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A first impression on Endless OS

Today I learned about the defaults in Endless OS. The Endless Foundation, the organisation behind Endless OS, states that their mission is to “help all people and communities connect with technology” and their OS is targeted at schools and children. When starting the OS, Endless OS provides children with Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Google Search by default, as some of the few pre-installed “applications”. And not just “having them installed”, but have them sitting in the center of the app grid that shows up. Further it runs Chromium as default browser (this is where Google Search in the app-grid comes from), with AdBlockPlus installed. Additionally there is a “folder” called “Social” in the app-grid further listing “Twitter” and “Gmail” as applications. There are further applications installed like Evolution, an email client, hack, a software for students to learn programming, a parental control application, and, of course, the LibreOffice suite.

Endless OS screenshot of the first page of the app grid

I came across this, because for a long time by now, I was mentioning and somehow recommending people to look at Endless OS when mentioning OSTree-based distributions like Fedora Silverblue and finally wanted to check it out for myself. The people of the Endless Foundation have doing some very great work around Flatpak and OSTree, however after seeing this, I’m very upset about the whole thing. Starting from their use of Google’s Chromium browser as well as Google Search, which will start tying children into the Google ecosystem, over pre-installed Facebook and WhatsApp, that will teach children how loose their data to Facebook and finally the additional GMail and Twitter, which which should help them to loose more data to big ad-driven corporations. Most of them, forbidding children under the age of 16 from even using their services. Finally the choice of AdBlockPlus over “µBlock Origin” or alike, which allows “acceptable ads” getting kids used to certain advertisement instead of experiencing the web without. To summarise my first impression: I’m shocked that we ship this to children and I expected better from the Endless Foundation. For me, this is already enough to no longer recommend this distribution for quite a while.