Peppermint 7 launched a few days ago. Peppermint is a lightweight Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with an emphasis on speed and simplicity. Although the name is similar to Linux Mint, the projects aren't directly related. Peppermint originally was envisioned as a "spicier" alternative to Mint—whatever that means!

Many distros come with a wide assortment of feature-rich applications, and that's great for power users who need those apps. But older machines can struggle to cope with those demanding distros. Peppermint solves the problem by offering a carefully curated suite of web apps that perform tasks traditionally handled by native apps. It's an approach that will be familiar to any Chromebook users reading this article.

Thanks to Peppermint's Ice program, these web applications look and feel very similar to native applications—they integrate with the menu and desktop. Users also can add new web applications using a simple dialog box.

Unlike Chromebooks, Peppermint can run without an internet connection. It includes native Linux apps. Besides supporting offline work, these apps are useful when you need advanced features that cloud apps don't offer.

Simplicity is a cornerstone of the Peppermint design philosophy. Since the project started, Peppermint wanted beginners to feel at home. The interface is familiar to anyone who ever has used a Windows machine.

At the same time, power users are free to customize the machine to suit their needs. If you prefer to use a native app, you're free to install it and tweak it to your heart's content. As an Ubuntu derivative, Peppermint has a huge library of software packages that are simple to install.

When version 1 was released in 2010, Peppermint's approach was unique. Since then, we've seen other desktop distributions adopt similar features. So what's new in version 7?

Peppermint 7's desktop combines features from several different desktop environments. You'll see components from Cinnamon alongside a taskbar from Xfce 4. Session management comes courtesy of LXDE.

Although this may sound like an eclectic mix, Peppermint's developers have carefully selected and honed these components to provide a simple interface that's elegant and modern. They have tweaked individual apps to improve their integration into the default desktop theme. For instance, Firefox is known to have some display difficulties when it's used with a dark GTK theme.

One of the most visible changes is the new menu—Whisker Menu. The Peppermint community demanded modern features, such as a favorite menu and application search. Whisker Menu provides these features—it's based on the Xfce 4 menu.

The standard theme is new as well—it's flat, with a new set of colorful custom icons.

Peppermint's developers have decided to switch from Chromium to Firefox, as Google has dropped support for older 32-bit systems. But if you prefer Chromium, you can install it and use it to launch your web apps.

Peppermint 7 is based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus). Ubuntu 16.04 is a longtime support version, and it offers a stable base for Peppermint.

Because Peppermint is lightweight, it's a good choice for older hardware and low-spec machines. Old laptops and netbooks can run it without breaking a sweat.

You can download version 7 from here.

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