Review: Chakra 0.2.0 "Jaz"

Main Screen
After a couple of news-related blog-posts, I wasn't finding any news particularly post-worthy. As I was looking at DistroWatch, I saw that a new version of Chakra (0.2.0 "Jaz") had been released. I was intrigued, as it's the release immediately after the first official "Phoix" release and the branching off from Arch. As Chakra is supposed to have changed a lot with the release of "Phoix" (and the last version I tested was Alpha 5 v4), I was curious to see how much better it has become since the last release. Unfortunately, I wasn't especially impressed. Read on to see why. (NOTE: This test was done in VirtualBox on my new laptop with 1 GB of RAM allocated to the guest OS. This is probably how all future tests will be done.)
CInstall, the Package Manager
The boot and startup hasn't changed since Alpha 5, though the process is noticeably faster (as I now have a computer with more resources for this sort of thing). The wallpaper has been changed; I like the new one. Sadly, though KDE in this release is at version 4.5, the settings manager and system tray are done in the KDE 4.X (pre-4.5) style, for some reason. I'm not entirely sure why this is so.
System Settings Manager (older KDE 4.X-style)
As I now have a computer with more hardware resources, opening the package manager is now not a big deal (provided a steady Internet connection is available); the manager (called CInstall) itself looks like a slightly stripped-down version of Synaptic. Unfortunately, Kopete was not included out-of-the-box, so I had to go to CInstall to get it. Once that happened, Kopete refused to recognize my webcam (though part of this can be blamed on VirtualBox's message refusing to recognize USB devices, my mouse, which is a USB device, was recognized, while my webcam, which is integrated with the laptop (and is thus not a USB device), was not), which is a step backwards from Alpha 5. Similarly, standard Konqueror instead of the newer (and, in my opinion, better) Rekonq is used as the web browser — another step backwards from Alpha 5. Finally, though I booted with the option to use proprietary codecs, when I tried playing a video on YouTube, a message appeared saying the installed version of Adobe Flash is too old and must be upgraded; going to the Adobe website provides no obvious information on what to do, as the available packages are for Ubuntu, RHEL/Fedora, and openSUSE. This seems to be one of the times when a trip to the terminal and "sudo pacman" is needed; it really shouldn't be this way, as Alpha 5 was very cooperative in this regard. Application-wise, Chakra isn't much more populated now than it was before. Bangarang, a new Qt-based media player, is now the default media player; the problem is that there is no sample music to test how Bangarang works.
Maybe I missed a change in the purpose or focus of the distribution. Maybe the highlight of this release is a vastly-improved installer (which I did not test (admittedly, I don't remember reading about it either)). Maybe I should have waited a few days/weeks before trying this to allow all the wrinkles to be ironed out. But in my mind, Chakra seems to have gone downhill since my last test; it really needs work just to get back up to par.
(UPDATE: I realized that I had solved the problem of VirtualBox not recognizing USB devices on my old computer and that I just needed to do the same for my new computer. After doing so, I tried the live image again. Sadly, this did not help in terms of Chakra recognizing my laptop's integrated webcam. I don't know if this is a Chakra problem or a VirtualBox problem — more on that in a future review. (UPDATE: I have also tried out the Mandriva 2010 Spring live image on VirtualBox, and the webcam doesn't work there either. This is most likely a VirtualBox problem on my computer, so I will not hold this against Chakra specifically.) Also, as I now have oodles of hard disk space, I can now make large virtual hard disks as well, so I tried the installation. Unfortunately, the installer hung up on the disk partitioning step, so I had to abort the installation. Boooo. Things aren't looking too good for Chakra; they don't even have the excuse that it's an Alpha release anymore.)

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