Pure OS vs. Qubes OS

Can someone tell me the differences and strengths/weaknesses of Pure OS vs. Qubes OS? I like the laptops you offer but can’t decide on which OS to go with and there doesn’t seem to be any good comparison out there.


Hi Named,

Have a look at my post here: https://puri.sm/forums/topic/to-buy-or-not-to-buy/#post-5090

Post back if you need any further info.


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PureOS is based on the Debian Linux distribution and of the two would provide the simpler desktop experience and would overall be easier for you to use if you are new to Linux. While both PureOS and Qubes are secure, Qubes is designed for stronger security than your average Linux distribution and uses virtualization to split up your files and programs into a lot of smaller compartments. If used correctly it can provide you much higher security than just about any other desktop OS. I give an overview of Qubes here: https://www.linuxjournal.com/content/secure-desktops-qubes-introduction

The downside to the added security that Qubes provides is that it is a lot more complex to use and requires more computer resources compared with a traditional Linux desktop and it has a much higher learning curve. Also while Qubes does make it difficult to circumvent some of its security protections, it doesn’t stop you entirely so you could certainly bypass a lot of the added security if you made bad choices in how you used it.

The good news is that which ever OS you pick, you can always go back and install the other OS on the Librem pretty easily.


Thanks for the response guys.

I see that Qubes only certified Librem 13; and Librem 15 (the one I’m most interested in) doesn’t have Qubes as a pre-install option. Does this mean Qubes will not function properly on Librem 15?

Thank you.

It will work, you’ll just have to install it yourself.

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I’m brand new to Linux and I just received my Librem 13 with Qubes 3.0 installed, which I upgraded to 3.1. I bought the Librem as a replacement for a mid-2012 MacBook Air. I went with Qubes because I wanted the extra security.

I’ve had my Librem for about 3 days. Here are my thoughts so far:

  1. Qubes itself is pretty cool. Basic setup is pretty easy, but I’ve had difficulty getting some programs to install for some reason, but I’ve been able to Google solutions. The learning curve for someone like me who is brand new is steep, but doable.

  2. The only resolution option that fills the screen is 1920x1080. That makes for tiny letters and constant squinting. By contrast, my Air has a 13.3-inch screen at 1440 x 900, which is (for me) ideal. I don’t know if the Librem resolution can be tweaked in Qubes vs PureOS to make it easier on the eyes, but it is not pleasant in Qubes.

  3. The trackpad is horrible in Qubes. It is recognized as a regular mouse, so you essentially just have one giant left-click button. Also, clicking is erratic in that the pointer will jump around when you click. Which makes trying to use scroll bars difficult. Again, there may be a way to fix it but I haven’t found it. I don’t know if this is a problem in PureOS or just Qubes, but I assume it is both because presumably if it worked correctly in PureOS it could be made to work correctly in Qubes.

Upgrade to Qubes R3.2. The trackpad problems are fixed in R3.2-rc2 which I am running now.

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hi, this link doesn’t work. perhaps because of the domain name change and you may like to update it to:

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Does Qubes work with Coreboot and the librem key?

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Yes Qubes works with a Librem Key and Pureboot. ITo install Pureboot you would have to do it from PureOS, either installed or running in a Live USB.

But once Pureboot is installed it can be updated from Pureboot it self with a USB thumbdrive

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New discussion of Qubes OS on Hacker News:

By the way, Librem 14 can be shipped with Qubes preinstalled.

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