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My favorite feature in Peppermint OS

Peppermint OS is a lightweight Linux distribution, it only consumes about 330mb of RAM on idle. This means it's a great choice for older and/or less powerful devices, but it's also amazing for the high-end devices. If you run this on your higher-end devices, Peppermint OS is blazing fast. But that's not one of my favorite things about Peppermint OS, even though it's amazing. My favorite feature of Peppermint OS is ICE, a simple SSB manager. In this post, I go over what ICE is and why it's absolutely amazing.

What is ICE?

Ice is a simple SSB manager. So what does that mean? SSB stands for Single Site Browser, which essentially means that you open a browser, to view one website and one website only. This seems very counterproductive, but let me explain why this is such a cool concept. With ICE, you can essentially create an application that starts a browser in a container to load the website you've specified. This means that any data you save within that container, won't be shared with other containers. It's a bit like a docker container or snap package running on your operating system, but for websites.

Why is ICE amazing?

Before I had ever used Peppermint OS I had to open a browser and type in the URL of a service I wanted to use. If I was lucky, there was a snap package or native application available, so I could simply search for the application I wanted. When I had a snap package, everything was fine, but I still had to install an application that took up space. On my phone I had the feature to install websites onto my phone, so why wouldn't this be available on desktop systems? Well, that is pretty much was ICE does. You can give it a name, fill in a URL and tell it to load the favicon from the website you've specified. When you submit the form, you have a new application in your menu.

This allows me to very quickly access all the online services I use, like Netflix, Prime Video, Nextcloud, Notion, and many more. I never have to install an application to make these services appear, because it opens these websites in Firefox, which was already installed. With ICE I can create applications from any and all services that I use only and search for them inside of my start menu. This makes accessing these applications very easy and quick.

How does ICE fit into my current workflow?

I've explained what ICE is and why it's amazing, but how does this fit into my current workflow? Well, I've been using Linux, but specifically Ubuntu for a few years now and I know that I can press the Windows button on my keyboard to open the start menu. In most distros that I've used for the past few years, you can start to type and it'll automatically show you the applications that match your search terms. This is great because I never have to use the mouse to go through menus. When I can create shortcuts to online services through the browser, I don't even have to open the browser first and go to the website, but instead, I search in my menu and press enter. This has helped me to be much more efficient with launching the applications I need on a daily basis.

The fact that Peppermint OS has such a low memory usage, and I have installed it on a higher-end device, makes the whole process: from pressing the start menu button, searching for the application, and seeing the application on my screen; take mere seconds. Even for people that haven't used Peppermint OS or even Linux before will understand how the start menu works and where the custom applications are.

Conclusion

Using ICE SSB in my current workflow has increased my productivity a lot. I don't have to spend time going through menus to launch the application I want to launch. I don't even have to manually open a browser and navigating to a frequently used website anymore. I can do all of these tasks from my keyboard. The fact that this great piece of software is already installed when you open Peppermint OS for the first time, makes the whole OS a huge productivity hack for me. If you're interested in installing this software on any distro that's not Peppermint OS, you're in luck, that's possible. I've found that it works reasonably well in Ubuntu with Gnome, but I do miss the blazing-fast performance Peppermint OS gives me at times.

Posted on: March 4th, 2020

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