Updated: Jan 18
What’s coming and why it will be better—yet the same where it matters
For the past couple of years, our design and engineering teams have been listening to our impact partners, interviewing and testing with end users, and contributing within the upstream GNOME project on which we build our desktop experience to design and deliver an updated Endless OS. The culmination of these efforts is coming to Endless OS later this year as a major update: Endless OS 5.
We know a major update can be two things: exciting from a new-and-shiny perspective, but potentially scary from a user-support perspective. Let’s dive into what’s coming in this update and why we believe it’s the best of both worlds: exciting and easy to support.
Refreshed Desktop Experience
Endless OS continues to be the app-centric operating system you’ve come to know and love, but some elements of the desktop experience—the wallpaper, grid of apps, pinned and running apps, and status area—will be refreshed as a result of our work within the GNOME community and based on user testing and feedback.
At a glance, you’ll notice the grid of apps and search will look largely the same, while the taskbar a the bottom of the screen in Endless OS 4 will be split into two more purposeful elements in Endless OS 5: the dock for your favorite and running apps at the bottom of the screen, and the panel with more information and system status at the top of the screen.
The new look is cleaner as it separates apps from system status while giving more space to your wallpaper and open apps, but it will also function fundamentally similar to Endless OS 4:
Endless OS 4
Endless OS 5
Favourite & Running Apps
App Grid & Search
Clock, Calendar & Notifications
System & User Menus
In addition to the improved desktop layout, Endless OS 5 will come with the all-new Workspaces feature to help you multitask and switch contexts: arrange open windows across multiple workspaces created on demand in the new Activities view, and switch between them with your mouse, with three-finger swipe on supported track pads, or with keyboard shortcuts.
The new look is cleaner as it separates apps from system status while giving more space to your wallpaper and open apps.
All-new App Center
App Center enables discovering, installing, and updating the 1,800+ apps available on Endless OS, and in Endless OS 5 it will be even more streamlined.
In Endless OS 5, App Center will feature new large, colorful banners to showcase featured apps; categories will be more visually interesting; Editor’s Choice apps will be more compact; the New & Updated section will feature fresh apps; and apps’ information pages will be much cleaner and more informative.
The result will be a more engaging experience to find, install, and manage apps on your system.
Everything You Love About Endless OS
Endless OS 5 will come with everything you already know and love about Endless OS: the straightforward app-based desktop experience; automatic updates on unlimited network connections; parental controls; tons of included learning, creative, and productivity apps that work offline; access to over 1,800 Linux apps on Flathub; and optionally Kolibri learning content preloaded based on your regional image.
As with Endless OS 4, Endless and partners will be able to create regional and custom images of Endless OS 5; reach out to our impact team for more information and support.
The straightforward app-based desktop experience; automatic updates on unlimited network connections; parental controls; tons of included learning, creative, and productivity apps that work offline; access to 1,800 Linux apps on Flathub.
Working Together to Improve Access
Endless collaborates within the open source GNOME community to help design and develop GNOME and Endless OS, drawing on our design experience, engineering expertise, and real-world learnings from tens of thousands of non-technical users around the world. We believe usability is fundamental to improving access to technology, and we’re committed to continuing to work with GNOME, our impact partners deploying Endless OS, and our user community to continue to improve and innovate to deliver the best, most usable desktop experience possible.
As part of our work on Endless OS 5, designers and engineers from Endless contributed significantly to the improved desktop experience available in GNOME 40 and newer, as well as the overhaul to GNOME Software 41 and newer (upon which Endless App Center is based). We’ve contributed the Endless OS installer and updater to GNOME’s experimental GNOME OS. We also continue to contribute to Flatpak and Flathub to improve the number and quality of apps available for Endless OS as well as all Linux-based operating systems. This allows us to impact an even wider audience than we could via Endless OS alone.
To continue our research and testing on the desktop experience, we’re implementing the Endless OS desktop as an extension for GNOME 41 and newer. We’d love for anyone in the greater open source community running GNOME Shell to try out the extension and report back! Importantly, the desktop design may be adjusted prior to release as we continue to learn from usability research informing the design. Partners interested in supporting our usability research are encouraged to reach out!
Timeline & LTS
Work on Endless OS 5 is ongoing, and we expect to release it later this year. The current work-in-progress version can be tested by adventurous technical users using the instructions on our wiki.
Once Endless OS 5 is released, online users of Endless OS 4 will receive the update automatically or be prompted if they’ve disabled automatic updates, and new downloads will be available from endlessos.org or by request for specific images as usual. Systems that have been opted into the LTS version will remain on Endless OS 4 unless they are manually reconfigured.
Cassidy is passionate about helping design and build useful, usable, and delightful products using open technologies. In the past he co-founded elementary OS and served as the chief experience architect, and he's worked as a UX architect, web developer, and writer—and worn many, many other hats. He contributes to GNOME and Flatpak.
Outside of work and open source he enjoys mobile photography, playing video games, watching and reading almost everything Star Wars, collecting way too much media on his Plex server, and being a dad.