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How To Set Up The Deepin Desktop Environment On Arch Linux

There are many different desktop environments to choose from on Arch Linux. A new addition to the lineup is the Deepin desktop. It’s the desktop component of an independent Linux distribution which makes heavy use of Ubuntu. The main aim of this Linux desktop is to make things easy to use, beautiful, and modern.

For a while, Deepin was only available on its distribution, as source code, and Ubuntu as a whole (through side-loading software sources and etc). Recently, the software has been added to the Community section of Arch Linux, giving Archers even more choice!

Installing Deepin

The Deepin desktop environment can now be installed as long as you have the Community software source enabled. Before this, the desktop had to be installed via custom software repositories, or built via the AUR. The base desktop can be installed via a single meta-package. To get it, open up the terminal, and do the following:

sudo pacman -S deepin

This meta-package gives Arch Linux the basic components to run the desktop, and nothing else. From here, you’ll also need to install and enable the network manager tool.

sudo pacman -S networkmanager

Network Manager is on the system, but not working. The tool itself (like most things on Arch) relies heavily on systemd. To ensure that Deepin has a network connection, execute the following command:

sudo systemctl enable NetworkManager.service

sudo systemctl start NetworkManager.service

Keep in mind that Deepin uses its own Network Manager applet for the panel. This means if you’ve also installed “nm-applet” (the default network panel app) you’ll have two network indicators. Solve this by uninstalling the applet.

sudo pacman -R nm-applet

After installing the basic package to get the desktop working, and enabling networking, there are still a few things left to install. The “deepin-extra” meta-package. This will give the desktop environment added utilities, and tools that make using using the desktop environment a much more complete experience.

sudo pacman -S deepin-extra

Do understand that the Deepin desktop environment is a little different than others on Arch, because it isn’t a complete desktop environment. While it is true that Deepin provides a lot of special programs in the “deepin-extra” meta-package, users will still be missing certain tools.

For example: when a user installs Gnome 3 on Arch, two meta-packages ensure that the user gets a complete Gnome experience, complete with a text editor, email client, and everything in between. The Deepin programs are not nearly as expansive, and users will need to supplement it.

To supplement some missing programs that Deepin doesn’t include, try installing the following packages:

sudo pacman -S geary gedit tomboy empathy transmission-gtk

Installing LightDM

Deepin can function well with pretty much any login manager. GDM, LXDM, SDDM, and the list goes on. That said, if you want a full experience with this desktop environment on Arch Linux, you’ll need to enable the Deepin greeter.

A “greeter” is what the user sees when they log in on the system. It’s the core component of LightDM, and without a greeter, LightDM won’t even turn on. To enable this greeter, first install LightDM with:

sudo pacman -S lightdm

After installing the package, the LightDM login manager won’t work, as configuration is needed with systemd. Enable it as the default DM with:

sudo systemctl enable lightdm -f

Open the LightDM configuration file inside the Nano text editor, and search for “# greeter-session”.

sudo nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

Under # greeter-session, put:

greeter-session=lightdm-deepin-greeter

Save the updated configuration file with Ctrl + O, and then use the test command to make sure everything checks out.

lightdm --test-mode --debug

WARNING! Do not reboot if the debug test results are not successful! If this happens, your configuration is wrong. Follow the above steps and do it again! When the debug command passes, reboot.

Configuration

By default, Deepin is in eye candy mode. This mode is effectively a dock at the bottom of the screen and nothing more. There’s no top panel, and everything looks very nice. This mode looks good for most people, especially those that like the macOS way of doing things. However, this mode isn’t the only way to use this desktop environment.

To change the look of the panel, right click on it, and find “mode”. Switch from one layout to another by clicking between the two options.

Adding A Top Bar To Dock Mode

If you choose to use Dock mode rather than the panel mode, you may want to add a top bar. Not only will it make everything more Mac-like, but you’ll have added features and buttons you miss out on with dock mode. To get the top bar, simply download the snapshot and generate an installable Arch package, or point your favorite AUR helper at it. Then, search for “deepin-topbar” and run it.

Autostart The Topbar

Want to ensure that the topbar is always running when you log into your desktop? If so, the best way to solve this is to create a startup entry. Creating a startup entry is as simple as creating a copy of the Desktop file that’s already in /usr/share/applications/, and changing the permissions.

cp /usr/share/applications/deepin-topbar.desktop ~/.config/autostart

sudo chmod +x ~/.config/autostart/deepin-topbar.desktop

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