When initializing a disk on KDE Partition Manager, the default partitioning table, as noted above, is GPT. The other option is MS-Dos. “lvm” and “raid” are two optional flags that may be assigned to a partition, which leads me to want to believe that LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager, and RAID are supported. However, I did not attempt to configure RAID or install Chakra on an LVM-based file system. So I cannot say with certainty that LVM is supported.
After the disk setup phase, the installation of Chakra is relatively fast and smooth, and towards the end of the process, you are given the option to download Bundles, which, in Chakra-speak, are optional, GTK applications that you can run on Chakra. More on Bundles further down.
Desktop: Chakra is a KDE distribution, and Chakra 2011 04 ships with KDE 4.6.2, the latest stable version of the K Desktop Environment. The desktop itself is beautiful, and the wallpaper is one of the best I have seen so far. The default menu style is the Kickoff style.
And since this is KDE, you can switch from the traditional desktop interface to the Plasma Netbook interface, which, I think, is the best interface of its kind. The new GNOME desktop, GNOME 3, and Ubuntu’s Unity interface have some useful features, but KDE’s Plasma Netbook interface takes the blue ribbon. It is almost completely unobtrusive, never getting in your way, something that cannot be said of GNOME 3 and Unity.
The image below shows the Multimedia applications on a new installation (of Chakra). Most of these applications are not available on a system installed using a CD ISO image. That is why I suggested earlier that a DVD installation image is the best option. You may view more screenshots of Chakra’s KDE Plasma Netbook interface here.
Installed and Installable Applications: The list of installed applications on a new installation of Chakra 2011 04 using a DVD ISO image includes:
- Minitube, a cross-platform Youtube application
- XBMC, a media center application
- Quassel IRC, a distributed IRC client
- rekonq Web browser
- Kid3, an ID3 tagger
Aside from those in the above list, there are desktop accessories and system utilities you will find on a standard KDE desktop. Unlike some KDE-based distributions that ship with a confusing assortment of applications, many of which the average will never use, Chakra packs just the minimum set of applications you are most likely to use.
Package Management: Pacman, ArchLinux’s package manager, is the package management system on Chakra, and AppSet (AppSet-Qt) is the installed graphical frontend. Chakra follows a “Half-Rolling Release Model.” This, according to official documentation, means that:
Chakra’s core packages (graphics, sound, etc.) are only upgraded after the latest versions have been thoroughly vetted as part of our continuous testing cycle, before being moved to the stable repositories. There is no set time-frame for release cycles thereby avoiding certain short-cuts and feature lag. Instead, core updates will be rolled out continuously as they are ready and new Live CD builds will usually be released around key KDE releases. Applications and components not related to the core system are continuously updated and generally available immediately upon their release.
For the end-user this provides at least a three-fold benefit:
- One Install – You will only have to install the system once and all future upgrades will be fully available through the repositories.
- The Latest Software – As your favorite programs mature and advance, you will always have access to the latest version. Chakra is often one of the first to add the new updates to its repositories.
- Advanced and Stable Core – Unlike a full rolling-release, core system components are able to be tested more thoroughly while retaining a quick development cycle.
This is the main interface of AppSet. Actually, this is one of the main interfaces. Sometimes it opens with that empty space occupied by a News section. AppSet looks nice, does its job, but it is still a work in progress. That is another way of saying that it is prone to crashes. More about AppSet-crashing in the Bug Report section.
This is the individual applications listing on AppSet.
AppSet configuration options: Out of the box, it is set to check for updates every 60 minutes, and AppSetTray, the updates notifier, works. The search delay time of 900 ms makes for a very annoying experience when using the search feature. I found that setting it at twice the default (1800 ms) is much better. It gives less “flicker” especially when you are typing a long search string. Notice that the Graphics is set to Standard. That is the default. Set to Enhanced, and …
You get this. A much better interface than the default. This interface could be even better if you could get a tooltip with a bit more information about an application on mouseover. The idea is it should not be necessary to click on an application just to find out what it is used for.