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This release, code-named "Pape Clement", comes after about a year of development and includes the following software applications and features: Linux kernel 3.0.38 with long-term support; Mozilla Firefox 14.0.1 and Thunderbird 14.0; X.Org Intel driver with support for Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge microarchitectures; LibreOffice 3.5.5; Adobe Flash Player 11.2 and Adobe Reader 9.4; OpenJDK 1.6 runtime; MPlus Outline and Aoyagi fonts; all errata notices since the release of Vine Linux 6.0. It is recommended that all 6.0 users upgrade to the 6.1 release as soon as possible.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 7
High quality and good Japanese support
Only Japanese support
Vine is an independent Japanese distro. All the documentation, even the home page, is in Japanese, but the installer supports English.
The DVD, which is not a live medium, offers standard or advanced installation. The second choice allows you to run a media check, install in text mode (useful on small computers), or do an expert installation. I chose the last option, which allows you to select between custom, full, desktop, server, or minimal. The installer is an improved version of Red Hat’s Anaconda. I liked the on-screen notes, which tell you everything you need to know. The only thing missing seemed to be encryption. But if you want to double-boot, the Windows partition will have to be shrunk before using the installer.
The desktop is Gnome 2 with a single panel. There’s a generous supply of software: Firefox, Pidgin, Sylpheed mail, Thunderbird, Xchat, Cheese, Totem, Rhythmbox, Gimp, Inkscape, Dia, Shotwell, and LibreOffice. All worked, save for Totem, which only showed a picture if you clicked on the title bar and held it! Running from the CLI, I got critical warnings for Rhythmbox and Shotwell, but the rest were fine. Vine was originally a Red Hat fork, and it still shows in the excellent configuration tools. However, it forked in pre-yum days, so the rpm packages are installed with apt-get or synaptic. There’s also vine-app-install: avoid it. The repository is good, with software like Gnucash and Scribus, and alternative GUIs like Xfce and Icewm.
As a Japanese distro, Vine cannot include patented software. This is listed as “restricted” and their solution is to download the source code, compile it, convert to rpm, and install. It’s all automated, but very slow. To get the media codecs installed took over an hour! Dependency tracking failed here, and almost every development package was installed, plus things like TeX: 205 packages, totalling 140MB. And that was before it started getting the source code. After a lot of experimenting I found how to get a working media player: install Mplayer from the restricted list (compilation again) and then add Gnome-mplayer; they won’t work separately. Then everything played, even my “mp4 from hell”.
Apart from the time and effort taken to get a working media player, this was a very good distro. It’s unlikely to appeal to anyone who doesn’t read Japanese; but if you do, try it.