PureOS will not boot from USB

Hi, I’m having issues installing PureOS. I originally put this on another forum, but someone suggested to come here because no one was able to help me there… I installed Linux Mint 19.1 Cinnamon on another computer (an hp 15-f039wm) with a bootable USB drive. Now I’m trying to install another distro (PureOS Hephaestus 8.0) on that same computer.

The USB I made for this distro and my Mint drive are both formatted as FAT32, and I used Etcher to make both of them on a Windows 10 machine. Etcher is set to validate write on success, and eject on success. When putting PureOS on the USB, I followed the directions on the download page of PureOS.

The sha256 checksum is correct.

And since I’m testing this installation on an older computer, I enabled legacy mode, disabled the security, and moved the boot priority of all usb drives to the top in the BIOS so it could install a new OS from it.


First, I installed this PureOS distro on a virtual machine. It works fine as long as I set a large enough hard drive size for it (otherwise it would crap out and stay stuck on a loading screen forever).

Now on an actual computer, originally, I couldn’t get the !'s off the boot order for usb drives in the BIOS. They all had an exclamation point next to the USB / CD drives, and network adaptors. So I set the USB options to load first. I then did some research to get rid of the exclamations, and the only thing I could find is to select the drive with one next to it, and do shift+1, which various people said enables it. But it didn’t. All I got was an 80’s sounding beep from the on board speaker. The help info on the side of the screen didn’t help either. It just said that items with the ! means it’s not capable booting from that drive, and nothing on how to fix it. Nor did f1 say anything (the help button). The next point fixed this problem…

I then removed the CMOS battery for a couple hours. Then put it back together and turned it on. Doing that, disabling secure boot, and enabling legacy mode made it recognize the changes. So on next boot I entered the code it gave me to confirm the changes, rechecked the BIOS, and all the !'s were gone from the boot order. But it still wouldn’t boot the PureOS USB drive.

Thinking the drive with PureOS was faulty, I put the PureOS iso on the Mint drive with etcher, used the same USB port, and that didn’t work either. But when I put mint back on that same USB drive in the same port with etcher, it booted as it should (as if to reinstall mint). I also noticed that after making the Mint drive again on Windows, it ejected on success as it should, but PureOS didn’t eject at all.

I embolden that because it made me think about something someone said on another article, about something to do with proprietary hardware not allowing certain software to run (my PureOS usb), therefore, the Mint distro continues to load.

I’ve read about 5 topics at this site relevant to this, and one that seemed the most relevant was How to write ISO image to USB drive. And in there, I used his sudo dd bs=4M if=/path/to/PureOS-2.1.iso of=/dev/sdX status=progress && sync, and it installed the distro on the usb, but it didn’t work.

Anyone know what’s going on?? I’m leaning on this problem being some hardware / driver issue. If so, anyone know what I can do??

And thanks for reading this far!

Given that you are trying to install on an HP laptop, yes, I suspect the issue is drivers. Most hardware requires proprietary drivers to run, and since PureOS is 100% free/open source software, it doesn’t include those drivers.

For example, it won’t work on machines that use UEFI. Have you tried changing your UEFI settings to use Legacy/BIOS mode? Have you disabled Secure Boot?
That might be all you need, though it’s hard to say.

I disabled UEFI and secure boot during all my tests. It’s been on Legacy mode. But before I leave I have a few questions:

  1. Do you, or does anyone know if it’s possible to get open source drivers to hopefully make it run?? I’ve installed new drivers plenty of times directly from manufacturer websites and the device manager on Windows, but I don’t even know which ones to get for this, if the drivers are even the problem.

  2. Before recently, I never knew problems like this would happen when buying a new computer. I thought you could buy any computer, uninstall the OS, and put whatever you want on without problems. But I realized differently now, so what should a person look for when buying a laptop so they don’t run into these problems?? How can I tell if some proprietary software is installed on the hardware of a name brand computer, that prevents the customer from doing what they want with it??

This sort of reminds me of how Apple literally broke people’s phones because they decided to jail break them for better functionality… Such disrespect for customers.

Sancta simplicitas :slight_smile: In reality it’s quite opposite. There’s Certified for Windows logo which many manufacturers are trying to get and which then makes (made earlier) in most of the cases it impossible to work under linux (as it used propriatory MS api) Then for apple it’s locked even further - you can install (officially) osX only on apple-assembled PC.
With linux it’s not much different. Most of the laptop vendors are selling OEM WIN which is locked to laptop. moreover laptop is locked to that OEM WIndows - there are propriatory drivers, proprietary ACPI calls, obscure initialisation vectors, etc.
Linux community is trying to break that monopoly by reverse-engineering such lock-downs and developing necessary drivers/initialisation tables, extracting firmware blobs, etc. But of course it’s never ending story. with each HW release OEMs are changing a little here, a little there, so that previous reverse-engineered drivers stop working.
But there are are some vendors which are trying to hedge their sales/risks - eg dell is selling officially their inspirion laptops with ubuntu.

Long story short if you plan to install some OS on some HW better to make certain research whether it will work. There are sites like https://wikidevi.com/wiki/Main_Page where you can see compatibility details (eg device maybe supported but with restricted functions).

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I am not enough of a hardware expert to provide you with much in the way of answers. In general, one should assume hardware requires proprietary drivers. Purism has gone through tremendous effort to select hardware which has free drivers. Certain (I think older) models of Thinkpads can work with 100% free software as well, but really, if you want 100% free software, you have to choose the hardware you buy carefully. If you have existing hardware that you want to make use of, you can at least use Debian, which makes the non-free stuff more easily available, and still breaks the chains of Microsoft/Apple

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UEFI and BIOS software is proprietary which is why we use Coreboot. As other posters say, most computers are locked down to prevent other OSes from being installed.

You can look at RYF and H-Node for more info on purchasing truly free hardware so that you can install any OS you want on it.

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You can also take into account what of the existing hardware components are important - and what are unimportant, so it doesn’t matter if the latter never work with Linux.


So you can reasonably expect a lot of Linux distros to work on Purism hardware - but the reverse is simply not a reasonable expectation. Put PureOS on a random computer and you can get any one of the following.

  1. Fully works
  2. Boots OK but some hardware components don’t work.
  3. Does not boot OK.

As PureOS intentionally lacks unfree drivers I would say that PureOS is not a good choice of distro to put on a random computer.

Another related consideration is the support boundary. Purism would claim that PureOS works on Purism hardware - and that’s what they support. Any other combination is unsupported in a formal sense. They won’t intentionally make it not work. They may try to help if they can. But if it doesn’t work then you may have to do the work yourself to make it work (and you may give up before succeeding).

Thank you all very much for the replies!

For the time being then, I’ll just use my VM to test it out more. I have to use some Windows programs (mostly graphic editors - the Affinity suite of tools) :persevere:, so I’ll see how well wine runs that.

And as long as it does, then at some point I’ll be buying a Librem 15.