Like previous releases of Chakra, Chakra Archimedes-2012.04 comes with most of the applications you will need to accomplish your daily computing tasks. One major change is the switch to Calligra as the default office suite. Calligra is a fork of KOffice, which used to be the default native office suite for KDE. The first stable version was released about two weeks ago.
Aside from the installed applications, there are many more applications available for installation. The problem with installing applications on Chakra Archimedes-2012.04, is that you have to do it from the command line, using pacman, Chakra’s package manager. And that is because there is no graphical package manager installed, which earns Chakra Archimedes-2012.04 the dubious distinction of being the only desktop distribution that shipped without a graphical package manager installed. The reason, of course, is not oversight, but technical. From ongoing discussions by the developers, I am pretty sure there will be a graphical package manager in the next release. But this makes managing applications on the system a bit more difficult for new users.
Someday, I expect the developers to get Chakra to meet their stated goal of providing “a fast, user-friendly and extremely powerful … Linux distribution.” Is it powerful? Yes, but every Linux distribution is. Is it fast? That is up for debate. It all depends on what “fast” means. The K Desktop Environment is not known to be a speed demon. User-friendly? Nyet, not out of the box. To get a new installation of Chakra Archimedes-2012.04 (even previous editions) to the point of being user-friendly requires some effort on your part. More so if you are new to a distribution derived from Arch Linux.
Setting up a printer on this distribution still requires more effort than is necessary for a desktop operating system in the 21st century. Cups, the printer package (daemon) is not running out of the box, and to make it work across reboots means messing with a configuration file. On Linux Mint KDE, Pardus and other distributions that use KDE, that process is automatic, requiring no input from the user, other than the simple task of connecting a printer to the computer. That is the level of user-friendliness Chakra’s developers should aim for.
On the security front, ufw, the friendly command line frontend to IPTables, the firewall management application for Linux, is installed but not enabled. There is a graphical application for managing it in System Settings, the administrative hub for most graphical management applications on KDE, but that, of course, is not configured. Shown below, is the graphical firewall manager in its default state.
Aside from the firewall, tomoyo-tools, an application-level firewall, one of three available for Linux distributions, is in the default install. Managing it, however, requires some effort, all which has to be expended at the command line; there is no graphical management applications for tomoyo.
Before Archimedes-2012.04, the major drawbacks on Chakra were (still are) Tribe’s lack of an automated disk partitioning option, and the lack of a graphical service manager. Add to those the lack of a graphical package manager in this release, and you have a distribution that is trending backwards in user-friendliness. Which one will be fixed in the next release? My money is on the graphical package manager, but you never know. Ideally, I would love to see all the issues resolved soon. Soon, as in when the next release becomes available.
Resources: You may download 32- and 64-bit installation images for Chakra Archimedes-2012.04 here, and read the release announcement here. Support questions may be posted on the distribution’s forums.
Screen Shots: View more screen shots from test installations of Chakra Archimedes-2012.04.
My favorites applications as seen from the Takeoff Launcher.