Every once in a while I run into a distro that has me scratching my head and wondering what the developers were thinking. PureOS is just such a distribution. Version 3.0 was just released and announced on DistroWatch, so I thought I’d give it a download and see what it was like.
I had initially planned to do a full review of it on Desktop Linux Reviews, but I ran into a snag with the install (which I’ll talk more about in that section of this quick look) so I decided to do a quick look instead. This quick look is based on the live desktop environment.
PureOS is based on Debian’s testing branch and it includes software from it. There are two versions, PureOS and PureOS Slight. Pure OS Slight users Xfce instead of GNOME, and the download weighs in at 400 MB instead of 700 MB for Pure OS. The selection of software is slightly different for PureOS Slight (Abiword and Gnumeric instead of LibreOffice, etc.).
Here’s a sample of what’s new in this release:
- Kernel 2.6.37 with Squashfs 4.0 + lzma
- Gnome 2.30 + Docky
- LibreOffice 3.3.0 : Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Math and Writer (experimental repository)
- Iceweasel 3.6.13 (experimental repository)
- Icedove 3.0.11 + Lightning
- Songbird 1.8.0 (while waiting for Nightingale) thanks to GetDeb for the package
- Simple Scan
- Eye of Gnome
- smxi/sgfxi scripts
- scripts and Nautilus actions for modules management: activate, debs2lzm, debs2lzm-file, dir2lzm, lzm2dir et find2lzm (thanks to Nico from Linux-live-CD)
I was not able to find a list of requirements for PureOS 3.0. I hope the developers will add such a list to the English version of their site. It’s possible that they might be listed in the French version of the site, but that doesn’t help folks whose native language is English.
One of the things that drives me crazy with certain distros is booting into a live desktop environment and not being able to find an installer anywhere on the desktop or on the menus. Such was the case with PureOS; I could not find an installer anywhere in the menus, desktop or in the control panel. This was what left me wondering what the developers were thinking.
So I was forced to write this quick look based solely on the live desktop environment. That’s a shame because PureOS seems to have some good things to offer as you’ll find out in the rest of this quick look. I would have preferred to install it and do a full review but perhaps in a future release that will be possible.
I was very happy to see LibreOffice available as the default office suite. We’re going to see more and more distros switch as they move away from OpenOffice.org (thanks to Oracle’s uncooperative attitude). Here’s a sample of what you’ll find in terms of software:
The software included is definitely not overwhelming. Software addicts that want everything under the sun installed by default will probably not enjoy PureOS, but those who want a tight selection of useful applications will probably be quite happy with it.
Synaptic is the software management tool. While it gets the job done, it’s not very pretty and it looks rather old compared to the Software Center in Debian 6 Squeeze, Linux Mint’s software manager, etc. But it is quite functional and experience desktop Linux users will get by with it just fine. Newer users who haven’t used it before might find it just a tad bit lacking in some ways but they’ll probably get used to it fairly quickly.
Using PureOS 3.0
My experience actually using PureOS was pretty good, especially considering I was just using the live version of it. It was fast, stable and has a well-ordered feel to it. When using it you don’t get the feeling that the developers threw it together in a haphazard way. That makes the puzzling lack of an installer even more of a head scratcher.
I like the blue/black swirls on the desktop wallpaper and the overall darkish colors. PureOS is a good looking distro; it has its own unique look and feel that will please most users. The selection of wallpaper is limited, there are only three choices but you can obviously get more online if you want.
I’ll be keeping an eye on PureOS, I found myself liking it despite the lack of an installer.
It might have some appeal for those who want an alternative to some of the better-known Debian-based distros. Sometimes people prefer to be in a comfortable niche rather than a more mainstream choice. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.
If you’re that kind of user, then give PureOS a download and see if you like it.
Edit: Apparently it is possible to do an install. Please see the instructions posted by Marc in the comments section below. The install must be run as root. I’m glad to see that an install is possible but it might be a good idea for the devs to consider a less confusing way to handle it.