Chakra: my new distro of choice.

I’m the type of guy who goes distro-shopping every now and then, but usually ends up with the distro I came from. I’ve been using kubuntu since hoary (5.04) and have been quite pleased. However, last year with KDE 4, I’ve grown a bit frustrated with kubuntu. Packaging has certainly been improved over the course of last year, but still there are quite some little problems I encounter now and then and somehow it’s starting to feel more and more draining on my systems resources. Plus I’m starting to dislike the 6 month release cycle, and rather always stay up to date.
I’ve tried a number of different distros but I’ve never really encountered my ‘dream distro’. There were always some things I didn’t like: slow package manager, hard to use package manager, capable of breaking my system package manager, bloat, wrong choice of packages, broken multimedia stack, too different from debian without good documentation so I couldn’t get used to it… you get the idea…
And then, two days ago I suddenly came across Chakra. It’s basically Arch linux + kdemod, but then with a live cd and quick and easy installer. And it’s amazing. It absolutely FLIES. On avage it consumes about 150-250 MB less memory then my kubuntu installation (?!). Everything works very well out of the box. The kde packaging is very well done. The live cd environment is one of the most response i’ve ever encountered (and uses only 256 MB RAM). It has rolling releases, so it’s easy to always run the bleeding edge. And it’s package manager pacman is really fast and easy to use.
If you are still looking for that fast, robust and well packaged distro for KDE 4, I’d really advice you to give it a try. Even though it’s only alpha2 atm, it’s still the best KDE 4 distro I’ve encountered so far.


37 Responses to “Chakra: my new distro of choice.”

  1. G2g591 Says:

    Glad you like it too, never tried the livecd though 🙂

  2. G2g591 Says:

    one addendum, Kdemod itself has been around for along time, its mostly just the livecd+installer thats an alpha

  3. Damnshock Says:

    Welcome to the world of archlinux! I got there a few years ago and I’m simply so in love with this distro and its package manager that it’s been impossible for me to change to another distro/OS. Even the so called user friendly distros seemed *more* complicated that this KISS philosophy distro 😀

    However, on my experience, I recommend you to stick to the official archlinux repos because kdemod tends to break now and then. It’s only my experience though 😉

  4. Germán Says:

    archlinux based distro

  5. Temet Says:

    Yeah, tried it also… be careful, don’t look at some PKGBUILD, especially on AUR… you could have bad surprises (“cp” binary files instead of a “make install” nearly killed me by heart attack).
    After some weeks, I rolled back to my former distro… which still doesn’t provide KDE 4 (Gentoo stable… be patient, incredibly patient…).

    PS : my impression about Arch is that it’s incredibly fast and bleeding edge… but a nightmare to maintain (and take into account that I prefer 10 thousand times maintain my Gentoo… hard to believe but true!)

  6. Dread Knight Says:

    Yeah, Chakra is awesome, can’t wait they get rid of that network manager in alpha 3…

    Anyway, i ditched kde4.. i’m back on gnome/ubuntu. Anway, thinking about Linux Mint.. testing it in virtualbox atm.

    It’s pretty cool, maybe i might switch, but dunno…

    Anyway, like the direction the new gnome is heading, better than kde4 imho.

  7. Dave Taylor Says:

    Yes, I am having trouble running Kubuntu on my 512Mb laptop. I may give it a go if you can still use Amarok 1.4 on it, is it possible to install that?

  8. Sture Says:

    @Dread Knight: The direction Gnome is heading? You mean removing some old libs and adding a sidebar thingy to the desktop? I think I’ll stick to KDE…

  9. Maki Says:

    Yeah arch is cool + KDEMod is awesome = Chakra :))
    using arch for 2 years now

  10. rub3nmv Says:

    Totally agree, I’ve been using it for a month and it’s the best KDE 4 distro.

  11. rscheepmaker Says:

    @Dave: most certainly. You can choose between amarok 1.4, 2.0 and a recent svn. Complete KDE 3.5 is available if you want.

  12. Dave Taylor Says:

    @rscheepmaker Thanks Rob, Ooh no I won’t be going back to KDE 3.5, KDE4 is much much nicer if I turn off the Kwin’s compositing. The only reason I prefer Amarok 1.4 is so that I can update my IPod, I think I will give it a go as that suits my needs and I don’t think Kubuntu will go back to 1.4 in the next release. Infact X-Server 1.6 doesn’t work with my ATI card and the fglrx driver so if I could hold back on that it’ll definitely be time to change distro’s.

  13. Markus Says:

    I’m currently not a Chakra/Arch user but Kubuntu and the already mentioned Mint are possibly the worst distros for KDE out there. Both ship broken packages:
    openSUSE KDE 4.1 vs. Kubuntu 8.10, Part2
    Linux Mint 6 KDE

  14. shamil Says:

    Glad to see an arch based distro come out. Arch has you do so many things to set up a linux system. So much, that even after it is all done and made that i am not sure if i did it right anyway. Glad to see a live cd plus installer for this great linux base. For those looking for something similar to this arch live cd, there is sidux. Pretty much the same thing but just normal kde based on debian sid.

  15. rscheepmaker Says:

    @Dave: well actually Amarok 2.0 can use an iPod just fine. Maybe a problem with the kubuntu packages (not sure about that, I used to build amarok myself)? At least on Chakra, my iPod shows up in the ‘collection’ tab out of the box.

  16. Oliver Says:

    I also switched to arch/kdemod this year, mainly because the last KDE4 Releases in Kubuntu are absolutely f*ck*d up. Crashes, Bugs and of course the bad translations made me switch.

  17. Dirk Gently Says:

    i use Arch with kde and and it runs good. Arch does a good thing and just gives you the stock brand which i always liked alot because generally how developers intended is usually the system that is mostreliable. Heard good things about Chakra too though.

  18. G2g591 Says:

    To clarify (taken right from the Chakara/kdemod faq)
    “Also notice that Chakra is not a “real distribution” but rather a distrolet. We are still using the standard Arch Linux repositories and packages, except our customized KDE(mod) packages and extra tools. Upon installation, Chakra will be transformed into a real, unmodified Arch Linux – with the added luxury of our packages, graphical tools and a nice installation routine.”

  19. Top Posts « Says:

    […] Chakra: my new distro of choice. I’m the type of guy who goes distro-shopping every now and then, but usually ends up with the distro I came from. […] […]

  20. JavierBere Says:

    Been using Chakra for a while, and it’s definitely one of the best KDE distros out there if not the best!

  21. xsacha Says:

    I agree too! I had been distro-shopping for best KDE4 distro and had mostly come to the conclusion that no one is doing KDE4 ‘right’.

    Then I tried Chakra that was recommended in a planetkde feed. Wow, exactly what I was looking for.

    KDE4 doesn’t exactly work with 6 month releases — you need up-to-date. Also, for some reasons, mainstream distros like to load everything in to RAM and give me no breathing space (and I ain’t talking about cache or buffers!)

  22. steven Says:

    I also came to archlinux kdemod from kubuntu. It was with kde4 that I changed since my laptop isn’t the fastest out and kubuntu kde 4 was to slow for me. But arch kde4 is like kubuntu’s kde3 in terms of responsiveness. Arch is really simple and fast to install and maintaining it is easy. Plus I love the rolling release idea. Works great. Arch really is THE distro to use when you have more then a couple of months of linux usage.

  23. Linus Says:

    My tip when it comes to arch – stay away from aur, and when you use it, use it carefully. Pacman is, by the way, the best packagemanager ever! I used frugalware for a long time, and pacman rocks. really.

  24. thomas Says:

    My KDE4 on arch and firefox is now consuming ~850mb of ram. Quite a lot!

    Anyway, the packaging doesn’t matter, and it should be easy enough to turn off services in kubuntu. Boom, the memoryfootprint is similar.

    The release-cycle however is also what made me turn to Arch. 🙂

  25. Jarrad Says:

    So Chakra/Arch is like Sidux/Debian Sid?

  26. rscheepmaker Says:

    @thomas: I’m currently on 600 MB, with quite some applications running: kopete, kontact, konversation, konqueror, konsole, dolphin and amarok. Anyway, maybe it’s possible to tweak kubuntu to use similar amounts of memory, but It’s easier to just install the things you need, than it is to find out what is hugging all your memory, and if you actually need those services. And besides RAM chakra feels significantly faster then kubuntu… no idea how they did this, but I like it 🙂

    And I totally agree about the release cycle. 🙂

  27. kris Says:

    This was originall a post to carlos blog but he doesn’t allow users not registered with google so meh.. it’s still relevant here:

    QA is the biggest problem of archlinux. We got most other points down fine; Easy packaging format(we don’t split vanilla packages into a gazillion others to make package handling even harder like debian do). More packages than any other distro if you count in AUR aswell. Easy access to the PKGBUILD’s and building through ABS.

    but QA… i’m not sure archlinux maintainers even test their packages before they push them to repo, in fact that’s the most common issue i have with archlinux. I try to run an app and it won’t run. someone didn’t compile in a chroot and i get a symlink error or it doesn’t run after having it’s package version upped so now one has to recompile it.

    latest incarnation of this problem is uqm; you ty it and tell me if it works.

    thankfully because of our easy pkgformat it only takes like the time spent compiling to fix these issues and so i stick with arch, but really, QA is arch’s worst problem. Maybe kde could offer arch a build server? we really need it..

  28. rscheepmaker Says:

    @kris: indeed, uqm doesn’t work here either. But with stuff I actually use, I have yet to encounter any problem. Of course I’ve been using arch only for 3 days, so… I’ll see how often breakages will occur.

  29. rscheepmaker Says:

    @kris: oh, and btw… I’m certainly not very happy with QA of some other major distros, so I doubt arch can really do worse…

  30. markc Says:

    And just in case you get bored, and perhaps have a spare ~10Gb partition to play with, you can always install the daily kde-svn packages I’ve been providing for the past year… since pretty well the first 4.0 release. I would not use these packages on my main desktop system but on another partition or in a VM it’s handy to be able to check out what’s happening in trunk in the last 48 hours. It’s also handy to get an idea what’s broken too, like amarok is not building because of the dependency on qtscriptgenerator and there is something wrong with cmake in the it’s Git repo. You know, fun stuff like that. Some people run it as their main desktop and just put up with the glitches. Because it’s built everyday there will be an older package still around in /var/cache/pacman that probably will work.

    I’m not aware of any other distro, at all, that has been providing (albeit unofficially) daily builds of KDE4 trunk for both i686 and x86_64. Together with Chakra as an excellent stable KDE4 system, Archlinux rocks for KDE4.

  31. tom Says:

    @Jarrad: No, arch is not like Sid. Its more like debian testing, but constantly updated. Arch has a testing repo where large or problematic changes will sit until devs/testers feel its good with few flaws. I’ve never had a break, sometimes a missing feature but that gets fixed quickly, sid on the other hand…

    @rscheepmaker: QA for arch is amazingly good for how fast they manage to push updates out. I’ve never had a problem that wasn’t something to do with the catalyst drivers (they are notoriously problematic). And even then it was easy to go back to a different version and stick with it for awhile.

  32. rscheepmaker Says:

    @markc: well, since I also develop for plasma, I already build parts of trunk quite regular myself. I used to run trunk as my main desktop, but trunk tends to break stuff every once in a while and considering 4.2 is a very nice release, I now stick to 4.2 as main desktop and just use plasma from trunk while developing. Anyway, good to know they provide packages for trunk too… 🙂

    @tom: good to hear. 🙂

  33. Dave Taylor Says:

    @Rob Amarok can read from an IPod however writing is a different issue, nice application otherwise although it does like the RAM itself.

  34. rscheepmaker Says:

    @Dave: writing works just fine here. Maybe not all iPod models are supported equally well? A 3th generation here…

  35. Links 06/04/2009: More Schools Move to GNU/Linux, Debian Gains Architectures | Boycott Novell Says:

    […] Chakra: my new distro of choice. And then, two days ago I suddenly came across Chakra. It’s basically Arch linux + kdemod, but then with a live cd and quick and easy installer. And it’s amazing. It absolutely FLIES. On avage it consumes about 150-250 MB less memory then my kubuntu installation (?!). Everything works very well out of the box. The kde packaging is very well done. The live cd environment is one of the most response i’ve ever encountered (and uses only 256 MB RAM). It has rolling releases, so it’s easy to always run the bleeding edge. And it’s package manager pacman is really fast and easy to use. […]

  36. IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: April 6th, 2009 | Boycott Novell Says:

    […] Another new Archer:… […]

  37. Switching to Chakra « Yngve Inntjore Levinsen's blog Says:

    […] that KDEmod/Chakra is the most properly built KDE distribution out there, even at this stage: Chakra: my new distro of choice, Alpha 3: a […]

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