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Distro reviews

Kahel OS (version 12-25-09) (Gnome)

Kahel OS has a lovely selection of default backdrops. An Arch based distro running Gnome as its DE.

The first distro I am looking at for the new year is Kahel OS, a distro based on Arch and hailing from the Philipines, it makes some bold statements and made it impossible for me to ignore!  Distrowatch seems to list a plethora of Ubuntu based distro’s and whilst much work goes into them, most of the time I ask myself “What does X do that Y doesnt?”

…means faster boot process, faster X server load, seamless graphical 3D effects, faster graphics, and an improved animated boot sequence; faster boot-up – the startup process has been tweaked enormously to speed up the boot process

I thought I would be clever and start this review with a definition of the word “Kahel”.  Unfortunately there isn’t one, so I can’t. If you look at the meaning Ubuntu (an African word meaning Humanity to others) the closest definition I can give for Kahel would be “Sahel” (African word meaning to eat abundantly).  Since one of the claims of this distro is performance, I think it applies.  Is there an abundance of tweaks/speed ups?  Read on to find out!

As I say, the countless Ubuntu derived distro’s of varying quality offer users a diverse choice in their OS needs, but since Kahel OS is based on Arch (and has just released a Netbook remix version as well) I thought I would take a closer look at this interesting distro.

I installed and tested Kahel on a particularly temperamental system, which is no stranger to odd bouts of meldrovian [1] rage.  The specs are as follows: Compaq AMD Athlon 64 3000+, 512mb Ram.  It should be noted for the purposes of this review that Im running the 32bit version of Kahel.

Installation

After burning the ISO and booting you are immediately thrown into a text installer.  Whilst the installation procedure is certainly not as user friendly (or pretty) as some of the “big name” distro’s, its certainly very simple to follow, with the script taking you through all the steps from partitioning to installing Grub.  This is the where the first issue occurs though as a newcomer to Linux in my opinion would be put off with the options presented.  There’s a wealth of file systems to choose from and in this review I opted to go with ext4.

The whole procedure took around 35 minutes to complete and if the installation options had not put off a new user then the echoing of system commands will probably have them hiding under a desk.  I couldn’t find an option to hide these and if this distro is intended to be for a Linux newcomer, its certainly an option that needs to be considered (IMO).

And this is where the problem is.  Whether you are a user/fan of Ubuntu or not, I don’t think you can argue that Ubuntu is not only the “planet” where many experienced Linux users like to reside, but its also a stepping stone for those new to Linux who will eventually decide to become more adventurous and look at more exotic distros.

Default packages

First off, Kahel comes as default with the Gnome DE (version 2.28.2) and whilst I do not like the way Gnome seems to be moving to more Mono dependence in its default install, its still hard for me to select my favorite DE between this and Xfce.  Of course F-Spot was the first package to be removed, as was anything with Mono dependencies.  Kahel is running Linux kernel 2.6.32.

Stepping back to comments I made in the installation section, I am still confused by the default Gnome games.  These (IMO) mostly play once titles are something every Linux user of over 6 months have seen/played/deleted and if,  Kahel is aimed more at the established Linux user, why on earth would they be included?  If anyone has a particular desire to play these games then its not exactly challenging to install them.

Shiretoko 3.5.6 (Firefox derived) is packaged as default and whilst I do like to have Firefox/derivative as a backup browser, I immediately installed Chromium which from the software repositories, which as it stands is currently 4.0.249.43-1.  Pacman 2.4 handles the package management of Kahel (and very well I may add), Im rapidly becoming a fan and I do like the “orphans” tab for tracking down those bloat creating rogue packages.  This for me is another reason why Kahel may not be the first port of call for a Linux newcomer and I don’t think anyone here will argue that Ubuntu Software Center is far more accessable.

Other default packages include Gnome Terminal 2.28.2, Python 2.6.4, Open Office 3.1.1, Totem 2.28.4  Interestingly Gimp is absent from the default install, could the Canonical idea that Gimp is too complicated be influencing other distro’s?  Of course Kahel does include Draw (part of the Open Office suite) and for me is more than adequate for my local image editing needs.  A nice little touch is the famous quote you get every time you run Terminal…simple I know, easy to do, I know but its little touches like this which I like about the many distro’s around.

Kahel running Quake live. You may want to consider installing proprietary drivers in order to get top performance though.

Performance

In order to see what performance was like in a real world scenario, I decided to run Quake Live and see if the claims made by Kahel’s creators were supported in the results.  Despite my beloved Nvidia drivers being absent, performance was reasonable.   It is worth noting though that if 3d performance (and in particular gaming) is your intention, then IMO you are going to want to consider installing the proprietary drivers for your gfx card Dropped frames were kept to a minimum although it did noticeably struggle at times.  Performance of the DE and taking into account ext4 was fast, loading times were quick and despite limited ram, the system as a whole ran relatively smoothly, even when a combination of tasks were attempted simultaneously.

Boot up and startup times were good.  You may see in Kahel’s description a reference to an animated loading screen.  This consists of a dancing Kahel logo instead of a progress bar, IMO not very exciting although if you have Kahel stored on a device with fast load/seek times the little chap will have a fit whilst loading.

Shut down times were good, but not as fast as some of the “big name” distro’s, with Kahel taking around 15 seconds to power down.  Not an issue I know, but the description led me to believe I was in for something special.

Conclusions

I liked Kahel, its derived from a solid distro with a large following (Arch).  Kahel is not one of the many generic Ubuntu clones that seem to be flavor of the month at the moment and it makes effort with “the little things” in order to try to give you a unique experience.  Kahel has a nice selection of original backdrops and the Kahel logo is wacky, but more importantly memorable.

For those of you who think Ubuntu’s default DE theme is garish, just wait until you see Kahel.  Bright orange is order of the day for Kahel.

As I said before theres a few packages which need not be present.  If we are agreed that Kahel is not intended for the Linux new user then I fail to see why the need to have the games installed.

Since Kahel is attempting to be a little different (and it does that well) it would be nice to see the removal of Mono, theres nothing for me that requires the Mono dependencies, no killer app and for me no reason for its presence.  If Kahel is wanting to “stand out” even more from the competition of hundreds of other distro’s, that to me would be a good place to start.

A great distro, that attempts to be original, offering out of the box compat for those which have already dipped their feet into Linux.

Visit the homepage here: http://www.kahelos.org/index.php

Netbook Remix

Kahel is going into 2010 with offerings of its OS for both 32 and 64bit Netbooks.  Kahel have said:

Today on New Year’ Day, Let us introduce to you KahelOS Light Edition 01-01-2010 designed for Netbooks with limited storage capacity.  Just like the KahelOS Desktop Edition, the Light Edition has 32- bit and 64-bit version installers.

The “light” version is also presented with Xfce DE, is reported to be more SSD friendly and can be downloaded here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/kahelos/files/

For those of you interested in the desktop edition or to catch up on the latest happenings over in the Kahel world, visit their website here: http://www.kahelos.org/index.php

Notes

[1] Meldrovian is a term derived from a fictional character (Victor Meldrew) prone to grumpy, stubborn and outrageous behaviour with a unquestionable belief in himself being right.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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Online tech writer, novelist/author of sci-fi literature and co-host of the TechBytes Show! I believe in multi-culturalism & diversity. Luton Town FC supporter.

Discussion

27 thoughts on “Kahel OS (version 12-25-09) (Gnome)

  1. Maybe this would be worth reading: http://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=80006

    Posted by Greg | January 3, 2010, 3:29 pm
    • Thanks! Pretty much a summary that was said over on the official site but all in one post.

      Its funny the creators mention “lazy” since after getting past the (IMO) rather un-new user friendly installer, its pretty much out of the box and certainly did not pose any challenges like some distro’s do.

      Thanks for the link!

      Posted by openbytes | January 3, 2010, 4:25 pm
    • @ Greg,

      Why do you think the link you posted is worth reading?

      And another question, how can one steal from a GPL Distribution?

      Anyways, i’m just a bit curious though about how some Arch followers can dissuade and pick on Kahel OS when in fact their website and a lot of articles about this recent Linux Distro had clearly mentions, recognizes and attributed so much from where it based KahelOS.

      AFAIK, CRUX supports Arch unconditionally… Unfortunately for Kahel, it seems Arch does not…

      I’ll give this distro a try since i’m recently on Ubuntu.

      Posted by Dorian | January 3, 2010, 6:55 pm
      • Dorian, Ive covered the issue of “stealing” and data in general and I think under UK law the definition of stealing does not hold true when it comes to data.

        That aside, I would say not abiding by the GPL terms would be an “infringement” and the GPL bases itself of the betterment of code through sharing…a refusal to abide by those terms could be construed as “stealing” in the context of keeping the debate simple.

        I intentionally left the debate between the Arch and Kahel community alone since Im not a member of either. My main rig is that of another distro, so to me the distro hopping is in the interest of reviewing/checking out what everyone else is doing.

        Regards
        Goblin.

        Posted by openbytes | January 3, 2010, 7:04 pm
      • “Why do you think the link you posted is worth reading?”

        Because its a piece of Kahel’s history.
        Not the one you read on books about what happened 500 years ago, thats the real deal.
        BTW i ain’t an Archer either

        Posted by Greg | January 3, 2010, 8:44 pm
  2. I have a little question:
    Why are you removing F-Spot when you’re living in the UK anyway and software patents can’t really threat you?
    Is it just because you don’t need the application, or is it because of Mono?

    Nice review of the distro, I’m also worried to see how the GIMP disappears from more and more default installs, but maybe it really isn’t necessary for users who are never going to use it anyway. I don’t know any normal computer user who edits fotos apart from rotating and removing red eyes.

    Posted by Julian | January 3, 2010, 6:34 pm
  3. Quote “Why are you removing F-Spot when you’re living in the UK anyway and software patents can’t really threat you?”

    Good question, thanks for asking it. Ive always said to put aside the issue of patent traps and Mono. Its simply one of those questions that can’t be answered until something happens.

    That aside I refer to my dislike of Mono chasing the tail of Microsoft .Net and reference Comes V Microsoft (Evangelism is War)

    “Every line of code that is written to our standards is a small victory; every line of code that is written to any other standard, is a small defeat. Total victory, for DRG, is the universal adoption of our standards by developers, as this is an important step towards total victory for Microsoft itself:”

    as part of the basis for my refusal to use Mono and/or its associated apps.

    Forgetting that though for a second, the other reason is that there is no killer app for me that requires Mono, infact there’s no app that uses Mono which I rely on. Thats the other reason.

    Thanks for the kind words and I agree with your final comment, I think many users just require the basics and I think that feature is catered for quite well with even online apps.

    Regards
    Goblin.

    Posted by openbytes | January 3, 2010, 6:46 pm
    • Thanks for explaining.
      I didn’t know the quote you were giving yet, but it’s typical FUD spreading by Microsoft I suppose.

      Posted by Julian | January 3, 2010, 10:17 pm
      • Its from the Comes V Microsoft exhibits. The court documents which have been released offer an insightful view of what lengths Microsoft will go to in order to maintain market dominance.

        C#? No thanks! The only place I will be using C# is on my guitar.

        Regards
        Goblin.

        Posted by openbytes | January 3, 2010, 10:29 pm
  4. “I thought I would be clever and start this review with a definition of the word “Kahel”. Unfortunately there isn’t one, so I can’t. If you look at the meaning Ubuntu (an African word meaning Humanity to others) the closest definition I can give for Kahel would be “Sahel” (African word meaning to eat abundantly). Since one of the claims of this distro is performance, I think it applies.”

    Actually, there is a simple meaning to the term “Kahel”… In native Filipino language, it means “Orange” – fresh and juicy (I think), but I think “Sahel” goes well with the Distro too!

    Posted by icenel | January 4, 2010, 1:54 am
    • Thanks for that!

      I would like to pretend I knew straight away the meaning of Sahel, but I didn’t I had to do a Google search for “what does Kahel mean?” thats how I found Sahel!

      Thinking about it, Kahel is correct (your definition) since it has a default orange theme…..Bingo! You’ve cracked it!

      Posted by openbytes | January 4, 2010, 3:08 pm
  5. I’m a filipino.

    Kahel – Is the color orange in Filipino

    Posted by JF | January 5, 2010, 7:27 am
  6. Thanks! I wish the site had made that clear!

    Posted by openbytes | January 5, 2010, 8:38 pm
  7. I’m glad you’re fine with Kael but I’m intrigued. I did try to install it as a guest on VBox and … never made it. The isntallation, until the point it installed, is awkward. It took hours, not minutes and in end, I was always presented with a black screen, which refused to move to anything else on the installation or booting. I downloaded and tried all versions, including the light one. I changed the configuration of the virtual machine from Arch to general 2.6 Linux, I increaded the disk and ram capacity and got always the same result.

    Posted by meanpt | January 8, 2010, 1:42 pm
  8. I wouldn’t like to comment without knowing your hardware at least. Have you had the same problem with Arch?

    Posted by openbytes | January 8, 2010, 9:00 pm
    • Hi,

      The host machine is an HP Pavillion Tx1275Ep 2Gb ram running on AMD’s Turino 64×2-
      The virtual machine was set according the Kahel’s version tried, this is, with a 32 or 64 bit set up as per the bit versions, 14 gb HD and, for the latest trials, 512 Mb of RAM.

      Posted by meanpt | January 9, 2010, 2:10 pm
  9. Ah, thanks for getting back.

    As you can appreciate there is a plethora of things that could be wrong with the symptoms you’ve described. The only suggestion in the face of nothing obvious would be to bring up the issue at the Kahel forums.

    What I will say is that when I run a distro its never as a VM. I have 5 rigs which can be used to distro hop and since this was not a Ubuntu derived distro (as I said in the review) I used the rig which exhibited odd bouts of Meldrovian rage. I wanted to see a/if Arch would provide a decent experience with a tempramental rig b/ If I can get anything else running on it other than the “big name” distro’s. None of the other rigs either past or present have ever given me the problems this Compaq has.

    On a final note, your experiences (and solution if one is forthcoming from the forums) would be more than welcome here. I do hope you come back and let us know!

    Kind regards
    Goblin.

    Posted by openbytes | January 9, 2010, 2:31 pm
  10. Whoa – can’t believe I found this. You rock!

    Posted by Grand Rapids Nightclub DJ | January 12, 2010, 9:24 pm
  11. To the author of this review, “kahel” is a Filipino word which means the color “orange”, and can also be used to describe the orange fruit too. See the logo of KahelOS, an orange-suited Tux.

    Posted by dan | May 3, 2010, 3:50 pm
    • To Dan,

      Yeah thanks for that but it was already answered in the comments section in this thread a few months ago….

      10/10 for effort

      1/10 for timeliness
      ;)

      Regards

      Posted by openbytes | May 3, 2010, 8:02 pm

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about.me

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast and writer for both OpenBytes and Goblin's Domain. Supporter of free and open source software.

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