VPS.NET interview with Shane & Kendall from Peppermint OS.

:: Tell us a little bit about Peppermint Linux. What’s different about it from the other OS’s & how do you envision it being used?

Kendall Weaver – Peppermint OS is a Linux distribution derived from Lubuntu 10.04 Alpha 3 using integrated web applications and some system tools sourced from Linux Mint.  Probably the biggest distinguishing factor regarding Peppermint is that, unlike many other web/cloud centric operating systems, we’re trying hard to keep a familiar desktop experience with the shallowest possible learning curve, all while concentrating on speed and stability as our foremost targets.  One thing we did not want to do was make it difficult for users to install and use local applications.

We see Peppermint as a form of hybrid that offers many of the features of the new “cloud” operating systems coming forth, but without sacrificing the familiarity and extensibility of more traditional “desktop” operating systems.  Modern computer users, both at work and at play, are now using a combination of both local and web applications in order to get things done and we’re wanting to give the world a system that doesn’t punish the user for choosing one over the other.

Personally, I envision Peppermint being used in any situation where someone depends on a combination of local and web applications in order to be productive.  We’ve already received great praise for our integration of web applications using Mozilla Prism and in the future I see more people demanding this sort of functionality in their operating systems.

:: How long as the Peppermint Linux project been underway?

Kendall Weaver – Peppermint technically started back in January at the local pub after Shane and I got into a conversation about the future of desktop Linux, what has kept certain distributions from becoming more mainstream, and what we would do differently if we had the opportunity.  We thought up the name almost immediately and it came from us wanting to do something in a similar vein as Linux Mint, but a lot “spicier” if you will.  I fooled around with a number of different ideas and did a lot of research as to exactly how to go about building Peppermint.  I finally had a solid game plan in late March which led to our Private Beta a few weeks later.

:: Obviously you have some relationship to Linux Mint. How close is that?

Kendall Weaver – This past November I was perusing the Linux Mint forum and saw that their Fluxbox edition was without a maintainer at the time.  I kind of took it upon myself to just dive in and start working on it, and in December I was welcomed to the Linux Mint development team as the new maintainer for the Fluxbox edition.  Shortly after the release of Mint 8 Fluxbox I kind of took it upon myself to restart work on an LXDE edition that had originally been talked about for (I think) the Mint 7 release cycle.  I’m still actively involved in Linux Mint and I have no plans to stop at any point.  It’s been a little more difficult for the Mint 9 cycle as I have my day job and Peppermint taking up a large chunk of my time.  Due to the popularity of Peppermint thus far and the maintenance workload associated with it I feel that at some point I will have to step down as a Mint maintainer, simply because I don’t feel that I’ll be giving the Mint releases the attention they need, but when this happens I don’t want it to affect the good working relationship we have at this point.

:: July 19th you release Peppermint Ice … nervous at all?

Shane Remington – About a couple of weeks ago we started getting nervous due to the fact we were overloading our server space at MidPhase by massive amounts of downloads of Peppermint One !! But, now that we have migrated to VPS.net there is not one speck of nervousness at all. Now we have nothing but 100% pure excitement and adrenaline to get Peppermint Ice into the hands of all that are waiting for the release and those yet to discover our operating system.

Kendall has written a very sleek Cloud/Web Application Launcher called “Ice” that will integrate into the system. “Ice”  is an Site Specific Browser [SSB] application that will launch a cloud / web app or web site in its own window and act as if it is installed locally on the machine. In theory, you could have next to no locally running programs on Peppermint and deliver them all to yourself via your own customized menu system of “Ice” launchers, which is how I operate my own laptop. In Peppermint Ice, Chromium will be the default browser and we expect to integrate with Google Cloud Print once they have it ready to launch and alleviate the necessity for local print services on the OS.

:: You have a little bit of a unique story about how you reached out to VPS.NET. Care to share that at all?

Shane Remington – We had been a live project for a little over a month and already pushing 200K downloads of our operating system. As I said earlier, we needed to mirgate quickly so we could keep supporting this onslaught of direct downloads. As a young project, getting popular rapidly, and being open source, there is just little to no funding and we needed a hosting solution quickly. The awesome team at Midphase kindly turned their eyes away from us for a few days so we could attempt to raise the funds necessary to migrate and our dedicated users gave whatever they could muster to get us there. Unfortunately, it was not enough to meet the deadline.

So, over a couple of pints at the pub, the night before we needed to have a solution or pull all direct downloads, I decided that I needed to take a grassroots / guerrilla marketing approach and mobilize our user base. In the morning I set out to let Midphase and VPS.net know, through whatever channels necessary, that we are a great new product and that we needed their help to stay alive on their servers. I rallied a friendly Twitter mob, email spree, and Facebook flood within a couple of hours in hopes that someone would see our S.O.S. signal up the chain. Later that afternoon Ditlev, your CEO, contacted me via Twitter and told me that he and VPS.net would grant us sponsorship. We were floored and excited beyond belief all at the same time. Do not underestimate the power of Twitter and Social Media to get things done rapidly….

Our team knew that VPS.net and Peppermint OS were a match made in Heaven: Cloud server meets Cloud Hybrid OS. Its perfect.

:: What do you think about cloud computing? How do see Peppermint Linux being used with it?

Shane Remington – Cloud computing is the future. In fact, its the future right now, and there are a lot of people who remain unaware that they interacting with SaaS / PaaS / Web applications and the cloud structures that serve them today.

Read Write Web published an interesting article several months back with statistics showing that by 2014 there would be upward of 130 million enterprise employees working in the Mobile Cloud on a regular basis. When Kendall and I read that we knew that Peppermint OS was on the right track. We needed to deliver a Hybrid OS that was lightweight, extremely fast, cloud and web app ready, and would work out of the box with little to no tinkering. We would be different than the other “Cloudy” OS’s because we would refuse to toss out the familiar desktop environment, keep local storage, and yet make it simple enough for a child to operate the system when it boots up. 250,000 users and growing say we have hit the nail on the head…

Kendall Weaver – I believe that with the necessity of technological mobility becoming ever more present in our daily lives, the cloud is becoming a necessity along with it.  This isn’t limited to business either.  We’re finding more uses for the cloud and web based technologies all the time ranging from personal file storage to education and the ways we interact with each other in general.  I see Peppermint as helping to bridge the gap between the cloud and the desktop and I see it showing many of us what can happen when we start working to combine the best of both worlds.

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