Vine Linux 5

I keep an eye on Distrowatch frequently to see what distributions have been released and I’m always downloading this one or that one. Some make it onto DLR as a review and some don’t. Today I snagged Vine Linux and thought it would be fun to look at something from Japan.

I’m normally somewhat reticent about reviewing distros in other lanaguages as it can be a bother to deal with translation issues. However, that may simply be laziness on my part and thus I will try to make sure I don’t write off any interesting ones simply because their native language is other than English.

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about Vine Linux:

Vine Linux is a Japanese Linux distribution sponsored by VineCaves. It is a fork of Red Hat Linux 7.2 since Vine Linux 3.0.

So that will give you an idea of what you can expect to see when using Vine Linux. If you’re familiar with Fedora then you’ll be pretty comfortable with Vine Linux.

What’s New In This Release
Working off the Google translation, here’s what I came up with for new stuff in this release:

Reduced memory consumption
Reduced start up time
i386, PPC and x86-64 (PPC release is being prepared)
Font improvements
Improved boot up screen
Easier package updates
Kernel 2.6.27.29
glibc-2.8, gcc-4.1.2
Gnome 2.26.3
Firefox 3.5

There’s more but that will give you an idea of some of the major changes in this release. Click the link above for more details.

The Vine Linux desktop features a gorgeous flower or vine as the wallpaper.

The Vine Linux desktop features a gorgeous flower or vine as the wallpaper.

Requirements & Installation
Here’s what you’ll need in order to run Vine Linux:

32 Bit
CPU: Pentium 1Ghz or equivalent (i686 or higher recommended)
Memory: 256MB minimum (512MB recommended)
HD: 700MB minimum (4GB required for a full installation)

64 Bit
CPU: Intel64 or AMD64 compatible architecture
Memory: 256MB minimum (1GB recommended)
HD: 1GB minimum (4GB recommended)

Please note that when you go to install Vine Linux the first screen is in Japanese. Do not let that throw you. Simply click the green arrow to go to the next screen and you can change it to English.

Installing Vine Linux is very easy. It’s about on par with Ubuntu.

Vine Linux uses the Anaconda installer and one thing that I really liked about Vine Linux was that I had the following options to choose from when doing my install:

Everything
Desktop
Server
Base System
Custom

You really can customize how you want Vine Linux to be installed on your system and you can also customize which packages get installed as well. There’s a lot of flexibility here that isn’t necessarily found in some of the other desktop distributions that might default to a particular configuration or set of packages with no option for you to customize it.

The install took about 15 minutes or so and I had no problems with it.

vinelinux3a

Thanks to Anaconda you can choose from a range of install options.

vinelinux4

You can stay with the defaults or choose to customize your software packages.

vinelinux5

You can pick and choose what you want for software packages.

Desktop & Apps
In keeping with its name you’ll notice when you boot into the desktop that the icon at the top of your screen is a bunch of grapes. Strangely enough though the wallpaper is more of a flower and less a vine. Or at least that’s how it looked to me. Then again I’m not a botanist so perhaps it’s some sort of Japanese vine or something that happens to spawn large flowers?  If you know what it is post your thoughts in the comments section and please enlighten me.

Vine Linux comes with a good range of programs but be sure that you click the Reload icon on Synaptic to refresh your package choices after you install Vine Linux. Otherwise you may miss the latest & greatest stuff that’s been added since the release of Vine Linux 5.

Here’s a sample of some of what comes with Vine Linux 5:

Games
Blackjack
Solitaire
Chess
Mahjongg
Mines
Nibbles

Graphics
GIMP
Geequie
SDvii
Inkscape
gThumb Image Viewer

Internet
gFTP
Pidgin IM
Sylpheed
Thunderbird Community Edition
Transmission BitTorrent Client
xChat
IP Telephoney, VoIP and Video
Firefox
Avahi

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Cheese Webcam Booth
Movie Player
Rhythmbox
HDSPMixer
Audio CD Extractor
Envy24 Control

Office
evince (document viewer)

Others
Meld Diff Viewer
Leafpad
Emacs23 Editor

Use Synaptic to install OpenOffice since it isn't available during the Vine Linux installation.

Use Synaptic to install OpenOffice since it isn’t available during the Vine Linux installation.

What I Liked Most
With the exception of the office suite problem (more on that below), I liked Vine Linux’s range of software. But I particularly liked the install option choices I got and the ability to configure the packages I wanted installed. More distributions should do this as sometimes we want less and sometimes we want more in terms of applications and install options. Everybody’s needs are different and your choices might be a bit different than mine so the ability to customize things is a big plus for me in terms of what Vine Linux has to offer (thanks to using the Anaconda installer).

Problems & Headaches
One thing that was odd and surprising was the lack of OpenOffice.org. At first I thought I had messed up and not picked to have the office programs installed but when I checked the install again I did, indeed, have that option picked but the only thing two things listed there were evince (document viewer) and xdvik (dvi viewer). OpenOffice was nowhere to be found and neither was any other office suite or program. Even Abiword was missing.

This is a very strange thing for a distribution that has a desktop option available when you install it. I think somebody messed up somewhere and, for whatever reason, the office suites and applications were completely omitted for the install routine. Kind of a big boo-boo that needs to be fixed ASAP.

Despite changing the default language to English I still saw some Japanese characters in the Firefox interface.

Beyond that I didn’t really run into any noticeable problems or issues with Vine Linux.

Vine Linux comes with Firefox 3.5.

Vine Linux comes with Firefox 3.5.

Where To Get Help
You can always post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews Forum and we’ll do our best to offer feedback or at least point you in the right direction. You might also want to check out the Vine Linux Wiki (via Google Translator) and also the Vine Linux forum (also via Google Translator).

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
If you are in the market for a great Japanese distribution then Vine Linux is a terrific choice. If you’re a distro-hopper that wants to experiment or just have some fun with a Japanese-based distro then it’s also a great choice. Vine Linux is also fine for everybody else assuming you don’t mind changing the default language to English during the installation.

Frankly though I’d recommend Fedora as a better option if you simply want to experience the convenience of the Anaconda installer without having to switch languages. Then again Vine Linux has its own aesthetic appeal that some users might appreciate and the fact that it comes from Japan at least adds a bit of variety to the experience.

Overall my impressions of Vine Linux are very favorable and I think it’s certainly worth a download. You may or may not use it as your daily distro but it’s fun to just check it out and see what it’s like.

Product: Vine Linux 5.0
Web Site: Vine Linux (Via Google Translator)
Price: Free
Pros: Let you choose from a range of install options and lets you customize your software choices.
Cons: Default language is Japanese so the initial install screen might throw people. Doesn’t come with any office suites or significant office apps available during the install. You’ll need to download them via Synaptic after you install Vine Linux.
Suitable For: Particularly great if you need a Japanese Linux environment. Can also be used by pretty much any other group of Linux users. Just be mindful that you’ll need to change the default language to English during the install.
Summary: Vine Linux provides Japanese (and English) users with a good desktop Linux experience. Installation is easy and can be customized. Vine Linux also provides a good range of Linux apps (with the exception of office apps).
Rating: 3.5/5