Yet for another time, I find myself switching distros. I hope am not addicted or something :). If not for anything else, I am enjoying the ride! This time is Chakra, and I must admit, am impressed!
I had heard abοut ArchLinux back from the early days that I started experimenting with GNU/Linux distributions. It caught my attention for two main reasons:
- The mentality of Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) and lightweight.
- It’s a rolling distro, which means you don’t need to upgrade every now and then to newer versions to keep up to date. Just update your way into everything new out there.
To be honest, I had attempted installing ArchLinux on an old laptop back then, but I failed miserably in completing the task. Same disappointing results on Virtualbox on my desktop PC. Although Arch has extremely thorough documentation available, I was stuck somewhere between manually setting up the system files and installing and configuring a working desktop environment. As an newbie I couldn’t handle the pressure, so I gave up. But not for long.
To my great pleasure, I recently stumbled upon the Chakra Project. Chakra is as the title suggests, a brand new distribution which is based on Arch Linux and KDE 4, but it comes extra with its own tweaked package set of KDE called KDEmod and some very handy tools.
I was extremely happy to see that it features a graphical installer, and the fact that it supports automatic hardware configuration made it irresistible. I just had to download and see with my one eyes. It was about time I get rid of that Windows XP dual boot with Ubuntu after all.
In my joy I forgot to mention that Chakra is currently only at Alpha 4 level, with the Beta release following soon. It was normal to expect some bugs and troubleshoots.
- ArchLinux: Arch just feels great and runs smoothly. The two reasons I mentioned in the beginning of the post apply here.
- Pacman: Arch’s Package Manager is a solid application that delivers. A simple yet feature-filled tool for managing your packages through the Konsole. I am not a terminal fan boy but I easily found my way around to do things.
- KDE 4.3: In my humble opinion it’s on the right track. I was very frustrated with 4.1 and it was one of the reasons I had switched to Gnome. It’s clear now that with the upcoming KDE SC 4.4, the K Desktop Environment will earn much of it’s old prestige back. In addition, it feels much lighter on resources now compared to where I left it. Although this could very well be due to Arch and/or the various modifications of the Chakra Project team (if it is, the difference is remarkable), it is possible that all that bug fixing and code shining from KDE developers produced results.
- KDEmod: Tweaking KDE for Arch optimization. “ArchLinux is a small distribution and the developers are on more important missions to maintain and improve it, so KDEmod was born to provide a fully modular installation of KDE with nearly all the features and bling some bigger distributions provide with it – and partly even more bleeding-edge features”. My first impression of KDEmod is only positive, having in mind it’s still a work in progress.
- AUR: “The ArchLinux User-community Repository is a community driven repository for Arch users. It contains package descriptions that allow you to compile a package from source and then install it via Pacman.” Compiling made easy with the KISS way.
- Support: I feel obligated to repeat here the extensive documentation on the ArchLinux site. What’s more, when a problem occurred with Partition Manager, I posted a request in the forums. Not only I got a respond in the same day to my problem, but the package responsible for the solution was already in the repositories for me to upgrade to. Problem’s gone! Great job by the community there!
The To Dos:
- GRUB: Installing bootloader version 0.97 from the Chakra installer, wiped out all my other booting options. Ubuntu wasn’t discovered and I had to manually edit the GRUB menu.lst file to enable booting to it. Furthermore, my partition table got a bit mixed up and I had to undergo a small process through fdisk to repair it. Works still needs to be done here I assume, since automation is desired, users shouldn’t have to get into this kind of trouble.
- Shaman: It’s “a complete frontend to libalpm/pacman and ABS written in Qt4”. I tried adding and removing software with it, attempted some updates and applied some settings. Shaman is far from ready. It kind of reminded me of Kpackagekit when it first made it into Kubuntu. It crashed on various occasions. I can read in the forums that this is to the knowledge of the developers at Chakra-Project and are currently working on improving it. A package managing application needs above all to be stable and reliable.
If you are a new GNU/Linux user, I wouldn’t for now advice using this Alpha 4 release by no means as your main operating system. But if you know your way around and/or belong to the adventurous type, I believe Chakra worths taking it for a spin.
I quote again from the Chakra webpage:
“If you are not the “pragmatic one” and don’t want to learn and take full control over your computer but rather use a “point and click” system, you may go better by using one of the many other distributions for now, although they will not give you the clarity, power and simplicity of Arch Linux.”
Keep up the very good work done here Chakra Team, I personally appreciate the effort put into this and I will most certainly be here for the 1st official release.