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.