19 May 2011

Adventures in Chakra Linux

My previous post was devoted to my attempts to run Chakra Linux on my laptop in Live mode. Neither CD nor Unetbootin'ed flash drive worked. I almost lost my temper, but then decided to look for an answer to my doubts on Chakra Linux's official web page. Are developers aware that Unetbootin does not work with their system?
Seems like they are. Because they offer alternative method. If I had little bit of thought myself, I could guess it. Because this is a method of direct copying of iso image to USB: command dd. It is the method recommended by Chakra Linux's wiki. Did it work? 
Yes! It worked!
Finally I am in Chakra Linux 2011.04 boot menu.

First of all, Chakra Linux allows you to chose language. British English is in the list, as well as many others. Although, it is not obvious that so many languages are supported, because list does not have scroll bar.
Next screen allows to choose system version to boot, for example with or without restricted drivers. I know my WiFi card Broadcom 4311 requires closed-source driver, that's why I tried option with restricted drivers, and it did not load at all. Later I tried normal boot option... and it worked! Strange and confusing. Maybe "restricted drivers" only refer to video card drivers?
OK, I am finally in Chakra Linux's desktop. My WiFi card  was recognised and activated automatically (automagically). Wow! Honestly, I have not seen such behaviour for ages now! That was very nice surprise from Chakra Linux! I only had to select my home network and enter pass key. And I am online!
Another nice surprise waited for me just around the cornet. Adding Russian keyboard layout was easier than on any other KDE-based distributions I have seen so far. I don't know why, but Chakra Linux has slightly different keyboard layout configuration utility compared to Kubuntu or, say, Pardus.
What does Chakra Linux give you out of the box in terms of software? To be honest, not much at all.
Graphical and office tools are only represented by Document viewer. There is even no link to office installer, not talking about office itself.
Internet tools selection is not rich in Chakra Linux either. Yes, there is IRC client. But no, there is no mail client. Rekonq is the only browser. It is not the most functional browser in the world, but it does its job. The issue though is that it crashed several times while I was running Chakra Linux.
Desktop Globe application is also available in Chakra Linux out of the box. If I was a developer, I would rather use iso space to something more useful. Another issue with Desktop Globe is that it also crashed (closed) when I started zoom in for London.
It was kind of mystery for me. I open application, start using it or switch to another application. And then it crashes or closes. Are crashes here because of Live run? Maybe, maybe not. Log in dmesg says that applications were killed due to memory restrictions. That is very strange, because no one Tux behaved himself so bad on my laptop so far.
Chakra Linux is based on Arch Linux. It is second system in my list which is based on Arch. First one was CTK Arch. I had an issue there for some time until I understood that CTK Arch uses commande xsu instead of usual sudo. I expected Chakra Linux to do the same. But in reality command sudo works well in Chakra.
There is graphical tool in Chakra to connect network folders. I managed to connect my external network drive using it. But when I attempted to start MP3 file from there, Dolphin decided to copy file to /var/tmp first. And even after copying, nothing happened. I was baffled what does all that mean at all.
Fortunately, old good mount command worked OK for mounting network folder. All Russian-named folders were in place, I could easily navigate through them. Click on MP3 file started SMPlayer, but it did not play. Error probably because libraries for MP3 playback are not included - this information was available in SMPlayer's log.
Youtube videos are also not available in Chakra Linux out of the box. Adobe Flash plugin is not included.
Of course, I wanted to make my own screenshot of Chakra Linux. But that proved impossible. Chakra Linux does not have any tool for screenshots taking included. There is official page in Wiki suggesting 3 different methods of taking screenshots, but neither of them worked in Live mode.
Final chord which I heard from Chakra Linux was not very nice too. I faced same issue with unmounting network folder after shutting down network itself, like in Ubuntu 11.04. It means that system waits for reply from network device while network is not functioning. It makes my Ubuntu system to shutdown for 5 minutes. I did not check how much time it takes in Chakra and used Power button.

What is my general feeling of Chakra Linux? Honestly, I expected more from famous and long-existing distributive. More in terms of included software. More stability. Just more... Yes, there are couple of nice findings in Chakra which make this system almost unique (at least among those which I saw), but they are not so important for me to think about switching to Chakra Linux.

Useful links:
Review from Prashanth
Review from Martik
Official page


  1. Thanks for linking to my review! I really appreciate it!
    a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

  2. Nice review.

    I have been using chakra a little and...

    if highlight over include nonfree drivers on start up you get flash. plus if you get dvd version you get good amount of apps. minitube is there by default. and it kinda wants you to only install what you need :) why it's for intermediate users mostly

    and it is it's own gnu now with many compatibilities similar with arch.

    but still good review.

  3. @Anonymous:
    My version did not have flash included. Maybe it is in DVD version?

  4. Oh actually i use chromium (using it's bundle system) and it automatically packs flash. that's why...

  5. @Anonymous:
    That's quite odd that Chromium being OSS bundles Flash which is not OSS. Are you sure you have not installed Flash as separate package when prompted, for example, on first Flash-enabled page?

  6. All Chakra's ISO's are GTK free, so no flash. This is a well documented choice, liked by some, disliked by others. But bc of trying to be gtk free, some innovative features are introduced. One of which is bundles. The chrome bundles have the flashplugin bundled-in, no flash needs to install in the system, neither does any gtk package.
    Libreoffice is another package that has been adapted for not using GTK (as you pointed out in the review, not available on CD ISO's, but available on the DVD version).
    The reason that globe is installed by default is purely for Tribe, the installer. It does give Tribe a bit of an unique feature, again, liked by some, some would prefer to see the limited space on a CD used for other apps.

  7. Dont use chormuium, use chrome instead, the only pakage for 32bit is the chrome-dev bundle, thats the one that has flash integrated, Finally im free of gtk on the installed system, since the bundle doesnt "actualy" install :)

  8. @Anonymous (both):
    Maybe I am not educated enough, but I don't see any evil in GTK.

  9. Readed the review and... Honestly what do you expect to have in 1 CD with KDE based distro?
    Its normaly to not have some things preinstalled, and what?
    Its takes me just few minutes to chose what apps i need from package manager and they got installed.
    Not like most of other distros that comming with flash 10, or to install flash 11 is needed some extra things to be done. Here just 1 click and installed! just great! Video drivers preinstalled with latest version also.

  10. @Anonymous:
    One CD with KDE can get much more... Look at Mageia, Kubuntu etc.

  11. > Maybe I am not educated enough, but I don't see any evil in GTK.

    Well GTK applications dont integrate well into kde for one. Things like the file picker, certain themes (Although the qtcurve and oxygen-gtk projects help) are problematic.

    Then theres extra dependencies that GTK applications pull in (similar issue arises when qt applications are installed on a system using GTK primarily) slightly degrading the overall performance mostly in terms of memory. This is one of the main reasons people use gentoo.

    On the other hand it is always nice to check out the various applications written using the Qt toolkit, Instead of using the same applications one is accustomed to.

  12. @Yohan:
    I look at this slightly different. If I prefer GTK application to qt, I will use GTK even on KDE-based system. Another reason is support of functions I need. For example, Kopete does not support Mail.Ru Instant Messenger protocol. It means I simply can't use it. If Pidgin or Qutim supports it, but is based on GTK, I will anyway use Pidgin or Qutim.
    Result for me is more important than a tool.

  13. Well yes and thats why (according to their website) they have their bundle system.

    Scroll down to the build system section.

    Also i know you were just giving an example but Qutim is written in Qt.

  14. There is a bundle for pidgin!!

  15. Thanks for pointing me at this review DD...there are quite a few points I'd like to make.

    Chromium does not normally come with Flash but the Chakra developers have bundled it as a dependency (possibly to give a usability equivalence to Google Chrome) hence your confusion there. Bundling the two also avoids having the user scratch around to work out how to install the Flash plugin (a user would have to copy the libflashplugin to the plugins folder then know that Chromium would always have to be run with "chromium-browser --enable-plugins" sans quotes...the developers appear to have taken the choice to make thinks easier for the user by having it all set up once Chromium is installed via their bundle. I find it hard to fault a developer who wants to make life easier for users.

    Chakra, correctly I think, choose to eliminate GTK so as to give the user a cleaner, smaller, faster system; with only QT libraries needed to run KDE they don't need to install GTK so why do it? If the user chooses to add a GTK app at a later date then that is the user's choice and the user will be shown that such an app will pull in a big clump of GTK dependencies which could well make such a user look again at an alternative QT based app option. If it were a GTK based DE I'd wish for QT based libraries to be eliminated in a similar manner.

    Chakra choose to keep the installation lightweight...I don't see this as an unreasonable choice given that they make it so easy to add additional KDE components. Personally I'd far rather have the choice of what to add than have Magelia, Kubuntu etc do it for me. Chakra also have a less clunky and slow kernel than Kubuntu in particular...avoiding Canonical's meddling can pay dividends!

    Generally speaking if you need a number of apps from a different DE you're probably using the wrong DE for your needs and would be better off with one where those apps are native to the system. If you prefer GTK applications then KDE isn't the best choice for you. playing pick and mix with DE environments can lead to problems and will almost always give a degrading of the memory footprint situation.

  16. @Gladys:
    I honestly like KDE. But there are some cases when GTK application suits better. I gave an example to Yohan just above. (and yes, I know that Qutim is Qt application).
    I feel something wrong in those "bundles". Say, you have 2 bundles which both include same application (say, Firefox and Chromium both use Flash). Then, you configure application in one of the bundles. It won't affect another bundle, as I would expect normally.
    Then, there is always a risk that bundle contains something you'd like to avoid.
    In other words, in these terms Chakra moves in direction of Apple which better knows what user wants.

  17. Darkduck: using gtk and qt stuff means you have both loaded into the system, consuming much more ram and cpu then necessary. That's also the reason why xfce people don't like when xfce distros use mostly gnome stuff. that aside, the Chakra CCR easily allows you to install gtk apps if you'd like (though it is a bit more of a hassle because it will compile the programs rather than installing a binary).

  18. @Anonymous:
    You're just repeating same arguments which I have already read and answered.

  19. Chakra linux has given me LOTS of adventures I would love to forget about...

  20. @Personal Wind Turbine:
    Hope you'll find some other distribution without such adventures.