Peppermint 6: “The Linux Distro by Which All Others Will be Judged”

The quote in the header is from Linux Help Guy’s YouTube review of said Linux distro. Now everybody who’s interested in  Linuxy things and watches YouTube in regards of it knows Steve (Linux Help Guy) is quite an overly excited guy when he gets a distro to run on his test computer. Then he’s happy and doesn’t shy away from throwing around superlatives and absolutes. That is until he uses a distro for longer than a couple hours and finds the first flaws within it. Then that certain poor distro quickly turns into the world’s worst crap. Anyway, for my post about Peppermint OS I’ll use Steve’s quote to provoke you a little. 😉
desktop1
The standard desktop: Nice and spartanic … and bereft of many functionalities.

My personal feelings about Peppermint are a bit different tho. It sure is a very nice distro, lightweight and fast, easy to install and use for noobs as well as experts, which makes it a nearly perfect substitute for your defunct Win XP (or even Vista, Win7 and Win8/8.1 and maybe even for the upcoming Win10), according not only to Steve. But I digress, for my spoiled taste and my powerful computer it just doesn’t offer enough pizzaz, is too bareboned and skimpy.

But let’s look a bit deeper into Peppermint OS, particularly its newest rendition, Peppermint six, which is built on the Ubuntu 14.04.2 code base. So it’s not the latest Ubuntu but the latest version of the LTS (Long Term Support) base. So far so mundane. There are literally millions of Linuxes in existence right now built on the same Ubunt base version. Many of them are built on the Lubuntu flavour, with its pretty lightweight, LXDE spartanic look and feel and performance. So what makes Peppermint so special? Heck, I’m no coder and no modder, so fuckall do I know what the Peppermint team did under the hood. Ya, they are trying to go a bit in the Chromebook direction, by having as few as possible apps and softwares installed locally on your machine but source it all out into the cloud. Of course this system will run super fast on your old outdated hardware. But of course you have the full Ubuntu software center on your disposal so you can download and install as many additional wares as you fancy.

As a standard operating system Peppermint doesn’t come equipped with an awful lot of software tho. But the very few programs that are there are the right choices: VLC as your media player is always a rock solid stable choice but I had wished for one dedicated music player as well. In other parts Peppermint’s lightness turned into sillyness straight away. For example you won’t even find an office suite preinstalled. Come on, Libre Office is a kinda integral part of any Linux distro worth its salt! Some developers are obviously swerving off the proven software path with the sole goal to be different and oh so individual and smug and … shit, you end up with no office software!!! Eeeps! 😦 Well done Peppermint crew, well done. :/

chromium
A most dangerous interwebz browser: Chromium

And then there is the Internet compartment, which is dominated by the Chromium browser. Ya ya, I know, you youngsters don’t want Firefuck anymore but coolio Googly smartness and shit. But … you know what just happened, right? So according to Orca you gotta clear Chromium off your new system and install the good old Firefuck anyway. Hate to say I told you so.

desktop2
Gotta admit everything works fine and fast tho. Good call to replace the update manager with Mint Update.

One thing I didn’t like about LXLE and LXQt – the other lightweight distros I tested before – was the very subjective gut feeling to work on some kinda testbuild, a wobbly experimental construction that could go b00m anytime. I can’t quite put my finger on it but well … call it female intuition for what it’s worth. 😉 Peppermint felt different from the others. Despite its severe lacks and weaknesses I never felt like a lab rat strapped onto the nose of a primitive space rocket, with only a tiny little pilot goggles as protection, but I was working with an overly simplistic but stable and well thought out product.

nemo
Nice, very nice: Taking the Nemo filemanager from Linux Mint was also a good idea.

There is a lot of stuff missing from the Peppermint standard install, but what is there is good and makes sense. I’d even say I would’ve ended up with an almost similar choice of programs if I had to populate my own Linux distro, if it wasn’t for the bad misjudgement of integrating the  Chromium broswer.

So, here are a couple vids Steve made about Peppermint 6:

And here’s AJ Reissig’s far more objective review:

A thing both of the guys mentioned is that you have to install additional software to this very bare OS in order to make it a functional and useful tool for you. Fortunately this ain’t a biggie with Linux. Just browse the friendly and well sorted Software Center (also borrowed from Mint), decide on the piece of software you want and download/install it with a single click. That’s so easy, shouldn’t even be too hard for total beginners. But why the devs didn’t include at least the most useful standard applications as … well, standard I’ll never understand.

Conclusion Time:

I kinda like all those lightweight Linux OSes, the philosophy behind them is cool, their heart is in the right place. Best examples of the lightweight family are probably LXLE and Manjaro LXQt, both distros Orca has installed and tested for herself and blogged about. LXQt goes even a step further then Lubuntu and Peppermint, by getting rid of the GTK toolkit and jumping on the newly developed Ot kit. I see a great future for LXLE and other Qt based distros but that is the future. In the here and now Qt is a system for freaks, not ready for the primetime yet. For the time being Peppermint is your OS of choice if you are completely new to the Linux world and/or your hardware is old and slow.

For all the others, normal people with normal hardware, normal cognitive skills and normal expectations I still think the best starting point into the wonderful smooth world of Linux would be Linux Mint Cinnamon. As it so happens the new version 17.2 will come out in one or two weeks. No panic, I’ll let you know when the time comes, as I’m gonna install it myself on this here groovy production machine.

8 comments

  1. I think making a bold statement of this type is very misleading. “…There are literally millions of Linuxes in existence right now built on the same Ubuntu base version.” “…literally millions of Linuxes”, really‽‽ Followed by, ” …Come on, Libre Office is a kinda integral part of any Linux distro worth its salt!”. I have to say you are 100% wrong. Peppermint does have a access to a fully functional office suite, namely Google Drive. Even this is more of an example of what is available and demonstrating the Cloud capabilities of the OS. This is in keeping with the cloudcentric philosophy of the distro. The option to have locally installed software, is left to the individual preferences of the user. Having LibreOffice pre-installed is making an assumption and detracting from the Freedom of Choice principal that Linux is founded upon. I have installed LibreOffice. That’s because I want it. Not because someone has made that decision for me.

    I also find that VLC is the right choice. It’ll basically play any video format you throw at it and it serves as an adequate audio player and podcatcher. I personally prefer to have a separate audio player. I have Clementine installed. Thankfully, the Peppermint team have allowed me to make that choice. With the plethora of download options available, it took less than a minute to do . Most people will have their own preferences. Some of these will coincide with your choices and mine. Many may not though. I see the lack of pre-installed software as one of Peppermint’s great strengths.

    The integration of the Chromium browser can hardly be called a “bad” decision. It’s integral to Peppermint’s Cloud functionality. Without it and/or Google Chrome. The in house SSB creation tool Ice will not function – end of story. I’m sure the developers would have used Firefox as their default browser if Mozilla were still developing their Prism technology. Unfortunately they are not. So the choice of browser is limited So no, Chromium is not a poor choice. It is the only sensible one. There is nothing stopping the user from installing Firefox or any other browser if that is what they want.

    The reason the devs at Peppermint haven’t installed what you call, “…the most useful and standard applications” is simple. These are totally subjective and Peppermint strives to avoid imposing other people’s preferences on its users – thanks Peppermint for this consideration. The devs have however, provided the user with a rock solid platform that can very easily be crafted to suit the user’s individual needs and style. Isn’t this what Linux is all about – freedom?

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    • Yes, you’re right. Sometimes when I test Linux distros I view them through my bias exclusively and forget what they were originally intended for. So Peppermint being Linux’s answer to Chrome OS slipped my mind the longer I was using it. Needless to say at this point that I hate online systems with a passion. I like to have my data and my software close by, locally on my machine. I need to be able to work when electricity and the internet is down (almost every day for 2.5 hours right now) and I don’t trust all those cloud services. Struggled myself loose from Google and shit for a reason.

      And those charmingly overdone numbers (“millions of Linuxes”) are kinda my style and kinda what my readers expect from their goofy Orcsi. What I lack in clue I have in overabundance in opinion. 😉

      Anyway, judging a OS that’s sposed to work online first and foremost by my standards was wrong. Sorry for that. 😦

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  2. The whole point of Peppermint os being a lightweight is that it is supposed to be “bare bones” to be customizible to the user. If you want Firefox, install it… What’s the big deal? If you want a different media player, get it. That is the whole point. It doesn’t have a bunch of software you have to get rid of. You can literally build the software suite you want. People who use linux generally WANT serious customization. This is a BENEFIT to Peppermint as well as other distros. Linux is not for the lazy, that’s what Macs are for.

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    • You’re preaching to the choir here, Meagan. Yes, I know and I love the freedom of choice that Linux supplies to us, did some barebones installs myself. Manjaro NET edition, and the Architect installer as well. Still in the end I found some stuff missing from those barebones systems, stuffz i didn’t think of in the first place. So in the end my own n00bness always dragged my back to the fully featured flagship releases. Found my personal home a couple years back on Manjaro MATE and couldn’t be happier.

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