Endless OS - Sept 7 and Sept 14

Because of Endless OS decision to not allow dual booting which is my preferred way to evaluate a distro, I decided to use Gnome Boxes on a Fedora Workstation install that I have on one machine at home. Gnome Boxes informed me that I should check my BIOS to see if I could turn on the virtualization features of my CPU. I had read some documentation that seemed to indicate that if you didn’t have virtualization turned on that Gnome Boxes would just use software virtualization, that might be incorrect. Endless OS would not boot in Gnome Boxes until I went into the BIOS and turned on virtualization for my i7 CPU. Then there was no problem booting, and installing Endless OS into a Gnome Boxes VM. The one down fall that I ran into was that it took forever to format the 100GB drive that I gave it (I had plenty of space on the 1TB drive and I downloaded the 17+GB version). So far other than that, I didn’t have an issue getting the 17+GB image up and running in Gnome Boxes.

I’m very interested in this project for a couple of reasons. I’m concerned that OS’s for laptops and desktops are increasingly dependent on being connected to high speed internet all the time. Chromebooks are great until you run into an internet outage. I remember last summer, having to tether my work laptop to my cell data because we had a Comcast router that started going bad in another building, and it became a hassle to hike over to the other building to power cycle the router in the hopes that it would reconnect again. Because our staff had turned to Google Apps for everything (Sheets for important records that are updated daily and weekly, Docs for the printed monthly calendar, and letters, and creation of other printed materials) I had a difficult time getting work done without being connected to the internet. I didn’t like the feeling of being at the mercy of an internet connection, and started moving my document creation away from Google Sheets, Docs, Slides, and going instead to LibreOffice. This doesn’t work as well for collaborative documents but I also discovered there were not that many documents that really needed to be collaborative by nature. Also, we seem to be getting more and more dependent on an internet connection to learn new skills or create new things. How often aren’t we finding ourselves or others just “Googling it…” or “DuckDuckgoing it…”

Not everyone has access to high speed internet. Some rural areas less than 5 miles away from me have poor cell coverage and one or no options for high speed connections through cable or DSL. Additionally, financially struggling families can’t afford high speed connections even if they are available. I’m struggling to justify the over priced Comcast bill I have at home for their lowest tier of service.

Linux with our history of documentation through manpages, the Linux Documentation Project, and some of the community documentation of individual distros, offers a possible solution for those who don’t have access to a high speed connection. Endless OS seems to be one of the few Linux distros that recognizes this new “digital divide” and is trying to address it with a full featured Linux install. I admire their desire to address this need. I hope that as we review this distro we take into account their purpose, and how that may have affected some of their design decisions.

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Recently I posted a video where I said I was getting back to basics with my channel where I was going to focus on the new, or curious, user to Linux. I am happy to say that Endless OS falls into that. I had done a small review on Endless several months ago but I had done so without installation. The last time I tried it was a few years ago in a VM. I have installed Endless on my HP 8440 testing laptop. I was extremely pleased with the installer. The installation went right quick, in fact, I was watching Eric doing his live stream on Endless when I installed it. I did not have to be connected to the internet to install. I did opt for the smaller iso. Gnome on Debian runs much better on my testing laptop than Ubuntu. I didn’t care about partitions or dual booting. I just wanted it to install with minimal effort and it did. Most of the set up occurred after installation and went very easy. If I gave this to a new user I believe they would have very little issues. Even if I installed it for them I had the confidence they would be able to get themselves set up and going in no time. The Gnome online account set up is easy, too.

I liked how they added the ability to install Google Chrome easily right from the desktop and even had a YouTube and Facebook app. The software store is Flatpak driven with a nice selection of software. I haven’t been sold on flatpaks so I will test a few of them out in these two weeks.

The desktop is a customized Gnome, but not overly customized like Zorin. They way they have the desktop would make it familiar to anyone who has used a tablet. I will say that I am not a fan of the icon them and that there didn’t seem to be a way to have a dark theme.

I see why the more experienced user does not like Endless but we need to remember about the new user. I, for one, would have no problem recommending Endless, well, it would follow a Peppermint recommendation first :wink:

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I was looking more into the OsTree and Flatpak approach that Endless OS takes and found a great video explaining why they take this approach. Having watched this I now have a much better understanding of what the point of Endless OS is and why it is built the way it is and why it works like it does.

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I haven’t installed EndlessOS yet, but plan to take a look at it, hopefully, this evening. If anyone is interested, the Choose Linux podcast took a look at EndlessOS in early August. The episode # is 15, August 8,2019, “OBS Studio + EndlessOS.” If I am not mistaken from what I heard about in the podcast, EndlessOS will not install on dual- or multiple-boot systems. It has something to do with the directory structure and that the root partition is read only.

Bye,
Barbarbara

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@piperbarb yes, Barb you heard correctly. I’m usually a dual booter for distro challenges, but I had a very positive experience installing Endless OS in Gnome Boxes virtual environment (I choose the full 17GB version) after I turned on Virtualization in my BIOS which Gnome Boxes cleverly encouraged me to do. Also, the video @EricAdams posted above gives some of the design reasons for that decision.

Choose Linux Ep#15

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@sleepyeyesvince pointed out to me that Endless has sold their hardware in the past. I found a video review in case anyone is interested.

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I just want the case.

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I downloaded the 16GB ISO. To me, it feels similar to a Chrome OS, which I am not fond of. I am not a big fan of Gnome’s UI either.
It was nice they included things and made things easy, I had the feeling though not every piece of software they had was to be found in the desktop UI.

I could see this being useful for people without much internet access, or non-computer savvy people.

It does suck there isn’t a more advanced installer to multiboot as what others have said before.

I found all the comments and feedback from this challenge interesting to listen to. I didn’t actually try it as from my initial reading of the description of this distro it really didn’t seem to be aimed at me and my needs. but I’m happy so many were less lazy than I was. From what I heard it confirmed that this one isn’t for me and my use.

I have been thinking however and I’m wondering if it would benefit it’s target use case if it used mesh networking, (like the OLPC does) to allow say a school in a remote area to have the computers link and connect, and maybe download/upload assignments from a master classroom “server” edition, or the kids (presumably) to collaborate. It would also be a way for upgrades where the “server” could be updated by someone who went to an area where there was connectivity to get upgrades or additional software applications.

As for some of the other use cases, like for old folks in nursing homes or whatever, those hadn’t occurred to me but sound like a good idea, perhaps set up and run by the nursing home, or a non-profit supporting that use. Perhaps also in remote regions (even in the US or rural Australia?) where broadband is iffy, slow or non-existent.

The Endless team seems quite small and probably can’t support all the alternative use cases you came up with and others that may surface, so 3rd party groups might want to be made aware of Endless and the possibilities.

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My comment above about perhaps having 1 machine as a “server” that others at the site could get the .iso from and install it or upgrades locally would be a step in that direction if they could network amongst themselves. One person could kick off the installs/upgrades on several machines at the site at once.

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I believe that Endless is important for the educacional content included in it. For average Linux users, there are better options…

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