Greetings lovely community,
I know there’s not really a “version” of EndeavourOS to review (e.g. like Fedora 35 or openSUSE Leap 15.3), but since I’ve been using it now for over 90 days (wow, how time flies!), I thought I’d write a little review about my experience from testing, installation, and how using EndeavourOS daily for the last couple of months has been. Please note that this review is by no means an exhaustive evaluation or an extremely technical review, it’s just the simple ramblings of an average Linux enthusiast.
Aspire E5-576G-5762, Intel i5-8250U 3.4GHz, NVIDIA GeForce MX150/Intel Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, using both mainline Linux 5.14.x and LTS 5.10.x kernels
Testing & Installation:
I first tested EndeavourOS in a virtual machine via Gnome Boxes for about a month while I was still using PopOS. I come from a modest background of using various different Linux distros over the years (Fedora, Solus, Ubuntu, etc.). I’ve always tried my best to familiarize myself with as much as possible in regards to whichever distro I am using at the time. You may have noticed I’ve asked quite a few questions here when I first got started! Now in regards to the installation, my experience at the time was from using the now outdated April .iso, so while installation was painless in Boxes, it did take about ~20 minutes to install since I picked the online install of Gnome. However, to give a more accurate and current take of EndeavourOS, I’ve since tested the new updated August .iso and can safely say the improvements in download speeds and features (adding Btrfs for example) made by the EndeavourOS team have made the Calamares installer even better for installation.
I’d like to briefly give my thanks to the EndeavourOS team for all those quality of life improvements that I’m sure was no easy task to complete for the Calamares installer. Testing EndeavourOS in Boxes was basically just familiarizing myself with pacman and seeing if the Arch/AUR repos had all the software and packages that I wanted to use. Coming from PopOS, which has everything Ubuntu/Debian has plus flatpak/snap/appimage support, I was used to easily finding and installing whatever packages I needed. My testing in Boxes involved searching and installing some of my most used software, updating the system daily via pacman -Syu, and understanding some of the EndeavourOS tools that were provided. I would call myself a simple user, so I don’t need too much to be comfortable, so it was relatively easy to get things off the ground. The few issues that I did run into, I found answers rather quickly in the EndeavourOS wiki section, or quickly answered with a forum post. Seeing an active dev team and an equally active community on a solid rolling release base like Arch is essentially what drew me to finally install EndeavourOS.
Going from an install in Boxes to an install on actual hardware turned out to be quite a different experience! It was only apparent once I actually installed EndeavourOS (so long PopOS my dear friend!), that I was met with an entirely new set of challenges. Being somewhat unfamiliar at the time with the general philosophies around Arch, I quickly realized my system was missing various packages I was otherwise normally accustomed to. Bluetooth? Nope. Firewall? Nada. Nvidia working as expected? Not so fast! Now for clarification, this is no fault on the EndeavourOS team, but it is a rather intentional decision. Adopted from Arch, the philosophies of keeping it simple and letting the user decide everything, is why the base install is so minimal. To help along the way some EndeavourOS tools are available like the Welcome app, eos-log-tool, and akm (kernel manager) to make it easier for the user to get up and running comfortably.
I found this minimal install rather odd at first, since other distros have provided more packages out of the box and in a sense more compatibly and support for various software/hardware. One could argue though that some of those extra packages aren’t always needed for every single user, and it is this “bloat” that Arch and by extension EndeavourOS do their best to avoid. Once you start to understand the “why” philosophy, then it all starts to make a bit more sense why things are set up the way they are. Understanding my system as much as possible has always been one of the draws that got me to try out EndeavourOS in the first place.
Since I typically do a clean install from time to time, I’ve made it a habit of writing down a guide of various tasks, tweaks, and customizations that I require to get my system up and running the way I like it. Coming from PopOS, I was able to migrate almost everything over; simply changing sudo apt to sudo pacman worked for a majority of my ‘Things to do after install’ self-made guide. I did however, run into a few hiccups here or there (learning about systemctl for one). Thankfully, I can say any little hiccup was fixable with the help of the EndeavourOS wiki and the community forums. I’ll briefly mention some of the things I had to do specific to EndeavourOS that I didn’t necessarily have to do post install for PopOS so there is some context for some differences:
Install hunspell-en_us for spell checking support in LibreOffice/Hexchat Install bluez for bluetooth support Install the LTS kernel Install Nvidia proprietary drivers + optimus manager + fix screen tearing (aka The Nvidia Headache) Install various fonts, video, & audio codecs install dconf-editor to adjust various keyboard shortcuts not easily found/available in Gnome Settings/Tweaks Install Gufw for firewall support Edit Grub to save the last used kernel on boot Install kvantum for uniform theme and fonts for Qt apps in GTK environments Install rebuild-detector to check if any AUR packages need to be rebuilt Enable SysRq R E I S U B – to safely reboot a frozen computer
Note: This is only a sampling of things I needed to do post install. If you’re curious about the rest of my guide (mostly just software I use and a few extra tweaks), I’ll post a link to that below:
From my testing, I found that in the Arch ecosystem, all the packages I required were easily obtainable. If I wasn’t able to pacman -S from the Arch repos, then I was just as easily able to yay -S from the AUR. Familiarizing myself with the AUR at first was a bit of a head scratcher. The more I used it though, the more I became familiar with PKGBUILDS, and the whole process of building packages. It became easier over time to understand and in the beginning some of it was learned from trial and error, but sometimes that is the way I learn best. The first month of using the AUR, I was cautious and curious, as I came across numerous errors/issues with the AUR at first. Any time that happened, a simple forum post (or wiki search), was all it took to redirect me to a solution. In my humble beginnings, for most cases I relied mainly on the expertise of the community members. If it wasn’t for the EndeavourOS community helping me and advising me along the way, I have no doubt I would have thrown my hands up and given up. I chose an Arch-based system with the intention to learn, so I have had at times to remind myself to stay motivated and determined to see things through. The only time I nearly came close to giving in, was in regards to getting Nvidia all set up. As anyone with an Nvidia or Nvidia/Intel hybrid setup will tell you, the process is not a journey you’d wish on even your most nefarious nemesis! In regards to other issues, I’ve come to adopt the approach of either I’ll fix it myself if possible or I’ll wait for a fix to be deployed, and if it hasn’t already been reported, I’ll report it.
There’s one other thing I’d like to touch on briefly. Using EndeavourOS has made me become more of an active member within the community. I’ve always filed a bug report here or there whenever an issue arose on my system, but other than that I’ve never felt knowledgeable or confident enough to think I could ever assist others with issues. Having used EndeavourOS now for a while, I can safely say that while I still have plenty more to learn, I definitely know way more now than the me of three months ago. So with everything that I’ve learned since, on a few rare occasions I’ve actually been able to help someone else that had an issue I was familiar with. The ability to come together and help others is another big draw for what keeps me on EndeavourOS. Without getting too deep into the psychology of the human condition, I’d like to point out that when we feel like we are a part of something, it gives us a sense of purpose and we desire to embrace it. This same mentality applies to how I’ve come to feel about EndeavourOS and that extends to the lovely community that surrounds it as well.
I will say there was a bit of a learning curve when I migrated over to an Arch-based system like EndeavourOS. If you have the time and patience to learn something, anything is possible. And for myself learning everything from scratch the first month of use, I can safely say if I had to do it all over again now, I would be confident enough in that it would be inherently easier since I now know what to do for most things. I am very much still learning and in essence always will be, so there’s always room to grow and improve.
So how does EndeavourOS handle for daily use? Well for the last couple of months I’ve more or less been updating daily. I tried updating just once a week, but there’s an itch I can never quite scratch that whispers in my ear, “just one run yay one more time, you know you want to!” and while that approach has been great thus far, it can at times be a trial by fire. I’ve come across various issues so far ranging from AUR conflicts, to Gnome specific bugs, to understanding pacman error messages, as well as a few others, but thankfully none of these issues have been any kind of deal breaker; just part of the process of learning how to use an Arch-based system. If I had came from a background in Arch already, these issues wouldn’t have even been a problem. The issues I’ve come across so far to a seasoned Arch user are probably trivial, but for a new user it does require some navigating and understanding, but given my curious nature with how things work, it’s not been impossible to expand my understandings thus far.
Overall, I’d classify my daily use on EndeavourOS as a solid, stable, and a refreshingly fun experience. I say fun because problem solving, and troubleshooting is also part of why I wanted to use an Arch-based system. Do things just work? Sure, of course they do! But with testing updates daily, bugs and regressions can happen from time to time, though it’s not even remotely a daily occurrence. Things just work and it’s been a great learning experience working with others to try to understand and solve some of the issues that have come up, be it a random server-side mirrorlist issue or a conflicting package dependency, or Nvidia pulling the rug out from underneath you, the experience thus far has been exactly what I was looking for.
One aspect of EndeavourOS I want to make sure I mention before I wrap up is the EndeavourOS repository and some of the packages within that have made setting up and maintaining my system a pleasure to use. Essential packages like the Welcome app, akm, downgrade, eos-hooks, eos-log-tool, nvidia-hook/installer, reflector-simple, and yay have made my jump into the Arch ecosystem all the more possible and for that I am very thankful. I know there’s other packages I’m sure worth mentioning, but these are just some of the packages that have made it headache-free for me to keep my system up and running smoothly. It is because of that that I am very grateful for all the work the EndeavourOS team has done from porting various things over from the Antergos days as well as creating, maintaining, and updating all the other various packages and scripts in the EndeavourOS repo so users like myself can continue to benefit from the great work of the open source community.
Honestly with all things considered, if it wasn’t for the EndeavourOS tools and accompanying wiki, as well as the lovely and extremely helpful community members here, I would not be here today and be able to say, I use EndeavourOS, btw!