Another relatively unknown distro I recently came across is KaOS. In 2013 KaOS was created as an independent OS. It is based on the Linux kernel, although the makers still look at Opensolaris as an alternative base. KaOS 2014.04 uses pacman as its package manager. This might give you the idea that it is Arch-based, but the website clearly states that it’s completely indepentent. Let’s find out if KaOS is an undiscovered gem or if it leads to chaos….
Before we start the installation, we have to know one important decision the creators have made when they started this distribution: creating an OS is about making choises. They decided to make a few decisions that can make this distro interesting for you, or not. After choosing the Linux kernel they picked KDE as the only available desktop environment and QT as their toolkit. KaOS only has a 64 bit version. It makes sense to make these choices, because it limits the amounts of packages you have to maintain. If you are looking for Gnome, LXDE, Razor QT or one of the other DE’s, you need to look for another distro. The installer supports dozens of languages. It gives you the option to boot into a non-free nvidia environment. Because I have an Intel vidcard, I do not use it and I start the live environment. Here we see a big window in the center of the screen that welcomes us to KaOS. There are several options here. We select the one named “Install KaOS” here. Next we see a nice, simple, graphical installer. Do not expect LVM, Raid or automatic partitioning: The installer ‘only’ delivers a user ready system. This installation is pretty straightforward. I like the way you select your region and language. It shows a nice globe where you can select your location. After the installation we do a reboot and before we return to the KDE desktop, we see the most ugly grub screen I have ever seen. Come on boys and girls, you can do better than that! KaOS comes with a clean, simple theme. It’s bright, but it looks nice. I like the simplicity of the icons. KaOS uses pacman as its package manager and offers a GUI for it called Octopi. It works good and is very fast.You can use it to install all the software you need. I have to say KaOS only comes with about 2000 packages. That’s not much! Of course this means nothing if you find all your packages here. Just make sure KaOS delivers all you need before you put it on your system. The website provides you with a list of packages, so it’s easy to do this check.
Experiences running KaOS and conclusions
I have tried KaOS for a few days and I like the way it works. The only issue I ran across was during the installation. After fiddling with the partitions, the installer stopped working. I started the installation again and after that everything went smooth. I must say I like the way my system works. I used a laptop with a C2D processor and 3 Gb internal memory and the system is very responsive. Of course not all the programs that I need were installed, but installing stuff like Clementine and VLC was no problem. Now to the conclusion. I found KaOS a nice distro that works well. The only question that’s been going through my head these few days is “Why KaOS?”. After the installation you end up with a nice installation, but there is nothing here that I have not seen in other distros. I cannot think of any reason why I should advise other people to give KaOS a try, besides the fact that it runs pretty well. I wonder if this is enough for the creators to keep on doing their work. I believe there should be a reason to start a distro. Something you miss in other distros that makes you decide to start a new one. Maybe there is such a reason for the creation of KaOS, but I cannot say I noticed something special.