The beauty of Linux lies in the fact that there is a distro for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you are a geek, beginner, Apple fan, Windows fan, gamer or developer, there’s surely one distro for you. And yes, if you are a Chinese, there is this distro just for you, and it is elegant and well-polished.
Deepin is a Ubuntu-based distro for the Chinese and it is heavily modified to include plenty of useful stuff and rid of less useless/seldom used packages. After booting up Deepin, the first impression is that it is beautiful. The custom theme used is bright, elegant and refreshing.
The login screen:
Deepin Activity Overview:
Update: From Deepin 11.12.1 onward, all the menu and interface are in English by default. English speaking users will be able to enjoy this distro without any problem.
Deepin is based on Gnome Shell 3.2 and it comes with its own set of extensions. Other than the colorful and refreshing wallpaper, the top panel has also been modified to become a dock that displays your favorite apps. Any opened app will also show up in the dock, and when you hover over the icon, a thumbnail screenshot of the app shows up.
In the Activity overview, the workspace panel is moved to the left and is hidden by default. This allows more screen space for the applications display. The Favorite bar has also been removed.
The theme used in this distro is a custom theme named “Deepin”. You can download it here.
A quick look at the Applications list
When reviewing a new OS, I always like to look through the applications list to see what applications it has included and whether there is any new software for me to play with. In Deepin, a quick look at the applications list unveils apps like Gnome Tweak Tool, DeaDBeeF (a lightweight music player), uGET (download manager), ipTux, GTKHash, NTFS-config, and its own Deepin Software Center, all installed as part of the default application.
The most interesting of them all is the Deepin Software Center. This is not just a re-skin of Ubuntu Software Center (USC), but a complete rebuild with more useful features.
There are five main sections in Deepin Software Center. At the Home page is a recommendation of the popular apps in each category. I find this more visually appealing and comprehensive than the USC. Next is the Repository page where you can browse all the applications in each category. There are options for you to sort the apps by Recommendations, Downloads, or Ratings. The Upgrade tab is where you can check if there is any update for your applications/system. This is a “good to have”, but not a “must-have” feature, since your system will auto-update itself when there are new update available. Nevertheless, the penguin background is very cute and for this, it is worth the visit once everyday.
The Uninstall feature, in my opinion, is the best feature in the Deepin Software Center. I am always being asked “how do I uninstall a software in Linux” and I have to explain to them that they have to open the USC (or their default package installer app), browse to the app they have installed and click “Remove”. Alternatively, they can open the terminal and use the
apt-get autoremove command. Both are not a quick and easy method. The Uninstall feature in DSC allows you to view the whole list of installed apps and you can simply click the “Uninstall” button to remove it. USC has this feature as well, but Deepin Software Center makes it much easier to use.
Lastly, the Download tab shows all the software you have downloaded and allows you to clean the Download cache to free up storage space.
One useful, yet hidden feature
There is this extremely useful, but hidden feature in Deepin that is only accessible from command line (for now). This feature is called “Deepin Scrot”, an extremely versatile and lightweight screen capture and image editing tool.
Open a terminal and type
A lightbox will appear and you can drag to select the area (of the desktop) that you want to take a screenshot of. After that, you can add text, arrows and drawings on the screenshot. Lastly, you can choose to save the screenshot into your clipboard and paste it in another image editor for more editing. In case you are wondering, scrot means SCReen shOT. For those who are keen to install deepin-scrot in your distro, you can download the .deb file from the Deepin site.
Deepin may just be another modified distro based on Ubuntu, but there is no doubt that the developers have put in plenty of efforts to make it an elegant and usable distro. Some of the design work and software, such as the Deepin Software Center and Deepin-scrot are excellent and is something that the Canonical team can learn from them.