This is one of the most interesting aspect of Deepin. Instead of using commonly known desktop environments (DE) like KDE or GNOME, Deepin developers created their own DE called “Deepin Desktop Environment”. What makes it more interesting (to developers) is that, Deepin DE is build using HTML5 and webkit. I am not aware of any other DE which is build using these technologies and this desktop shows the possibilities of these technologies. Since most of the desktop users may not be interested on the technology, I am skipping over to the functionality of the desktop.
Once you login, you will be greeted with a blank desktop with a blue background and a Mac like dock bar below. You might feel that the developers tried to mimic a mac desktop, but trust me, the similarities ends there. Another desktop which got a similar layout is the one that comes with Elementary OS. The downside of that desktop was the top panel bar that reduces the screen area, but in deepin, developers have avoided such a panel, thus improving the screen area for other applications.You can even hide the dock bar by selecting the “Smart Hide” option from context menu which is available on right click over the dock bar.
Right click context menu of dock bar also allows switching into 3 different desktop mode’s. If you are a fan of traditional desktop, you may select either the “Efficient Mode” or the “Classic Mode”.
You can configure each corner of the desktop by right-clicking on the desktop and select ‘corner navigation’ from the context menu. This will show each active corner with a gear and you can choose the desired action for that corner. By default 3 corners are already set except the right top corner.
Now going forward, clicking on the icon which resembles a Rocket, will open the menu covering the entire desktop. By default all the software icons are displayed on the screen without any categorization. If you prefer category wise menu listing, then you need to select it from the top corner of the menu with icon having wording “A” (which i guess stands for All and this icon changes based on your selection). A feature on this menu is the blue dot over some icons which tells that the software is newly installed and not yet opened. Another interesting feature I found is the option to uninstall a software directly from the menu. You just need to right click on to the software you wish to uninstall and then select “Uninstall”. Yes it is that easy to uninstall a software.
The next major highlight of this desktop is the control center. Usually the control center will be a separate window in all the linux distro’s I have seen.
In Deepin, the control center is integrated right into the desktop. On clicking the control center icon on the dock, a panel is open vertically right from the screen. You click volume or the wifi icon on the dock, the respective control’s are open right on this vertical panel. Desktop customization can also be done from this panel along with other options. Even though i don’t see any major usability improvement with this implementation, still the change is welcoming and interesting. It also gives a different look to the desktop from the traditional desktops that you have seen.
The desktop of Deepin was a nice experience, but it has not been completely bug free for me. The smart hide available for the dock bar at time do not work properly and it just stays over an application window. I had to logoff and login to fix this issue. Even though this is not a frequent problem, but whenever it happens its quite annoying, Another issue I found was at the time of login into the desktop. It took a minute or so, for the entire desktop to load. Sometimes the dock panel just freezes with only few icons loaded. If this happens, restart and login is the only way out. Maybe these issues might get ironed out with updated, and since these issues are not frequent I am quite happy with this desktop.