Endless OS vastly simplifies the Linux desktop so anyone can enjoy it

Endless OS isn't your ordinary Linux desktop distribution and it makes interacting with the operating system a thing anybody can do.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The Endless OS default desktop.

This is not an Application Overview but the Endless OS desktop.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The latest version of Endless OS is available for free download now.
  • Endless OS makes using Linux so easy that anyone would feel right at home without the slightest learning curve.
  • Because it's immutable, the core of the OS cannot be changed but you also cannot install applications via the command line.

Endless OS is an operating system that includes everything you need to start creating, even without internet connectivity. Out of the box, Endless OS includes Endless Key (a tool for exploring and educating), LibreOffice, Chromium web browser, Decibels audio player, Videos video player, and more. 

Also: Why I use the Linux tree command daily - and what it can do for you

Before you think this is your traditional Linux operating system… it's not. Endless OS is an immutable OS that is governed by OSTress. That means you can't install applications like you can with a traditional Linux operating system. This is done for security purposes (to keep the file system -- outside of /home -- read-only). Because of that, you can only install applications via the Software app store.

One tiny hitch in the internet connectivity plan is that to use Endless Key (which is a fantastic tool for learning about various topics via videos) you have to have an internet connection to download the "packs" for each of the three categories. 

For example, I downloaded the "artist" pack, which is filled with videos on how to make things like bracelets, play the ukelele, how to graffiti your name, how to draw the human body, and more. You can also watch videos that serve to sate your curiosity, such as a video of violinists across the world playing for Ukraine, 2CELLOS playing live, and other delightful videos. Once you've downloaded the pack, you no longer need an internet connection.

Endless Key running on Endless OS.

Endless Key is a great learning tool that, after an initial download, doesn't require internet connectivity to function.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Beyond Endless Key, the collection of software is fairly pedestrian but you can always install whatever you want from the Software app store.

But it's not the collection of software that really makes Endless OS stand out as an option for those who are new to the Linux desktop. The developers have created a desktop that is so intuitive anyone can use it. Instead of having a desktop menu of sorts, all application launchers are added to a searchable desktop. It's as if the GNOME Application Overview was the default interface. From the desktop, you have a horizontally scrollable application list, a search bar, and a dock.

Also: Two tricks that make using the Linux command line a lot easier

Install any app and the launcher is automatically added to the desktop. In fact, after installing GIMP (the open-source image editor), not only did Endless OS add a launcher on the desktop, it created a folder titled "Create" on the desktop housing the launcher. The assumption is that any application added to create things will be housed in that folder. 

I tested that theory by installing Darktable but was surprised it did not wind up in the folder. Easy enough, I can drag and drop the launcher where it needs to be. You can also pin applications to the dock (aka the Dash).

GIMP installed on Endless OS.

You can easily pin an app to the dock (Dash), for even faster access to your favorites.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

From my perspective, the beauty of Endless OS is its sheer simplicity. This is as close to having a mobile interface for a desktop as you'll find. And given that everyone understands how to use Android or iOS, Endless OS is a no-brainer. 

Also: New to programming? My 5 favorite Linux tools will get you up to speed faster

In the end, if you've been wanting to dump Windows in favor of a more secure, reliable operating system, but were concerned that it would be too complicated for you to use, let Endless OS put that fear to rest. Endless OS makes using Linux very simple. Although it might not have the flexibility of a traditional Linux distribution, it's still very much Linux at heart, so it's reliable, secure, and ready to help you do the things you need to do. 

Endless OS is truly the operating system for everyone.

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