Peppermint OS – introducing the cloud-centric desktop

Linux distributions are two-a-penny – whilst Ubuntu is a clear favourite on the desktop right now, this is clearly a commodity market.  Whatever your requirements – desktop, laptop or netbook, full-featured or lightweight – the chances are that there is a Linux platform out there to suit your need.  I personally believe that there is still some way to go for many distros to meet the standards set by Mac OS X as a full-time power-user environment, but that doesn’t mean that Linux can’t hit the sweetspot for many situations, particularly for non-Apple hardware (obviously) or where speed and customisability are key.

That’s why I love the idea of Peppermint – a brand new Linux variant launched this week, aimed at satisfying the needs of the new generation of users that primarily use cloud-based applications (such as Google Apps, Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, Dropbox etc.):

Peppermint OS logoPeppermint is a Linux based Operating System that is Cloud / Web Application Centric, Sleek, User Friendly and Insanely Fast. Download a copy and get going today

Peppermint was designed for enhanced mobility, efficiency and ease of use. While other operating systems are taking 10 minutes to load, you are already connected, communicating and getting things done. And, unlike other operating systems, Peppermint is ready to use out of the box. Why spend hours tinkering and tweaking? Install Peppermint and get going !!

I’ve installed it into a couple of VMs so far, and am loving the speed and usability of the UI, the ‘two-click’ access to new applications and the attention-to-detail that is shown in the way that it is packaged.  

The organisation’s philosophy resounds with me:

As long time Linux users and supporters we have seen certain levels of divide in the Linux community. We have also seen over the years the tendency to not kindly invite new users to Linux who are exploring and looking for an answer beyond the two seemingly defacto systems that dominate the market. The biggest breath of fresh air in the past few years have been Ubuntu and Linux Mint with their commitment to community and offering a welcome place for all to explore.
The notion that in order to use, enjoy and be proficient with Linux is that you will need uber-geek hacking skills is completely False. And, this is just the stigma surrounding Linux that needs to be erased once and for all with Peppermint. There hasn’t been one person we have shown Peppermint OS to who hasn’t understood how to operate it as a desktop environment by just putting it in front of them and turning it on…

Team Peppermint is committed to welcoming new Linux users, offering them a product that is fast, easy to understand, and offering them an arena to experiment with Linux and all the while offering avenues to educate them further. Empowering the planet with Linux is our goal. Will you join us in this journey? We certainly hope so….

Finally, they seem to have made some smart decision decisions:

People have been trying to create an effective web centric operating system for years now. This is especially true in Linux with projects like the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Google Chrome OS, and Moblin all coming to the forefront in recent years. On the downside of things, these systems, though great for surfing the web, lack a lot of the familiarity that people demand from something they use on a day to day basis. Here at Peppermint, we’re committed to giving you a system that won’t throw you for a loop while trying to get things settled in.

While conceptualizing Peppermint, we toyed around with a lot of ideas trying to determine how best to meet our goal of providing a fast, web-centric operating system that’s easy to learn and effective when put in use. The end result was a decision to use an interface that stays out of your way and let’s you go about your business. The default desktop environment for Peppermint is LXDE(literally, “Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment”) which has shown itself time and again to be user friendly, easy on the eyes, and wicked fast.

Whilst I’m not 100% convinced yet that Cloud-based apps need a Cloud-centric desktop, I do like the idea that OS platforms need to make it much easier for users to get online, find and use these new tools that are becoming so important to us all (well in non-corporate environments at least).

Download Peppermint and check it out.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!