There is a Linux for everyone. Whether you are a scientist, a gamer, a musician, a visual artist, a developer or common desktop user, you will find a distro to suit your needs. If you need a distro for older setups, you can find plenty. If you like the new and flashy, there will be many to pick from. But what if you are a Manga fan?
Animesoft has thought about manga and anime fans in need of a Linux distribution and created a Linux distro with just the right theme: Mangaka. It comes in different flavours, with a common underlying theme: Manga and anime art.
Mangaka is based on Debian and Ubuntu. According to Animesoft Mangaka is “especially developed for the specific needs of the anime and manga community from Japan and world wide, including by default professional free software for fansubbing, web browsing, multimedia playback and 2D graphical creations as well codecs, java and flash out-of-the-box.”
They offer six flavours which are codenamed in a unique fashion. The three-letter codenames are “made from Animesoft-english and AnimeManga-japanese pronunciations:”
- ONE (one/sister)
- CHU (two/kiss)
- MOE (more/sweetie)
- NYU (new/cutie)
- KOE (cool/sound)
- MOU (most/already)
These codenames also mean different environments for different needs, or so the website seems to claim. It is interesting to note that some of these flavours are based on old, outdated systems.
ONE is meant for older PCs. The download is only 700MB, fitting on a CD, and features a lightweight Openbox environment. It is based on Ubuntu 8.10 which is quite outdated by any standard.
Note: Most probably (and as the name seems to indicate) this was the first Mangaka release. Unfortunately 8.10 is no longer supported, and even the system update will not work as the repositories have already been taken offline. The software included is very old (Firefox 3 being a good example of that), and the system is most likely insecure. This flavour is not recommended for daily use, not even on older hardware, and has only historical significance.
CHU was not available at the time of writing (it says “recreating” on the website).
MOE is meant for laptop use. This runs on a really old base, Ubuntu 10.0 (although LTS is nearing its end of support), and still features a GNOME 2 desktop.
NYU is one of the more up-to-date versions, with a 64 bit Ubuntu 14.04 base which will be maintained for some years to come featuring the Pantheon desktop we know and love from elementary OS. The DE has been tuned to be best suited for touch screens.
KOE is also based on 64 bit Ubuntu 14.04 and features a full KDE experience. This is meant for the Desktop PC with plenty of eye-candy.
The latest in the line, MOU, keeps the 64 bit Ubuntu 14.04 base and offers the Mate desktop. It also comes with Apple and IBM PowerPC 64 bit architecture scripts, so you can run it on a Mac. (It will of course run on any 64 bit architecture.)
To test the distro, the most recent release – Mangaka MOU – was installed. The Live environment booted up lighting fast (it literally took three seconds on a Virtual machine) into a visually intensive, albeit simple, MATE desktop session.
The installer itself is a standard-issue Ubuntu installer with probably a bit more purple.
After rebooting, the environment itself will not have changed much. It’s the same old simple MATE desktop. But what is under the hood is what really matters. The standard background is not manga-related, but of course hardcore fans will have some more on-the-track images to choose from.
Where Mangaka really stands apart from a simple re-skinned Ubuntu distro, besides the artwork, is the pre-installed software any hardcore manga/anime fan will find useful, in two areas in particular – graphics and education.
On the graphics side, Mangaka has MComix pre-installed. Unfortunately, no comics are included. Apparently distro is not so much about enjoying art but rather for creating it. Besides the usual contenders, GIMP and Inkscape, there are some interesting and unusual graphics applications OOB, such as Pinta, the cross-platform easy image creation program (modelled after paint.NET),
Tupi, “a design and authoring tool for digital artists interested in 2D Animation, offering an interface experience focused on 8-100 years old kids,”
and Synfig Studio, a FOSS 2D animation software that could be used to create film-quality animations.
On the education side, you have:
- Gijten, a Japanese-English dictionary
- gWaei, which would make Japanese-English translations easy (although it comes with no preinstalled dictionaries)
- Kana test, a game that helps you learn kana characters
- Kanji browser, that will allow you to find kanji characters
- Kiten, a Japanese reference and study tool
- and Tagaini Jisho, a free Japanese dictionary and study tool
Mangaka MOU also comes with a generous selection of multimedia applications for creating and viewing/listening to multimedia content. The inclusion of LibreOffice, Google apps, and other essential pieces of Desktop software make Mangaka MOU an excellent all-round distro with a special emphasis on visual arts and Japanese language.
Mangaka Linux offers a great and refreshing desktop alternative. The pre-installed software make it essential for any serious manga or anime fan, but the distro reaches far beyond its goal. Mangaka might be useful for any visual artist, especially those who create 2D art like comic books, and anyone interested in or learning Japanese language and culture.
The latest versions are great, apart from a few glitches (for example, NYE will not work in a Virtualbox), but the older releases are so outdated that there doesn’t seem to be a reason to maintain them. That said, Mangaka developers will hopefully have the initiative to re-release Mangaka ONE on a more recent system base. After all, an Openbox based manga distro could really find its user base among manga fans using older hardware.