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Vine Linux 2.0

April 24, 2000
Maya Tamiya, Changelog

Vine Linux is a Red Hat-based, community-based Japanese distribution. Vine Linux 2.0, released recently, is the first version of Vine Linux to us the Linux 2.2 kernel (though an unofficial 2.2 upgrade kit was available). It is also the first version developed through the "VineSeed (development version of Vine Linux)" mailing list, allowing people other than core members to participate in development from the early stage.

Project Vine was founded mainly by ex-PJE members in 1998 and now has Daisuke Suzuki as its president (in turn).

PJE (Project Japanese Extensions) was a community-based project which had been providing many Japanised add-on packages for Slackware and RedHat. They contributed as much as commercial distributors in Japan did, some of which has been included in other Japanese commercial distributions. So almost all Japanese Linux users have benefitted from the project in one way or another.

Thus, Vine Linux's Japanese environment has a very good reputation, and they provide as high quality a distribution as top commercial distributors in Japan, and in some cases, parts of Vine Linux excel those. (Laser5 has set Hideya Hane, ex-(first) president of the Project Vine, as their adviser.)

Vine Linux is probably the most popular community-based distribution in Japan. There was even a paper magazine's readers poll which showed the number of the Vine users was the largest of all the other Japanese distributions users including commercial ones. Project Vine claims to have distributed, via CD-ROM, at least one million copies of their previous version over about a year.

Vine Linux is also widely available as a commercial package with support and commercial fonts from Gijutsu Hyoron-sha. Japanese characters, though fewer than Chinese, are so numerous that free fonts are not enough for high quality printing on paper. As a result, almost all the commercial distributions include commercial fonts. It is prohibited to use True Type fonts that come with Microsoft Windows on an alternate operating system, even on the same PC, according to one source who contacted Microsoft about the issue. This seems to affect the amount of money that flows into the commercial Linux distribution market in Japan, allowing commercial distributors to "enhance" their Linux distributions with the inclusion of high-quality commercial fonts. In addition, commercial distributions also generally include the commercial Kana-Kanji translation system, which provides higher translation rates than free systems. This encourages people to pay the cost for the commercial distributions, rather than just downloading a free version off the Internet.

author: Maya Tamiya, editor@ChangeLog.net.

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