Newbie: PureOS for Beginners Resources

Hi PureOS Community,
I’m really a newbie - first time using Linux, but I’m very excited. I’ve been struggling to install 3rd party apps, but making headway. Purism support has been great - Thanks @mladen ! However, I don’t want to bombard them with a thousand newbie questions, so wondering if anyone has resources / tutorials in laymen’s terms that would give me a basic understanding of how Linux works differently from other operating systems (I’m switching from a Mac.).

For example, I want to minimize a window without closing it. Not obvious. I want to install apps easily that aren’t in the PureOS Software repository - the whole Repos thing has me scratching my head. I really prefer not to use Terminal. I’m not a coder, but love the work Purism is doing and would like to use the OS but from a very simple perspective. I don’t need to do anything fancy or tweak a million settings. I just want to install the apps I need and use them efficiently. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Unfortunately that depends not only on running Linux but also on the specific GUI environment chosen.

Anyway, the top of a window should have three icons, either at the left or at the right (your choice). Those icons should give: close, minimize without closing, maximize/unmaximize.

If you really get stuck with this then maybe use Alt+PrintScreen to do a screenshot of a window and post it here and I can annotate the screenshot for you and repost it.

Don’t? As a newbie it may be best not to do that.

I’ve been doing it too long to help with that one. :wink:

Because PureOS is derived from Debian, you can use the Debian documentation to learn. And look at the FAQ.

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I’m a newbie myself with a new L14. The typical maximize/minimize/close icon do not appear. Instead, each open window has a corresponding tab at the bottom of the screen, and clicking on the tab will minimize/maximize, or more specifically reopen the window to whatever size you had it at, basically for all open apps.

For the life of me, I cannot recall where I went choose to “allow” tabs at the bottom of the screen, but it’s very handy. I will have to figure out how I figured it out again unless someone here more knowledgeable can chime in. You can also use the Purism key, or super key, the rectangle key, with the PgUp or PgDn key to maximize/minimize an active window.

As for installing apps, I have found those at Flathub easiest, as in flatpaks, just click download then install I believe. Installing apps via the terminal, especially those that also don’t result in an actual app icon, or GUI, such as NordVPN, has been more challenging for me, but there are an awful lot of tutorials online, as well as a bunch of helpful folks here, and emailing Purism support has been great at responding and helping, at least for me.

As many advised here, I have begun and maintain a cheat sheet of terminal commands I have learned, and may need again, which is also helpful.


Just an update, took me a while, sorry, as I said, I’m a newbie, but open the Gnome Tweaks app, mine is in the Utilities group, go to Extensions, then select, or turn of, Windows List, to display all open windows at the bottom of the screen, like tabs. Right clicking on any tab will give you the option to minimize/maximize, close.

Go to Windows Titlebar, and you can select to add those icons to windows to minimize/maximize/close like you see in Windows or on a Mac

I’m still learning to to customize everything, and doing it mostly blindly, but I do LOVE how you can customize far more than any windows or mac machine. Hope all this helps a bit.


Congratulations, @Sailin! You’ll love Linux once you really get going.

Just post any questions you have right here in the forum and somebody will help. What would you like to know about repos? Which 3rd party apps were you hoping to install? (Maybe they have a Linux equivalent that will work just fine, if not better.)

@Bass20 Thanks so much on this one. that was perfect.

Thank you @irvinewade.I I’ve included a screenshot here per your request. If you have an easy way to add the min, max, close buttons on all windows, I would love that. Running latest version of PureOS on a Librem 14.

Hi @amarok Thanks for answering. Would love to run native Linux apps, but I also work remotely so some of my apps are specific and necessary for my work. Here are the main ones I use and would be very open to suggestions of how to replace some of them. Part of my challenge is that I use a lot of these apps on my iPhone, and so it’s really helpful to have apps that are cloud based and can share / sync data between my phone and computer. I hate that I still have to use an iPhone, but for practical reasons the Librem 5, is just not developed enough for my everyday use yet. I hope that changes soon.

(I bring many of these under one roof with Rambox)
I know some of these are terrible from a privacy perspective, so not sure if I should reserve another machine for just those apps or how to best deal with that issue.

Task / Project management for task and project management, and rely heavily on this app for my day to day.

Browsers + PW Manager
I also use Brave and Firefox Browsers which I understand are more privacy / security oriented. Specifically in those I use BitWarden Password manager, which I find indispensable, and I did not see a way to install that extension in the Web app that comes with PureOS, but perhaps I just don’t know how.



Time Tracking
Toggl Track

I was using Airmail, which I really liked, but have switched to Thunderbird, and going through the learning curve with that one. I’m using Protonmail and seems that Thunderbird is the only 3rd Party app they support on Linux.

Was using Fantastical which was amazing, but guessing I’ll move the calendars over to Thunderbird - I’m still a bit fuzzy if I have to install Lightning to do that and if so how. I already have Thunderbird installed on my Librem 14.

Was using the native Contacts App synced with Google Contacts - Trying to move off of Google, but Protonmail does not yet have a contacts app for phones or desktop environments, so a bit limited there. Not sure how to approach that one.

App Switcher and overall file search
Alfred - Can’t for the life of me get this on installed on the Librem.

UTorrent - I rarely use this, but haven’t tried to install it yet on my Librem.

Word Processing
LibreOffice (no problem here as it comes preinstalled on the Librem)
Text Editor (no problem here as it comes preinstalled on the Librem)

Computer Backup
Was using Time Machine for this, but would love to find something similar for the Librem. Most of my files are on Google Drive (horrible I know), and so are backed up there, but am trying to get away from Google in every way. OnlyOffice seemed to have the best Google Drive + Shared Editing experience I have found, but the problem is that they have no way to sync files in the drive with my computer, so I can’t work with files offline, which is problematic at times for me.

Also would love to know if there is a way to increase the default text size on my computer. I found the “Large Text” option in the Accessibility Settings, but wondering if there is a way to fine tune it a bit more. I’m not blind, but would like the text a bit bigger.

Adding the min/max buttons on all windows is in the same app Tweaks

Many of those are available as sandboxed flatpaks. Install Flathub first, then you should be able to search by title in the PureOS software center.

ProtonVPN works on Linux:

For Thunderbird’s Calendar, look under the “Events and Tasks” menu. If you don’t see that menu, I’ll try and remember how to enable it…it has been a while. It’s built-in now, as opposed to add-on.

There are many torrent clients available for Linux.
VLC should be in the software repo, but also available as a flatpak.

On my Linux Mint machine, under “Appearance,” there are controls for font sizes and styles. Should be something similar in PureOS.

If your main requirement is to do this in a web browser then most web browsers will offer that as a configuration option that is specific to the web browser.

In Firefox, you can use Ctrl+Plus and Ctrl+Minus to increase and decrease the size temporarily (zoom in and zoom out). On my computer those work either when using the keypad plus and minus keys or when using the real plus and minus keys, but I always use the ones on the keypad.

Is available for Linux, so just try to install it.

Maybe try Transmission. I don’t know what the fancy feature differences might be but for “rare use” Transmission should be fine.

Additionally, an available Firefox extension, NoSquint can not only set default zoom levels, but font color as well (i.e. black enough for humans to see and read!).

Most of that can be set directly in Firefox under Edit / Settings / General / Language and Appearance ?

The only thing you should really set is default zoom level because otherwise you may mess up the layout of web pages.

Font size, yes, but the Colors selection leaves something to be desired, because your only choices are Always, Never, and Only With High Contrast Themes. What about Low Contrast Themes? Also, choosing Always creates unpleasant issues with Background coloring, i.e. adding or changing it when all you wanted to do is color the font.

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NoSquint allows you to set font colors and default page zoom and default text zoom globally, or adjust on a specific website. Its tray icon let’s you adjust on the fly, too. (It seems to have bugs now and then, though.)

I always set font to black, but have to adjust whenever I encounter sites with black backgrounds.

I still use the + and - Firefox controls, too, though.

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We have the wiki about PureOS:

It covers some of the basics about PureOS

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