Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 16:00

This is an overview of deepin OS for everyone who looks for the best alternative operating systems for their computing. It is a GNU/Linux distribution that is well made, artistic and beautiful, practically easy to use, and at the same time unique no other Free Software Desktop Systems could ever thought to be. We made this review based on version 20.2.4 and hopefully this can give you pictures of deepin OS. Lastly, we still hope that deepin OS will soon be mass produced so people can just purchase a deepin laptop or deepin PC they want to start their software freedom.

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See also Review of Deepin OS 20 | Comparison of Deepin, Mint and elementary | Comparison of File Chooser Dialogs | File Searching on Deepin


We use several terms to refer to several things: 

Free Software Desktop Systems: or FSDS, desktop operating systems and/or desktop environments and/or every GUI system in the Free Software Community. This includes the OSes, like Ubuntu and elementary OS, as well as the desktop environments, like GNOME and Pantheon.

Mass production: computing delivered to mass users in form of an assembled (preinstalled) computer, that is, the hardware and the software preinstalled altogether beforehand, so that the end-users do not install nor take care of the hardware and software by themselves. For example, Android is mass produced, while GNU/Linux in general is not.

Unique User Interface

deepin OS look is unique to itself, not similar to Windows, not MacOS either, not even Android. We think the deepin desktop is artistic, simple to see, simple to use -- it hides complex features without removing them and reveal them when needed beautifully.  We think, more importantly, the deepin desktop is well made to be unified, a single style ruled all components in a way so the user could find things quickly by his/her intuition alone. The desktop's visual consisted of wallpaper in the background, a single, long and transparent dock at bottom, full of deepin style icons, and a functional desktop area where apps and files can be placed on. Before deepin OS, there was no GNU distributions with such look. This user interface has a name, that is, DDE (Deepin Desktop Environment), and is created from the same materials that created KDE, that is, Qt.

(deepin OS, the whole user interface with start menu opened and desktop shortcuts placed on the blue-pink wallpaper)


You will be able to appreciate how deepin OS is simple in everything for end-users. As mentioned, it is simple to look at and simple to use, by intuitions alone, and simplicity can be felt everywhere in it -- a sign of how deepin OS developers thought much for end-users. The best example is File Manager. The developers successfully made it looks simple for its full functionality with those many features. First run will show you a complete overview of your computer, closely similar to what Windows Explorer did, in which other Free Software Desktops did not. Just click to access all your files and disk drives. It is so simple, no menubar even, but powerful when needed (borrowing KDE's slogan), as it is capable to search, network share as well as connect to a server. There are many other examples, among them we mentioned below:

  • Start menu, called Launcher (same as KDE's), allows user to find applications in a vertical list, also equipped with a search, where latest apps will automatically placed on top.
  • Uninstalling, start menu allows user to remove an installed app by simply right-clicking it. No other Free Software Desktops have such feature.
  • Make desktop shortcuts, File Manager allows user to easily 'Send to Desktop' every file or folder to make its desktop shortcut. deepin has this feature when GNOME removed it and KDE has it no more.
  • Open as administrator, File Manager also allows user to open a folder as root simply by right-clicking. 
  • Auto-mount, a feature Windows users always enjoy without realizing, they do not need to manually "open" every partition (drive) every time. deepin OS users enjoy this feature so easily as it is available right in the Settings of File Manager, no need to install something or perform command line to make it works.
  • Proxy an application, by just right-clicking an app on start menu we can launch that app to connect to the internet through a proxy configuration equipped (optionally) with username password authentication. The user can setup the proxy address first at the System Settings. Being a Chinese system, the developers seem to know very well how important is this feature to exist. 

(The most complex component of a desktop system, its System Settings, successfully made this simple by deepin OS)

User Manual

deepin OS has its own full manual that explains what deepin OS and its components are, and also, how to use it all, again well made in deepin OS style. Today, only KDE from the Free Software Desktops has such complete and thorough manual, while KDE is not an OS while deepin is. Read deepin OS manual, you will be amused by its beauty, well written text and a lot of pictures. In our community, the phrase "RTFM" could change into "RTBM" meaning Read The Beautiful Manual thanks to deepin.

(Deepin Manual displaying Overview section explaining deepin OS)

Desktop Search

There is a magnifier glass button (πŸ”) on deepin OS. Once clicked, it shows a long search box on screen. That is the Deepin Desktop Search, a feature to help the user searches for his/her applications, files, and folders to open quickly and easily. Yes this feature existed too on KDE and GNOME, but no one except deepin made it separated with the start menu, making it obvious to the user.

(Deepin Desktop Search)

Welcome Video

There is no other GNU distributions that welcome the user with a video when first starting. deepin OS did this since years to introduce what deepin OS is and how user can work with it in brief. It is an art, also a very good idea to tell people about Free Libre Open Source Software. Why not, for example, Trisquel OS got an intro video too with OGV format?

(Welcome, the way deepin OS greets the user with a video of its own)

App Store

We tried both GNOME Software and Deepin App Store and we feel the latter is very professional and works well with no bad initial experience. The only clear difference is that, Software does display, while App Store does not display, licensing information of every application. In this point, deepin OS comes with its own software center, not adopting either GNOME's Software or KDE's Discover, not adopting Flatpak or Snap either, while relying on the longest time working DEB standard packages. 

(Deepin App Store, displaying Gimp application with nice details, stars, and two screenshots under a search box and a download notifier)

File Manager

File manager is the heart of every Desktop System, not just Free Software Desktop Systems. Explorer made Windows famous, Finder made macOS loved by many, so did Deepin File Manager. We saw no file manager like Deepin's one in other FSDS. As already mentioned, File Manager allows the user to works with their deepin OS computer very well, quickly and easily. File Manager hides complex features, indeed, but it does not remove them. Instead, it show them beautifully when needed. One among its features, it allows Renaming without touching the file extension, so the user can simply rename file quickly. More features below:

  (Deepin File Manager, showing an overview of our computer storage system -- it's what 'My Computer' would look like at Windows)

Deepin File Chooser Dialog
File chooser dialog: on deepin OS, opening and saving document are really convenient as the dialog window features both search and thumbnails view functionalities aside from its full navigation capability. This means, technically, deepin does not simply adopted KDE's or GTK's file chooser dialog, but developed its own and they are successful in this point. For many users who are unsatisfied with what GNOME or GTK's own, you will love this.

File Search
Search: deepin OS features both fast search and advanced search capabilities. Yes, major operating systems have these too. But please remember another FSDS, elementary OS does not have a proper search yet even in version 6 Odin and Xubuntu too and Linux Mint Cinnamon only had a simple search. Note that the advanced search functionality also included in the file choose dialog. This makes deepin OS attractive to professional users who certainly have many files and folders.

System Installer

We believe that an operating system is a necessary part of a computer thus it should be mass produced altogether, just like another successful ones like Windows and Android. However, talking about System Installer is common among Free Software Community, as GNU/Linux OSes are mostly have not been mass produced. Talking about it, if end-users want to install the OS by themselves, deepin OS also has the simplest yet beautiful system installer among all Free Software desktops. How simple? An OS installation could go in just four steps, disk partitioning and encryption included. How beautiful? It resembles the operating system itself, simple yet tidy, hiding advanced features without removing them and reveal them when needed beautifully. If we compare deepin's (version 20.2) and elementary's (version 6), each of both looks representing itself, but deepin's one looks more well built as it does not separate the partitioning tool to another program unlike elementary's (which uses GParted). Technically, in this point deepin OS also does not adopt either Ubiquity, or Calamares, or Anaconda system installer, unlike another distros do, but it has its own.

(Deepin Installer, the simple and quick system installer any OEM would love one)

Notifications and Clipboard

No other FSDS with such notification as well as clipboard features like deepin OS. Click the bell, it opens the notification, and press Ctrl+Alt+V, it reveals the clipboard, both coming from the right and the left. These two, despite being useful to the user, also depicts deepin OS' translucent user interface art.

 (Left: clipboard panel | Right: notifications panel)

Development Frameworks

Other distros adopted frameworks created by the others, while Deepin developed their own development frameworks. They have their own toolkits ("software making materials") called DTK, based on Qt, as mentioned. This is why we see how unified deepin OS is.



deepin OS allows user to take screenshot as well as video recording (with audio too) of the desktop thanks to the application called Deepin Screenshot.  The resulting screenshots (JPEG, PNG or MBP) may be annotated with colored lines and boxes afterwards. The resulting videos (GIF, MP4, MKV) may contain click indicator, keystroke indicator, and also voice from the microphone. Secretly, behind its simplicity there is an advanced feature inside, that is Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to extract text from a screenshot if user selected the option. No other Free Software Desktops have such complete feature for their screenshot capability.

(It can record, it can screenshot, that'd be useful a lot)

Download Manager

deepin OS features its own download manager equipped with torrent and metalink capabilities too. This means, the program can download files and videos normally (HTTP) and also torrent files (BitTorrent and Magnet Link) and metalink files (Metalink) as well. Remember IDM on Windows? Yes, similarly Deepin Downloader features accelerator up to 10x splits per link. How comfortable! It is the first Free Software Desktop System that has such feature.  

(Deepin Downloader, the helper for the user to download videos and other files from the internet very fast)

System Monitor

Deepin System Monitor is the best task manager. It had Download/Upload measurement already when every of other Free Software Desktops had not, aside from its modern, futuristic look. Its simplicity appears, as we can see complete information by just seeing one window. In this point, deepin OS is superior to any other, aside from aforementioned features it may look simple but its Details option show much more and better.

(Deepin System Monitor, with wavelength and circular graphs, and list of running programs with each own network speed measurements)

Shortcut Keys

As mentioned, on deepin OS, simplicity for end-users is everywhere, and this includes the shortcut keys too. Among FSDS, the richest of shortcut keys are KDE systems, as KDE by default includes a lot of shortcut keys. On the opposite, deepin OS includes only a few shortcut keys, mostly are those that really used by end-users, while making it easy to add custom ones. Looking briefly, many shortcuts are Windows-like and we think it is smart.

  • Super, start menu (Launcher).
  • Super+E, file manager. 
  • Super+D, show desktop (minimize all windows).
  • Super+S, multitasking view (workspace switcher).
  • Super+W, show all active windows.
  • Ctrl+Alt+T, Terminal.
  • Ctrl+Alt+R, Screen Recorder.
  • Ctrl+Alt+V, Clipboard.
  • PrintScreen, screenshot (saved to clipboard).

(Deepin System Settings, displaying list of shortcut keys and a big plus button at bottom)


Finally, with such aforementioned superb features and beautiful graphics, deepin OS is reasonably light or at best medium weighted for today's hardware standard (if we put Intel Core and 4GB as one) and more importantly it is not slow. When we tried other Free Software Desktop Systems, particularly with Flatpak integration, we experienced bad performance, and many of they were slower than deepin OS. This is actually unique on its own, a nice looking OS that does not make the computer slow.


We think deepin OS is artistic and unique for user's computing with aforementioned features explained in the whole article. We, once again, wish deepin OS to be mass produced, as we believe it is ready and deserves mass production more than either Windows or macOS so millions of people could start their software freedom computing. We strongly appreciate one shop, The Linux Laptop πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ, who sell laptops with deepin OS preinstalled and international shipping, as that would help many people who can only work with, not take care of nor install the hardware or software in their computers. Is it not good if Wuhan Deepin Technology as the organization behind deepin OS, does the same? All in all, the unique traits of deepin OS can be a good study for everybody including other Free Software Desktop Systems developers.

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.