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September 29th, 2016

Endless OS 3: Linux for the Net Less

This Ubuntu-based Linux distribution provides the Internet for those who don’t have 24×7 access to the net.

In the West, we take the Internet for granted. Oh, we may grumble about a slow connection, but that’s a first-world problem. For many, however, the Internet is a “maybe” thing. For those users, Endless’s Endless OS 3, may be just what they need.

Endless OS GNOME desktop

Endless OS uses a heavily modified GNOME Shell desktop.

This Ubuntu Linux-based operating system is designed for use with the “Asynchronous Internet.”

What does that mean?

In a statement, Matt Dalio, Endless’s founder, CEO and chief of product, explained, “There remain significant headwinds to providing persistent connectivity in the developing world, and it’s about time we recognize that, for most of the globe, Internet access shows no sign of big improvement. That’s because as an industry we’ve been almost exclusively focused on the top of the income ladder. Endless OS 3 makes the Internet relevant to an under-served population desperate for a solution that has permanence and reliability. Its asynchronous model of pre-loading invaluable reference content, thus saving scarce or costly Internet access, is indispensable to solving this problem.”

This operating system strives to deliver a persistent computing experience to society’s digital have-nots by providing both online and off-line access to hundreds of pre-installed, open-source health, education, business and entertainment apps.

To cut download times to a minimum Endless OS uses the Flatpack packaging system. This makes installing programs from the net when ever megabit counts much quicker.

Flatpack also enables Endless OS to run applications in sandboxes. This, in turn, makes them safer. It also uses a read-only root file system managed by OSTree, with application bundles overlaid on top. For its interface, Endless uses a heavily modified GNOME Shell desktop.

In short, this operating system is also designed to be idiot-proof. If you’re a hacker, this is not the Linux for you. As the company states,” We have a different target user. Most desktop Linux distributions are oriented towards tech-savvy users and developers. Simplicity is the key, so we carefully pick and choose the best applications available for our users.”

As part of its intent to make it as foolproof as possible, Endless OS also has some quirks. You can’t, for example, install packages from other Linux distributions. Instead you can only install programs from the Endless App Center.

Want to give Endless OS a try? The new version comes with an Endless Installer for Windows. With it you can “dual boot” it with Windows. You can, of course, just download and install it as you would any other Linux distribution.

If you really like it, you can also buy inexpensive–$79 to $99—computers that come with Endless OS pre-installed.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writes about Linux and FOSS for ZDNet and other publications.

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1 comment to Endless OS 3: Linux for the Net Less

  • Gonzalo

    Very interesting and happy to take into account the other 70% of the planet’s internet life 😉
    By the way, the “run apps inside sandboxes” is like (Ubuntu for mobile) Snaps approach??