Peppermint OS is available in both 32 and 64 bit editions, each fitting easily on a CD. It’s a well made customized variant of Lubuntu, which is good because installing it from a USB stick works perfectly (via UNetbootin, my go-to app for this). Normally I would wonder about having one more Ubuntu derivative – but in this case, it makes sense. The fact that you can install this system from a USB stick is extremely important because in my opinion, this is a near-perfect system for netbooks.
Peppermint OS immediately after installation
Peppermint comes with a nice set of default software. The list is actually on their website, so I won’t list it all here, but it is cloud-centered. Your default word processor is Google docs, you have a last.fm link for music, there’s a dedicated Gmail link, and even the image editor is an online one I’d not heard of before. Chromium is the browser, not Firefox.
That page also describes the key feature of Peppermint that makes it so suited to netbooks – their Ice technology. Using the Chromium browser, they offer Site Specific Browser creation – essentially, you can store browser bookmarks as dedicated apps on your main menu. For sites requiring log-ins, you can create a menu item either with or without being signed in (if you want to save time, and don’t mind the extra security risk).
Of course since it’s based on Lubuntu, there are the standard system tools and accessories installed as well: a calculator, the PCmanFM file manager, the Gedit text editor, a printing wizard that detected our HP wireless printer with no problem, and a bunch of others.
If you expect to spend a lot of your time listening to or watching streaming music/video, or you plan to play many online casual games, the usefulness of this is obvious. Use Chromium just for reading, and open a “Facebook” or “Grooveshark” SSB app instead of another tab on the browser. Over the last several years, my music listening has almost entirely been via streaming from various websites - so I quickly appreciated this feature.
But at the same time, this isn’t a cloud-only system. Because it’s Lubuntu based, you can install as much (or as little) software as you want onto your hard drive. If you are without internet access, you aren’t at a loss; you can run a locally-installed editor, game, or word processor. It’s hard to believe, but Peppermint really seems to have given us the best of both worlds – cloud-centered apps, yet the ability to function well offline also.
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