Endless OS 3.2 Review – The Offline Distro

Endless OS is a free, easy-to-use operating system preloaded with over 100 apps, making it useful from the moment you turn it on. Endless takes Linux to a whole different dimension. It is intuitive and quite different. The developers have come out with a distro that targets mainly developing countries and also computers with no or limited internet access.

So even without the internet, you will have access to stuff like Wikipedia. The aim is to provide an operating system that comes with everything you will need. Intrigued? Let us take a look at what makes Endless OS different, intuitive, and so powerful in its own right. Endless OS uses OSTree to manage a read-only file system and uses Flatpaks for application delivery and updates.

Endless OS Download & Installation

There are two main ways of getting Endless OS. Windows users can download the Endless Installer which will download the ISO and then go ahead and install alongside Windows so you can choose between Windows and Endless at boot time. The installer can also create a live USB with which you can use the test run Endless or install on any other computer.

Endless OS installer on Windows

Endless OS installer on Windows

endless os installation

Endless OS installation
Alternatively, Endless OS is also available as an ISO image, you can download it and create an Endless USB Stick to try a live version of Endless OS or reformat compatible computers. Download Endless OS 3.2 from here.

download endless iso

Basic and Full versions of Endless OS

Endless OS is also available in 2 main versions. A Basic version and then a Full version.

  1. The Basic version of Endless OS is about 2GB in size to download, and you can fit it onto a USB thumb drive as small as 8GB. The Basic version of Endless comes with only a few apps pre-installed and is recommended for computers that will have access to the internet. Once you have installed Endless, you can open the App Center where you can browse, download, and install over a hundred free apps.
  2. The full version, on the other hand, comes in about 16GB with the difference down to the over one hundred apps already preinstalled. The Full version requires 32GB of disk space for installation. If you are installing Endless on a computer that has limited or no internet connection or will be installing Endless on other people’s computers, it is best to get the full version while those interested in trying out the distro should go with the Basic version.

The Distro First Impressions

On bootup, you will be required to setup your system with the usual Language, Time Zone, User Account.
Then there is the Get Started App to get you going with Endless OS. The basic things needed to fully utilize the distro are introduced. Things like adding new apps, your documents and files and how to add accounts. The Get Started App incorporates documentation and videos to get you up to speed.

endless os help guide

Features at a glance

1. Android-esque feel

The first thing that came to my mind when I booted into Endless OS is the feel of Android on a tablet. There is a grid of icons with your most used apps below a search bar and a bottom panel which holds the launcher and some quick launch icons and a system tray.The appearance is pretty clean and gorgeous. The desktop environment is a highly modified Gnome DE.

endless os android like app menu

Clicking on the “More Apps” desktop icon or quick launch icon will show all your installed apps. You can search for local content when offline or on the internet when online.

endless os search applications

2. Over 100 Offline Apps

Endless has over 100 apps available to users that work offline. The apps available on Endless include games, productivity software, reference materials like Cooking, Farming, Health, Travel, and educational materials like a robust Encyclopedia. Some notable names include the LibreOffice suite, GIMP, Encyclopedia, Tux Math, CAD 3D, MineTest and so more.

endless os offline apps

3. Offline Internet Content

You also have over 50,000 Wikipedia articles, video lessons, and apps across a range of topics. The developers try to provide the kind of information that is usually available online that is essential for most academic purposes. All these are available if you choose the Full version during download but if you chose the Basic edition, you can install the apps from the App Center (with an internet connection).

offline internet content in endless os

learn biology with endless os

offline encyclopedia in endless os

4. Restricted to the App Center

You can’t install other apps apart from what is available in the App center. Even though it’s based on Debian, you can’ install apps using apt-get. The terminal is even deactivated by default. There is a way to install packages using apt-get but if you want to do that, then perhaps Endless is not for you. 

endless os app center

5. Online Content

Endless OS pack so much content because it targets users who do not have internet. But when there is internet access, there is more access to curated content including CodeAcademy and more.

discover new apps with app center

6. Multimedia Support

Endless OS 3.2 comes pre-installed with only free-of-patent video codecs such as OGG Vorbis (.ogg), MP3 (.mp3), VP8/VP9 (.webm) and PCM (.wav). On the other hand, some video formats which are not free are not installed, including .mov, .mp4, .avi and .divx(H.264 and AAC) with the latter meaning websites with HTML5 video and audio content such as Netflix and Youtube. Fortunately, Google Chrome is pre-installed meaning Netflix and Youtube and other sites should work fine. The problem arises when you have offline files in any of these formats. The solution? Pay for the ability to download and install codecs.

Conclusion

Endless OS is something really different from most Linux distributions. It is not for the usual Linux enthusiasts, but rather pitched at developing countries, people with no internet access and people who do not want or need the normal control or power offered by most distros. With its Android-esque experience, it is quite simple, easy to use, user-proof and for the target market, it could be just perfect. There is even the Endless-mini PC which ships with the distro.

Share your thoughts and comments on Endless OS with us in the comments below.

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1 Comment
  1. Charles Lynch says

    The article says that I may need to Pay for the ability to download and install codecs. I have years of old files in different formats. Who would I pay and how much would it cost?
    You can’t install other apps apart from what is available in the App center. Even though it’s based on Debian, you can’ install apps using apt-get. Terminal is even deactivated by default. There is a way to install packages using apt-get but if you want to do that, then perhaps Endless is not for you. Why is this a requirement? It seems to be anti-thetical to the idea of open source. For instance, I don’t like Google Chrome, can I use other browsers?

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