Review: Chakra 2013.02

I tried this (64-bit version, as there is no 32-bit edition anymore) on a live USB system made through the “dd” command; due to Chakra now using the GFXBoot tool for booting, neither MultiSystem nor UnetBootin worked, and I didn’t have any other data on this USB drive, so I was OK with using that tool. This review almost didn’t happen because right after the boot menu, the message “invalid or corrupt kernel image” would come up. I decided to give this one last shot by downloading the ISO file again and trying again, and it worked! Follow the jump to see what it’s like.

As mentioned before, Chakra uses the GFXBoot tool to make the boot menu more friendly; thanks to my use of “dd” rather than MultiSystem, I could see this native boot menu in action. It certainly looks a lot nicer than the standard boot menus, and it works well too. After that came a scrolling wall of text, followed by a nice Chakra-branded KDE splash screen; that has the Chakra name and logo above a spinning progress meter on a smooth gray background, which looks quite slick and professional. After that came the desktop; I should say before that though that at various points, I had to log out and log back in, and the KDM login screen looks stunning in Chakra.

The desktop is fairly typical of KDE and Chakra, which is to say that there is one standard panel on the bottom, and the KDE Plasma widget on the desktop is the one helping new users navigate Chakra. The KDE Plasma theme is called “Dharma”, and it looks really slick; one thing I particularly like about it is that it makes distinguishing active, inactive, and minimized windows in the taskbar very easy, which is something that a lot of other popular KDE Plasma themes fail to do. Other than that, the desktop is fairly standard.

Mozilla Firefox + Calligra Words

Rekonq is the default browser, but Mozilla Firefox can be installed as a “bundle”: this means that it essentially functions as a standalone program similar to what PC-BSD does with PBIs, so that no GTK+ and other dependencies clutter the base Chakra system. That installed and worked fine. It seems like most codecs seem to be included, as YouTube and Hulu worked fine. My laptop‘s volume keyboard shortcuts were recognized, but not out-of-the-box; they had to be enabled in the KDE System Settings program, as the default settings were to have no keyboard shortcuts controlling the volume, which is weird.

In keeping with the theme of pure KDE applications, the default productivity software is Calligra. It focuses very heavily on templates, which isn’t quite like how I learned to use these programs, so using them was a little strange; anyway, I don’t use these except for the spreadsheet program much, so it isn’t a huge deal.
Aside from that, included in the live session are some standard KDE tools, along with Dragon Player, SpiderOak, and others.

Dolphin is as usual the default file browser. I was also able to install KLook, which is the KDE equivalent of Gloobus-Preview, through CCR. Unfortunately, although it generally worked, it would not start simply by pressing ‘SPACE'; I had to manually pick it from the list of programs available to make it preview a file. It seems like an additional patch is required for Dolphin to make it recognize and work with the existence of KLook. Anyway, Dolphin’s preview pane does a fine job of previewing files, although it is always present in the main window and thus takes up too much space when it is not previewing anything.
Also, I’ve found that Dolphin doesn’t do as good of a job at recognizing external partitions as Nautilus, and I wanted to see if that has changed. Thankfully, Dolphin in Chakra now recognizes both my external and internal hard drives as well as my video camera, which is great.

Read Full Review at Source Web Site: