EndeavourOS Quick Review with XFCE Desktop


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Today we’ll be looking at EndeavourOS. It’s a young Arch based distribution with big goals. They are trying to provide a new home for users of the popular yet discontinued Antergos distribution.

Arch Linux is a different kind of beast. It has been the go to Linux distribution for hard core geeks who wish to work and experiment with bleeding edge software and control every aspect of their system. As such, Arch is not very beginner friendly. The installation is daunting and the interaction is primarily through the terminal and keyboard. It’s forums are also not known to be sympathetic to newbie questions. A quick glance at the organisation’s home page is enough to discourage most users.

EndeavourOS with XFCE desktop

This is where EndeavourOS comes in. It makes using Arch Linux open to a much wider user base. It comes with an easier install process and provides guides and friendly forums to assist with handling the system. It is still keyboard and terminal centric but a lot less intimidating. For those looking for an even more simpler Arch experience there is also the excellent Manjaro to check out.

EandeavourOS, being based on Arch is a rolling release. For this review, I downloaded their latest point release from July which comes with the XFCE desktop as a live session. During full installation and with an active internet connection a great variety of other desktops can be installed as well: Mate, Plasma, Cinnamon, Gnome, Budgie, Deepin, and LXQt. For keyboard fanatics there is also an I3 window manager version.

I used the torrent option to download the 1.87 GB ISO file. It comes with Linux kernel 5.7.8 and there were already over 200 packages marked for upgrade – Normal for a rolling release.

The system booted up in my virtual box fairly quickly and behaved very well. It was very responsive and a joy to test. Checking htop quickly revealed why:

  • RAM used: 451 MB
  • Tasks active: 72
  • Threads active: 131

These are very low figures and keep reminding me why XFCE is so popular. Personally I’m not a fan but I have to admit it’s an excellent classic desktop environment. The EndeavourOS team made a great job theming the desktop. It looks fresh and gives XFCE a modern feel. They have used the Arc-Darker theme together with Arc Icons. My only complaint would be the too small borders making resizing of windows difficult and not very touch friendly.

XFCE desktop with the Welcome app, Thunar, htop and neofetch open

When we first boot it up, we are greeted with the in-house developed Welcome app. It’s designed to get one started installing the system and finding online help.

As per EndeavourOS’s declared philosophy, the system comes installed with only a minimal selection of software. Additional software can be installed to the users’ liking using the terminal. There is also a Gnome package manager available that makes for a slightly easier way to install some additional software. In the long run, however, there is no way around using the terminal and EndeavourOS promises to make that process as friendly as possible with it’s online wiki and forums.

Let’s install Gnumeric, a spread sheet software, as an example. Arch uses Pacman, a powerful package manager to handle software installations. We open the terminal and simply enter:

sudo pacman -S gnumeric

It will ask for your administrator password and then will ask you again if you wish to download the software to be installed. That’s it. “sudo” gives administrator privileges to alter the system, “pacman” is the package manager and “-S” is for install

To remove gnumeric simply enter:

sudo pacman -R gnumeric

This is just the tip of the iceberg of course but shows that with some curiosity it’s not that difficult to get started.

The Terminal. It sits at the heart of EndeavourOS and is the quintessential tool of any Linux based operating system

Pre-installed software include:

Thunar file manager, Ristretto image viewer, Parole media player, Firefox browser, Transmission torrent manager and ePDF for viewing, you guessed it, PDFs! There isn’t much else other than the usual spread of various utilities.

As already mentioned. EndeavourOS wants to excel in building up a friendly online community. From what I can tell they are doing a very good job. The forum pages are visually among the best I’ve seen. Colorful and well laid out. I wish more forums were visually that pleasing. There is even a dedicated “Newbie” section so no question is too embarrassing to ask.

EndeavourOS even comes with it’s own online magazine called Discovery. It’s all about general Linux news and what they mean for their system and Arch in general. It is a bit more technical but should make for an interesting read for all types of users following their system.

It is really hard to believe this distro and it’s community is only a bit over a year old. They obviously benefited a lot from their Antergos history but there is so much momentum here it will be exciting to see where it will lead!

If you want to hop on the journey and give it a try, you can download their latest point release from here. If you’ve used EndeavourOS and would like to share some thoughts then please hit the comments below!

Mike


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Mike

Chief geek (editor) and maintainer of distrocrunch.com
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