Linux

Peppermint Ice distro will have you walking on the cloud

The developers of Peppermint Ice, released this week, have designed a Linux distribution specifically to be a fast, lightweight way to run cloud-based applications as if they were running straight from the desktop.

Released to the public this past Monday, the developers of the new Peppermint OS claim to have come up with an even lighter, faster variant called Peppermint Ice. It sounds like a limited summer edition ice cream flavor, which may not be a bad way of thinking about this Linux distro, since it is being billed as an easy and approachable OS for Linux newcomers, as well as a fast and lightweight alternative for those who just want a nice Web-centric OS.

Peppermint Ice is focused on running cloud-based applications using Chromium as the default Web browser and Ice, a Site Specific Browser [SSB]. According to the Peppermint blog:

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 affect 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.

Ice uses the Mozilla Prism technology, which, as mentioned above, makes the Web apps look like they are running directly from the desktop like locally installed applications.

The default desktop environment for Peppermint is LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment). The default cloud applications included in Peppermint Ice are:

  • Editor by Pixlr [Image Editor]
  • Facebook
  • Hulu
  • Last.FM
  • Pandora
  • Seesmic Web
  • The Cloud Player
  • YouTube
  • Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Mail, Google Reader

Default installed applications:

  • Chromium Web Browser
  • Drop-Box
  • Xnoise [Music Management & Player]
  • Ice
  • X-Chat [IRC Client]
  • Transmission [Bit Torrent Client]

If this sounds like something you might want to play around with, you can download Peppermint here. If you're someone who likes to share the Linux experience with newcomers, it might be a good candidate.

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

4 comments
CloudSecurityGuy
CloudSecurityGuy

Peppermint OS is one of those hybrid operating systems, offering functionality both locally and in the cloud. It???s crucial for users to be aware of the risks and advantages of taking it to the cloud. We at the csskguide.org take a look at the security issues surrounding cloud computing and help prepare candidates for the CCSK Cloud Security Certification. Check our blog post on Peppermint OS: http://ccskguide.org/2011/01/peppermint-os/

Jaqui
Jaqui

1) Chromium, the worst UI browser out there, with not ONE redeaming feature. 2) Facebook 3) Hulu 4) Last.fm 5)Youtube 6) Google services. sorry but until Google pulls their heads out of their asses and fixes both security and ui design flaws, their services are useless. there is no way any sane person would use them and have personal, confidential data exposed online, which is the default for Google's services, Faceboook, and most likely the rest of the cloud services.

jlwallen
jlwallen

this is a really nice take on the Linux desktop. it's smooth, quick, and actually makes one understand how the cloud CAN be made effective. there is only one tweak that i would suggest to the developers. figure out a way to manage the desktop when there are numerous Ice windows open. Have a sidebar dedicated to tabs or the ability to turn the Ice windows into widgets - something other than having a bunch of windows open on the desktop to create clutter. other than that...bravo to the creators!

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

I've been looking for "lightweight" Linux distros of merit -- and was waiting for Lubuntu (especially after Xubuntu proved to be too heavy for an old laptop)... I heard about Peppermint One recently, which is a fork of Lubuntu -- and is, nicely, more "rounded out". However, I found to my dismay that Peppermint (and Lubuntu) do NOT have (sufficient) PCMCIA network card support -- and I could NOT get the 3c574_cs driver module to work in either distro... Very frustrating, because it rules out two decent candidates! This same laptop will run Xubuntu (slowly), Damn Small Linux (fast!), Tiny Core Linux (fast!), and SliTaz (surprisingly fast) -- and all of these support the PCMCIA NIC "out of the box"). But Lubuntu & its derivatives do not... So I worry about this latest "cloud" version, yet I'm going to download it and try it out... For others in this situation, I have two suggestions: If you like the "apps in the cloud" concept (and you're into a real a la carte Linux build), then try out Tiny Core Linux -- it's only 10 MB and boots to a desktop; it provides a control panel, a terminal, and an app browser -- that's all. It's loaded with NIC support (key!), and once you're internet-connected, you download everything else -- which can persist for future boots, if you wish. It can install in "frugal" mode, where it lives in a folder of an existing OS install. Great for "embedded systems" that you 'embed' within your normal OS, too. Small and FAST... The other is my current choice for "Linux for old & small PCs": SliTaz 3.0. This is what I was hoping Peppermint would win out over... SliTaz is not a derived Linux; they crafted their own (Swiss developed). It's not cloud-based, it installs to its own partition, it has a full repository (2300 pkgs), excellent documentation, flexible installation options -- much like Peppermint, Xubuntu, etc -- except that it's got a much smaller footprint on disk & in RAM, and it's FAST for old hardware. And it's cosmetically polished, too. I say "Bravo!" to the creators of Tiny Core & SliTaz -- one for fun experimentation, the other to make really old hardware sing with a full Linux experience. I have yet to find something to come close to SliTaz for size/performance/appearance/completeness... So, Jack, you might consider each of these for future articles.

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