Chakra Installer Review

The Chakra Project is a “distrolet” based on Arch Linux and providing its own KDE packages (collectively called KDEmod). I really do not like KDE so I am only interested in how the install goes. I used QEMU with a 4GB image and 512MB RAM with the 2010-01-10 “Aesop” installer.

The installer is live CD based, so boots you into a nice looking desktop [01]. Starting the installation takes you to a graphical install system [02] with the prerequisite warning about being an alpha release and the issues it can cause your hamster. After reading some notes and agreeing to various EULAs [03], the install is all go.

Onto the preparation of your system. The language and time settings looked quite ugly [04], but I have suspicions that QEMU was running this quite slow and maybe this was an artefact. I found it good to know that despite the complexities of installing being hidden, there was options to go in deeper [05] if needed. Partitioning [06] was not particularly simple, but that is being reworked for the future.

The actual installation of packages [07] proceeds with a montage of screenshot to whet your appetite for your new install. Of course you probably have already seen what it looks like from the live CD… Then you create some new users [08] (although I do not know what exactly an “Administrator” is), enter the root password and install the bootloader. I have no idea what the “Configure System” item at the end of the installer sidebar does as after installing the bootloader I got a reboot dialog.

The booting system looks familiar [09] to any Arch Linux user. I had expected a graphical boot-up as I had heard something about it using Plymouth, but I guess that is for the future. The login screen indicates that the /etc/hosts file has issues with setting the hostname [10]. Other than that, I was left with a fully working KDE desktop with no obvious issues. Looking at some configuration files to see how well the automatic set-up went found some interesting points. The MODULES array in /etc/rc.conf both disables and enables the e1000 module [11]. Also, I noticed that kdm is started as a daemon rather than using the inittab method, which I guess is more in line with what Chakra wants to provide but I find that to be less flexible. The supplied pacman.conf has the repos listed in an interesting order [12] (I think [core] should at least come before the KDEmod repos).

Overall, the installer does its job despite a few rough edges. The install booted to the desktop with relatively few configuration issues that I could spot. Not bad for something labelled “alpha”. Is it the “Arch made easy” that is often touted on Distrowatch Weekly comments? Maybe. But with a distro like Arch, that is not necessarily a good thing.

Screenshot index:

[01] – Live CD Desktop
[02] – Installer start screen
[03] – EULAs
[04] – Language and timezone setup
[05] – Hidden “advanced” options
[06] – Partitioning
[07] – Package installation
[08] – User creation
[09] – Bootup
[10] – Login
[11] – /etc/rc.conf
[12] – /etc/pacman.conf

5 thoughts on “Chakra Installer Review

  1. It’s not that good. Arch installation is so simplified, that if someone wants to use it, just installs the original, according to his liking.

  2. People just need to learn that using that installer or their repos will setup Chakra and not Arch with all consequences like that all bugs have to be reported to them and not us.

  3. Hello, just a corection of typo – the [03] links to chakra02.png while in fact it should link to chakra03.png

    Personally I see this as a big fail, to accept MS Eula when installing GNU/Linux distribution. This is like from a horror movie :-)

    Chakra devs should consider using another fonts, why use stupid MS fonts when they apply EULA for it? IMO This has nothing to do in a standard install of GNU/Linux distro.

  4. Hi Allan, thanks for your review.

    Some small remarks:

    The broken language and time screen seems to be a QEMU issue indeed. We are mostly testing on VirtualBox and sometimes on VMware, but so far none of use tried it on QEMU.

    The “Administrator” checkbox on the user setup page just configures sudo for the chosen account.

    The “Configure System” item at the end of the installation will point to an “advanced settings” page in the future, where you can configure everything through an embedded Arxin instance. The idea is to allow even totally unexperienced users to do a basic install, and users with more experience can tweak the installed system after the basic installation has been finished, of course this is a optional step.

    Plymouth is basically working but not ready yet to be included on the LiveCD, we are waiting for more more “out of the box” stability and better support from the drivers.

    The /etc/hosts and MODULES array issues are interesting… Because these were some of the first modules i wrote back then, and they worked fine since alpha1. Maybe our recent move to larch7 is the cause here, or someone just broke it™ on the way. It could be even fixed on one of the newer devel images…

    About the order of the repos: It is intended like this. Normally we are not providing any packages that are already in [core], but sometimes we “override” some packages from [extra], especially when a new major release of KDE is in our testing repo.

    About the comments from gtklocker and FSF: You know the verdict about opinions? ;) And what Pierre said is true, we already talked about that and so far i see no real solution for the “bug reporting behaviour” of some users. We do not link to the Arch bugtracker for example, not even in the KMenu or other places. All in all, i guess we will need our own “platform” at some point in time, as Arch is not really the distro for what we want to deliver. Not technically (it is a fine platform, one of the finest) but more in terms of philosophy, so i definitely agree with you here.

    Well, we’ll see what the future has in petto :) Thanks again for the review…