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The wheel has turned

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Okay, so I get around to upgrading my SO’s (I wuv yu LouLou) desktop and take the opportunity to break free from the OpenSUSE-Kubuntu stranglehold I found myself in.

After adding 2GB of generic DDR2 memory and a 1.5TB Seagate disk, I ended up with the following configuration:

WTF? What’s Chakra? Well it’s a brand spanking new Linux distribution spearheaded by a bunch of KDE hackers, dissatisfied with the level of support the major distros give their chosen desktop environment.

Even though the devs claim the distribution is still in development (actually the first stable release, 0.3 “Ashoc”, arrived this week), it did everything I wanted so I’m quite pleasantly surprised with it.

It has a live CD GUI installer, automagic hardware detection – including the OPTION to use proprietary Nvidia graphics drivers – and a GUI front-end for package management (which itself is based on Arch’s pacman).

Chakra has a lot more going for it and the pace of development seems to be gathering steam.

The philosophy is a “half-rolling” release cycle where the most up-to-date stable software is generally available, but more care is taken with lower level software so as to not trash your system during an upgrade. That said, I did a one-click upgrade of all my packages and the kernel went from 2.6.33 to 2.6.35 without any hiccups so things look promising.

The the packages in testing are deemed stable enough the “testing” release then becomes “stable” and the cycle is repeated.

And while I don’t know much about the command line tools, I’m happy to learn as it reminds me of my Gentoo days.

I have nothing against OpenSUSE or Kubuntu, they are both great distros, but I’m just not confident enough in their long-term roadmaps to continue using them. I have Kubuntu on my main notebook, but that may change sooner rather than later.

There’s no doubt GNOME has received most attention with commercial-oriented Linux distributions, but, as Aaron Seigo once said to me, just because you throw at lot more resources at something that doesn’t mean you are going to end up with a better product.

Kudos to the Chakra development squad, it looks like they have managed to achieve something the bigger name distros have largely failed to do – build an integrated KDE-based Linux distribution with user-friendly installation and upgrade processes.

My experience with Chakra over the past week is difficult to explain. It’s like I’ve started using Linux for the first time all over again. Finally there is a Linux distribution that treats KDE like the quality desktop it is and not just an afterthought that needs to do everything GNOME does in order to remain “relevant”.

And for those who need GTK+ it’s there in the repos and Chakra’s bundle system offers a one-click way to install popular GTK+-based apps.

To inner harmony and integrated, KDE-based Linux distributions.

Ah yes, this week also happens to be riddled with pagan rituals so merry Tuxmas and have a happy GNU/year!

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