Switching to Chakra
Why the switch?
So, several times I’ve been annoyed lately about how Kubuntu never stops feeling like it’s not getting the love it deserves. Canonical seems to give much more love to their main distribution which uses Gnome. I do not blaim them neither, it is the freedom of open source that any entity can prioritice as they want. However, being now too used to the KDE environment, and also being very fond of how the direction the project is going in, I have started to look for alternative distributions. One of the distributions I’ve been keeping an eye on is Chakra, which is based on Arch linux. In principle it is Arch with the KDEmod packages, a live CD and automatic hardware identification. They actually define themselves as a distrolet rather than a full distro. Them about that, I think it is a very interesting project in any case. I have heard from several sources that KDEmod/Chakra is the most properly built KDE distribution out there, even at this stage: Chakra: my new distro of choice, Alpha 3: a review
Now, the other day Kubuntu decided to die on me. Rather a slow death. I was warned that Ubuntu had to run in low graphics mode when I logged in, after which I got a few options for debugging etc, or log in through terminal. Doing the latter, and then hit the “startx” command presented me with a normal graphics mode. Seemed like a stupid bug. I noticed that I had also lost the precence of my audio driver (or at least KDE warned me that it was disconnected). I attempted a full reinstall since I assumed such a bug had something to do with me being too trigger happy when it comes to installing the latest “not-that-thoroughly-tested” KDE version. A complete reinstall and upgrade of the default packages presented me with the same problem. And after I uninstalled the nvidia driver in an attempt to resolve the issue, I could not even log in anymore (not even failsafe mode). I got pissed off and decided to give the new Chakra alpha 4 a go.
I had tried alpha 3 some time ago, but just after installation it had managed to remove a very much needed module or something like that, leaving me with a useless system. As I am a complete newbie when it comes to these issues, I decided to leave it be for now, giving my brief comments on the forum as the developers requested. This alpha 4 however, has not presented me with the same issues, and I am now a happy user of Chakra! That is, I decided to stick with it until it dies on me…
I have to say I feel very impressed with the distribution so far. The hardware is so well detected that I was quite suspicious after installation. There was hardly anything to do! The most annoying thing I have come across so far is that Yakuake (dropdown terminal, highly recommend it!) is sometimes quite slow when I ask it to scroll down. The choice of Kwin effects makes a lot of sence to me. Pacman is insanely fast (not reallly necessary to be faster than aptitude/apt-get, but it is fun to see how a package is installed in less than a second after it has downloaded), and more importantly, the design is very clever. If a program is not built for Arch, you can quickly write a PKGBUILD file with the dependencies and the link to a .deb or .rpm file and voila! Have a look at AUR if you are curious. Actually, after just a weekend in the Arch environment I’m already as happy a pacman user as I was/am an aptitude user. That is pretty impressive, it usually takes me months to adopt to different technology! (I am still not convinced I can get properly productive in an OSX environment after owning a Macbook Pro for almost a year now, to mention an example) I also have to say it seems Arch does much better in blending 32bit libraries in a 64bit environment (did anyone ever get 32bit Skype working in *buntu 64bit?)
The idea of KISS (keep it simple, stupid) in the Arch terms seems a bit intimidating to me, but at the same time intriguing. Anyway, presented with as finished a product as Chakra, this seems very promising. The idea of e.g. Rosetta in *buntu distros always pissed me off a bit, felt a bit like they were somehow trying not to apply with the linux community way of things. The Arch Way is in this manner exactly as I think it should be. Make it a linux distro with the best tools out there, but not trying in any way to be “not linux”.
Hmm, so this blog entry is not really going anywere, I am just blabbering about with my thoughts. I would love to make a structured review of the parts, but I have no time with exams and other deadlines now before Christmas. Even more, I would say that they deserve to get to at least beta stage before the thorough reviews starts rolling in. As an alpha stage product though, this is the best and most stable I have ever seen. Together with the now becoming rock solid KDE4 series, this makes for a distribution you should definitely watch out for! I am quite sure I will eventually make the full switch. For now, as I said, I will stick to it until I encounter some major issues. Let us all pray that never happens! 😉