Endless OS, a Distribution Without Internet

Jul 26, 2017

A new version of Endless OS has been released.

Linux may or may not be able to crack the declining consumer PC market, thanks to smartphones and tablets, but a huge market exists that still needs to be tapped. One open source company, Endless Inc., is looking at that market with their Linux-based operating system called Endless OS.

Endless OS is a Debian-based distribution that offers a customized Gnome experience. It’s designed for PCs with no or intermittent Internet connectivity. The OS uses Gnome’s OSTree tool and offers only Flatpak applications. The experience is similar to Chrome OS, where updates are installed automatically without user intervention.

In an interview, Michael Hall, the community manager of Endless Inc., pointed out that billions of people still don’t own a PC. Many countries in emerging economies lack the infrastructure for high-speed broadband Internet. What good is a computer without Internet? That’s the problem Endless is trying to solve with their Linux-based distribution called Endless OS.

The main highlight of the distribution is offline applications and content. Endless is available in two versions: the basic version and the full version. The basic edition is meant for PCs with standard Internet connectivity, so users can install applications and access content as they want. The full edition comes in different languages, with ISO images that can be as big as 13GB, and comes with offline apps, in which Endless teams have bundled freely available content with the OS though in-house applications.

With thousands of Wikipedia pages, thousands of tutorials articles, and what not, once you get a system with Endless OS, you pretty much have a treasury of information on your system, without the need for Internet. However, you can’t expect people in emerging economies with very poor Internet to download 13GB of data. Endless works with major hardware vendors like Asus, HP, and others to sell PCs with Endless OS. Customers can just walk into a store and buy a PC with offline Internet installed.

Endless also works with cellular networks and ISPs to offer inexpensive Internet to these users at non-peak hours, so they can get system updates; otherwise, content is updated as they are connected. Endless offers not just offline articles, they are also working with local news publishers to package news stories. The way it works is, during night, when traffic is low, the OS syncs the news applications and pulls updates, so in the morning, you are greeted with the latest news stories.

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