There have been a number of reviews of Peppermint 3 already so I am somewhat behind the pace with this review.
I wrote a review about Peppermint 2 back in February but it didn’t really contain all that much information except to say that Peppermint utilises the idea of cloud computing and wraps it up to make it look like you are running a local application.
As we have moved on a version I thought I’d have another look especially as the reviews have been mainly positive.
For this review I decided to do a full install to my Samsung R20 laptop alongside the Zorin 6 that is already there. The other reviews I have read have either been live reviews or were performed on a virtual machine.
So with the USB drive in I booted up the system and a blank canvas appears with just a small taskbar (LXDE) at the bottom.
ch_client = “garynewelluk”;
ch_width = 550;
ch_height = 250;
ch_type = “mpu”;
ch_sid = “Chitika Default”;
ch_color_site_link = “0000CC”;
ch_color_title = “0000CC”;
ch_color_border = “FFFFFF”;
ch_color_text = “000000”;
ch_color_bg = “FFFFFF”;
I clicked the install icon in the top left hand corner and the installation begins. If you have installed Ubuntu or MINT before then the installation process is simple. (Click the images to make them bigger)
I will race through the installation as I’m sure you have all done this before and it is a fairly easy process. Step 1 – choose your language.
Step 2 – This is the pre-requisites screen. The two most important aspects are at the bottom of this screen. Choose whether you want to apply updates and also whether you want to install third party software which will enable you to play flash files.
Step 3 – Choose whether to connect to a wireless network to enable updates to be downloaded during the install.
Step 4 – Choose whether to replace the original operating system, install alongside it or go for the pimp my disk section or as it is termed custom.
Step 5 – Choose your timezone.
Step 6 – Choose your keyboard settings.
Step 7 – Create a user and password and choose whether to log in automatically.
Step 8 – Install.
The partitions were partitioned based on the settings in step 4 and the files were copied across and installed.
Peppermint 3 – The review
When I rebooted I was presented with a screen similar to the one in the live session except there was obviously no install icon anymore.
Setting up the internet was easy. My wireless card was found straight away and I was able to connect to both my Orange broadband and the Three mobile broadband.
As I had checked the box that installs the third party software as part of the install routine flash should work straight away. The easiest way to test this is to go to Youtube and see what happens.
As you can see from the image of Usain Bolt above there was no issue with regards to running Flash.
Peppermint is sparse when it comes to providing applications. It is not only marketed as a lightweight distribution it is marketed as a distribution where the cloud meets the desktop.
Some applications are necessary however and out of the box you get disk utility, a file manager, a calculator, terminal, text editor, screen grabber, an IRC client, a music player and a media player.
By default you get Chromium installed as the default browser. As this is my favourite browser I obviously think this is good.
The music player is called Guayadeque. I had problems when I first tried to play MP3 files. There was an error about missing GStreamer plugins. This is a problem I have faced on both Ubuntu and Mint in the past and is quite common. (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1101525). After installing the missing plugins I had to restart Guayadeque and then it played the MP3s perfectly.
So what about office software? Well this is where the web meets the desktop. Peppermint 3 runs GWOffice as the office suite.
I tried this out and the first thing I noticed was that I had to log in twice to create a spreadsheet but if I ticked the box to keep me logged in within the site specific browser (SSB) which runs GWOffice then on a subsequent start of the GWOffice applications I will not be asked for the log in details twice. It is obviously a choice thing whether you like to stay logged into your Google account on your computer or not. Personally I like to log out.
GWOffice obviously gives you access to all the applications you might need from home including a calendar, word processor, spreadsheet software and presentation tool.
So lets move on to the Site Specific Browser (SSB). This is the unique selling point of Peppermint Linux and what sets it apart from other distributions.
The idea of the SSB is that you can visit sites that provide web applications and turn them into what appears to be a normal desktop application.
To add an application simply enter the URL to the site, the name of the application, which menu group you wish the application to appear under and the icon you would like to use to represent the application.
The SSB makes it possible to turn all sorts of web applications into standalone desktop apps.
There are thousands of games available to play online and these are perfect for converting into SSB applications. For instance I have added Lemmings to the games section of my installation. (http://www.elizium.nu/scripts/lemmings/)
Youtube is another good target to use as an application.
Creating SSBs is very simple. I was concerned about how popups and navigation would work but having created about 20 applications I am yet to find an issue.
I basically went down the favourites list on my browser and turned as many as possible into applications.
The BBC website and Sky websites are perfect because you can turn live feeds into small applications.
The BBC site lets you watch TV but then choose different channels by clicking icons at the bottom of the screen.
All in all my impressions of Peppermint 3 are positive. I like the minimalist approach because even if I don’t want to use web based applications I have a fairly clean slate in which to start installing the applications I need and there is the software manager and Synaptic Package Manager available should I need to do this.
I think that there could be a fuller release of Peppermint with more examples of the Site Specific Browser in action. It takes up virtually no space and no memory so why not include a dozen or so games and a few more applications such as Youtube and Twitter.
I don’t know if there are legal reasons why Peppermint can’t provide more links but there could be a small application with a list of sites to make it easier to create SSB applications.
There is the small issue with the GStreamer plugins that prevents MP3s from playing and for new users this would be annoying. It might be a good idea for Peppermint to provide an SSB for Spotify or one of the other streaming music services. It would be a good way of monetizing the product.
Finally it probably goes without saying that if you are going to use Peppermint 3 in the way it was intended then you obviously need a persistent internet connection to use the applications.
Have you used Peppermint LINUX? What are your views?
Thanks for reading.