Peppermint OS Two

There’s been quite a lot of talk about “the cloud” lately so what better time to do a review of one of the best cloud-oriented desktop Linux distributions? Peppermint OS One came out a while ago and its successor has just been released. Peppermint OS Two is based on Lubuntu 11.04 and, for the first time, comes in a 64-bit edition. Lubuntu is a good choice as a base for Peppermint OS Two since it runs well on older or slower hardware.

Peppermint OS Two uses web-based applications for much of its default software. These applications are integrated into the desktop by the Ice SSB framework and essentially make these applications as much a part of the desktop as applications that run locally. They run in a window on your desktop even when you aren’t using your browser.

SSB stands for “site specific browser” and it’s how Peppermint OS Two runs web applications on your desktop. Here’s a bit of background on SSBs from the Peppermint OS site:

Ice is, by definition, a Site Specific Browser [SSB] that Peppermint creator Kendall Weaver wrote himself as a means to launch Web Applications and/or  Cloud Applications [SaaS – Software As A Service] from the new Peppermint Ice OS. When you launch a web based application using Ice it will call up a custom SSB using the default Chromium Browser. So, essentially, the Ice SSB acts as software that is installed locally but is actually delivered via the Web.

The difference in using an SSB as opposed to using a tabbed browser is that only one function is assigned to the Ice SSB.  In a tabbed browsing system, with several open for example, if one service or site in any given tab crashes you run the risk of losing data by crashing the other tabs and potentially the browser itself. since an SSB is isolated and dedicated to only operating the web application of your choice, if it crashes or hangs, it does not effect the rest of the system. And, because the Ice SSB’s are so sleek, they are perfect for running apps that display better using the most screen area as possible.

Some of you might wonder why this is desirable since you can always just fire up a browser and then go to GMail or whatever the web application is that you want to run. Well it’s quite a bit more convenient to have web applications integrated into your desktop when your first boot into it.

It’s also quite easy to add additional web applications or remove the default ones (more on that in the software section of the review). Once you get used to using web applications in an SSB you start to wonder why you had to do it the old way in the first place. It really makes the web a part of your desktop environment rather than something that exists outside of it.

Live Desktop

Live Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Chromium is the default browser now instead of Firefox
The Ice SSB now comes with the ability to remove SSBs
Additional SSBs added from pixlr
Look and feel has been changed
Dropbox integration improved
Guayadeque is the default music player
Gedit replaces Leafpad as the default text editor
LXKeyMap is now included

The developers felt that Chromium was a better fit for Peppermint OS Two instead of Firefox because the Ice SSB was created for Chromium and apparently Mozilla’s Prism (which was used in the last release for Firefox) project is having problems or whatever. I have no problem with this decision though others may disagree. I’ve always rather liked Chromium a bit better than Firefox anyway, so I’m fine with the change. I’ll be interested in seeing in the comments though how others feel about this.

The ability to remove SSBs is a no-brainer and I’m glad to see it. The default selection of SSBs is fine by me, but your mileage may vary. So it’s a good idea to be able to remove them if you don’t like them.

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Comments

  1. steve says

    Linux distros comes and goes but still no unified standard for it at least for desktop/workstation/servers ! If you have software needs covered in respository then things go easy if not then installing from binary (dependacy hell) can be very much frustrating and one can even cripple OS ! I like to have freedom of choice for software/app installed but that in Linux is still light years away from windows installer not to mention no inter/cross compatibility between distros ! And i dont like to compile software again and again for frequently updated software ! On windows we have fresh install due often crashes the same os or upgrade to new version and tremendeus work involved to port data in Linux ugrading OS means exatly the same porting all data to new system ! I realy dont know which i worse ? Linux has gone long developer way thru but it is far from being user friendly OS ! Installing user choice software should be few mouse click away and that from binary with unified standard or converting packages to various distros from binary – what ever ! Until then i only watch what is going on ! If someone dont know yet for older comp we have some heavy mod win xp/2003 that runs with the same speed as linux does but safty of os is another question !

  2. bob says

    I feel that this system is not the best choice for newbies to install as there is a lot going on to take in regarding the cloud as well as getting used to what is involved in running a Linux OS. Overall, Peppermint installed well and it runs fine on this old computer once you get used to the cloud side of things.

    One thing that should be taken care of is that the Synaptic Manager shows that the Ubuntu 11.10 upgrade is available to download and install. I did a run of this on the first install and when I rebooted, Synaptic Manager and the Software Manager were not showing anything and would not work at all. The people who operate Peppermint should ensure that the Synaptic Manger is under their control as I know it can be done as I have the latest version of Bodhi installed.

  3. says

    I've been using Windows ever since it hit the scene. I've been programming since the early 70's. I am converting over to Linux due to a couple reasons. I downloaded about 14 Linux distros in search of one which would recognize and utilize my two routers and USB broadband sticks. Only two fit that bill…Bodhi and Peppermint. I've decided on Peppermint. As soon as I find an easy way to port my emails from OE over into LinuxLand I'll be coming completely out of Windows.

    This is my first experience with Linux. I think one of the things that got me hooked was that I received a tablet as part of my severance package when the plant I worked in closed down. It runs Android 2.2.

  4. jscottu says

    After many years of using linux…and being frustrated at not being able to figure out how to get wifi working with my desktop PCs…I finally discovered the Netgear wna 1100 usb wifi device. When used with either Peppermint 2 or Mint 11, I have had zero problem getting wifi. Now I have zero reason to ever use Windows 7. And who needs "dual core" when you have the speed of Peppermint.

  5. says

    Well, I suppose if we write here a few times, that might help a bit. I ran Peppermint Two last night. On my Gateway, I think it boots faster than anything else; right around twenty seconds, approximately. Most full featured distros bring up the desktop somewhere between thirty and forty seconds. Some, which go nearly a minute, waiting for devices to come online (PCLinuxOS, Mandriva) take over a minute to start up, close to what Windows 7 requires in order to be useful. Peppermint Two puts them in its rear view mirror, for sure! SimplyMEPIS and antiX are close, Absolute Linux is not too far away, but I think that Peppermint Two starts several things in parallel and does a good job figuring out what needs to start in order to provide a useful login, and it works well. Others should take note.

  6. says

    starskeptic wrote:

    RE: Wallpaper…

    dark – Yes

    dreary – a resounding NO!

    I guess beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder! :wink:

    Brian Masinick wrote:

    I am surprised that there are not more comments about this version of Peppermint; it’s a pretty good piece of software. Want something fairly simple, easy to install, fast to boot, fast to run, reasonably attractive, and even fast to shut down? That’s Peppermint OS Two.

    In my much longer review, I expressed concern about the Live CD and the difficulty of getting it configured. Notice that once installed, it ran great. The Live CD on my system created the wrong impression. This software runs BETTER installed; sometimes it’s the other way around, but not here; Peppermint OS Two is a nimble OS that carves a nice niche between a general purpose system and a Cloud-based system; it can do a lot of either, and both, and yet do them well.

    Yeah, it's quite good. I hope more people turn onto it and check it out.

  7. Brian Masinick says

    I am surprised that there are not more comments about this version of Peppermint; it's a pretty good piece of software. Want something fairly simple, easy to install, fast to boot, fast to run, reasonably attractive, and even fast to shut down? That's Peppermint OS Two.

    In my much longer review, I expressed concern about the Live CD and the difficulty of getting it configured. Notice that once installed, it ran great. The Live CD on my system created the wrong impression. This software runs BETTER installed; sometimes it's the other way around, but not here; Peppermint OS Two is a nimble OS that carves a nice niche between a general purpose system and a Cloud-based system; it can do a lot of either, and both, and yet do them well.

  8. Harry says

    I had been running Peppermint One on an Intel, dual core, 2.8, with 2 gig of ram, and it was very responsive. I updated another desktop with, a 600 watt power supply, MSI 760GM-E51 mobo, AMD quad core 640 processor,16 gig DDR3, and a 1.5 TB HD.I have XP, Win7, PCLOS, and the 64 bit version of Peppermint Two on this machine, Peppermint is by far the fastest OS I have ever ran, and it replaced Mint 10 on this machine. Windows I only use for games, all of my REAL work is done on Linux. :biggrin:

  9. Brian Masinick says

    I've liked Peppermint OS from the beginning. Lubuntu is a light, clean OS, but to me it is just a framework. For those who like a base OS and nothing else, then Lubuntu is pretty good, but for those who want something pre-packaged and ready to go, Peppermint OS is just that. Built nicely on top of Lubuntu, it demonstrates that Lubuntu makes a solid foundation upon which to build your system.

    As far as comments on the system itself, when I went to grab the image, I was pretty excited about trying it out. I got less excited when the initial Live image would not boot up, and that was after the first image burn failed and I reburned it at low speed.

    The first start of the live image stopped without a GUI, though the command line appeared. I was unsuccessful getting the GUI working until I restarted the system. I tried running with noapm, dropped the quiet argument and the — argument on the boot line in an attempt to see what was going on, and that was enough to get it going.

    The initial graphics when running live suggest that on my system, there were conflicts while attempting to set the display resolution. I blame that on the new X server and the setup that goes with it; I never had problems in the past.

    Getting past that, I was still concerned that the bootable system might not work when installed, but I tried it anyway and it turned out better than the live system.

    Like Jim, I think I like the original distro graphics the best of all. I didn't care all that much for the Ice graphics, but this version is pretty good, but that original was especially nice, just the right blend of color without being "too much".

    This system, overall, with the exception of the spotty graphics initialization in live mode, is overall as well or better polished than any of the others and certainly better in my mind than the previous Ice releases. I couldn't get the 2.6.35 kernel in the previous update to work right for me, so I had been using the 2.6.32 kernel, and was concerned that the 2.6.38 kernel would not work because of the initial messed up initialization when running live, but it all worked out fine for me.

    I ended up liking this one just like the original release and better than the Ice release. As far as Chromium compared to Prism, I find that Mozilla uses fewer memory resources, but the newest Firefox and Chromium browsers, at least on my systems, work about as well. I have to wonder about the aggressive caching algorithms with the latest browsers, regardless of the brand. Either the caching is too aggressive and defective, the DNS servers in my area are pretty shaky and inaccurate, or maybe a bit of both.

    Two years or more ago (let's say before 2009) I rarely had address parsing errors in the browser. These days, hardly a week goes by when some site doesn't warn me about being wrong, or it goes off line, or something erratic happens. This never happened before, so the overall browsing quality, in terms of consistency, to me, has declined sharply as these browsers have "gotten faster".

    I have not seen any issues with Chromium over the past two or three days so that's good. This release seems pretty good too, but like my complaints about Web browsers, the X servers have been coming back into the spotlight again, and once again, as the servers change, they add features in one area and break something somewhere else. Perhaps Mark Shuttleworth is right about looking for another display server technology. Are they patching and cobbling together too much and breaking as much as they are fixing? I sometimes wonder.

    It could be, then, that Peppermint and many other distributions are at the mercy of these things. Peppermint, once installed, fared well, but it had a pretty low average showing as it was running live and did not create a very good first impression. Fortunately, the installed impression was at least an order of magnitude better; the X server worked, the Web browser worked, the appearance was smooth, as was the installation, and the software, once installed worked quite well. This one is worth keeping, so it replaced Peppermint OS One on my Gateway 17" portable.

  10. Neill says

    I have been using peppermint ice for about 4 months now on an old eeepc 701, I love it, it makes the thing fly. Would like to know how ice and two compare. Maybe I'll try a live install, although that can be quite deceptive.

  11. oldrong says

    Firefox 4 doesn't have Prism available any longer, and Mozilla is dropping Prism all together, so it is very nice that Kendall has created this SSB for Peppermint. I personally like Chromium better too, so I think it was a super choice. :biggrin:

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