Release | Endless OS 3.5.1

Endless OS 3.5.1 was released on Friday 16th November, available for download for new installations, or as an OS update in the App Center. It replaces Endless OS 3.5.0, which was released on Monday 1st November but withdrawn a few days later due to a problem described below.

USB OS updates

Endless 3.5.0 is the first release to enable USB OS updates for all users, regardless of whether they upgrade to the release or start from a fresh install. To use the functionality, insert a USB drive with at least 4GB of free space, open the App Center, navigate to the “USB” category on the left, and click the “Copy OS to USB” button. The copy process will take several minutes. Once the spinner stops you can remove the USB drive. To update another offline computer using the USB, insert it and navigate to the “Updates” tab in the App Center. You can then click the “Download” button on the update to apply it.

Note that the minimum version required to use USB OS updates is 3.5.0, so 3.5.1 is the first release that can be distributed via USB drives, and computers on versions older than 3.5.0 will not be able to update from such drives.

Updated hardware support

This new version includes an update to our core platform components, which enables support for the latest hardware. Power management optimizations were made too, so laptop battery life should be extended.

AMD graphics card support has been notably improved, and on AMD-based laptops, automatic audio switching between internal speakers and HDMI TVs is now working the same way it does on other platforms. We’ve updated the drivers in the OS to improve compatibility when syncing music and photos with newer iPhones.

The Screen Off key (Fn+F7) on many Asus laptops is now supported, and the Presentation Mode key (Fn+F8) is now working again.

Smarter memory management

Even after our recent work on improving the experience on systems with low amounts of system memory (RAM), it was still possible to get the system into a “thrashing” state where the system would become unusable when the available memory was nearly exhausted, and the user would have to perform a forced shutdown to continue.

We have now introduced a fallback in this situation which will reliably reclaim memory in such last-ditch situations by shutting down some aspect of the system for recovery. The implementation is based on Linux’s new memory pressure stall information (psi).

Another problem was that when available memory was tending towards the low side, Endless would be occasionally unable to launch any additional apps (not even small ones), showing an error message “fork(): Cannot allocate memory”. This issue has now been resolved and app launching will proceed as normal.

Other Improvements

  • Updated Chromium. We’ve updated to Chromium 70 to bring the latest performance improvements and features to Endless’ built-in web browser.
  • Improved user interface smoothness. We’ve optimized our desktop environment so that it is more snappy and responsive, and included updates from the GNOME project to reduce the memory usage of the desktop.
  • Application updates. We’ve updated Google Chrome to version 70.0.3538.77, and Skype to version, and fixed a bug which prevented Skype desktop notifications from working.
  • Improved WiFi setup during first boot. We’ve improved the WiFi setup page shown on new computers to give better feedback about the connection process, and to show any new networks that are discovered.
  • Disk space reclaimed from swap partition. On computers with more than 100GB of disk space, Endless previously used 4GB of space for a swap partition. This is no longer used; the second time you start Endless 3.5.1, this space will be available to use as normal. Unfortunately, Endless 3.5.0 contained a bug in this feature which could cause the computer to no longer start, and instead show a grub rescue> prompt. 3.5.0 was withdrawn and 3.5.1 contains a fix; if your computer has this problem, please follow these instructions.