A choice-driven hybrid distro

Peppermint OS

© Lead Image © pixelrobot, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © pixelrobot, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 279/2024

Peppermint OS promotes user choice every step of the way. Bruce talks to Peppermint OS about how the project has evolved over more than a decade.

Few distributions have had the ups and downs of Peppermint OS [1] (Figure 1). Founded in 2010 during a pub discussion in North Carolina, Peppermint OS enjoyed initial success only to decline after the death of one of its founders. A few years ago, the project had shrunk to a single maintainer, but the last few years have seen a resurgence of effort with the development of a closely knit and active community.

Throughout its history, though, Peppermint's releases have shown several points of continuity. Its source has always been a Debian derivative – currently, Debian and Devuan. In addition, it has always had a minimal installation in which standard apps such as LibreOffice are not included by default. Instead, a variety of options are offered including six different web browsers (Figure 2), a choice of init tools, and a selection of Snap, Flatpak, and AppImage packages repositories. At every point user choice is stressed – for instance, which LibreOffice modules to install – even though the space saved is minimal. As a bonus, Peppermint OS's security is enhanced, because users know exactly what is installed. The result is one of the fastest distributions I have installed, aided by the default Xfce desktop and extensive use of Qt for development.

Peppermint began with the goal of producing a hybrid of desktop and cloud services. That goal is most obvious in its site-specific browsers (SSBs) [2], which convert URLs to desktop objects. Originally, this conversion was done by an application called ICE, which has since been replace by Kumo (Figure 3).


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