I recently bought a Librem 14 and I had ordered it with Qubes. After some time playing around with Qubes, I realized it was overkill for what I had intended and that the issue of Qubes preventing so many different transfers with files in and of itself is a security issue because some people do not understand the point of Qubes is segmentation. This is witnessed by several people on forums using attached devices (mainly USBs) incorrectly.
My main interest was to use Qubes as a multi-OS platform with security features whereby an airgapped computer would not be needed.
So, I have installed PureOS. So far it is pretty good with minor, yet very irritating issues popping up. I have some questions about the claimed features of the OS as well.
So, here are my issues:
Intermittent dropping of the wifi. I know for sure that this is an issue with the Librem 14 itself as I have 3 other machines running without an issue. This also was/is a general widespread issue with linux drivers. But, I would expect this to be different with PureOS since it is offered with the Librem out of the box. I have not found a guide which would resolve this issue. Is there one and if so, could you direct me to it?
There are several UI annoyances but I’ll admit that these are all personal preference issues. Here they are
The application dock pops on and off the screen with seemingly (maybe I do not know how…) no way to make it static. Mainly the UI is too small and yes I have increased the sizes to my liking and that is not an issue. The main annoyance with the dock is that when I need to switch to another app, the dock itself appears small because the UI fits all other open screens within one display. At most I have 6 items open. Is there a way to resolve this?
Seemingly notification symbols are not added to the app icons on the doc. This would be good to have because from how things are out of the box (again, maybe I am missing something), I have zero knowledge of receiving a chat or email aside from a notification popping up at the time.
non minimize window bar…seriously? Is PureOS trying to become the apple type player in the linux world?
Finally, PureOS and Purism brands itself as a privacy conscious company, which is mainly why I was so interested in the products. Also, I do not want to support big tech.
What features does PureOS have that makes it privacy conscious? It looks like a re-skinned and slimmed down version of Ubuntu. I am not trying to be overly critical. I am really asking because there do not seem to be any above and beyond typical features of any other “mainstream” linux distro.
Actually, it is what is missing that is “above and beyond”. It is missing unauditable, blackbox, blobs.
Any time you have blobs, you don’t really know whether the computer is either secure or private. 99% of the computer might be open source but in that case the security or privacy failure can be in the 1%. So the goal is to be 100% open source. (Other distros may compromise on openness in order to gain e.g. performance or even functionality.)
I think also the defaults are set in order to encourage privacy. (Most people who get a computer never adjust the settings from the defaults. So the defaults end up determining the level of privacy.)
There are more subtle aspects to privacy, like the boot-path integrity provided by the PureBoot firmware with a Librem Key; and like the Anti-Interdiction option; and, going beyond PureOS, the privacy focused SIM and the privacy focused social media service.
I probably missed some points. Read around on the actual puri.sm web site (products, FAQ, documentation, etc.)
PureOS is directly descended from Debian, not via Ubuntu.
While all those points are very informative and valid, it is extremely frustrating that the wifi is having these issues. I did look over the documentation and tried the fix mentioned in the FAQ to no avail.
Is this potentially due to the fact that PureOS does not ship with drivers/firmware? Or if the wifi adapter is working, just not as it should, does this indicate I should update the firmware?
The defaults are fine and mostly no issues except for UI stuff, which isn’t really a problem and can be changed anyway.
The Ath9k WiFi in L14 can work without any firmware, which is why Purism chose it, but its range and speed is generally less than other modems. I don’t own the L14, but people say that it works a little better with the proprietary firmware (and it’s necessary for Bluetooth).
If you want to install the proprietary firmware: wget http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/pool/non-free/f/firmware-nonfree/firmware-atheros_20210315-3_all.deb sudo dpkg -i firmware-atheros_20210315-3_all.deb
If you test it, and find that it still isn’t good enough, then the solution is to buy a different WiFi M.2 card with longer range, like the Intel 9260NGW, but you will have to manually install the proprietary firmware in the same way: wget http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/pool/non-free/f/firmware-nonfree/firmware-iwlwifi_20210315-3_all.deb sudo dpkg -i firmware-iwlwifi_20210315-3_all.deb
By the way, some WiFi chips have poor Linux drivers, but most WiFi chips today have just as good drivers in Linux as in Windows, because most WiFi manufacturers today are releasing FOSS Linux drivers or releasing info so the community can create good drivers (for which we can thank Android).
Do you live in a place where the WiFi signal is not strong, so there is frequent dropping? If so, you might consider moving your WiFi router to a better location or buying a stronger router.
If you have GNOME before version 40, you can install the Dash to Dock extension. If you have GNOME 40 or later, use the Floating Dock.
By the way, you can press the Super (i.e. Windows) key to switch modes in GNOME Shell.