Tasting some Peppermint Ice
Lately, I’ve been running into a bit of a problem. My main laptop is getting old. I’ve had it for over four years and while it’s definitely not ready for the scrapheap, I’ve really begun to outgrow it. Either that, or maybe my computing needs are morphing. More details about that another time …
Seeing as how more and more of my work is moving into the so-called cloud, I’ve been investigating some alternatives to standard desktop Linux distributions — for example, Joli OS. But instead of falling back on the familiar, I decided to try something different. And for me that was Peppermint Ice.
You can read more about it here. Suffice it to say that Peppermint Ice fairly lightweight and designed for people who use Web-based applications. It uses Openbox as the window manager and, like Joli OS, Web apps launch in a browser window that lacks all the usual adornments and cruft that comes with a browser. There are some applications installed on the hard drive, too; you can get more desktop applications if you need them.
I recently spent several days working with Peppermint Ice. And when I say working, I mean just that. Working. Researching and writing articles. Blogging. Finding and editing images. Dealing with emails to and from editors and clients. OK … the occasional YouTube or Wikipedia break, too.
Here’s a closer look at what happened.
The need for speed
Keep in mind that I ran Peppermint Ice off a 1 GB USB flash drive. You wouldn’t know it. It was fast. I’m talking really fast. Faster than most desktop distros I’ve tried. I can only imagine what it’s like when installed on a hard drive.
While the distribution itself is zippy, I attribute some of the speed to the Internet connections that I was using. That’s not to take anything away from Peppermint Ice itself. But a lean, fast distro and a speedy connection is a killer combination.
Getting to work
As I said, most of my time using Peppermint Ice was taken up doing work. And a lot of it. Here are the bundled Web applications that I used:
- Google Docs
And I used a number of other Web applications, too. Using Chromium’s application shortcut feature (click the wrench icon then select Tools > Create Application Shortcuts) to add several of my favourite Web applications to the Peppermint Ice menu.
So, how did I use Peppermint Ice? I wrote several articles in Google Docs. I used Gmail for email (obviously!), and Pixlr to crop and do some basic editing on some stock photos I downloaded and on the screen captures for this post.
All in all, I got quite a lot of work done using Peppermint Ice. At least as much as I normally do. Maybe a bit more.
During the time I was working with Peppermint Ice, I was always connected to the Internet. That said, it is possible to work offline. Peppermint Ice comes with a few installed applications like a text editor, an image viewer, a screen capture tool, and a media player. Using the Software Manager, I could install applications like AbiWord, OpenOffice.org, LyX, The GIMP, and others that I use on the desktop.
When more Web applications have offline support — like, for example, the offline access coming to Google Docs this summer — then working offline and syncing will make using something like Peppermint Ice an even more viable option.
Overall, I’m quite impressed with Peppermint Ice. It’s fast, lean, and easy to use. It didn’t take long to adapt to using the Web for most (if not all) of my work. My only complaint is that the version of Chromium that comes with Peppermint Ice is a bit out of date. A small problem, but one I’m sure would be remedied by doing a full install and update.
When the time comes, I’ll definitely be installing it on my main laptop. Until then, I’ll be keeping a close eye on Peppermint Ice. Who knows. Maybe I’ll even give it a go on my Hoverboard …