Chakra GNU/Linux review

Chakra is a Linux distribution based on Arch Linux. It evolved from a hobby project to what is now, from my initial assessment, a very solid desktop distribution with features not yet available on established Linux distributions. The developers warn that, “This is alpha software, it could eat your hamsters.” It did not eat my hamster, but the time I spent installing and reinstalling it on multiple machines and in a virtual environment was very eventful.

For this review, the first for Chakra on this website, I will let the screenshots do most of the “talking.” I like this approach better because, as they say, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. A screenshot with one or two paragraphs conveys more than a dozen paragraphs of colorful descriptions.

The version of Chakra that is the subject of this review is Chakra GNU/Linux 2011.04, code-named Aida. It was released on April 27, 2011.

Installer and Installation Process: Installation of Chakra on 32- or 64-bit platforms is via a CD or DVD ISO image. A system installed using a CD ISO image contains very little useful software, so if you are going to give Chakra a try, use a DVD ISO image. Both images are Live images, so you can try before you install. The image below shows that 11 languages are supported. The second on the list is “Argentinian,” But is that really a language?

After the language selection step, you are presented with several other options. If you are not a Free Software purist, the third option is the way to go. If you look carefully, there is a missing closing parenthesis on that line. This may seem trivial, but developers tend to welcome this type of feedback. Nitpicking? Nope!

If you are installing from a DVD ISO image, you get a choice of using a “standard kernel” or an “lts-kernel.” In this release, Chakra 2011 04, the former is Kernel 2.6.38, while the latter is Kernel 2.6.35. The interesting thing is that when I chose the first option during a test installation, the boot loader still presented an lts-kernel-based system as default, with the standard kernel-based system as optional.

After the boot options, the main page of Tribe, Chakra’s installation program, reveals a well-designed application. It has its quirks, but overall, the design is beautiful. It crashed a few times, but given the cautionary line in red, I was not surprised or annoyed. If it had the reboot-just-the-installer feature of YALI, the installation program of Pardus, it would have saved me a lot of time.

This step has some resemblance to the same step on YALI. By default, automatic login is in effect, and sudo will be used. The automatic login option and the option below it are only revealed if you click on a button to the right (not visible in the image below). My opinion on automatic login is it should never be on by default because it is a negative security event waiting to happen.

If you uncheck or unselect the sudo option (“Use this password as the Administrator password”), you can then type in a traditional root user account password. I prefer a distribution that uses the traditional root user account system.

This is what the disk setup step looks like. You can only specify that a partition be formatted, and a mount point and a file system for the partition. Disk partitioning itself is done by a helper application which you can access by clicking on the Advanced… button. The helper application is KDE Partition Manager. Ext3 is the default file system, but ext4, xfs, jfs and reiserfs are supported. NTFS, FAT16 and FAT32 are also supported. Disk encryption is not supported. Do you notice the number of primary partitions in the image?

That is the result of a GPT-based partitioning scheme, which is the default on Chakra. Unlike the MS-Dos or MBR-based partitioning scheme, which can only support four primary partitions, GPT (GUID Partition Table) allows for upto 128 (primary) partitions. On the test installation from which the image below was taken, each major file system directory – /boot, /, /usr, /var, /tmp, /home and /opt, was on a separate primary partition. More than just giving you the ability to configure more primary partitions than the MBR maximum of four, GPT supports partition sizes larger than 2 TB, the limit for MBR. Read more about the benefits of GPT here.

Have a question about GPT-based disk partitioning on Chakra 2011.04? Post it on the Q & A section of

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