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PureOS 3.0

February 14, 2011

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.).



What’s New
Here’s a sample of what’s new in this release:

Main features:
- 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
- Network-manager
- Transmission
- FileZilla
- Songbird 1.8.0 (while waiting for Nightingale) thanks to GetDeb for the package
- Brasero
- Evince
- Simple Scan
- Eye of Gnome
- GParted
- 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)

Control Center

Control Center

System Requirements
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.

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

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:

Iceweasel Browser
Icedove Mail/News

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.





Final Thoughts
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.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments. For full distro reviews visit Desktop Linux Reviews. For other technology coverage visit JimLynch.com.


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9 Responses to PureOS 3.0

  1. john on June 19, 2012 at 7:41 am

    keyboard letters are mixed up with numbers instead of letters …other wise its a good distro ..cant seem to fix the weird keyboard peoblem with the standard keyboard settings

  2. Arelatensis on September 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I tried 4.0 version in VirtualBox and AQUMU.
    [...]I find it astonishing that not only is there no installer located on the desktop (or menu) that there is no documentation about the method for installing. Come on – it is the year 2011!![...]
    There is a btief description under help/aide – “Installation sur le disque-dur”. But it is in french only. The same decribe Marc. But it doesn’t work.

  3. Brian Masinick on February 26, 2011 at 4:04 am

    I did notice something that interested me in Pure OS upon re-reading the Quick Look Review: Harold Hope’s excellent smxi and sxfgi system management tools. The former can be used as an alternative to synaptic for package management and other management activities as well, and sxfgi is used to configure graphical user environments, particularly if you are having a problem configuring them some other way.

    Too bad the installation method is cumbersome because it does seem that Pure OS, based on Debian, plus having Harold’s useful tools (antiX includes them too), indicates that there probably are some worthwhile nuggets in this distribution after all. I think they should have spent a little extra time working on a cleanly integrated installation program and also clearly explaining the rationale behind the approach. Perhaps if the development team reads the Quick Look and the comments in this thread, this will be constructive criticism for future consideration. There certainly seems to be some promising work done here; it just needs to be a little better thought out so that the complete effort looks a little more competitive with the many other fine Debian based distributions that are available, including Debian itself, which now even offers easy to use Live distributions from which their software can be installed.

    Hopefully we will see some improvements, maybe even in a prompt Version 3.1 to fix what several of us believe is a pretty glaring omission in Version 3.0.

  4. Don Crowder on February 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    When I came a across the reference to the “Software Center” in Debian Squeeze I thought “What software center?”. I’ve been using Squeeze for a couple of weeks now (and Debian stable since Sarge) but had never noticed the Software Center. Wow, very cool! Now if they’d just add KDE 3.5 back to the Stable repository so I could get rid of KDE 4 I’d be a totally happy camper. I don’t care for KDE 4 but care even less for Gnome.

  5. Pure Confusion on February 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I find it astonishing that not only is there no installer located on the desktop (or menu) that there is no documentation about the method for installing. Come on – it is the year 2011!!

  6. Brian Masinick on February 20, 2011 at 2:38 am

    I do not have a problem with having to use the root account to install software, but I do think that things like that should be clearly explained somewhere. The Web site, forum, Wiki, blogs, etc. should prominently display any particulars about installation, but a good installation program will also have a dialog, making it clear what the expectations and any prerequisites may be. Having root information – especially about the fact of it being needed during installation is just good practice. Anything less means that this system does not yet follow common practices, though I suppose that we can debate about whether or not it would be “best practice” to include such things. Somewhere obvious, I feel that any requirements should be cleanly spelled out, otherwise there is plenty of room to debate what is “pure” about this approach.

    Anyone seen or read “The Owls of Ga’Hoole” by Katherine Lasky? My ten year old son is really into it right now. The “Pure Ones” are the bad owls, but “The Guardians of Ga’Hoole” are battered old owls who care enough about protecting their species to risk injury and health for the sake of others. To me, they are the ones who are really ‘pure’, but the owls who want to control things call THEMSELVES the Pure Ones.

    I say show kindness, be considerate, and these are the pure attributes, so in the context of a system, sure, pure probably means no “non-free” software, and I can go along with that, but let’s at least make it clear how things work, and maybe this will have a future.

    Right now, I’d rather use an installable Debian Live CD, a Crunch Bang Live CD (now based on Debian Live), or an antiX Live CD, all of which can quickly provide me with either a Squeeze or a Wheezy system. Maybe the Pure one will do it too, but unless it follows accepted practices, this old owl will follow those battered owls from Ga’Hoole first! :-) (Thank my son for the analogy; I love spending time with him; learning about these various books and movies is something I gain from the experience! ;-)

  7. Jim Lynch on February 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm


    Thanks for the heads up, I put an edit in the article.

  8. Mark on February 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I wanted to comment about logging in as root to install, but I see the dev beat me to it. If memory serves, I think Mepis behaves the same way. Can you edit your review to reflect this for the uninformed?

  9. Marc on February 19, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Installation is possible only from a ‘root’ session because the ‘guest’ account is customized during installation.

    Proceed as follows:
    - create the partitions with GParted: 1 (or 2) ext4 + 1 swap
    - restart the liveCD
    - login as root, run the installer from the menu and follow the messages on the screen.

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