Try a lightweight operating system built with the cloud in mind. Peppermint OS is a Linux-based OS that combines desktop and cloud apps. Whether you want to revive an older piece of hardware or seriously speed up a relatively new machine, Peppermint just might be the right taste for you – especially if you already do most of your daily tasks online using web apps like Gmail.
Linux, in case you didn’t know, isn’t like other operating systems: put simply, no one owns it. This means anyone who wants to, can legally make their own Linux-based operating system using the work of others as a starting point. There are famous versions, or distros, of Linux you’ve probably heard of, such as Ubuntu and Fedora. There are also sub-versions of these distros.
Peppermint OS 3 is independent, but based on Lubuntu 12.04. This means Peppermint uses the LXDE desktop and has access to the complete Ubuntu repositories (which basically means you can run almost any Linux software on it easily).
What sets Peppermint OS apart from Lubuntu, beyond its unique design, is a focus on the web in general and cloud-based apps specifically.
The Peppermint Desktop
Peppermint doesn’t look like much to start, and if you’ve used LXDE before, Peppermint should mostly feel familiar to you. There’s the desktop with the menu bar at the bottom.
It’s all very Windows-like (unless you’re using Windows 8). Click the menu button and you’ll see an easy-to-browse menu:
Explore the menu and you’ll find a few common pieces of desktop software, including the Office suite, have been replaced with web apps. Gmail is the default web client, Google Calendar is the default calendar app and GWoffice, a desktop app for accessing Google Docs, is the default office suite.
This is part of the point: Peppermint Linux OS goes out of its way to integrate web apps. The operating system features it’s own site-specific browser (SSB) called ICE. It basically runs websites in full-screen mode, making them seem like desktop apps. Here’s what Google Reader looks like, for example:
A few such applications are included by default, but you’re free to add as many as you like. Just open Ice from the menu and you’ll see this simple window:
Add the URL, name your app and add an icon; it’s all you need to do. You can now run your favorite website as a desktop app. Read more about Ice on Peppermint’s “About” page.
Some will find this gimmicky, and that’s fine: it isn’t for everyone. If you like web apps but hate running them inside a browser you’ll love this feature.
Of course you’re not limited to just using web apps. There’s the entire Ubuntu repository at your fingertips. It’s easy to browse, so check it out:
Like I said before: Peppermint OS 3 is based on Lubuntu 12.04, so you’ll have access to any and all software available for Ubuntu. Have fun exploring.
Download Peppermint OS
Ready to check this out? Head to PeppermintOS and download the latest ISO. You’ll need to burn that ISO to a CD, of course; alternatively you can use software like Linux Live USB Creator or uNetBootin to boot from a flash drive.
You can try out Peppermint OS from the live environment before installing, so there’s no reason not to try this out if you’re curious: you won’t break anything just by trying.
Open source is about choice, and while Peppermint might not be right for everyone, it may be right for you. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Also feel free to recommend any other Linux distros I should check out. I’ve been way too comfortable with Ubuntu alone lately and need to change that. Educate me!