As I just mentioned, the numbering changed from 0.4.0 to 2011.02. It looks like the Chakra developers moved away from the goal of a stable 1.0 release and chose to emphasize the rolling-release cutting-edge nature of Chakra by switching to a year-month numbering system. That said, the old numbering system clearly showed that Chakra is still alpha-release software; I don't know if I'm supposed to think the same thing with the current numbering system — more on that later.
I tested Chakra in VirtualBox with 1024 MB of RAM allocated to the guest OS and an available 10 GB virtual hard drive for installation. In response to a couple comments as well as articles on other blogs that I have seen, this is for a few reasons: I can't make a Chakra live USB without wiping it clean (dd) and I don't have too many blank CDs/DVDs lying around for these purposes, I can better control how Chakra responds in lower-resource environments (though admittedly 1 GB is still plenty), and I don't need to worry about messing up my installed systems on my computer. Follow the jump to see what it's like.
The desktop is almost identical to that of version 0.3.0 "Ashoc"; even the wallpaper is identical. There really isn't much new stuff to report here. There's a standard dark KDE panel on the bottom, a desktop containment widget on the top-left with useful shortcuts, a Kickoff menu button on the left side of the panel, and a system tray on the right side of the panel.
I then tried installing KOffice in the live session. The installation went fine, but it refused to start, claiming there was a conflict with some core KDE libraries' versions. I figured this had to do with packages that needed to be updated, so I decided to wait until after installation to try installing KOffice again. On a side note, I was surprised to see it called KOffice, considering that it is now supposed to be called the Calligra Suite.
|Locale Selection in Tribe Installer|
I then went to the KDE Partition Manager (which, incidentally, is just as user-friendly as and even nicer-looking than GParted), deleted all the old partitions, and created a new partition setup. When it gave me an error message, I realized that Chakra couldn't recognize the partition types because the last thing I had installed on that virtual hard disk was GhostBSD on a UFS partition. I rewrote an MS-DOS partition table that would be readable by Chakra and then recreated the desired partition layout: a 1 GB SWAP primary partition and a 9 GB EXT3 primary partition.
I retried the installer program, and this time it was able to reach the partitioning screen. However, because I had just created new partitions, I figured it would be OK to simply assign the EXT3 partition to hold the root partition and move on; that was the wrong move, because it crashed again. This was getting pretty frustrating. I redid the whole thing, and this time I formatted that partition as EXT3 in the installer itself and then told it to hold the root partition; that worked, and I was able to successfully move on. I was then able to watch a nice slideshow about Chakra while the system was being installed.
This was followed by a screen in the installer itself asking me if I wanted to install any new programs in the installed system. I chose to install Konqueror, and I was asked for the root password for authentication. Here, the live password didn't work, but the password I used for my installed system's primary user did, which is strange because I thought Chakra would separate user and root passwords. Otherwise, that process went well. On a side note, Skype was available for installation, which made me slightly regret not actually trying it on my laptop. Oh well.
After this, GRUB got installed, and the installer finished its job. Ironically, as I closed it, it crashed one last time. I really do hope that the Chakra developers replace these frequent and unhelpful crashes with the installer not crashing and instead giving more helpful error messages and chances to fix the errors. I then restarted the system.
When I restarted, the system skipped the boot menu and went straight into booting; I guess that's because there was only one boot option. I was then greeted by the boot splash followed by the desktop; interestingly, even in the installed system, I was automatically logged in, even though I don't think I ever selected any option like that.
|KWord + KSpread|
I also briefly tried out Konqueror, which I installed in the Chakra system installer. Konqueror worked fine, though it wasn't quite as fast as Rekonq. Also, one thing that surprised me was that Konqueror didn't have the WebKit rendering engine option even though it is at version 4.6; all it had was KHTML. Maybe I was supposed to get it from the repositories and I missed it.
Well, that basically ended my time with Chakra 2011.02 "Cyrus". The live and installed sessions worked quite well, the latter certainly much better than in the last version, where X11 refused to start. The Yapan update manager is also a welcome addition. That said, the installer crashing as many times as it did concerns me. Neither the numbering of the current Chakra version nor the documentation on the site seems to indicate that Chakra should still be considered alpha software, so I should reasonably expect fewer bugs as a consequence of that. Once again, I wouldn't recommend Chakra for daily use as a reliable system, but it's certainly fun to experiment and play around with.
On another note, I hope the MultiSystem developers also add Chakra as a supported distribution soon, considering that Arch, ArchLiveISO, ArchBang, CTKArchLive, and KahelOS are all supported.
Because many commenters have asked me to do so, I'm going to start providing download links: here is where you can get it.