Wow, got a lot of traffic on the review I posted Monday about the new Peppermint OS!
I wanted to post a quick update to that review, because things move fast in the new Linux distro world, and the Peppermint OS team is already moving on some of the relatively minor things I brought up.
I had mentioned the other day that I was a bit puzzled by the inclusion of Songbird as the native app for playing and organizing music, namely because support for that app has been discontinued for Linux, so it doesn’t have much of a future.
If you think about it, any time you use a Linux distro, what you are using is a collection of applications that are the preferred applications of the people who put it together. To me, it’s understandable and intuitive to expect something like Songbird in Peppermint, once I thought about it.
However, they definitely agreed that it seemed out of place once I brought it up, and let me know that Songbird was being replaced with Exaile. Here’s a snippet from an email I got from Peppermint’s developer (Kendall) about Songbird:
The general consensus with Songbird was there were a lot of people who were ok with it, but still kind of wondering why. I never really put much thought into it as it’s what I generally use, but I’m not using either a netbook or anything with some age on it. The final determining factor here is that I want to be forward thinking with this distro and the loss of Linux support for Songbird is an issue big enough for me to rethink this. Thanks.
While I’m not certain that Exaile will be any faster on old hardware than Songbird (okay, maybe a little… Songbird is quite a hog in my experience), I definitely like it as far as music players go, so I think this is a great decision.
One of the other things I’d brought up in my original review was the subject of image editing, specifically the trouble I had getting Aviary Phoenix to work.
The Peppermint team has decided to take that to heart and go with pixlr instead. Here’s what Kendall had to say on that subject:
Aviary has a lot of “cool” features, but in retrospect there seems to be a trade-off with “practical” features. Upon spending a few hours screwing with it we decided to drop the Aviary package and find something more practical. Out of everything, pixlr seems to integrate the best with the desktop and provide the easier, most effective interface out of the box.
I haven’t played around with pixlr much, but it does seem a bit easier to use. I do think it might not be a bad idea to have at least a basic, lightweight image editor (like XPaint or something along those lines), but that’s easy enough to remedy with the Peppermint Software Manager, so it doesn’t concern me that much. Heck, on my own old laptop with which I’ve been testing Peppermint OS, I installed GIMP and it seems to run pretty well, so to each his own, right?
A little while back, Kendall had done some development on mintInput and added touchpad support to it. Because of my incessant complaints (yeah, it may come as a shock to you, but I’m like that sometimes) about my having to resort to a shell script to disable the touchpad on my laptop, the default lxinput is being replaced by Kendall’s tweaked mintInput. To that, I say “thank you!!!”.
I don’t really understand why touchpad functionality isn’t a native part of lxinput, but hey, if it’s part of mintInput and they’re willing to put that into Peppermint, I’m all for it!
I hadn’t touched on this subject in my review on Monday, but I’ve also been informed that Pidgin will also be going away in this new distro.
This is something of a mixed bag, I’m sure. I’m not much of a desktop chat client person, myself — I prefer IRC — so I had actually neglected to even play around with Pidgin in my evaluation of Peppermint. So to me it’s not a big deal.
However, considering some of the flamewars that I’ve seen erupt over these kinds of decisions in other distros, I’m sure this won’t make everybody happy.
To which, I guess, I say “deal”. Like I always love to bring up, when you are using a distro that makes it this easy to install your preferred applications, the inclusion or disinclusion of something like this is easily remedied, in literally seconds, so I don’t think it’s worth getting worked up about.
Kendall’s remarks on Pidgin:
Dropping Pidgin is another one of those “think to the future” issues. I honestly don’t see a whole lot of a future for desktop chat clients. Though their still reasonably well used, I think they’re common in Linux distros simply because they’ve been common in Linux distros and I don’t believe they’re a necessary part to a well rounded desktop. With the push to newer forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and the consistency of the necessity of things such as IRC, I can’t justify including a desktop chat client by default anymore.
To wax philosophic for a moment, this is really one of the reasons I get excited about Linux and the Open Source world in general. When’s the last time somebody wrote a review of a Windows OS with things to say about the included apps (I know what you’re thinking: “Windows? What ‘included apps’?”) and immediately saw some changes rolled forth by Microsoft as a result?
To me, Linux is still largely about community, and my experiences with Peppermint and my interactions with the team of individuals responsible for putting it together have done nothing if not reinforce that.
How can one NOT get excited about something like that?
Anyhow, that’s my update, for those who were interested. Be sure to check out Peppermint OS once it’s released on Monday, May 10th. I gave it a strong thumbs up in my original review, and I think that with the changes that are already coming for it, it’s only getting better.