UbuntuDDE is another young Ubuntu based Remix disto. It’s first ever release is the current one based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. It combines the deepin desktop environment (DDE) with the Ubuntu base. As with many Ubuntu remixes and flavors, you could simply install DDE on top of your regular Ubuntu install. UbuntuDDE aims to provide an easier, more elegant solution for those wishing to use DDE as their main desktop environment. UbuntuDDE claims to offer “the most beautiful desktop environment”. We’ll be having a closer look on that bold claim. If the first impression from their website is any indication, we’re up for a good start.
Let’s first talk about security as some might be apprehensive when talking about any deepin software. The deepin desktop is developed by deepin, a large successful Chinese company that develops it’s own full Linux distribution based on Debian. Some of us will remember that around two years ago there were security concerns around that distro. To summarize what actually happened: deepin uses a web based software center and back then in version 15.5 You Tuber quidsup discovered that this app connects to CNZZ servers. CNZZ is an internet statistics analysis service provider that collects data anonymously much the same way as Google does. This naturally didn’t sit well with many in the Linux community and deepin got bashed for it. They have since removed the service and made a public announcement for full clarification. This has been haunting them ever since and the constant barrage of general negative news on China does not help either. The deepin distro as well as the deepin desktop are fully open source and should be considered as safe as any other software in it’s class.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in and see if it is as sexy as they claim it to be. By default, we are greeted with a light themed, blue colored desktop and a dock at the bottom. When accessing the main menu, we are presented with a large screen filling grid of apps to choose from, much like Gnome 3. There is also the option to display a classic style standard menu instead. The dock at the bottom can also be switched to a classic style which transforms it into a standard panel. The panel can be moved to the top or the sides, so for Unity 7 fans, this is not a bad option and probably my favorite. The system settings is a large semi transparent side panel that covers the full height of the right hand side of the screen when accessed. It definitely looks sleek and gives it a bit of a light mobile OS feel. The settings offered are not as comprehensive as in most other distros. UbuntuDDE, much like Gnome 3 systems, seems to be geared to the standard desktop user and less to those who wish to tinker with every aspect of their system. That is totally fine of course and the beauty of the Linux ecosystem.
UbuntuDDE comes with some deepin developed apps like the file manager, the system monitor, terminal and calendar. These do look quite nice, especially the system monitor and help give UbuntuDDE that somewhat special look. We also get a competent and good looking multi-tasking view although there was a small issue with the displayed mini desktop wallpapers that didn’t match the actual desktops.
When it came to resource usage, I was expecting all that fanciness would bog it down. I was pleasantly surprised of the contrary: htop reported: 554 MB RAM, 79 Processes and 238 Threads. That puts it in the Xfce-KDE Plasma category of light to medium weight desktops. Light = Sexy, so they get another point towards their beauty claim.
The rest of the included software is pretty much standard affair and actually pretty much the same as with the previous review I made of the Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix. They also use the same installer Calamares. Out of the box, we get Firefox, Thunderbird, Gimp and gThumb. For multimedia: Celluloid, for documents: Atril and the whole LibreOffice suite and for backups: Deja Dup.
During my brief use of the system, I didn’t encounter any major issues but from various reviews and discussions I researched online it’s clear this is not fully polished yet. I wouldn’t use it as my main production system just yet. Again, this is very similar to the Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix state of affairs. Both projects are still in their early phases and will only get better as they mature with every new release. As for the claim to beauty: Although beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, there is no doubt this is a very sleek system. It has a clean simplistic yet very functional interface that is refreshingly different and sets it apart from other desktops. Add to that it’s low appetite for RAM and they might actually be on to something.