I’m playing with my old Sony XG-19 again. As reported earlier, OpenBSD 4.1 worked but never played DVDs, Fedora 7 blew chunks during the install, and Debian 4.0 worked fine, requiring only a few xorg.conf tweaks and a copy of libdvdcss2.
But it sucked for Japanese, so it had to go. There are all sorts of input managers and applications available, but they don’t all play nice with each other, and the system setup assumes that anyone who wants to type in Japanese wants a completely localized system. You can work around this, eventually, but I lost patience.
So I tried CentOS 5. The graphical install worked fine, the xorg.conf file only needed a one-line change to shut off double-tapping on the trackpad, and once you find DAG, it’s easy to get DVDs playing with VLC (Totem steadfastly refuses to admit which of its plugins are missing, and nothing I install seems to placate it, but who cares?).
The Japanese support in CentOS is much more mature, and offers a user experience reasonably close to Mac OS X or Windows. The default keybindings are naturally different from anything you’ve ever used before, but one has to make some concessions when dealing with Open Source, and it has a “behave like Windows” option.
Now to build the current version of Claws Mail…
[Update: got Claws 2.10 built and running, and unlike my Debian install, it plays nice with the Japanese input method.]