In-Depth Chakra “Ashoc” 0.3.0 Review and Impressions

29 Dec

This is guest blogger Prashanth Venkataram, and I write and manage the blog Das U-Blog by Prashanth, where I post reviews of Linux distributions and software as well as my thoughts about the current state of science, technology, and people’s freedoms (especially with regard to technology).

Today I will be reviewing Chakra 0.3.0 “Ashoc”.
Many of my regular readers have heard a couple times before that Chakra is an Arch-based KDE distribution. However, since its alpha releases, it has diverged enough from Arch and KDEmod to become to Arch what Ubuntu has become to Debian: while they share package types and many upstream repositories, there will be quite a few incompatibilities. So while they are fundamentally tied together, they are at the same time now essentially separate projects. Though Chakra and KDEmod made each other more popular within the Arch community, now Chakra is splitting from the KDEmod project and creating its own Arch-based implementation of KDE.

This week, the developers have released version 0.3.0 “Ashoc” into the wild; I have previously reviewed version 0.2.0 “Jaz” and came away slightly disappointed by Chakra’s GUI package installer CInstall and the choice of Konqueror over Rekonq, the latter of which was included in the alpha releases. Continue reading to see if any of these issues have been rectified. I wanted to test this through a live USB, but UnetBootin got hung up trying to create the live USB, so I settled for a VirtualBox test with 1 GB of RAM allocated to the guest OS; what this also meant is that I couldn’t test peripherals like my webcam.

When I started the virtual machine, I was greeted by a nice-looking GRUB screen, followed by a bunch of text. This was then followed by an extremely well-done KDE splash screen (unique to Chakra) which segued into the KDE desktop. I really like the combination of the blue wallpaper and dark Plasma theme; it gives the desktop the feeling of being simultaneously slick and soothing. The desktop is otherwise standard KDE, with a Folder View Widget showing some application shortcuts and a Kickoff menu at the bottom-left.

As I mentioned earlier, the Chakra developers dumped Rekonq for Konqueror, probably to build a better impression of stability for a post-alpha release (which would have been marred by the instability of Rekonq at that time). Well, now Rekonq is back, and it’s better than ever before. It now sports an “Awesome Bar” similar to Mozilla Firefox, and its interface is more compact, with the stop/reload buttons combined into one and the menu being put into a button on the side. Rekonq seemed to render most pages fine, and it never crashed.

The other big highlight is the collection of huge improvements to CInstall, which is now not just usable but also arguably a worthy competitor to programs like PackageKit and Synaptic (though it needs a bit more work to get to Mint Software Manager-levels of refinement). This time I was easily able to install new software, including Adobe Flash (where I was unable to before); not once did CInstall crash or complain.

Otherwise, the suite of software included is essentially the same relative to version 0.2.0. Though Chakra has generally been stable throughout its releases, just to reinforce the point, KDE never crashed once. Even better, Chakra never felt slow at any point in the live session. With confidence, I proceeded to the installer.

The Chakra installer, Tribe, has got to be one of the most beautiful and easy installers I have ever used, and is certainly competitive with Ubiquity and Anaconda. It has a really cool 3D globe that let me pick my city (to set up my time zone, keyboard layout, and language), though there was a bit of confusion in that some locations weren’t clickable cities. The addition of new users is really well done and couldn’t possibly be made simpler. The partition manager, though not quite as simple as the Ubiquity sliding bar, is pretty simple, though there could be a little more explanation included for new users (e.g. what ‘/’ and “linuxswap” are). After proceeding past the proverbial “point of no return”, I was greeted with a nicely-done slideshow talking about Chakra and the included programs. The installation itself was relatively quick (probably around 10 minutes), and at the end of that, I was even offered to add new programs within the installation program (i.e. without needing to reboot first), which was really nice. I declined, and with that, I was ready to reboot.

Unfortunately, this is where the fun ended. When I rebooted, Chakra seemed to boot properly, but the KDE session seemed to be just the cursor on top of a black screen. Judging from the Chakra forums, it seems like this is a known problem (though not just stemming from installations where the users also opt to install additional packages at the end), but this is pretty darn serious.

So what’s the verdict? I was really pleased with the live session, as it seemed to address my main gripes with the previous version. The installer was also a real treat to use. However, this was all marred by a nonworking installed session, which is essentially a show-stopper. Hopefully this gets fixed either in an update to “Ashoc” or in the next version 0.4.0 “Cyrus”, but I hope that “Cyrus” doesn’t bring a whole bunch of additional bugs after fixing this one. Chakra is really promising and probably one of the best KDE live CDs around, but it really isn’t installable at the moment.


I am ben kevan.. Well yeah. .that's about it.

17 thoughts on “In-Depth Chakra “Ashoc” 0.3.0 Review and Impressions

  1. The lack of gnome is what turned me off from chakra linux. Kde implementation is nice though. In the end, nt is okay, but the restriction to kde DE was my show stopper

  2. I personally think the slit from Arch has totally destroyed this distro, When it followed arch to the letter it was only the installer that let it down. now its everything. they have taken a rolling release and tried to make it into a Debian of Arch it does not work.

  3. it’s a baby.. we don’t expect any of it to work yet.. don’t be so critical. unless you actually hack for chakra..
    there are very good reasons for the arch split, and for only packaging kde. it’s still unix. anyone is very welcome to build gnome packages..

    pretty sure your ‘fails to boot’ issue was a crashed plasma-desktop.. or possibly you needed an alt+shift+f12. our hardware/gfx detection stuff is all ground-up.. and very incomplete.. so come help 😉

    plus it’s just for fun. we don’t sell it. or rub it in your face. zero advertisement.

  4. mandog, I’m sorry but I disagree with you. For me the split from Arch and their half-rolling release model is a good and happy one. But yes, the distro has problems but hey, it is in an alpha stage so what did you wait? Let’s them time and, hopefully, the promises will be kept and Chakra will become maybe a good/great distro… 😉

  5. From the home page of Chakra: “…especially made for enjoying the KDE Software Compilation, for people who really want to learn something about Linux or dont want to deal with administrative overhead.”
    Chakra has made installation easier then Arch, but by no means is this a distro for people who don’t want to learn/read about it. Recommended from the wiki, for anyone, before ever attempting to install:

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  7. I’ve been following the project since day 1 but they seem to go 1 step forward and 10 backwards 12mths ago it was a fully working project that just needed tidying up. As far as KDE is concerned in Arch to install Kde its a simple pacman S -kde phonon-xine
    or the full package pacman -S kde-meta phonon-xine add kde to the daemon list in etc/rc.conf for the whole shooting match its that simple if you can’t install Arch which is again quite easy install CTKArchLive 0.6 1st then pacman Syu
    pacman S -kde phonon-xine or pacman -S kde-meta phonon-xine

  8. Ashoc is plainly disappointing as compared to JAZZ. Tribe doesnt care to give you clue what it did to you other operating systems, it just goes for grub installation and when you boot your system all you see it ashoc booting and fully booted ashoc refused to give me any disply just a blank desktop!

    I am just wondering when tribe was dealing fine installing gurb and before hand offering a configuration file to choose where to install grub why would chakra team mess with it and “force” you to either use chakra only or later manually edit your grub manually to boot your XP or Ubuntu??

    And what is happening to display? after nice looking KDM there is a black screen of death!

    Sorry but this is 10 step backwards as someone said in comments above.


  9. Phil Miller,

    Testing your new release Chakra-GNULinux-0.3.1pre1, infact posting this comment from it, have installed it to my system now,

    Grub still behaves oddly as before but I managed to fix it manually.

    The black screen of death did not greet me this time 🙂

    This is once again 10 steps forwards !

    abveritas, do I still shound mad ? 😀


  10. Thx mate for your test of 0.3.1pre1. I also uploaded the x64 image.

    I’m glad to read that the black screen of death is fixed.

    About the grub thing. We didn’t changed it much. I only fixed the right installation.

    With Ashoc we added to much features at once. We will think and test more with Cyrus. A point-release of Ashoc with KDE 4.5.5 might be out this weekend.

  11. 0.3.1pre2 is out:

    Release Announcement


    KDE SC 4.5.5 added
    Kernel updated to
    Catalyst updated to 10.12
    Grub auto-installation to right hdd
    “Black screen of death” on installed system fixed (Composite disabled)
    Wlan issues on installed system fixed

  12. Phil,

    Since the current releases of Chakra are labeled as Alpha, why don’t you incorporate the “up coming” releases of KDE (ie 4.6, which is in RC2).

    i’ll do a quick blog regarding the release of 0.3.1pre2 indicating that some of the issues reported in this posting has been resolved.

    Thank you

  13. We already have those upcomming releases in our testing repositories, Alpha it’s about the state of our installer and utils, but the stabe repositories are pretty stable.

  14. will it be a release of ashok with kde4.6 shortly after its release? or will it be accesible only through cyrus?, the thing is ive been waiting for a kde that can actualy search my files and 4.6 is the answer finally!!!! but cyrus is still alpha right? or when do you think cyrus 4.0 will be released? thanks!!!

  15. Did you have a windows partition in front of the chakra partition (one that appears before the chakra partition in the table) ?

    That is not a problem of chakra – it is the m$ partition screwing up the linux kernel itself.

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