We sometimes encounter the situation where users with limited or no Internet connectivity need to update Endless OS, install an application, or update an application.
Endless provides the ability to copy over OS updates as well as Flatpak applications from one computer to another using a USB drive. This functionality has some rough edges, so these instructions describe the known issues and workarounds for them, as well as best practices to maximise your chance of success.
First, find a USB drive to use.
You will need a drive with enough free space for the apps and their dependencies—likely at least 8 GB. Delete files on the drive as needed to free up space.
If possible, you should use a USB 3.0+ drive, which can usually be distinguished from slower USB 2.0 drives by the blue color of the connector when viewed on the side that plugs into the computer.
You should also use a USB 3.0+ port if your computer has one. These can usually be identified by an "SS" USB logo or a blue color.
For best performance, ensure that the drive uses either the
ext4 filesystem or, on Endless OS 4.0 or newer, the
exFAT filesystem. You can check your Endless OS version in the Settings app on the "About" page. You can check the filesystem used on a USB drive using the "Disks" application: click on the disk in the column on the left and then check the value labeled "Contents". If it says "FAT", you can reformat it by following these steps.
The following steps will permanently delete everything on the USB drive!
¶ Drive label on EOS 3.9.4 or older
Due to a bug in Endless OS versions older than 3.9.4, you need to ensure the USB drive has a label, unless you are using 3.9.4 or newer on both the source and target machines. An unlabeled drive will show up in the Disks app as "Filesystem" under the "Volumes" header:
If this is the case for you, click on the Gear icon, select "Edit Filesystem...", enter a label such as "updates", and click the "Change" button.
Plug the USB drive into the computer and open the App Center. You should see a "USB" category appear at the bottom-left side of the app, below the other categories. If it does not appear, ensure that the usb disk is plugged in correctly and properly formatted, as described above.
To copy an app to the USB drive, search for it in the App Center, and click on it to open its details page. If the application is not yet installed, install it. Then, if it is compatible with USB updates, you should see a "Copy to USB" button on its details page.
Not all apps are compatible with this feature. If the Copy to USB button does not appear, try a different app.
Click on the "Copy to USB" button, and wait until the progress spinner goes away before safely ejecting the disk using the Documents application. The process can be repeated with as many apps as can fit on the disk. At this stage the apps are ready to be installed on a different computer.
For large apps, this process can take a long time. Please be patient! We hope to improve the progress indicator in a future version.
For information on how to use the command line (the "Terminal" application) instead of the App Center to copy the app to the USB drive, see https://docs.flatpak.org/en/latest/usb-drives.html
If possible, update Endless OS using the App Center before following these steps.
Please be patient – this may take tens of minutes.
Once the OS is copied to the USB drive, there are a few additional steps needed to work around known issues:
# Work around the openh264 extension incorrectly being copied to USB; can be # skipped on Endless OS 3.9.4 or newer. rm -f .ostree/repo/refs/mirrors/org.flathub.Stable/runtime/org.freedesktop.Platform.openh264/x86_64/* && \ ostree --repo=.ostree/repo summary --update # Work around a bug when updating a machine running Endless OS 3.8.x or older. ostree create-usb . com.endlessm.Apps ostree-metadata # Work around a bug when updating a machine running Endless OS 3.8.x or older. # This command requires Internet access, but can be skipped if the computer # that will receive the OS update is on Endless OS 3.9.0 or later. flatpak install -y --system flathub org.gnome.Totem.Codecs && \ flatpak create-usb . org.gnome.Totem.Codecs # Work around a bug when installed languages differ between source and target machine. # See troubleshooting section below. # This command requires internet access, but can be skipped in some circumstances. # If you receive error messages mentioning "Locale" and "No such file or directory", # this workaround or one like it is needed. flatpak install --reinstall -y --system flathub org.gnome.Platform.Locale//41 && \ flatpak create-usb . org.gnome.Platform.Locale//41
Enterand wait a few seconds for the commands to complete and the Terminal to return to a
If you are a technically-adept user, you may use the following Terminal command as an alternative to step 3 above, replacing the path at the end with the actual path to the USB mount:
pkexec /usr/bin/eos-updater-prepare-volume /path/to/usb
This offers marginally more information while the process is running.
Once you've copied apps and/or OS updates to a USB drive as detailed above, it can be used to update an offline machine.
The following steps are only as a last resort if the normal process fails.
If the automatic OS update process above fails, it may be possible to update the OS from the Terminal. However, this will not install any Flatpak applications that are required by the new OS version (which are not otherwise present in the new OS version).
sudo ostree find-remotes --finders=mount --pull com.endlessm.Os os/eos/amd64/eos3a sudo ostree admin deploy eos:os/eos/amd64/eos3a
The following apps may be missing after you upgrade the OS using this method, but you should be able to install them by leaving the USB device plugged in, then checking the "USB" tab in the App Center when running the new version of the OS:
In some scenarios, OS upgrades may fail with an error like the following:
Unable to upgrade to Endless OS 4.0.2:
While pulling runtime/org.gnome.Platform.Locale/x86_64/41 from remote flathub:
Importing long hexadecimal string.dirtree:
fstatat(long hexadecimal string.dirtree):
No such file or directory
This is caused by the installed languages being different between the computer that copied updates to the USB stick, and the computer installing them. You may see this issue with different
To work around this issue, see the final step of the "Copying OS updates to the USB drive" section above.
If you are trying to update the OS to EOS4 from a version older than 3.9.5, the upgrade will not happen.
In order to make a succesful update:
You will initially need to update to a version newer than 3.9.5 but not 4.0, and then you will need to update to Endless 4.0.x
You can have both updates in the same USB, you'll just need to follow the process twice, one for each checkpoint necessary.
Once you have both versions in the USB, try updating the OS. The first time, the system will be updated to the oldest chosen checkpoint (eg. v3.9.6).
After that update is done, you should insert the USB again and it will finally update the OS to v4.0.x