Updated: January 23, 2015
Chakra Linux is an interesting offering. It aims to deliver the purest of KDE experiences to its users, plus it is based on goat sacrifice, which means Arch Linux. And that's mental, if you expect meek results, which I obviously do.
Intrigued, I set about trying this latest of releases. My previous experiences, with the 2011 and 2012 releases, respectively, were mixed. More accurately, the older version was pretty good, while two years ago, it was merely average. So let's try one more time, shall we.
Live session and such
Like the previous time, Chakra would not boot from USB, and I was forced to hunt down for a box of my DVD to get underway. At least this worked, albeit slowly. The desktop is pretty standard KDE, plus you get a big notification telling you about the project.
Here's the weird thing. You do get Flash, but in my case, I only had audio playback and no video. Annotations and video suggestions would show up, but not the main stream. And if you touched the video track for a preview, those would show up, too. This is something gone horribly wrong under the hood. MP3 worked fine. I think rekonq should not be a browser of choice, really. Firefox or Chrome. That's it.
This did not work at all. And you get an ugly bad file descriptor error. Awesome.
The process begins in a generic manner and without any fancy window borders. I don't like this, because it speaks of big inconsistencies in the process. Either you have borders, or you don't, but not both. Elementary OS had the same issue.
Overall, the installer is unique and pretty, even though you might be a little intimidated by all that black color, but maybe that's the idea. Furthermore, it's different from most other installers, so you should be careful. When selecting a timezone, you get several language choices, and they might not match your preference. For instance, I was only offered English (GB). Not bad, but still. On the other hand, the keyboard was properly set to my desired layout. Go figure.
If you're considering installing Chakra on systems with UEFI and GPT, then you can't really do this, because this wizard, called Tribe, does not work with those technologies. This is a pretty big limitation in the modern era. Other than that, I had no problems during the disk setup step. The partitions are not labeled, so if you have identical disks with identical layouts, like my test box, you will need to mount manually and check first.
Installation type is your next choice. You can go with offline, and use everything included on the DVD, or try a network installation that is more minimal in nature. I opted for the first type, but I loud this option. This is minimalism in its true form.
The slideshow is visually stimulating, but it is not very descriptive. You don't get any words, any accompanying text, so you need to guess the abstract meaning of the message. The slide images can also be bigger.
First boot ...
Problems! A few seconds into the boot sequence, the screen would turn garbled green and freeze. The desktop would simply not come up. I fiddled with the boot options, but nothing seemed to work. Every single time, there was simply nothing I could do, not even switch to other virtual text consoles and try to debug. And so, my Chakra experience ended prematurely, with a big failure.
I do not really know what went wrong, but for me, Chakra is getting progressively worse and less friendly. It started as a very cool, very unique distro, and then hardware problems and compatibility issues started piling up until it's become completely unbootable. Such a shame. Oh, I also tried booting it on my T400 machine, after a fellow reader mentioned Arch having no problems with the laptop's Wireless card drivers. Guess, it did not work.
But even without the great obstacle of not being able to actually use the distro, what little testing I did in the live session was not stellar. Flash problems, printing problems, desktop effects did not work, the screenshot issue we've seen in so many other distros is here too, and the installer can benefit from some rework. All in all, not a successful effort. I am not sure if I ought to grade, because there's very little to be said here. But the fact I don't have a grade is a damning conclusion by itself. Let's hope Chakra can get back on its feet, because it may soon join a long list of unmentionables, distros that have dropped off my hopefully todo list and plunged into oblivion.