Linux

Linux Deepin is a fringe Linux distribution that could steal your heart

Jack Wallen digs into Linux Deepin and comes out impressed. See what this fringe Linux distribution has to offer, and discover if its your next platform.

 

Linux Deepin
 

I've used more flavors of Linux than I can remember. Some of them were nothing more than blips on my radar, whereas others were serious contenders for my desktop. And then there's Linux Deepin (formerly Hiweed Linux). This Linux distribution, based on Ubuntu, aims to provide a beautiful and user-friendly experience for any level of users.

Surprisingly enough, it achieves its goals with impressive results. With a new desktop (DDE – Deepin Desktop Environment), Linux Deepin takes nods from nearly every desktop environment available and rolls it into one, elegant solution. Part Windows 7, part Ubuntu Unity, part KDE, part GNOME 3 (which DDE gets its base), this desktop brings to mind exactly what Microsoft should have done for Windows 8. You take a deeply embedded desktop metaphor and give it a modern twist, a flush app store, and make it scream on nearly any hardware. That’s what Linux Deepin did. There was no re-inventing of the wheel, no damaged reputations, and no slighting of users. Although the Deepin “Dash” isn’t nearly as functional or as efficient as the Unity Dash, it does a great job of getting to your apps as simple as possible. DDE makes use of Compiz, so it owes a lot of its elegance to that piece of technology.

Linux Deepin holds it origins in China, which is made very clear the minute you open the Productivity section and see Kingsoft Office installed next to LibreOffice, and then when you open the Games Store and are greeted with plenty of Chinese text. Outside of that, you'd think that you were working with one of the most highly polished, well thought out Linux distributions that's ready for home or business usage.

It’s clear Ubuntu was the base, mostly because of the app stores. You’ll also see KDE-like desktop widgets and KDE-influenced start menu (which includes a beautiful blur job on the desktop background (Figure A).

Figure A

 

Figure A
 

The Linux Deepin start menu.

The installation is incredibly simple: Pop the disk in, reboot, let the live disk complete the start up, and then double-click the Install icon. It’s as simple as any modern Linux distribution. What Linux Deepin does better than most other distributions, staking the claim of “desktop,” is that everything works right out of the box. There’s no need to install codecs of any kind (for music or movies). Music played fine (mp3 and ogg were the file types I tested) and, after a quick update, DVDs played fine as well. Browser functionality worked as expected and both office suite tools performed perfectly.

Application highlights

Here are some highlights of Linux Deepin:

  • Thunderbird
  • Chrome and Firefox
  • LibreOffice and Kingsoft Office
  • Deepin Music Player
  • Deepin Media Player
  • Skype
  • Remmina (remote desktop tool)
  • Audio recorder
  • Pidgin (chat)

Linux Deepin even went a bit further and included a tool they call “Windows Wireless.” This tool installs extra drivers to get your wireless card working. The only downfall is that you have to locate the drivers manually -- it doesn’t automatically find them for you. However, I did test Linux Deepin on an older Sony Vaio, and it had no problems whatsoever with the wireless drivers.

Another very interesting piece of built-in technology is the face recognition software. You won’t find it enabled by default, but you can quickly enable it from System Settings | User Accounts. Obviously, you’ll need a camera on the installed machine, but the face recognition works very well. It's a slower means of account login, but it adds a unique level of security to your machine.

Are there any downsides?

Like every platform on the planet, Linux Deepin does have its pitfalls. One of the biggest issues that I came across while working with Linux Deepin was the speed of the update mirrors. I’m talking 8 Kbps at times. Typically, a full-blown update (say, after an installation of Ubuntu Linux), takes 15 minutes to a half hour. For Linux Deepin, the update ran overnight. That’s right... it was an all night affair. This is something that must be worked out if Linux Deepin has any plans of making it in the United States. I’m sure the mirrors work great in China, but having to tolerate an overnight update is a real deal breaker for many users.

My take on the office suite? Go with one or the other. The idea is to make this as simple as possible for the end user. Yes, it’s great to include LibreOffice (as it is the most powerful open-source office suite, as well as the likeliest candidate to usurp Microsoft Office), but having two office suites installed could be confusing to many users. I’m not saying which way they should go (because that’s a tough choice, since Kingsoft is the single best suite for the Android platform); but one way or another, make a choice and stick with it.

Finally, there are two application decisions that are questionable. The first is the inclusion of ChmSee, a compiled HTML help viewer that happens to no longer be in development. There is already an outstanding user manual included (found in the main menu), so why include ChmSee? Drop it.

The second questionable inclusion is the terminal in the taskbar. When new users see “terminal,” they assume the standard position against Linux -- it’s too hard. Yes, you must keep the terminal application installed, but don’t announce it on the taskbar. Anyone familiar with Linux will know how to get to the terminal, and those unfamiliar to Linux will not be turned off by assuming they're going to have to enter a bunch of commands.

Who should use Linux Deepin?

This is the big question always asked about Linux distributions. Linux Deepin is an outstanding platform for the following:

  • New users
  • Younger users
  • Business desktops (that do not require proprietary, Windows-only software)
  • Home use
  • Anyone wanting to migrate from Windows

Because of its polished look and stability, Deepin could be used anywhere. It's as solid an entry as nearly any in the Linux space and deserves to be given a long, hard look by anyone in the market who's looking to switch to a new distribution or making the leap from Windows or Mac. Again, Linux Deepin should have been the template for Windows 8 -- once you use it, you’ll understand what I mean.

Will I be making the switch? Probably not on my main desktop, but once I’m ready to refresh my laptop, you can bet Linux Deepin will be the first distro that I install.

Give Deepin a try. I’m certain you’ll be very happy you did.

Have you used Linux Deepin? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

 

 

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

33 comments
koguma
koguma

I'm running Deeping right now as well.  One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that it's one of the very few distro's that support booting and running via UEFI.  Even the latest Ubuntu wasn't able to do that.  I'm using a new Acer E3-111 which is pretty braindead unless you use UEFI.

dttauzin
dttauzin

All I know is the very best linux distro to use is as always has been Debian stable. Let's face it all the other distros feed off of it, so when you install and use Debian you are at the top of the mountain all the rest are bottom feeders. Also if you truly want to know way beyond what everyone says. The very best desktop is GNOME. My only complaint is that Debian is a little behind on the GNOME desktop environment and that is about to change soon. I make these statements in concrete knowledge. I have tried every desktop and every distro there is and none compare to this combination. So far Debian is the only one that is fairly easy to set up on RAID as well. You can also change the repos to strable instead of wheezy and you have a rolling distro that you will never have to re-install. Remember you heard it here first. Debian stable (wheezy) with the GNOME desktop. 

robinsonrandy19
robinsonrandy19

  I'm using Deepin Right now it's a wonderful distro full of life, The desktop environment is the best I've ever seen in any OS!! This is the First time I've had a Linux distro that I didn't want to tweak it or do something to it or move something around etc. Linux distros I've Tried Include Ubuntu 12.04, Fadora 19,Arch, Puppylinx slacko,Mint 17 KDE,Mint Mate,Ubnutu 10.04,Macbutu 10.10 witch I loved a lot, And there was more that I can't think of ATM. My point is that It feels like an OS that you went to the store and Bought and payed big money for. From the tutorial the shows you how to use the OS to the Cool feature filled desktop you won't be disappointed! Deepin picked up my devices quick and easy no Drivers to install..  

vwayland
vwayland

As usual, as a Linux wannabe, what about printer driver support?  I want to get off the windows dive, but I don't want to have to mess with searching for drivers for my relatively new printers and all that.
  Same goes for Ubuntu, Bodhi, Mint, etc.

tralnok
tralnok

I had looked at Deepin breifly when it was Hiweed, and at the time it was not friendly to English language. But, I have just installed it to a hard drive and frankly, I am very impressed. I generally prefer low bling systems, and Deepin has blended performance with great looks and very easy to use. 

I was apprehensive about servers in China for updates and packages, and, upon a little searching, I found and added a Deepin repository here in the USA. Sweet. Works like a dream and plenty fast.

Thus far I am going to keep it installed and see how much I can do with it. At present, it's not giving me any troubles or issues in getting to know it.

I highly recommend anyone to give it a go. The Chinese have given us a fresh and new look to the GNU/Linux desktop and and it's very impressive.


Thank you Deepin development team. Your distribution deserves recognition and I hope many will learn about it and use it.  

janitorman
janitorman

I agree with Kent Lion, it's too hard to sign in. I think it's because they no longer use their own site for comments, or anything else. I don't think half of the stuff on here is from the Ziff Davis network. I count MORE than 37 cross-site scripting attacks and other blocked objects on the page, some of them are third-party domains loaded from a tertiary domain, that loads after you allow second or third level sites (Fyre.co?) so you can log in!

And people have strong feelings one way or the other about Jack, usually. Take him or leave him, then.

Yes it sounds  interesting, but I think I can modify my own Xubuntu the way I want it (I'm not a beginner) and be better off. I certainly don't need an OS from China to run on my hardware that's almost impossible to get anywhere BUT China nowadays! (Heck, I bought nuts and bolts the other day, imported from Mexico, but MADE in China. The US is killing itself by allowing other countries to make stuff for us, instead of having our own factories. HELL WITH  GLOBALIZATION I say!
Will-V-King
Will-V-King

深度系统(Linux Deepin),I heard it years ago, and never tried it.

This operation system appears while the Chinese government say no to the unlicensed Windows installation CD. As English is not the mother/father language to most of the Chinese, linux operating system is not easy for them to use at that moment (even now Linux is also very expert to most of the people). So some people tried to build a new operation system base on the FREE linux system, with an easy to learn user interface for most of the people in China.(They may be followed the idea of the Ubuntu, which I am using for years.)

And I really surprised to see this operation system project is still running, because I didn't see any one I know is using it.

I thought there may be still a long way for them to be accepted by people.

danmar_z
danmar_z

Have you checked for back doors? ;-)

jmward
jmward

If you want to get any actual work done, and you're new to Linux or an average PC user, the only two distributions worth considering are Ubuntu and Linux Mint (Mate), both based on the Ubuntu/Debian framework and libraries.  You need to have good support, especially for security updates, and especially if you're running Apache/MySQL servers as I am, and these distros keep current very efficiently.  You can keep fads like Bodhi Linux, Deepin, and all the other nine-minute wonders - I don't even bother to try them out in a virtual machine these days.  I have more productive things to do.  (Like write comments here).


djaburg
djaburg

I did install it in a VM and it was a clean, smoothing running distro, and a snappy interface.

Jaqui
Jaqui

Well, I'll take a look at it, but the screenshots show me lots of stuff I know I'll detest.

the big start menu where stuff gets shifted around, I cannot work with that cr@p

The transparent background to the menu, that blurs desktop background is just a waste of cpu cycles.


kingston, an android based app you say, then it is likely written in the bog your comp down bloatware language, JAVA.

[ open office / libre office, not a heck of a lot better in that department.  ]


why can't a distro just use a clean, rapid response gui, like e16?

[ I figured out why e17, e18 don't work for me, the shelf system they went with does not provide the same flexibility in ui elements. you cannot just have the desktop page and system tray like you can with e16., the shelf system insists on the taskbar and a start menu to have EITHER of the other 2 ]

Pronounce
Pronounce

I may load it up on a VM, but I can't imagine adding one more desktop to my repertoire. For me I'm sticking with with Win7 and Mint Cinnamon.


Since I've worked in the computer industry for a long time I get asked by friends and family about new computer purchases. I let them know about the Win8 experience (which some choose to embark on and a few like), and I also suggest they consider a Chromebook or try a  Linux distro. I like it if they choose to go with Chrome, because that means very little support cost on my part.

Kent Lion
Kent Lion

I think you would return a camera or even a webcam that only took pictures like the desktop in Figure A. A nice out-of-focus photo can be used for a desktop; but why display a razor sharp photo out of focus? A "beautiful blur job" is not impressive, it's an oxymoron.


Computers are tools. Sure we can play with them or sit and admire our desktop, but some people actually do useful work with them. No-one likes being forced to buy new hardware because of software bloat, but bloat also includes a lot of recent features that no-one needs, and Linux has jumped on that MS bandwagon. Gimmicks consume computer resources and decrease reliability. The user gets nothing useful from windows with rounded corners or special effects of windows opening and closing, etc. Seeing through an active window to something in the window behind it makes it harder to work, not easier.

What's happening to TechRepublic? I can't even completely access this site with Internet Explorer 8 (with all updates - and no, I don't have malware and my security settings are not draconian), the comment form doesn't work, there are errors on the page, and IE complains about invalid certificates. When I use FireFox (27.01) with NoScript 2.6.8.14, I have to give access permission to 27 sites besides techrepublic.com, and most of those sites appear to be sites that track my activity. So much for security and fast web sites. TechRepublic has lately had articles touting the cloud as the future of computing. I remember the days of the mainframe. When the mainframe went down, everyone in the company attached to it went down. It'll be interesting to see what happens when a major cloud goes down.

jimmckenzie
jimmckenzie

There is no way in hell I'd install anything from China in my computer and I will recommend strongly against anyone else doing so. I don't care how cute it looks or how pretty the colors are it can't become worth it. ARE YOU PEOPLE NUTS?!?!?!?! As far as I'm concerned this review hurts all of your other reviews in retrospect. This recommendation was a very stupid and unprofessional thing to do.

jowens23
jowens23

Is it really a good idea to install an operating system from China on your computer? Who knows what might be lurking in the system that would provide interested parties in China access to everything on the hard drive(s) as well as everything on the internal network should the computer be connected to one.


I'm wondering if our purchase of an ASUS lap-top was such a good idea after all, even though we like it a lot.


haveahappy
haveahappy

@dttauzin Come on now, where's some recognition for all the fixes and improvements that the so-called "bottom feeders" send upstream?

Debian stable the very best distro? For who? It's nigh unusable to many people because the software is so old. What if I have newer hardware that isn't supported in the Debian stable kernel version?


Don't get me wrong, it IS rock solid and they do a fantastic job at that - but stable is a niche distro.

haveahappy
haveahappy

@dttauzin This seems to be a fairly common attitude in the Debian community - and this saddens me.... There is little to no recognition that actually a lot of improvements are sent "upstream" to Debian including optimizations and bugfixes and so on. Should we accuse Debian of bottom feeding off of Linux foundation? Or Linux foundation for bottom feeding off of UNIX?

Don't get me wrong, Debian stable is rock solid - but it's also notorious for being very out of date (sometimes by YEARS). This makes it unusable for many people.

pgit
pgit

@Kent Lion It took me forever to finally be able to post to TR after they changed to this new format. I can't remember exactly what I had to do but it involved both noscript and adblock plus. (IIRC for adblock I had to "disable on techrepublic.com")


I agree, the number of third party scripts they've added here makes me a bit weary of what's going on "upstairs" in the corporate offices. Is selling tracking data that lucrative that you'd force your users to lower their security standards to use the service?


And don't get me started on the cloud... standing in a larger, slower moving than normal line at the grocery store yesterday I finally made it to the checkout only to be informed that the credit card network was down. It forced most people to pare back their purchase to fit the amount of cash they had, some had to leave their groceries here and leave with nothing because they had no cash... imagine if they ever push us into a totally cashless system...

PS ever since the change in the site here I no longer get email notices of new messages in threads I've posted to. I have to bookmark pages like this temporarily to see if anyone offers more valuable info...

zhu Yinyin
zhu Yinyin

@jimmckenzie Don't be a paranoid, Jim.  Imagine the "Bleeding Heart" thing?  It isn't from China.  You can't live your life in fear, man.

tralnok
tralnok

@jimmckenzie  LOL...The damn NSA has them all beat for prying into everything. I mean, come on, even tapping into Angela Merkel's personal phone? How can anyone be lower than that?

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

@jimmckenzie ..... quick, mate, put your foil hat back on, otherwise the Chinese will be able to read your mind (WHAT THERE IS OF IT).

leigh
leigh

@jimmckenzie  But everything in your computer and maybe the whole thing came from China... We have had routers and harddrives that came with malware ... years ago...

Where do you imagine your macbook and your ipad and your ipod actually came from? And the router you hook up through that assuredly runs on linux, ? And every bit of hardware all the way to the xenophobic websites you undoubtedly frequent... 

What makes your printer work? Where was it made? 

And do you imagine that M$ or the fruity alternative don't spy on you in some way? And if they do that they wouldn't reveal to the government or whoever? 

Be safe ...keep the digital world out of the bunker...

haveahappy
haveahappy

@jowens23 I think the same scrutiny should be applied to any software installed on your computer. There have been innumerable proprietary programs from Western developers that spy on you, stay on your system even after un-installing them, and various other malicious things.

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

@jowens23 ..... but the N.S.A. internet and mobile phone spying doesn't concern you one bit??? Oops, I forgot, you yanks are supposed to be the good guys, right??  Utter BS.

bobc4012
bobc4012

@goldenpirate @jowens23 There is a difference - we know the NSA is spying on us - looking for subversive activities - while not impossible, but highly improbable, they wouldn't be hacking into it to gain access to your financial information and other related information. Its easier for them to go to the IRS and just request it! After all, if you show a conservative bent in the US, you are already on Obama's hit list (political enemies)

kavanaghk
kavanaghk

@goldenpirate


First comment about the foil hat = priceless


Second comment about "you yanks are supposed to be the good guys" = not nice

LittleWashu
LittleWashu

@mbbs @kavanaghk@goldenpirate 

Why are you blaming the citizenry of what any country is doing? That just doesn't really make any sense. The people of China, USA or England don't wish to be spied on by their own government just like any other person.

mbbs
mbbs

@kavanaghk @goldenpirate 

In view of the NSA spying, the comment about you yanks are supposed to be the the good guys seem very justified.

I don't think it is nice from you yanks to just spy on everyone and at the same time be outraged about others trying to do the same, so hypocrite.

Editor's Picks