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Peppermint Ice is like Chrome OS without sacrificing local apps

Plenty of people scoffed at the original Google announcement about Chrome OS. It's just another minimalist Linux distro, they said -- but that's actually not quite true. Unlike most lightweight Linux distributions, there won't be any traditional local apps apart from the Chrome browser.

If you'd like a Chrome OS-like experience without having to give up apps like Transmission, VLC, or DropBox? Take a look at the new release from the developers behind Peppermint.

Dubbed Peppermint Ice, the new spin replaces Firefox with Chromium and includes the same selection of web app shortcuts (Facebook, Seesmic, Google Docs, Hulu, Pandora, etc.) and local apps (like DropBox, Tranmission, and XChat). Want to add your own web app shortcuts? It's a snap using the built in Ice tool. And since Peppermint is derived from Linux Mint, apt-get is available via the terminal -- meaning you can install boatloads of other apps if you want to.

Kendall Weaver, who heads up Peppermint development, told me that on his Core2 notebook with an OCZ Vertex SSD Peppermint Ice boots up in about 6 seconds. That's definitely speedy enough to compete with just about any "instant-on" OS I've tried out. Even on my admittedly poorly-configured, Atom-powered Gateway netbook Peppermint boots in 10 seconds... Nice!

Peppermint is a solid Linux distribution for people who just want to surf but don't want to give up the flexibility which Linux distros typically provide. The interface is clean and simple, and should be familiar to anyone who's ever used Windows XP. Hey, if my 5-year-old can jump in and find his YouTube favorites on Peppermint, the learning curve can't be too steep (if it even exists).

Good news if you're a Firefox fan: Kendall also informed me that Peppermint One will be switching to Firefox 4.0 when the second beta arrives. The switch will provide a welcome performance boost, though you might have to deal with some broken extensions temporarily -- although if you're installing Firefox betas you're probably used to that by now...

Tags: chrome, chromium, ice, Linux, minimal, peppermint