First, thank you all for your kind words. When I write a review I don't treat Vector any differently than any other distro I've worked with. I try to be honest and as objective as is possible. Everyone's views are colored by their opinions and I don't claim it's otherwise when I write something but I do try to be fair.
I should mention that I wrote a review of Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon (64-bit) in January and then decided not to publish it. Why? It was intensely negative and harsh and I didn't want to deal with the reaction I'd get. Let me just say that I'm still amazed that a distro could be released with the sort of bugs I encountered -- bugs which still haven't been fixed months later.
I agree with Uelsk8s. Vector is very close and there isn't as big an effort needed as you might think to make it better than the so-called major distros. I didn't say equal with; I said better. It's mainly an issue of making a few areas more user friendly and adding some additional packages to the repos. The installer also needs improvement. By improvement I don't mean pretty or graphical. Ubuntu only has a pretty installer on their live CD. I mean things like getting video hardware detection to be as good as other distros. I mean having an easy install path for newcomers.
I don't think the Vector developers lack any expertise. That's been pretty well proven by the product that's out there already.
Regarding being truly international: most major distros only support installation in a limited number of languages. Ubuntu is in this category. What they then offer are easy tools to work in any language you choose after installation. Having said that the installer should have at least some multilingual capability for the most popular languages. I realize some languages are incredibly difficult (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic) but others like French, Spanish, Portuguese, and even Russian don't require major changes in the structure of the installer -- just more choices. We don't need to equal Mandriva or Fedora in terms of installer languages.
One thing Vector Linux needs and clearly doesn't have are a team of volunteer translators. A good start would be to ask for translators right on the home page of the website. Get the word out in the community that this is a concern to us. The next problem once you have volunteers is quality control on those translations.
Lyn: Vector is closer than you might think in terms of internationalization and localization. Set up a new user account with a default language and locale of French/Canada and see what your desktop looks like. Most of the translation work is done upstream and it's already there. Where it's lacking is in the unique to Vector tools and utilities and in applications from some of the smaller, less popular, often lightweight packages we include. I don't think VL developers can worry about contributing translations to upstream packages. I do think it is something to worry about for vasm, vasmCC, vwifi, etc... In other words, it only should be a real concern when the farthest upstream you can get is right here. I know that's a tall order.
The other issue with internationalization and localization is ease of use.
I dont know, I will leave this up to the community to decide. I do know that in IRC the other day we were able to help a new linux user add 2 additional languages to his system in less than 5 min, so I dont think we are too far off with that.
Yes and no. I tried to help that gentleman in the forum. He ended up having to edit his /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. He's a bright guy who was willing to roll up his sleeves, get under the hood, and learn. How many newcomers would feel comfortable doing that? Not too many, I'm afraid.
A number of us tried to answer questions for another newcomer. He promptly abandoned us for Ubuntu just because we suggested enabling the testing repo and looking at linuxpackages.net. Even worse, someone suggested building his own package. Going beyond what gslapt showed for packages was just too hard for him to be bothered with. He said he didn't have the time. He wanted a distro that just worked and required no real effort at all. He made the comment that he is typical of most users out there. I hate to say it but I think he's right about that. He won't be happy at all with 64-bit Ubuntu either but that's not our concern.
Do we need to please users like the one I just described? Only to a point. There are always going to be people who will balk at any learning curve. Those are the folks who end up writing how awful and hard Linux is and how wonderful Windows is. We can't worry about people like that. What VL developers can do is make things as user friendly as possible so that a sane end user with reasonable expectations has a good experience. VL has already come a huge way since 5.1 in that area. This can be done without dumbing the distro down for experienced users, something VL developers clearly have recognized based on what's been done so far.
Things like being able to change keyboard layouts and language/locale from the GUI are really the next step as far as internationalization and localization are concerned. That was promised for vasm in the forum a year ago. The idea is to make it easy for anyone, even a newcomer, to use the tools that are already there.
Aagin, thank you all for the very kind words about my review. I'll continue to volunteer and help as much as I can with packaging and testing. The main limiting factor for me is time. I'd love to do this full time and then some but that sadly won't pay the bills.