What is Deepin – A controversial Linux Distro

Deepin is a Linux-based software distribution created based on Debian’s stable branch. The latest version of Deepin 20 is based on Debian 10 (Buster). Deepin is a great distribution for new Linux users who are migrated from Windows or Mac.

Deepin is originated from China so its Userbase is predominately Chinese, though it is in most prominent Linux distributions’ repositories as an alternative desktop environment. It is developed in Wuhan, China by Wuhan Deepin Technology, as of 1 January 2020, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UnionTech.

Established in 2011, Wuhan Deepin Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Deepin Technology) is a Chinese commercial company focused on the R&D and services of Linux-based operating systems. As the leading research and development team of the operating system in China, Deepin Technology aims to provide safe, reliable, beautiful, and easy-to-use operating system and open source solutions.

Formerly known as Hiweed Linux, Deepin can be dated back to 2004. It is the first localization distribution based on Debian in China. Hogweed Linux was renamed Deepin in 2008 and got a business investment in 2011 to build a team focusing on desktop Linux distribution with tens of staff.

Deepin cooperated with Sogou, WPS, Maxthon, and other partners in multiple aspects to build an ecological system based on Linux. With continuous research and developments, they were finally able to resolve compatibility problems due to porting software from Windows to Linux, so that users can smoothly move to the open and safe Linux platform.

The Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE) is a skin out there used by many for its elegant looks. Deepin is based on HTML 5 technologies and features several customized software applications in addition to the DDE, including the Deepin control center, Deepin Music Player, Album, Browser, Screen Capture, and more.

It uses its own set of apps that are getting better and better. The Deepin App store is the best one of any Linux distro. The Deepin package manager works perfectly with .deb files. The video player plays pretty much anything, it’s quite fast and light you can just drag the subtitles (.srt file) and bring them in.

More importantly, the updates are working fine now, Old Deepin versions had a problem with the download speed from the Chinese servers but it’s all in the past now. Downloads are swift, and we’re lucky Deepin is a rolling OS.

All the latest software are like Libra Office, Chrome, Spotify, Skype, VLC Player, qBittorrent, Popcorn times and many others are working pretty well here.

Look and Feel of Deepin 20.2.4:

There are lots of changes in terms of visualization and the overall look and feel. The new design is much cleaner and looks beautiful when compared to its previous release.

Deepin Linux comes with its homegrown Deepin Desktop Environment or DDE which is built on using the Qt framework, the same as KDE. At a glance, the icons and theme are more like macOS.

The semi-transparent elements, the side panel, the workflow of the desktop, it’s all really good. The desktop here utilizes the limitless capabilities of the Qt framework and creates a desktop that is, just so good to look at.

The choice of the default icon theme positioning of the menu bar notification icons and several other things look perfectly fine and the rounded colorful icons are a bit larger and look great.

Animation effects and some subtle transparency make the user experience rich the dark mode is now available across all the system apps and it’s now easier to switch to a light or dark theme per application instead of making it a system-wide change.

In addition to all the improvements, you also get the ability to tweak the experience and control a lot of things including the transparency in Deepin 20.

Here you get personalized notification management that is you can tweak or control the notifications and the alerts for each application to avoid unnecessary distractions and pretty handy when you want specific apps will notify you.

The desktop has two modes, a fashion mode which looks like MacOS. And an efficient mode which looks like the good old windows 7, but with more glitter. The application launcher has two modes. A fullscreen one, and a better one with more details.

Microsoft

Although the side panel is packed up with too many things in one place and make it crowded, along with quick setting and notifications all other system setting is placed in this panel and making it plenty in one place. Especially in the application menu, It feels a bit crowded with items too close together and bad fonts.

The inclusion of a bunch of nice wallpapers, themes, icons, fonts are to class and can be easily compared with other Linux distros.

To sum things up, in the looks department, Deepin shines with some shortcomings here and there, which you won’t even notice on smaller screens like laptops. The layout is the really good and special focus has been given to make the desktop feel premium.

Performance of Deepin 20.2.4:

Over time the performance of Deepin has significantly improved. Although the system is on the heavier side still, all the application opens up and run smoothly without any lag or slowness.

Developers newly optimized the kernel configurations and there are some code enhancements to give more operating efficiency for processors, network transmissions, file reading, and writing.

We already see improvements in the graphical side with a very responsive and faster application opening time compared to the earlier versions.

Deepin boots up marginally faster than Ubuntu on my older laptop. Deepin desktop uses slightly lesser resources than Ubuntu, and at times feels more responsive in opening applications. A large task like compressing huge files or compiling something is easier.

Now In the Control Center, three Power Plans are supported Balanced, Power Saver, and High Performance, there is a Bluetooth option for file sharing, touchpad gestures now include swipe acceleration and one-finger gestures.

Deepin desktop is built using QT (Widget toolkit for creating GUI) and KDE and both are very efficient and as the hardware is becoming stronger every year the operating system is making the most out of this advantage.

There is a huge number of minor changes and bug fixes throughout the system and its applications like Voice Notes, Document Views, Image Viewer, etc. For example, File Manager now supports full-text search, restriction rules for share names among other tiny changes.

McAfee APAC

So overall the Deepin team is created a light desktop and this time the OS works pretty smooth especially on older computers only in-app store do we find some lag that needs to sort in their future release.

On top of that Deepin is provided five years of software and security updates on their LTS versions and you can use Deepin in schools, colleges, offices, your projects, and stuff without any doubt.

Applications and features of Deepin OS:

The Deepin terms develop a series of applications for daily use, such as Deepin Store, Deepin Screenshot, Deepin Music, Deepin Movie, and so on, among which Deepin Desktop Environment and Deepin Control Center are based on Qt technology.

Deepin Desktop Environment:
Deepin uses the Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE), which is elegant and beautiful, very user-friendly and intuitive. You can choose between having a start-up menu like Windows or a dock-like MacOS. There is a dark theme and light theme available, and the level of transparency can be changed.

The distribution is based on Debian, so the package manager is apt. Using Deepin, you can also get some software installed easier, for example, Pycharm, what you need to do all is to open the app store and find pycharm and install it, rather than visit the website and download and unzip it.

There are tons of features and customization available within the desktop so it brings all the utility tools under one roof.

Deepin Control Center:


The New Control center is more like any traditional window interface but retains all the functionality from the previous release. it’s probably easier to navigate now due to its more traditional presentation.

You have plenty of customizations and menus all are aligned left side of the window. Account, Deepin ID, Display, Default Applications, Personalization, Network, Notification, Sound, Date and time, Power, Mouse, Keyboard & Gesture controls all are primary menus and under each menu, there are other options available.

Deepin App Store:


One-stop solution for all video, music, multimedia Apps, games, life service, office education, development, internet, finance tools, and utilities.

Software:

The place where you find all the latest software for Deepin OS. Installing new software in a single click and also offers parallel downloading, resuming downloads, update notification, and cache cleaning.

Applications are represented by large, beautiful, and informative icons. For each application, there is a detailed description and a few screenshots, as well as user reviews and ratings.

In addition to the standard .deb packages, there are also .flatpack packages and web applications that work as native.

Games:

The game center consists of many games like brutal chess, magcor, JAG, mines, chess, sudoku, and some native Debian games.

The Game Center dashboard is a central place where players access their profile and interact with Game Center features that your game supports, such as achievements, leaderboards, and challenges.

Deepin File Manager:


In the dark theme, the Home folder looks good and Folder icons are raised giving a slight 3D look to them. The basic function is the same but one thing I appreciate from elementary OS and macOS like the ability to color-tag certain files and folders looks nice.

Now you can set a shared password from any file or folder location, and Deepin 20’s wallpapers are found in a “normal” place, inside the Pictures folder.

Deepin Music:

It is the all one place for playing all your favorite music and the output is clean and clear with enough details and the interface is nice it can fetch images associated with the song and display them at playtime.

All playing options are on the left side and you can directly stream from the internet to play radios and artists as per your likings. All options are this time working fine.

Deepin Movie:

This time Deepin supports every format out there as well as streaming options available. But it has one bonus that surprised me: a burst screenshot mode. Click this, and it will index its way through the entire video, then save a bunch of thumbnails.

Deepin Screenshot:

Deepin Screenshot is a sophisticated screenshot software developed by the Deepin technology team. It’s characterized by smart window identification, shortcuts supporting, image editing, delay screenshot, social sharing, smart saving, image resolution adjusting, and other functions.

This built-in screenshot utility simply embarrasses the default choice from any other operating system or Linux distribution. Fire it up and you can effortlessly capture your entire screen, window, or manual selection.

The app has all the options like taking a full page or partial portion with a round or rectangular shape and you can add a different color to write down or point out something.

There are four saving options available Clipboard, Desktop, Pictures, or save it to a specified folder and you can save it in PNG, JPG, BMP format.

Deepin Terminal:

Deepin’s take on the classic Terminal ships with literally dozens of color palettes, a “Guake-style” dropdown terminal option, and multiple split-screen options among several other nice additions.

Deepin System Monitor:

This one is still the best-looking built-in resource monitor around. All the main resources are displayed in a very structured way and look classy. The CPU, Network, and Memory are displayed with great visual graphs.

The list views are also very detailed and every application is easily noticeable because the original color icons are intact.

Deepin Installer:

Deepin Installer is an easy-to-use and customizable installer developed by Deepin Technology Co., Ltd. It mainly has a language selector, account settings, timezone settings, partition settings, install progress, new feature introduction, and installation feedback.


Apart from these, there are many features included and some third-party apps are also preinstalled like a fully functional Libraoffice, chromium-based web browser present. The new 20.2.4 version is also included two new options…

Convenient Global Search:


The global search icon is in the Dock. Click it to call out the search interface, enter keywords to find the desired applications, files, etc., making your search quicker and easier.

Better Kernels:

The stable kernel is upgraded to 5.13.13, and the LTS kernel is upgraded to 5.10.60, further improving system stability and compatibility. Both can be installed and manually upgraded.

System Requirements to install Deepin 20.2.4:

  • More than 2 GB of RAM (4GB is recommended)
  • Intel Pentium IV 2GHz (or higher)
  • 64 GB free disk space ( or Higher)
  • Bootable USB Drive
  • Stable Internet Connection

How to install Deepin 20.2.4?

1) Download Deepin 20.2.4 ISO file on your system from their official website, use the following URL: Deepin 20.2.4

2) Once the ISO file is downloaded on your system then burn it into a USB drive and make it bootable. On Windows, systems use the ‘Rufus’ tool to create a bootable USB drive and on Linux systems use the ‘UNetbootin’ tool or dd command.

3) Reboot the system on which you want to install Deepin 20.2.4 and go to the bios settings and change the boot medium from Hard disk to USB drive.

4) Once the system boots up using the bootable USB drive then you will get the following screen, choose “Install Deepin 20.2.4 with kernel 5.4 desktop” and hit enter.

5) Select the language that suits your installation and Accept the Program License & End User License Agreement.

6) In the next window, the following screen will be presented. Here we have two options either installer to create required partitions automatically on disk or create partition manually.

7)I have 64 GB disk space and when I choose the ‘Full Disk’ option and then click on Disk Icon then it will create partitions automatically and will show the partitions.  If you wish to encrypt the disk as well then Click on the ‘encrypt This Disk’ option.

8)If you are planning to create your partitions scheme, then choose the ‘Advanced’ option and select the disk and then click on the ‘+’ sign to start creating partitions.

9)Once you are done with partitions then Click on ‘Next to proceed further.

10)Click on ‘Continue’ to create and format partitions as an ext4 file system. The below Screen confirms that installation of Deepin 20.2.4 has been started and is in progress.

11) Once the installation is completed, the installer will prompt to reboot the system.

12) After the reboot, following grub boot loader screen will be presented, choose the first option ‘Deepin 20.2.4 GNU/Linux’ and hit enter. Then choose language, license agreement, Keyboard, and timezone, create accounts step by step.

13) Now, finally we will get the following login screen, use the same username and credentials that were created above. Deepin desktop screen is presented in front of you.

Find the below pictures for better understanding…

Controversy & Final Thought:

Previously Deepin has faced a huge drawback due to its spyware controversy It was found that Deepin Linux was sending encrypted data to a Chinese analytics company.

Deepin’s AppStore is a website and it sends back some info like the browser agent, resolution of your screen, etc, which of course is collected by every website. Far more information is collected by most websites you visit.

So some people detected that Deepin was connecting to the CNZZ server, which is a pretty big analytics site in China. And this was blown out of proportion. Linux blogs, Linux news sites blew this to a whole new level and presented it to people in a scary way “sending personal data to a Chinese server”.

Yes, Deepin has collected info, without the user consenting, and without the user knowing about it and an even bigger sin here was using a website as the backend for the app center.

I don’t think Deepin is spyware. It’s a respected distro that made a mistake and Deepin has even put out a notice on its website clarifying things.

Although it’s impossible to audit every aspect of this huge source code some big companies like Huawei are selling laptops with Deepin preloaded on them. I’m sure they have done their research.

At last, all we can say is considering all the eye candy improvements it’s an attractive offering as a Linux distribution for both enthusiasts and for users looking to switch from windows or mac OS.

What do you think about Deepin? Do you trust it and give it a try or are happy with other distributions out there, send your views in the comments section below.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I am interested in trying Deepin 20.2.4. I heard a friend suggesting it a couple of days ago. So, here I am, researching about it. And so far, I like all I have read. So, I will stop researching and start testing it. Thank you very much for your post. It has helped me make up my mind.

    1. Thank you Abel and good to know it gave you some clarity about Deepin. It’s a nice alternative Linux distro and especially if you’re looking for a modern-looking OS then it’s a great choice.

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