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Let's Push Things Forward

Maximizing social utility for fun and (modest) profit


hackergotchi
treitter

Offline software updates in Endless OS

Motivation

A lot of the software most of us use day-to-day is built with the assumption that Internet access is fast, cheap, unlimited*, and ubiquitous.

For a lot of Endless’ current and target users, most of those assumptions are not true. Internet connectivity is often capped to low throughput and monthly quotas and may be relatively expensive or unreliable. Or it may be inaccessible entirely due to cost or lack of infrastructure.

When these assumptions fail, a lot of modern software fails.

This includes software updates.

A solution

Endless OS is built on top of OSTree for OS management and Flatpak for app management. OS updates and apps are presented to the user in Gnome Software.

Offline app and OS updates have been some of our longest-running development projects and it’s been quite a challenge. There are a handful of complex components involved and there’s a lot of plumbing and API work that needed to be designed, discussed, and tested in real-world scenarios. And because there was some but not total overlap between USB app updates, USB OS updates, LAN app updates, and LAN OS updates (see below), we had to do a lot of work to not paint ourselves into a corner.

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