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Peppermint Ice

July 18, 2010
By

Peppermint OS One made quite a splash when I reviewed it. Many people had never heard of it, and there was a lot of curiosity about a web-oriented remaster of Ubuntu. Some time has passed and there’s a related version that has been released. This new distro is called Peppermint Ice. Why is it called Ice? Well read on to find out.

Please note that development of Peppermint OS One will continue. Peppermint Ice is a separate distro and the Peppermint developers will be supporting both versions. The developers got a lot of requests from the Peppermint OS One community to do a version with Chromium as the browser and thus Peppermint Ice was born.

What’s New In This Release
The biggest difference between Peppermint OS One and Peppermint Ice is the inclusion of a new Site Specific Browser (SSB) written by Peppermint Ice developer Kendall Weaver. Ice is the name of the SSB, and it uses Chromium (the default browser in Peppermint Ice) to run web applications. Using an SSB, instead of running applications in a tabbed browser, for example, helps provide greater stability and uses screen space more effectively.

My experience with using web applications in Peppermint Ice via the Ice SSB was very good. I opened a bunch of web applications and everything ran very well, I had no problems with speed or stability (with the one exception of Facebook, which I’ll talk about in the problems section). I left the applications running for hours and didn’t notice any problems with them.

Since Peppermint Ice uses LXDE as its desktop environment, it’s very fast. If you have older hardware, you’ll be particularly pleased with Peppermint Ice. Booting up or shutting down happens very quickly.

Facebook running in an Ice SSB.

Some might be thrown off by the inclusion of Chromium as the default browser for Peppermint Ice, but I think it’s a good choice. Firefox is still available via Software Manager if you want it, but Chromium seems to be significantly faster to me. That said, I also think it’s a good idea to keep Firefox around in case you bump into a site that isn’t quite compatible with Chromium.

And please note that Peppermint OS One will still have Firefox as its default browser.

Chromium is now the default browser in Peppermint Ice.

As you can see from the Live CD desktop screenshot below, the desktop wallpaper and peppermint logo are different from Peppermint OS One. The red and white wallpaper and logo are gone; they’ve been replaced by blue and white versions. I’ll talk about that more in the desktop section.

The Peppermint Ice live CD desktop.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

As you might expect, the hardware requirements to run Peppermint OS are quite modest. Here’s what you’ll need to run it:

* i386 or derivative processor (AMD64 and x86_64 are fine as well)
* 192 MB of RAM
* 4 GB hard drive space (this is an overestimate just for good measure)

Installation
The install is vintage Ubuntu. It’s quick, easy and painless even if you are completely new to Linux. The screenshots below guide you through the installation from beginning to end. Please note that Peppermint Ice is a Live CD distro, so you can test it without actually installing it. Just pop the CD into your system and boot up.

Booting & Login

The bootsplash screen has the blue and white logo and branding. The login screen also has the new colors, and features the Peppermint Ice desktop wallpaper in the background.

The bootsplash screen.

The Peppermint Ice login screen.

The Desktop
One of the things I found most attractive visually about Peppermint OS was the red and white wallpaper and peppermint logo. Peppermint Ice’s logo and wallpaper are blue and white instead. The blue and white is, frankly, a bit bland.

I very much prefer Peppermint OS One’s color scheme. Your mileage may vary, however. It’s easy enough, of course, to simply change the wallpaper if you don’t like it. So no biggie.

Beyond the branding and new colors, there hasn’t been much of a change to the Peppermint Ice desktop. It’s still clean and uncluttered, without a bunch of icons all over the place like some distros.

The installed desktop.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No Games

Graphics
Editor by pixlr
Screenshot

Internet
Chromium
Dropbox
Facebook
Ice
Peppermint Forums
Seesmic Web
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Hulu
Pandora
Sound Mixer
The Cloud Player
Xnoise
YouTube
last.fm

Office
Google Calendar
Google Docs
Google Mail
Google Reader
ePDFViewer

There are some great web applications included with Peppermint Ice. I’m a heavy user of GMail, Google Reader and Google Docs. Hulu, Pandora and YouTube are also excellent multimedia choices. Facebook is there, of course, for the social media junkies. And there’s plenty of music with last.fm, Pandora and the Cloud player.

There are also useful local applications included such as Ice, Chromium, Drop-Box, X-Chat, Transmission and Xnoise.

Peppermint Ice comes with pretty much every web application you’ll need to do most basic computing tasks. If you want to add more, simply click the menu button on the panel and then choose Internet then Ice. You can quickly and easily add any web application you want and it will run in its own SSB window.

Use Ice to add additional web applications to your system.

Software Management
As you might expect, Peppermint Ice doesn’t come with a great deal of locally installed software. Not to worry, if you want more software just open the Software Manager. You’ll find all of the usual programs (GIMP, OpenOffice and lots more) waiting to be installed. Just click on a category, choose your application, and then click Install or Remove.

I didn’t bother installing any of them, however. I really wanted to use Peppermint Ice as is, without a lot of software running locally. I found I could do pretty much anything I needed to do just by using the included web applications. I’m not sure if I’d use cloud-only applications all of the time, if I were going to use Peppermint Ice as my main OS permanently. However, most of what I needed to do could be done with web applications instead of local software.

Use Software Manager to add or remove programs.

Sound and Multimedia

I had no problems running YouTube videos or any other web-based multimedia content in Peppermint Ice.

The range of choices found in the Sound & Video applications menu insure that Peppermint Ice users have access to great multimedia without ever having to touch a file locally. This built-in web content is one of the best things about Peppermint Ice; it makes it very easy to focus on enjoying the content rather than managing it locally.

Problems & Headaches
One of the things that stood out for me was the lack of games. Oh sure, there are plenty of games in the Software Center. But it’s somewhat odd that there are no online games bundled with Peppermint Ice. You’d think that there would be links in the application menu to some of the more popular Internet game sites at the very least. Perhaps this can be added in a future release.

YouTube videos worked quite well in Peppermint Ice.

Hulu provides a huge range of movies and television shows.

Find a range of music via the Cloud Player.

The distro itself was quite stable. The only burp in that regard that I noticed was when Facebook crashed. I’m not going to hold that against Peppermint Ice because…well…Facebook is Facebook, and it’s certainly not the first time I’ve ever seen it go belly up in a browser window.

Beyond that, I didn’t run into any noticeable problems with Peppermint Ice. It seems to have mostly lived up to its billing as a fast, web-centric distro.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Peppermint Ice FAQ page, and the Peppermint Ice Community page. The community page lets you submit bugs, access the Peppermint Ice forums, and chat via IRC.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Peppermint Ice is perfect for anybody looking for a fast, reliable, cloud-centric distribution that uses Chromium as its default browser. My experience with it was quite positive and I’ll definitely be keeping it around for when I want a more web-centric Linux experience. While I still prefer the look of Peppermint OS One, I’m glad to see the Peppermint developers being so responsive to their community. The community wanted a version with Chromium and they got it, so kudos to the developers.

Peppermint Ice is fine for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users. Beginners who are just getting their feet wet with the cloud will really appreciate the easy install and good selection of web applications included in Peppermint Ice.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Peppermint Ice
Web Site: http://peppermintos.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Includes the new Site Specific Browser (SSB) functionality, and a great selection of web-based applications. Chromium is now the default browser.
Cons: The wallpaper and logo colors are a bit bland compared to Peppermint OS One. No web-based games are included.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users who want a cloud-centric, fast distribution.
Summary: Peppermint Ice is a great alternative for Peppermint OS One users that wanted Chromium as their default browser. It’s also perfect for anybody that wants a web-centric distro that is extremely fast and stable.
Rating: 4/5

 

 

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14 Responses to Peppermint Ice

  1. Linux Master aka Noo on November 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    This one is best Linux.Period.

  2. Brian Masinick on July 27, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I'm not sure that came out in this article, but Kendall Weaver has make it very clear that the Peppermint work is built upon the foundation of Lubuntu. Based on that, Lubuntu is certainly a good starting point for anyone wanting to make their own creation. As far as anyone who wants to start by using a system as is, and adding, configuring, or modifying something here or there, I like starting with Peppermint. Actually I've done more with Peppermint OS One than I have with Peppermint Ice because I have Firefox and Prism on that platform, and I simply added Chromium and started doing my own thing. I could have done the same using Lubuntu, but Peppermint did some of that work for me.

    I am also a big fan of antiX, and I use that even more than any of the *buntu variations. It's more directly tied to its Debian roots with some MEPIS features – the MEPIS kernel and tools, but diverges from there and goes its own direction. The antiX project has a new development called antiX core, where you can start at a level similar to what you would do with Arch Linux and build your own binary based Debian system nearly from scratch. I like that approach, but antiX also has a ready to go complete, lightweight system and another variation called base, which provides a light GUI environment, and you add the applications you want to it. With three different ways to go, a light, ready to go system, a base that is partially established, and a core, with the raw components from which you construct your own system, I really like the antiX project too.

  3. bg on July 27, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Credit should be given to the folks at Lubuntu on which Peppermint was built; Lubuntu is just as small and probably quicker to boot.

  4. Brian Masinick on July 22, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Actually, though I am not positive how it was done, it turns out that you can create Web applications REALLY EASILY using Google Chromium. There is a feature called "Create Application Shortcuts" that is just above the menu containing Cut, Copy, Paste, etc., which looks like a page with a folded right corner, and it's in the top task bar menu, just to the left of the wrench icon. I am going to assume that this is how the SSB are created in Peppermint Ice, because I can certainly create them ad nauseum, and I am doing just that, not just on Peppermint OS, but on other systems as well.

  5. Brian Masinick on July 21, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    The site specific browser, or SSB, is a specialized Web browser that is used to connect to a specific Web site, usually one that has a specific application, such as an Email Web application server, a Social Networking Web application, a Calendar application, and so forth.

    The Google Gadgets were among the first Web applications. The Mozilla Labs has been experimenting for some time with the Mozilla Prism project; I've found it to work very well, and by having each Web application represent a distinct instance of the application, potential failures are isolated so they do not affect other applications.

    In Peppermint Ice, Kendall Weaver wrote a tool called the SSB to invoke applications using Google Chromium instead of Mozilla Prism, so that's where the SSB came from.

  6. dragonmouth on July 21, 2010 at 2:17 am

    Brian,

    Jim told us what SSB stands for but did not clarify how it is different from "regular" browsers we have come to know and love. Why would we want or need a "site specific browser"? Or is SSB just another buzz phrase to go along with the "cloud"?

  7. Brian Masinick on July 20, 2010 at 5:58 am

    SSB stands for Site Specific Browser (SSB), and Jim covered that early with this comment: "The biggest difference between Peppermint OS One and Peppermint Ice is the inclusion of a new Site Specific Browser (SSB) written by Peppermint Ice developer Kendall Weaver."

    Another author has a quick take on Peppermint Ice here:

    http://www.geek.com/articles/news/peppermint-ice-

  8. ray on July 20, 2010 at 2:55 am

    What does SSB stand for?

  9. Brian Masinick on July 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    After all of the previous testing of Linux Mint 9 LXDE and Peppermint Ice, both from within Virtualbox on my sidux system, I next spent some time reviewing the Web applications that I have installed on my sidux system, then I booted into my Peppermint OS One system to compare them.

    sidux has a reasonably snappy boot time, but the Ubuntu project for the Long Term Support (LTS) Lucid Lynx 10.04 release placed a lot of emphasis and effort on improving the boot time by starting various tasks in parallel and refraining from starting certain services. I've optimized my sidux system some, but I have not parallelized some of the things that have been done in the Lucid time frame, so without any question, the Peppermint OS positively benefits from these changes and is one of the fastest systems to a graphical login prompt.

    Peppermint OS is also one of the most convenient systems as far as having it set up right off the bat to work well as a combination every day desktop and Web application platform. I installed the Chromium browser and set up additional Prism Web applications, so it's arguably more capable than the stripped down Peppermint Ice. Both are really good though and I'm keeping my Peppermint system in place, but I'm not going to install Ice over it or install Ice in addition to it. I have functionally the same stuff here now with my own modifications, having added Chromium on my own and adding additional Web applications.

    Right now, I started my iGoogle instance, and spawned Google Reader from that, and on my Google Reader, I had DLR, and with the new entry to this article, I got here. I have three Web apps going now, one for Gmail, one for Google Reader, and now one for DLR, all spawned from my iGoogle Web application.

  10. Brian Masinick on July 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Replying to this thread now with Peppermint Ice, running from my sidux Virtualbox OSE. Yes, I like Peppermint Ice, definitely prefer it to Linux Mint 9 LXDE Edition, but I have not yet decided if I prefer it to Peppermint OS One or not. Apparently a lot of the people on the Peppermint Forums do, they were gushing about it! Some of them even prefer the Ice theme over the previous Peppermint theme. I'm undecided on that element, but I am happy with both spins of Peppermint OS so far, and they've really established themselves early on the DistroWatch hit parade. One week they made it in the top ten and they are, even including all data, well entrenched in the top 100, so they are off to a great start.

    Lurkers, do give this one a try, especially if you tried the previous release, you will also like this one. It's fast and great for Web based activities especially.

  11. Brian Masinick on July 19, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Well, I went and tested the Linux Mint 9 LXDE CD from Virtualbox, and it certainly is a very easy system to install and use, but personally, in a crowded field with many very good distributions, I don't think that the LXDE edition stands out in any particular way. The only thing that would attract – but maybe it's a big attraction for some, is the fact that it has the Mint installer, the Mint appearance, and a few of the Mint tools. In that respect it is a good system. Other than that, nothing else to distinguish it from the LXDE distribution camp.

    Competing on the ultra light end are SliTAZ – it's really cool if simple, small, and fast is something you need, maybe to carry around with you on a USB stick. So SliTAZ has its clear space and it's the hands down winner in the tiny space as far as I am concerned.

    Then there is the specialty area. Peppermint OS One has already impressed me a great deal with it's blend of desktop and Web based applications and a great visual theme.

    So now I have to go get Peppermint Ice and give it a whirl. I think it can beat Mint LXDE based on the SSB (Web centric stuff with a fast browser) but we'll see for sure when I give its tires a kick and take it for a spin around the block (that's the Detroit talk in me; I'm originally from the northern suburbs near the GM Tech Center). :-)

    So is it Ice or One? Those are the two variants that have me interested right now. I know that I like OS One. But will the Ice variant, running with Chromium and the SSB be enough to turn my eyes to the Ice? If it does, I'll just grab Chromium and the other stuff and put it IN Peppermint OS One!

  12. Brian Masinick on July 19, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I am going to give this one a look, since my recent emphasis has been to look for distributions with a heavy Web-centric emphasis. I am already very happy with Peppermint One, which I not only tested with Virtualbox OSE, but I installed it as well.

    I'll test this one before installing it, but first I downloaded the Linux Mint 9 LXDE CD – and Mint now "officially" supports this and other former community editions, so since I downloaded it first, I'm going to look at it first, but I hope to get to Ice too.

    I kind of like the Peppermint OS One appearance too. That alone doesn't have a heavy influence in my decisions, but if most other things are close, it could be a decider in a very close contest. Given that Peppermint OS One is already a winner in my book, I just installed Absolute Linux 13.1.2 on my other laptop and liked it, installed OpenSUSE 11.3 and found it to be the best SUSE implementation I've ever used, you can see that there are a LOT of good distributions right now, not to mention my usual sidux, antiX, and SimplyMEPIS favorites that are definitely my keepers.

    This one has a good chance too, but it's a crowded field on my systems right now, because every system I have installed is EXTREMELY good within its niche. Let's see if this one wins at any particular niche. I think it will do well, but I'm not sure that it will be the winner.

  13. Bill Julian on July 19, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Nice overview Jim. I was hoping "ice" referred to IceWM, but LXDE is a very good light choice. I am using Chromium daily and it works quite well. Should be no problem.

    I keep both antiX and sidux on USB sticks for travel purposes. Something like Peppermint Ice looks like a highly competitive choice. Used that way a person does not want to load a lot of applications on the distro.

    Given the Ubuntu base Ice should handle a wide range of wireless cards well, which would be critical for this distro.

  14. Jim Lynch on July 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Hi folks,

    Just a heads up that I had to do a bit of rewriting. I initially thought that Peppermint Ice was an update/replacement for Peppermint OS One. Turns out that is incorrect.

    So I had to do a bit of a quick rewrite to avoid any confusion. If you read the initial version and are now wondering about the changes, that's why.

    Thanks for understanding. :smile:



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