It’s fair to say that Huawei has been involved in some interesting media stories in recent months. With reports of the company using spying tools within their shipped products, to the US government imposing a ban, and Google banning Huawei from using Android; there are even reports of Microsoft may also ban Huawei from using Windows on their devices.
However, despite the negativity, the Chinese company has recently released its latest models of laptops, the MateBook, with Deepin Linux installed. Currently only available in China, the MateBook 13, 14, and MateBook X Pro will feature Deepin, which is developed by the Wuhan Deepin Technology Co. By moving away from Windows, the company has shaved some money off of the overall cost of the laptops, as well as sticking several fingers up to the US and any companies relating to the West.
The laptops have pretty decent specifications. The MateBook line boasts an i5-8265U CPU, 8GB of memory, a 512GB SSD, and either a 13-inch IPS 2160×1440 display on the MateBook 13, 14-inch for the MateBook 14, or a 13.9-inch LTPS 3000×2000 on the MateBook X Pro; all of which are driven by an Nvidia GeForce MX250.
Pricing is listed from 5,399 Yuan (roughly £612) for the 13, 5,699 Yuan (£650) for the 14, and 8,699 Yuan (£990) for the top-end X Pro. All in all, not too bad. However, there are currently no plans to introduce these models, together with Linux and pricing, beyond China.
For the company’s handheld technology the plan is to replace Android with the custom built Harmony OS, the laptops, however, are going to be shipped with Deepin Linux out of the box.
Deepin Linux is a Debian-based distro that’s often described as ‘the single most beautiful desktop on the market’, and by looking at the distro’s screenshots it’s easy to see why. The latest version is 15.11, and comes with a number of good features, such as Cloud Sync, an improved dock, better video playback, and a host of bug fixes and patches.
It is a good-looking distro, and has everything that the average Linux user will ever need together with the kind of ease of use to install new packages that makes Windows users quite envious. But, and this is a pretty big but, Deepin has been previously named as a distro that actively leaches information back to servers based in China.
The main culprit was Deepin’s AppStore, that sent statistical information back to Chinese servers, which was identified in a previous version of the OS. Of course, there’s no evidence that the information was falling into the hands of the Chinese government, or some other department for that matter, or even if the information being gathered was a breach of the user’s privacy. It was, though, enough to send privacy shockwaves through the community, and raise the hackles of those who follow cybersecurity forums.
The marriage of a Huawei product and a Linux distro that has previously had concerns over privacy, has raised one or two questions among the tech community. Look to virtually any tech, mobile, Linux or security forum and you’re more than likely to find a lengthy conversation regarding spyware within code and installed on mobile chips. It could all well be conspiracy, and the rantings of those who like to drum up misinformation. Then again…
Who knows? One thing’s for certain, the quality of Huawei’s MateBook range and the looks of Deepin are certainly making for an appealing combination.