As a fairly new desktop Linux user I’ve been a distro-hopping fanatic, exploring the functionality and key differences between the array of excellent options out there. While a “forever distro” is the ultimate goal, the journey has been exciting and educational. Recently my Linux adventures led me to Deepin, an OS that captured my attention and boasts a few key ingredients I fell in love with.
Like many other Linux operating systems such as Ubuntu and elementary OS, Deepin is based on Debian. But Deepin is also a standalone desktop environment, meaning it’s possible to install it as your default “look and feel” on a wide range of distributions (an alternative word for desktop operating system in the Linux world).
Deepin does something unique that I haven’t seen in any other Linux distribution I’ve tried. Or for that matter, in any version of macOS or Windows. This compels me to describe it as simultaneously sexy and sensible. I know, it’s an unusual combination!
I’ve already written about how intuitive the installation process is, and the animated welcome video that greets you on the first boot manages to visually and succinctly introduce the various features of the OS. A far cry from macOS, and especially from Windows 10 with its endless screens of setup text and nags.
But let’s get into what really shines once Deepin is installed.
The Control Center
Deepin’s control center is integrated perfectly right into the desktop, and it makes both macOS and Windows 10 feel archaic by comparison. This is especially true for people who enjoy a streamlined desktop that stays out of your way.
We’ve come to expect traditional system settings to open up in a new window — or even multiple windows. It’s here that Deepin sets itself apart in a beautiful way.
Every major setting you need to manage or tweak your operating system exists within the Deepin control center, accessible by clicking an icon in the dock or taskbar. Doing so presents a translucent sidebar that slides out from the right side of your desktop. From here you can access account management, default apps, network settings, themes and fonts, power management, system updates and everything else you’d expect.
You can also rearrange the boot order of various operating systems you have installed, and even setup a VPN connection. All from this single sidebar. No extraneous windows. And once you’ve drilled down into a particular category, it’s a snap to access others by clicking the relevant icons on the left and jumping directly to them.
The control center can also serve as your notifications center. Just click the toggle on the upper part of the sidebar and you’ll switch to all of your system and social notifications.
Seeing the Deepin control center in motion really drives home how elegant a solution it is. It’s a feature I was blissfully unaware of until I first used it, and now I’m hooked. It’s all very fluid and very impressive.
Fashion Mode and Efficient Mode
Deepin also does something that — at least in my experience — sometimes requires the installation of a completely different desktop environment. It offers fast-switching between “Fashion Mode” and “Efficient Mode,” effectively catering to people (read: Mac and Windows users) with pre-existing preferences on how their desktop should look and function.
Fashion Mode is most easily compared to macOS, sporting a dock that’s centered at the bottom of your screen by default. It will also feel familiar to Gnome or elementary OS desktop users. This dock has a collapsible “system tray” as well which shows notifications, volume controls and network connections.
If you prefer a more Windows-like desktop implementation, “Efficent Mode” is what you’re after. Simply right click in the dock, select it, and then you’ll be rocking a taskbar on the left and system tray area on the right.
In both modes these areas can be snapped into the left, right and top of your screen. In both modes you can easily adjust the sizing and whether or not it auto-hides or stays locked onto the screen, as well as activate or deactive any plugins or applets you’ve installed with a simple right click.
This article originally appeared on Forbes