ASUS hasn’t offered a Linux-based laptop since the EEE Machine back around 2007, which used the Xandros Linux distro to power the tiny netbook series – but it looks like ASUS may jump into the Linux-based laptop arena again, as it is reported they are working on new efforts with Endless OS.
ASUS is offering Endless OS on a handful of select products – such as the ASUS VivoBook 15 X540NA, which has an Intel Quad-Core N4200 or an Intel Celeron N3350/N3450 processor, 2GB onboard RAM with up to 8GB SDRAM on some models, and various hard drive or SSD options (500GB / 1TB HDD, or 128 / 256GB SSD options).
Endless OS is a Linux distro by Endless Computers that has been focusing on developing a Linux platform primarily for “low-cost PCs” in developing countries – basically, a very light-weight OS that can run on some very poor hardware. It is a Debian based Linux distro with a GNOME desktop environment, so its fairly easy to use.
One thing of note is that the Asus ToS says that users cannot install Linux on their laptops which come with Windows pre-loaded, which is a bit odd:
Notice: Endless OS only supports ASUS Non-OS product. ASUS product preloaded with Windows OS or Chrome OS do not yet support the install of Endless OS.
ASUS official website will not provide any support about download or compatility issues for Endless OS. In addition, ASUS doesn’t provide any support for compatibility problem if you install Endless OS to ASUS product preloaded with Windows OS or Chrome OS. Any damages caused by installing Endless OS (e.g. dysfunction, file damage……) will incur a service charge if repairs are required and ASUS will not compensate for any loss by file damage.
This may be due to contractual obligations, such as perhaps ASUS is supposed to pay per Endless OS install to Endless Solutions. Of course, you can install Linux on ASUS laptops if you want, you’re not blocked from doing so, it’s just that ASUS will not support you if you do it.
Considering the target audience of these Endless OS based laptops, this may not be a huge profit for them – especially considering that piracy of Windows products is particularly rampant in developing countries. But its always interesting to see laptop manufacturers try selling Linux-based devices now and then.