PureOS - General Questions & Concerns Before Recommending It


#1

I have a large interest in all of the projects led by the Purism team, but while I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of their physical devices, I have been testing their software offerings and that experience has generated a number of questions. I don’t want to create a topic for each of them so I will number them and hopefully people can answer by referring to the specific question(bundle) they are knowledgeable about by its assigned number. I feel these are questions that should pop up for anyone inspecting the context of this OS, so should be easy to find answers to somewhere if not in the official FAQ, however that’s not currently the case.

  1. What is the story of PureOS version numbers? I have encountered many posts that refer to a hypothetical PureOS 3.0 release that’s in the works, however recently all mentions either don’t refer to any numbers on use the 8.0 version. It seems like there has been a retrospective merge with a historical PureOS from some French based group that last released PureOS 7.0 in 2012 before Purism even existed. Has the 3.0 become the 8.0 to continue the legacy of the old namesake OS? Can anyone please elaborate on the history of PureOS, would be good to have a coherent story someplace.

The current version on the PureOS website is referred to as PureOS “Prometheus” Beta 1. From what I have learned, PureOS is an OS based on Debian Testing, which is rolling release until the freeze period during which it matures into the next Debian release, currently Buster.

  1. Is PureOS going to forever track Debian Testing?

  2. What is the reason for the Beta tag if the OS will never mature due to rolling release nature?

  3. I suspect that PureOS 8.0 will become a Buster based release which will allow it to shed its beta tag, however will this remain the main version of PureOS that’s advertised until the next stable Debian, Bullseye, which in turn will spawn PureOS 9.0, or there will be a new OS started concurrently which will be named PureOS 9.0 Beta which will be based on Debian Testing which will mature into Bullseye in a few years?

  4. Given that Debian Testing has a freeze period, is PureOS also going to be frozen and seize package and kernel upgrades?

  5. How precisely does the PureOS repo overlap with the Debian Testing main repo? Is there additional testing so that the occasional Debian Testing system breakage doesn’t flow downstream to PureOS? Is there an additional delay period between packages landing in Debian Testing main and the PureOS green repo as to help Purism delay some broken packaged from breaking a PureOS system (happens rarely with Testing, but happens)?

  6. What is the story of with the installation? Calamares is very broken, producing an unbootable system if partition encryption is chosen. The automated option to erase disk and install, with the encryption ticked (which is the recommended way on the wiki), doesn’t create a separate unencrypted /boot partion which is required for a luks set up to work, as far as I understand, and even if one is created manually, the install is broken regardless due to calamares not correctly setting up /etc/crypttab and /etc/fstab along with whatever else is used to ensure encrypted partitions are recogrized and mounted correctly. It doesn’t provide a way to customize the way the encrypted partitions are set up and lacks information to guide the user. The manual partitioner offers FILE SYSTEM options of lvm and luks with no way of adding an actual filesystem if those options are chosen, all while still offering an “encrypt” selection for lvm and luks filesystem options. None of this makes sense, and what could make sense, if it was implemented correctly, doesn’t work. I’m not gonna list all of the problems here I think that’s a topic for another post, but calamares is severely broken. The Debian installer which is also shipped with PureOS iso does a good job of setting up luks + lvm, as it should, an option that, as far as I understand supposed to be impossible in the bleeding edge version of Calamares, but lvm shows up in the filesystem options for some reason. All of my installation hurdles were separately but consistently on a Thinkpad T530 and a desktop system that I build myself. I used the whole disks for PureOS on both machines to eliminate incompatibility issues with other distros. Terrible experiences remained in the most virgin of setups.

  7. Why is the option to install on UEFI-able motherboards completely absent for the people that might wish to use that on their machines?

  8. Does PureOS want to cater to the whole wide world of linux users or just the Purism Librem customers? What initially attracted me to this OS was the FSF approval along with the Debian base and the rest of the Purism story, however I found many things half baked. The Debian installer was the only option that was able to set up a working installation of PureOS, so why is it being considered for removal and is already not a recommended installation way when calamares is unapologetically broken? It still has its problems, for example the guided partitioning of luks+lvm defaulted to using MBR instead of GUID partition table which I didn’t desire and couldn’t find a way to change without going the manual partitioning route. I suppose this installer defaulted to BIOS over UEFI because Purism chose to ship the iso without UEFI support so I can’t blame this problem on the installer. All in all, inexcusable problems are present before one can even boot into the OS. I will mention that the calamares is able to create a bootable install only in a single configuration and that is no disk encryption and simple file system layout. Disk encryption must be default in 2018, especially for an OS marketing itself as security focused, so this is a mute point in favor of calamares.

  9. What are the precise differences between a bare bones Debian Testing install and PureOS? I will list what comes to mind, but it would be good to have the full picture. PureBrowser, Apparmour by default, only Debian Testing main repo hosted on pureos.net servers. Is the kernel at all changed? What are some defaults that are changed that are supposed to increase security? I want to know the precise differences between the upstream and this product and I also think it will help others evaluate the value of your OS and whether they should use and/or contribute to it.

I think I had more questions, but this is what immediately returned to mind as I wrote this topic. I invite everyone to help answer my concerns that could be shared by some other would-be adopters. PureOS is a great project and all criticism is provided out of my sincere wish for it to become an OS that I could recommend to people. Thanks for the hard works to everyone involved!


#2

Should I just shoot an email to info@puri.sm with these questions? I guess they would be the best to ask this, but not sure.


#3

Since the majority of those questions appear aimed at Purism staff, then yes, I think you should email them. Though a few staff members come to the forums occasionally, they are generally more focused on their work tasks and respond much more quickly to email.

These forums are primarily for a community of users/prospective users to discuss topics amongst themselves.


#4

Exactly.

  1. That’s the plan for now.

  2. PureOS install image is still beta.

4, 5. @zlatan-todoric

  1. Yes to both questions.

  2. We are aware of this limitation in Calamares and it is being worked on.

  3. @zlatan-todoric

  4. The whole wide world of linux users. Problems exist, currently, yeah, but our devs are working on it, they have some big plans for the installation image.

  5. Being libre and FSF approved isn’t a big enough difference? @zlatan-todoric might also help here.


#5
  1. When I joined Purism, it was on 2.0 trisquel (or maybe it was already debian but with just hard point release and no real infra behind it at that moment but it was trisquel before for sure) and cinnamon based. We shifted to Debian testing main and GNOME as default and had 2.1 release. After that we had 2.2 release which was change in infrastructure and hosting provider at that time. Then we want with 3.0 once we reached Wayland as default and we started having some conversation with former PureOS developer (the French PureOS long before Purism came) and came to agreement that we will be successor (our marketing guru will pick this story up once he gets proper time). So as last version of previous PureOS was 7, we naturally went with 8 and plan to stop here for a while (PureOS is really rolling release and we just maintain snapshots as versions for our OEM usage and also number 8 can be used as infinity logo maybe - at least one of ideas for new PureOS logo). The Prometheus Beta is from 3.0 period where we wanted to even have codenames.

  2. That is plan for now, yes as it plays best middleground between rocksolid stability and freshness of software.3.

  3. The beta tag was there due to changes we made as default (Wayland, now also apparmor etc) but we did want to end up with stable and tested images for our OEM usage.

  4. We do not plan to move from number 8 anytime soon, and PureOS tracks generic testing name and not its codename (codename become eventually stable, oldstable, oldoldstable etc) so PureOS will remaing 8 and all the time track Debian testing

  5. This is general tendency but few times we pulled packages from stable directly into PureOS to get critical bugfixes on time so it might also happen during freeze period

  6. Yes - Debian testing main gets sync’ed into PureOS landing archive. Also PureOS landing archive gets PureOS specific changes and packages (such as more strict Freedom packaging - you can check Freedom tagged bugs at tracker.pureos.net) and it has 5 day delay period before it can enter PureOS green (the archive users face). That is the time our own mechanisms and our manual checks happen so we can avoid breaking things (but of course, this never can be bulletproof so more eyeballs the better).

  7. Yes, we are aware of this bug. We eventually plan to work on making Calamares as capable default for both OEM and live images (any help is welcome of course, we will soon also announce community build up at Purism so people can join and help projects as they all are Free software based ones)

  8. I can’t really recall atm the exact decision around these things but I would in your case submit a bug at tracker.pureos.net so we can globally discuss it there.

  9. Well to have PureOS working on laptops you have very limited WiFi modules options. PureOS is community based (with Purism backend) but it does try to work as best as possible with Librem hardware. I again recommend joining the bugtracker and also watching for that community news as we need as much help and support as we can to make best possible product and productive feedbacks are very important part of product quality. So short answer is both - it aims to entire community but also will do optimizations for Librem hardware in near future. This said it doesn’t mean it wants to lock down itself - on contrary, I think UEFI decision was made around complexity and manpower lack at that time (so open bug discussion about it at tracker and we can discuss it again).

  10. We try to maintain to smallest delta of patches against Debian testing main and that goal will remain. Our changes will mostly be in defaults (what apps, services and look PureOS will have compared to default Debian testing), also some changes are like Wayland, Apparmor (though I think now both are part of Debian testing defaults), freedom patches towards couple of dozen packages, calamares for live images. We also had few kernel tweaks but now are again in line with Debian kernel (thought this will most certainly change this year again due to PureOS focus to optimize better for Librem devices). ANd yes, being strictly against non-free code - we are finally FSF endorsed distro :slight_smile:

Thank you for your feedback! I really appreciate it.


#6

I installed Pureos on librem 13 after realizing using Qubesos took (over more than a year of use) more work and energy than I could manage. But Pureos is Gnome and unless you are happy with a Gnome desktop (I am not) you won’t like Pureos. I applaud the effort, but Xfce or Mate are the only sort of desktops I can live with. Just me, I suppose.

I will say the PureOS Beta install procedure looks pretty nice.
I would recommend a text overview of the order of names/passwords
before asking for the first password… If one exists I overlooked it…
So folks installing need not guess.
The beta asks for root password, then user name&password, then if encrypting the disk asks for passphrase. All good, but not necessarily the order folks expect. So a brief text overview of that sequence before the first ‘ask’ would be good.


#7

i also hate the Gnome desktop … i discovered the name of it… if it did not bring me headaches like trisqeul did, i will give a shot at my main system erasing uncle bill forever n ever…ty…