i.e. you run PureOS but you grab the blob from another distro.

You can dual-boot and encrypt your PureOS installation. Encryption may be unnecessary for you as windows can’t read ext4 (the standard Linux filesystem) so it won’t spy on your PureOS. Whenever I’ve dual-booted, windows wasn’t even aware of the other partition. You can use something like veracrypt to encrypt the windows side if you want it also encrypted but don’t like bitlocker.

As for your third point, you’ll have to search around or ask someone who has a mini; I am not one of those people.

Some quick advice, if you do choose to dual-boot, your life will be much easier if you install windows first and then PureOS.


If this is a non-portable installation then you can even use an external drive to keep Linux and Windows entirely separate e.g. Linux not even plugged in while Windows is running and/or vice versa.

Sorry, I just noticed that you asked about USB WiFi adapters, whereas I answered about cards installed inside the computer.

For USB WiFi adapters, the important thing to know is what the chipset is - and then you can search around on the internet for whether it works out of the box with Linux. Realtek is a common chipset but some exact Realtek chipset model numbers work without a problem whereas other Realtek chipsets don’t - so you do need to do your research.

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PureOS avoids any proprietary binary files, so almost no USB Wi-Fi adapters will work unless you manually add the firmware. However, the following one should work:


Note however that if you really do not trust Windows, this will not save you. Windows can potentially access /boot partition, which is not encrypted, and compromise the GNU/Linux system from that place.

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Thanks to everyone’s advice!

I’m curious:

  1. Given that I want PureOS on the mini and need Windows for work (using resource intensive software), what are the minimum specs I should have in terms of RAM? Or does it not matter?

  2. Also, I was curious if there’s a difference between the dual-boot approach and virtual machines for my use-case (using Windows software).

Thank you!

Depends on what you’ve got going on. More certainly doesn’t hurt, though.

VMs are inherently slower and take some work to give them direct access to the hardware. For your purposes, it sounds like dual booting is the way to go, unless you absolutely need to be able to access both OSes without rebooting. If you must do that, then you’ll have an easier time installing windows and running Linux in a VM, but that defeats the purpose of being secure and private.

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perhaps but the reverse does NOT neccesarily hold truth …

Well, no, but is that really a concern?

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Even if it was a concern, Gavaudan already addressed it by suggesting veracrypt if they don’t want to use bitlocker, either encryption method will protect the data from anyone whom doesn’t have the key.


@Desc glad you aked ! welcome !

i am unsure if you need a dedicated GPU or not based on the information you provided so far …

what is better in YOUR case is perhaps to :

  1. find someone you know willing to spend the cash on a Librem-Mini for OTHER primary (less GPU intensive workloads) and LEND it to you for a brief testing period so you have TIME to see what you are dealing with in YOUR use case
  2. if that WORKS for YOU then be sure to drop by and let US know as well …
  3. i know of NO other method that will give you a CERTAIN solution …

best of luck !

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Thank you, everyone!

if that is a concern (and theoretically it is but maybe not in practice for this user) then that’s what Pureboot / the Librem Key are for. Whether you can use Pureboot with Windows I don’t know.

That combination won’t stop Windows corrupting the /boot partition but it will alert you to the corruption and allow you a) not to proceed and b) to restore.

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This bears repeating.

Running Linux inside Windows can’t really be made safe. You do it when your practical requirements exceed your security requirements.

Running Windows inside Linux is much better from a security point of view - but I don’t know how well that will work if there are hard-core graphics requirements.

Either way

If you are going to use a VM then your RAM requirements are definitely higher!

If you are just going to dual boot then Windows and the applications running therein will determine your RAM requirements. Based on the rather non-specific “resource intensive software” I would say absolute minimum 16GB, and 32GB is better. However you really need to a) study the documentation for your 3D modeling/CAD software and b) rely on your existing experience with that software.

You can install Windows inside a virtual machine (VirtualBox, virt-manager, etc.) inside PureOS. That way any spyware that you have running inside Windows should be limited to only accessing what is inside your virtual machine. (If you want this, don’t set up a bridge to access the Linux files inside your Windows virtual machine.)

The problem is that running Windows inside a virtual machine is going to hurt the performance. It is fine for normal stuff, but if you are doing 3D modeling, you are probably going to want all the performance that you can get. You can set up a dual boot machine. If you want that, then don’t buy the Mini with PureBoot, since that doesn’t support Windows. You need to select Coreboot + SeaBIOS when buying.

You can shrink the existing Pureboot installation and install Windows in another partition, but that is complicated for a Linux newbie. Instead, I recommend that you install Windows in the complete disk, which will overwrite PureOS. Then install PureOS. In the PureOS installer, there is an option to shrink the existing Windows partition. Then you will have a Grub menu to select either Windows or PureOS when booting.

You probably won’t have any problem if you are using USB devices. Every USB mouse I have ever tried works in Linux. Often you can find out if your device are compatible with Linux just by Googling the model number of your device and “Linux”.

Bluetooth devices are a problem because the Atheros ath9k WiFi/Bluetooth card in the Mini requires that you install proprietary firmware for Bluetooth. Because ath9k cards have poor performance, the easiest solution is to install an Intel WiFi/BT miniPCIe card.

If you are really worried about whether your mouse/webcam/keyboard works with Linux, you can download a Live CD of Debian and burn it to a DVD or to a USB memory stick. Then, boot up your current PC in Debian with the Live CD and see if your hardware works.


In addition to that comprehensive response …

In the case of keyboard, there is “works” and then there is “works”. Some keyboards have wacko special buttons that may or may not work with Linux, while the basic keyboard works fine.

For example, on the keyboard that I am currently sitting at there are buttons for “mute”, “volume up”, “volume down”, “calculator”, “mail”, “home page” and they all work (although “home page” didn’t do what I would want it to do) but I wouldn’t guarantee that those kinds of buttons would always work in all Linux distros in all configurations for all keyboards etc.

All the more reason to do a Live Boot and try out your hardware.

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Oh, you are going to want a Live CD with all the proprietary bits so it works on any hardware. Try this one instead:

Wow! Thank you to everyone for all of your help and easy-to-understand responses (for newbies like me). I have a lot to think about and look into now and a clearer idea of what I actually need. This has been amazing. Thanks!

I have similar needs and found a very inexpensive, technically easy, and low risk way to meet these same needs. Keep in mind that with Windows, your privacy is not even worth attempting to maintain with respect to Microsoft, the government, and skilled hackers. When I use my Windows OS, I never do anything I wouldn’t want to share with the company management anyway. So here is what I did. You can use the Librem Mini instead of the second NUC like I did. That would be an even better setup than what I have now because the Mini is much more secure.

1.) I bought two NUC6 PCs. Each one is the same size and shape as a Librem Mini and cost around $350 each when loaded with RAM and an SSD drive.

2.) Then I bought two monitors and plugged both NUC6s in to both monitors. Each NUC uses one monitor as the primary monitor and the the other monitor as secondary monitor, each opposite from the other NUC PC. Each NUC sits directly below its respective primary monitor. I leave both monitors turned on all of the time. Whichever NUC I boot has access to both monitors. If I boot them both at the same time (within a few seconds of each other, easy to do), then each NUC has only access to its respective primary monitor only. I have a third input to each monitor that allows for convergence using my Samsung Note 9 DEX, and soon, for my new Librem 5.

3.) I bought and installed a four-way switch that connects to a single mouse and keyboard and that breaks-out to each NUC and to my DEX/LIBREM5 convergence cradle. All of the cables are underneath my desk with a single thin cord with a single button on it, leading to just above the keyboard. Each push of that button rotates the keyboard and mouse to a different NUC PC or to the convergence cradle.

4.) Then I put Windows 10 on one NUC6 and Ubuntu Linux on the other NUC6. I keep a second keyboard and mouse in a drawer. When I need both PC’s at once, I plug the second keyboard and mouse in to one of the PCs.

This configuration takes up very little desktop space. Most of the spece is used for monitors, even the new thin ones, and the keyboard and mouse. Each PC is just big enough to plug-in USB cables to the front side if/when needed. Since the PCs are not connected to eachother and do not share hard drives, both PCs are safe from the other when used at the same time. Most of the time, only one PC is on at once.

Instead of using a second NUC PC, you could use a Librem Mini with the Purism factory configuration. When sitting next to each other on your desktop, the Windows 10 NUC and the Librem Mini will look like a matched pair. You could buy a more expensive NUC (maybe a NUC7) if you do a lot of gaming or video editing. But the NUC6 for a Windows PC gives me more than I need for office work and video conferencing.

I keep everything personal and creative on my Ubuntu NUC6. I do most of my business on my Windows 10 NUC6. The convergence cradle Works for Samsung DEX and I plan to use it for my Librem 5 once I get it. This configuration is also safer and easier to maintain and to experiment with. If I want to try something risky with either OS, I can swap out the hard drive of the given PC (Windows or Linux) first and put my original hard drive back in afterward. These little NUC and Mini PCs are quick and easy to open and make changes to. By keeping everything separated, you’re more free to do things that would otherwise risk everything.