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Frequently Asked Questions about PureOS

What exactly is PureOS?

GNU/Linux operating system.
PureOS is a fully free/libre and open source GNU/Linux operating system, endorsed by the Free Software Foundation, and based on another GNU/Linux OS called Debian. Check also what does GNU mean.

How is PureOS different from other GNU/Linux distributions?

Not much.

  1. PureOS is one of a few strict GNU/Linux operating systems, meaning it does NOT include any non-free, proprietary software and/or drivers/firmware (aka binary blobs).
  2. PureOS is pre-configured with privacy and security in mind. PureOS and Pureboot implement security-in-depth which aims to provide multiple layers of secure computing to protect both data at rest and data in transit.
  3. PureBrowser, a privacy and security focused web browser based upon well-known Mozilla technologies. PureBrowser takes all of the guesswork out of having secure and private browsing while maintaining the experience that you are used to.
  4. "Rolling-release" model of software updates: applications and drivers are updates as soon as there is new version with new features or security, performance or bug fixes.

Will PureOS work on my computer?

Likely yes.
Check out Hardware Requirements.

Will PureOS work on my Android/Windows phone?

Likely no.
You cannot install PureOS on your Android or Windows smartphone. There are several reasons for this, but the most obvious ones are: a) these devices cannot work without proprietary parts that PureOS does not ship; b) these devices won't work with the latest mainline kernel (system's core) found in PureOS, they need older versions with proprietary parts; c) even if you have a device that does not fall under a) and b), there is still a decent amount of work needed to make it possible to install and start on those devices.

Do I need to install drivers after I install PureOS?

All drivers ever needed are already included in PureOS' kernel. This excludes proprietary/non-free binary drivers/firmware, so if some part of your computer requires such drivers/firmware, you will likely have to install it manually. If not, then you are all set just by installing PureOS. Check out Hardware Requirements.

Does every software application designed for GNU/Linux run on PureOS?

Mostly yes.
Every software packaged in Debian should run on PureOS.

What are the benefits of using PureOS?

PureOS allows for a more safe and secure use and web browsing experience than non-free operating systems like those found on Apple, Google or Microsoft devices. The Linux Kernel and Linux based operating systems are immune from most viruses and malware. PureOS by default doesn't track or log your keypresses, location, softwae ursage. It has app isolation (with Wayland) and SELinux enabled, as well as security oriented default configs.

Can PureOS protect me from viruses, malware and cryptolocker?

PureOS is based upon the most private and secure foundation in computing, the Linux kernel, that largely eliminates the need for antivirus and malware protection that plague Windows and OSX. But to your preference, you can install other software for this purpose, like:

  • ClamAV, an anti-virus and malware protection tool.
  • Uncomplicated Firewall, that helps to keep you secure by not allowing connections to your computer.

These services are provided free of cost and with little necessary input from the user.

But do I still need that antivirus and firewall software?

Depends on your usage case.
If you are dealing with many files from un-trusted sources and sharing some with others, then it is recommended to use ClamAV to prevent accidental sharing of malware and viruses via internet or portable memory drives, even though it cannot harm your system.
If you intend to use services which are opened to the outside world, like ssh, web or ftp server, etc. on your computer, then it is recommended to use a simple firewall.

Does PureOS put up ads or steal and sell my data?

Quite simply, PureOS will not show you advertisements nor does it care about mining your data. Your data, your pictures, your browsing history – that’s for you and you alone. PureOS exists because its developers personally wanted to have better control of their own data. And they think you do to.

How many apps are available on PureOS?

Quite many.
For the list of applications available with the default install check Default Apps.
You can browse all other software here:

How to find alternative programs to common Windows or Mac software?

A lot of users are unaware of what alternative programs are available for certain proprietary Windows or Mac software they would like to use. The easiest way to determine what alternative programs there are is to open up Software Center, where you can type the software you are familiar with by name to see a list of alternatives. If there is no match for the exact name you're looking for, you can browse by category, or generalize your search. If you prefer a web search, you can use

How often will PureOS receive updates?

Very often.
PureOS is updated daily with security updates and bug fixes.

Can I run Windows applications?

Yes and no.
You can use Wine emulator to run Windows applications on your PureOS. Please check the listings on Wine website for compatibility with the particular application that you are interested in running. For the more technically inclined, you can use included virtual machine application, Boxes, to run a full Windows operating system inside PureOS and run any and all Windows application that you like. As with all virtual machines, there will be a performance decline.
Please note that PureOS developers cannot recommend doing any of these methods for privacy or security purposes. Running an .exe or.msi installer can open one’s computer to security holes, malware and other privacy concerns. However, this can be done if you are interested or need to run a certain Windows application.

What makes PureBrowser so special? How will it protect me?

It's configured for your safety by default.
PureBrowser is “based on Mozilla technology”*. It has several of the best available add-ons to offer protections not found in a standard web browser default installation. It also has privacy oriented default configs.

What other web browsers are available in PureOS?

Graphical web browsers like Epiphany, Falkon or lightweight Dillo, but also textual web browsers! Search for them in the Software Center.

Can I browse anonymously?

You can install and setup The Onion Router (Tor).
Tor provides anonymity online, designed to protect your privacy, defending against network surveillance and traffic analysis. Tor prevents people from learning your location or browsing habits.

Will my printer work with PureOS?

It should.
Supported printers should be simply plug and play. The following resources can help you determine the right printer for your PureOS:
For a specific printer, you can see the level of support here:

Will I be able to open photos, videos and music from my Windows/MacOS computers?

PureOS supports many multimedia file formats.

Will I be able to open external hard disk/USB memory drive formatted in Windows/MacOS?

PureOS' Linux kernel has support for various filesystems, FAT32 and NTFS included.

Will I be able to open and work with Microsoft Office documents?

Yes, but...
PureOS has LibreOffice installed by default. While MS Office formats are supported with LibreOffice, the level of the compatibility is not 100%, depending on the complicity of the document. Check here for more info:
You can also check this feature comparison between LibreOffice and MS Office.
Note: You can install LibreOffice on existing Windows or MacOS system as well and see the differences yourself.

What is the level of accessibility for impaired users in PureOS?


By default PureOS is using GNOME desktop environment which offers what they call "Universal access". See Accessibility for the list of options.

Where can I find more resources about PureOS?

Right here!
The PureOS wiki is a good start, check the Help section.
Or you can ask the helpful StackExchange community questions at Tag your questions with "pureos" or "purebrowser" for clarity.
Or try searching on the web, there are many resources for GNU/Linux based operating systems. For example, try searching for: "how to download YouTube videos on GNU/Linux"

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mladen edited the content of this document. (Show Details)Aug 3 2020, 09:28
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Hi mladen,

In the section "Will I be able to open and work with Microsoft Office documents?"

it says, "...depending on the complicity of the document." Looks like the auto-correct touched two letters here because it should read, "...depending on the complexity of the document." :)


mladen edited the content of this document. (Show Details)Nov 28 2020, 13:11
mladen added a subscriber: mladen.

Thanks, corrected.

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