(If you want to work through the series from DAY 1 click HERE)

Right, we are now at the first of our extra distros, voted in by you folks. Today our victim is Peppermint OS, the newest version based on Ubuntu Lucid.

What did we think?

Quintin

After this long in this series I have come to the conclusion that any distro featuring LXDE as the desktop environment has two strengths and two flaws.

STRENGTHS – It is awesomely lightweight and easy to understand.

FLAWS – You cannot set your keyboard language post install, and you cannot set your clock if it is incorrect post install.

When I am looking at an LXDE based distro these two factors immediately factor into my evaluation of the distro.

Peppermint does very well in the strengths department – like any other LXDE distro it is very quick and feels familiar to most users.

Those two flaws are deal breakers for an OS like Peppermint OS. Especially since Peppermint is aimed at the mobile user with Cloud apps instead of everything on the computer. What happens if you travel to a different time-zone?

A Different Approach

Peppermint OS is different to an other os we checked out in this series by having most of the commonly used applications “in the cloud” by using Mozilla Prism to turn popular services into desktop apps. This means that when you use Peppermint OS you need to be connected to the Internet to do common tasks like working with documents and e-mail.

Now this is all fine and dandy, but I just tested, and it does not create off-line content of your on-line applications like Google Gears would do.

This means that you do not have access to your documents when you are off-line.

This is a cool and different approach to mobile computing, but is not useful in places where you do not have Internet access. In South Africa, for instance, this would pose a lot of problems.

Elzje

This is very cool. I did not know you could have all your content online! After Quintin explained the drawbacks I realized that this could pose problems, but for someone who has always on Internet access – like a laptop with built-in 3G – this could make your data very safe. If your laptop gets stolen your data is still online.

(Yes and the thieves have your logon details to said data – if they can get into the OS they can get to the data – Quintin)

As far as the other things are considered I dislike the red theme, but the interface feels very familiar and well thought out.

Questions and Answers

  1. Is it reasonably quick?
    Very. Peppermint feels very quick and is very lightweight. Having your apps in the cloud brings things to a grinding halt where Internet speed dictates how quick the OS “feels.”
  2. Can you use the Internet with ease?
    Yes. Everything is Internet based with Peppermint, so browsing the web is taken care of.
  3. Can You Edit Documents and Spreadsheets?
    Yes. Google docs is excellent for editing documents and spreadsheets. If you are not used to working with Google docs you may have some learning to do, but overall this is the approach that Peppermint was going for so I have nothing to fault here.
  4. How easy is e-mail use?
    Again you have Gmail to take care of your e-mail. If you do not have a Gmail account you will need to install another mail client, or you will have to transfer your mail to Google apps.
  5. Are Codecs available for all the common formats?
    Yes.
  6. How hard is it to join networks?
    Easy enough. Uses the gnome Network Manager.
  7. Is it a swap-in for a higher end distro?
    It might be the perfect mobile companion to your home PC, if you take the time to sync your offline documents with Google Docs. One thing that Peppermint OS lacks is its own cloud service, or a hook into a cloud service that you can sync your /home folder on your desktop with the cloud service. If the home desktop also ran Peppermint OS you would have the perfect mobile companion where any changes you made on the one would instantly reflect on the other.

Summary

I am very excited by Peppermint OS. It shows that with only a little work and ingenuity you can make something very different and yet usable.

There are limitations to the technology though, and for your grandma sitting at home there are more practical solutions. For the more tech savvy out and about kind of person who wants to have an online document repository that he can use across operating systems Peppermint OS is a very cool choice.

Because we do not need the cloud app support in our house this one will not go to Elzje or Gramma for daily use.

You can get the Peppermint OS we used HERE. (Peppermint O Download Page)

(The next voted for distro is written about HERE – Day 10 Linux Mint XFCE)

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