Cloud Computing Comes to a (Linux) Desktop Near You

Peppermint OS, a Linux Ubuntu distro focused on the desktop, is now available for download.

Peppermint OS is a "cloud-oriented" OS, meaning it's designed to boot and run from the cloud (buzzword alert). Apparently there have been over 25,000 downloads of Peppermint in its first week, so obviously there is some interest, even if it's "just" from the Linux community.

What exactly is a "cloud-oriented" desktop? My initial thoughts are that being cloud-oriented implies that the focus is on tight integration with cloud-based applications and technologies, including Google Apps and perhaps even Microsoft's hosted services, including Exchange and Office. The Peppermint team apparently has a similar viewpoint, although they went in the direction of focusing on services such as Seesmic Web (

To be honest, at first glance Peppermint seems a tad.. boring. But that's just at first glance.

I can see real value here. Imagine if you booted your local desktop off the cloud (network-based boots are old hat, and the only thing missing for cloud-based boots is the bandwidth), which would allow you to boot a piece of hardware from anywhere with an Internet connection and have it configure itself to you. Now let's go another step and imagine how storage services from Amazon and others can supply you with storage for your documents and databases. You then connect to a hosted Microsoft Exchange or Google Apps to access your email and collaborate with your peers.

To do that now you need to lug a properly configured laptop around, a VPN connection, and quite often have access to a Citrix or Windows terminal server, all of which your IT has to manage.

This is clearly the path being made for us by Microsoft, Google, and others. Should we take it?

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