The first time it booted I allowed it to go its course in peace. That gave me the default Chinese desktop, which, as you can imagine, I had a little trouble navigating. I rebooted the computer, but this time I pressed Enter when the bootloader said it would automatically boot in X seconds. I was then presented with an options menu in which I could choose English for the live CD. Unfortunately, some of the windows that load upon boot are still displayed in Chinese, but luckily none of these were required to use the system.
I was a bit curious by this point where exactly Red Flag used the space it saved from not including a word processor or spreadsheet application. I discovered the answer when I reached the games category. Red Flag offers a great selection of simple card, board, arcade, and strategy games — far too many to list individually, but suffice it to say that if you like playing computer games you’ll probably find something to suit your fancy. I don’t think I’d choose these games over the standard office software if given the option, but not everyone likes what I like.
As I used Red Flag, it became more and more apparent that the developers gave relatively little attention to the English version of their software. Several windows didn’t appear to have English equivalents and still popped up in Chinese. In addition, the English copy of the Red Flag Web site appears to be somewhat out of date, although, not speaking Chinese myself, its hard to confirm whether the Chinese version is any more up-to-date.
In addition to this, the Dragon Player video player crashed several times, as did the Dolphin file browser. These were fairly serious problems that I would hope to see fixed for the final release. Because of them, I would not suggest a normal end user try the beta version.
Even without considering the bugs, Red Flag does not stand out amongst its fellow Linux distributions as a superior product. From what I can see, the major cause of its success in China has been the language support from a local company and not any technical merits over other distributions. I found in it no particular reason to recommend it to an English user over other Red Hat-base distribution, such as CentOS.