Thursday, June 17, 2010

Peppermint meets netbook

I know I mentioned Peppermint in my last post so it's probably no surprise that it's the next distro I install on my netbook. But it wasn't. I felt like I was being stupid for trying a distro not made specifically for netbooks when I had found a different flavor of Linux made specifically for my brand of netbooks. So I tried a distro called Leeenux, an Ubuntu based distro made specifically for Eee PCs. I was extremely impressed at first. The live image wasn't exactly working, or rather, it was locked at a login screen and I didn't know the password (and none of the default ones worked). So I went straight to installing it and tried it out.

On the installed system, Leeenux took ~33 seconds to boot up past login to where the taskbar was visible, and then a mere 4 seconds to Shut Down. That's pretty impressive in my book, so I was pleased. The installation took 1.4GB, which is plenty small enough for me. So it looked good so far, until about 30 minutes into the installation. It was honestly just too sluggish for me. It reminded me a great deal of UNR, but UNR is far too bloated for me. Leeenux was nice because it was a trimmed down version of UNR in terms of disc space usage, but it was still very resource heavy, at least in my view, most likely because it ran GNOME, the netbook launched, and so forth. So I ditched it.

The main reason I did was because I really wanted to try out Peppermint on my netboook. I was already impressed in a VM, but I needed to see what an install on my netbook's hardware and specs would be like. So I did. Peppermint booted in a remarkable 15 seconds, including login, which is half the time of Leeenux. The shutdown time was not bad either, only 5.5 seconds. So it excelled in that.

I guess the reason I liked Peppermint is mostly Openbox. I'm not sure why, but I tend to love Openbox driven distros, even if (like Peppermint) it doesn't look like Openbox is running at all. Peppermint has got LXDE and Openbox so you don't have to deal with the RC files if you don't want to, but it's just the snappiness that I love. I went through recently and tallied what WM/DE my vOmniMachine installations used and the three that use Openbox (Crunchbang, Peppermint, and Slitaz) were actually the three that I enjoy the most.

But anyway, Peppermint is really nice because it doesn't have that much installed. Most of what it has is Mozilla Prism apps, which take sites and display them outside of a browser. But in terms of actual programs, Peppermint is trimmed down, which I love. In addition, it has the Mint Software manager (though I have a few complaints about, but is generally good) which allows easily install/uninstall of programs (unlike MeeGo). Plus, there's Synaptic as a backup.

The only complaints I have thus far are more about LXDE or Openbox than Peppermint. You really can't edit the main menu, which means I can't rearrange the Prism apps to their own section. Additionally, I haven't found a way to use both the Openbox menu and the LXDE menu. And if I enable the Openbox, I'm not entirely sure how to go back to LXDE, which makes me hesitant. Lastly, I've been having troubles with some dock applications (like Docky and Cairo dock) displaying black boxes or cutting off part of the screen, but I'm fairly sure that's because I don't have composting enabled (which I don't want to, because I want everything to be fast).

The only real, real complaint I have against Peppermint itself is that I wish it were more netbook friendly. Since cloud computing is really handy for PCs with small amounts of local data and that are mobile so they move around a ton, netbooks are obviously targeted as the picture of the Cloud, if you will. Peppermint is wonderful because it's not all cloud, but not all desktop, so it's a bit of a "hybrid", but it really has nothing that makes it stand out as a good choice for netbooks. I have no clue what that might be, but perhaps something like a launcher like for MeeGo or UNR (but more lightweight, obviously) would be a start, since all the netbook launchers I've downloaded and tried so far either (a) suck, or (b) consume a ton of resources.

Otherwise, I'm thrilled. If Peppermint keeps its speed up and keeps under my 4GB space limit, I'll most definitely keep it. It's given me a new appreciation for least when combined with Openbox.

Enjoying an after MeeGo 'mint,

PS - I just realized a few days ago that Peppermint is probably based more off Mint than Ubuntu, since "mint" is in the name.....durr.

PSS - Also excited about Peppermint Ice.

PSSS - In case Peppermint does not work out, my last two to try (probably in this order) are fluxflux-sl and Crunchbang.

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