I've used a lot of desktop environments—hundreds over the course of 20 plus years. I've worked with everything from AfterStep to the beta versions of GNOME and KDE (all the way to most recent offerings) to macOS and to Pantheon, Enlightenment, Blackbox, Fluxbox, Fvwm, Windows 95/98/Me/7/8/10, Xfce...the list goes on and on.
I was certain I'd seen the most beautiful desktops available. That is—until Deepin released version 15.8. Once installed (as a VirtualBox VM for testing). I realized that I beheld the single most beautiful desktop on the market—regardless of the platform. That's right, Deepin blows away the competition. Game over, hand 'em all the awards.
Deepin 15.8 is as though Pantheon, KDE Plasma, and GNOME came together in a perfect storm of customizations. The end result is a bit of desktop magic Linux (or any platform) has yet to enjoy.
SEE: Side-by-side chart of popular Linux distros (Tech Pro Research)
Yes, it's that good. So good, in fact, it might become my daily driver (replacing my all-time favorite desktop platform, Elementary OS). I don't say that vlightly, as Elementary OS has been my go-to operating system for quite some time. In fact, I thought it would take a miracle to drag me away from Elementary OS. That miracle may have arrived.
What makes Deepin so beautiful?
The developers and designers have gone out of their way to design a desktop operating system that is as functional as it is elegant. They did so, without forking another desktop. Although it might borrow ideas from other offerings, Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE) is its own beast.
You might find a touch of GNOME here (think GNOME Dash—Figure A), or KDE (that glorious KDE blur effect—Figure B), or Budgie Desktop (their unique control panel sidebar—Figure C), or Pantheon (a user-friendly dock is in place—Figure D). These design ideas were brought together to create something wholly unique and wonderfully user-friendly.
That control center
For years, configuring the desktop has always occurred in a fairly traditional app window. Budgie Desktop opted to go a different route by introducing a control panel sidebar. Deepin Linux opted to borrow that same feature and improve on it, all the while keeping with the gorgeous designscape they created with the desktop.
Open the Control Center sidebar, and you can take care of every possible configuration for your desktop. Configuration options include:
- Default Applications
- Power Management
- System information
... all from a single, beautiful sidebar.
The Deepin Control Center sidebar also includes a notification system. This feature is tucked away a bit. To find it, open the sidebar (by clicking the gear icon in the dock), click the left-pointing arrow, and then click the menu button in the upper right corner (Figure E).
It's not all just beauty
At this point, you might say, "What good is a beautiful desktop, if it doesn't make the platform user-friendly?" Let me put those concerns to rest. Deepin Linux 15.8 is as user-friendly a desktop operating system as you will ever experience. Since Deepin Linux is based on Debian (as of version 15), it enjoys a rock-solid, user-friendly foundation. Deepin Linux also includes additional built-in features such as:
- File manager network sharing (with Samba pre-installed)
- Multitasking view
- WPS Office Suite
- Cloud printing
- Font installer
- A handy Deepin introduction app
- Application store (Figure F)
- And more
Thanks to a finely balanced ratio of aesthetics and ease of use, the developers of Deepin created the closest thing to a perfect desktop I have ever experienced. If you're looking for a desktop operating system that will make all others seem like they've wound up behind the curve, it's time you give Deepin Linux 15.8 a try. I have faith there's no way you'll be disappointed.
- Linux Deepin is a fringe Linux distribution that could steal your heart (TechRepublic)
- Where would we be without Ubuntu (TechRepublic)
- Why aren't more people using Debian? (TechRepublic)
- KDE is running on innovation's treadmill (TechRepublic)
- Hands-On: Installing five different Linux distributions on my new HP laptop (ZDNet)
- Linux Mint 19.1: The better-than-ever Linux desktop (ZDNet)
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 jackwallen.com.