Deepin 15 & Ubuntu 14.04 on UEFI


Since I ran a quick test-drive of Linux Deepin 15 on VirtualBox, I had been longing to install it on hardware. I already have a highly customized Ubuntu 14.04 with LXDE running and I didn’t want to disturb it. So I went ahead with a dual boot setup. Here’s a chronicle of my tinkering.

Resize/squeeze the original partition

I have a 128GB SSD disk and it was being used by Ubuntu. To squeeze the partition by 20GB (for Deepin) I created an Ubuntu Xenial live USB and booted the system from it. I squeezed (from the end of the partition) the existing Ubuntu partition by 20GB using GParted. Though I had taken a backup of important data earlier (you can never be too careful!), everything went smoothly and I could boot comfortably into my existing Ubuntu 14.04 installation. Relieved that I didn’t lose my base OS, I started with the Deepin 15 ISO.

Install Deepin

To create the live USB with Deepin on the same pen drive, I ran:

$ sudo dd bs=4M if=deepin-15-amd64.iso of=/dev/sdb

Deepin doesn’t have any live test option available. I started the installation and it is surprisingly easy. A few clicks and the installation completed within 3 minutes!

Fixing UEFI boot

After rebooting the system, I found that it booted into Ubuntu 14.04!!! No entry in GRUB. I could mount the partition (with Deepin installed) and see the files. The EFI system partition showed the bootloader from Deepin as well. In general UEFI systems detect the bootloaders for each installed OS but that didn’t happen in my case. This might be a problem specific to my hardware too. However, as the original Ubuntu bootloader was intact I tried booting Deepin by creating a new entry for Deepin.

I checked the partition UUIDs:

$ sudo blkid /dev/sda*|column -t
/dev/sda1:  UUID="1784-4A83"                             TYPE="vfat"
/dev/sda2:  UUID="39f3cfaf-52d1-4462-b33f-bbc58827f70f"  TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda3:  UUID="f5d54a82-b164-4656-a0e5-ab392c2102ab"  TYPE="ext4"

The second entry is for Ubuntu and the third one for Deepin partition. I hoped Ubuntu to detect Deepin in sda3 and ran:

$ sudo update-grub2
Generating grub configuration file ...
Warning: Setting GRUB_TIMEOUT to a non-zero value when GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT is set is no longer supported.
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.3.0-040300-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-4.3.0-040300-generic
Found Deepin 15 (15) on /dev/sda3

It created a new menu entry for Deepin in /boot/grub/grub.cfg:

menuentry 'Deepin 15  (15) (on /dev/sda3)' --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os $menuentry_id_option 'osprober-gnulinux-simple-f5d54a82-b164-4656-a0e5-ab392c2102ab' {
	insmod part_gpt
	insmod ext2
	set root='hd0,gpt3'
	if [ x$feature_platform_search_hint = xy ]; then
	  search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root --hint-bios=hd0,gpt3 --hint-efi=hd0,gpt3 --hint-baremetal=ahci0,gpt3  f5d54a82-b164-4656-a0e5-ab392c2102ab
	  search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root f5d54a82-b164-4656-a0e5-ab392c2102ab
	linux /boot/vmlinuz-4.2.0-1-amd64 root=UUID=f5d54a82-b164-4656-a0e5-ab392c2102ab ro splash quiet
	initrd /boot/initrd.img-4.2.0-1-amd64

Things worked as expected in next reboot. I could login to the gorgeous Deepin desktop. However, the joy was short lived as I found quite a few issues within the first hour.

Deepin disappointments

  1. I could install infinality on Deepin but the font rendering is way better on Ubuntu 14.04 with exactly the same settings.
  2. Auto-detected time was incorrect. Changing the timezone didn’t work.
  3. Deepin uses a lot of resource. I couldn’t find any option to disable animations.
  4. The Deepin Dark theme was not installed.
  5. Couldn’t find my fish shell in the Deepin Store.
  6. When I pressed the F4 shortcut check out the Quake mode terminal, mayhem ensued. CPU usage went up to 193% and the desktop became unstable.

Thus ended my rendezvous with beautiful Deepin 15 on Valentine’s Day. I am disappointed, to say the least. Deepin may be gorgeous, and it is just about that. It’s far from ready to become the daily desktop of a power user.

Building and maintaining a stable, rock solid and software-rich distribution is a difficult job. My love and respect for Ubuntu and Canonical is doubled.

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