My UKUI trip

So, for those not familiar with it, UKUI is the Ubuntu version of the Chinese Linux Kylin. Originally a Mate fork, it’s now mostly (all?) QT based.

I’ve had it installed on my old computer for a while, and after doing an update on Sun, I realized that the biggest issue I had with it, the control center failing to launch had been fixed, so I gave it a spin. Liking it, I decided to install it on my main computer and run it as my primary Linux.

Short version, it seems to be good enough to be my daily driver, but I’m not a demanding user, I mostly use the computer for chat, web and email, particularly document editing on Google Docs. It’s biggest flaw is that it is very, very mouse based, there are virtually no short cut keys out of the box. That like most problems though are basically nuisance issues.

For those that haven’t tried it, UKUI is described as having a Windows 7 aesthetic, though not having used Windows, I can’t say how accurate that is. I will say that in the default light theme, it’s very nice, bright and light feeling. With Firefox, Htop, DeadBeef (there needs to be a QT port of this), Telegram and Ripcord running, I’m seeing about 1.75G of memory used according to Htop. New start up comes in at just under 800M before I start launching apps, and memory use drops a lot when Firefox isn’t running. Firefox seems to run better here than under Cinnamon which is kind of interesting. Peony (Kylin’s file manager) definitely needs to mature, there’s very little that you can set or change, although all the basic features are there. This is definitely a usable system for a light/consumer user.

Problems and nuisances:
Control center still crashes on new computer. Notably this one was set up from day 1 as a Cinnamon (GTK) system, whereas the old one started with LXQt, with Cinnamon and UKUI added, which makes me think the problem either involves a difference in the file system, or something that’s not getting installed with the group that’s required and standards on a Qt system.
Peony doesn’t do single click to open files/folders
Lack of keyboard shortcuts, this is particularly noticeable when switching work spaces which requires several clicks in various places to move between them
UI has some rough edges, such as the panel’s notification button opening a sidebar that contains notifications, clipboard and plugins (small apps), which seems like a mishmash of items.
One launch resulted in a unusable system as it had one workspace, and windows had no title bars. Logging out and back in solved this, and it hasn’t returned
Peony sorts files/folders by letter, number and symbol, a plus and rare in a Linux file manager. On the negative side, files/folders that start with symbols are put at the end of the folders rather than the typical beginning.
Cursor settings don’t seem to take, this has only happened on the old system, but selecting different cursors made no difference.
Peony doesn’t seem to be able to delete files. We’ve only tried this on the new system, but when trying to trash files, i’m told the only option is to delete them, and they disappear only to shortly reappear.

And, that’s all there is for problems. Over all I like it, and may do a clean LXQt install on my new computer, then add UKUI, and see how well it works, but that’s not going to happen for at least a week or two.


Well, time for a follow up, right? Well, there’s not much to follow up with, I’m still using it, I’m a lightweight in my computer usage, and it’s still holding up fine. I’m not sure if’n I’ll redo the system or not, but we have added LXQt, and had the results expected. That said, I’m going on two weeks with UKUI, so…

Interface needs work, badly. As mentioned, the only way to switch work spaces is to click on the taskview icon on the left side of the panel, then click on the workspace you want on the right side of the screen (resembles the side bar), and then click on the window you want, or the workspace to just go to it. Way too much moving around in that.
Customization is minimal, cursors won’t change for one thing, icons seem to be limited to the three choices that come with the system, and likewise theming seems to be limited to light or dark (pretty nice dark theme I think).
Sidebar is weird, accessed through a panel icon that seems to mean alerts, you get a side bar offering notifications, clipboard, and plug-ins.
Other interface issues are things like the taskview being in the panel, but you turn it on/off using the right click menu, not the panel set up menu.
Peony sucks frankly. It’s pretty, but lacks features, even basic ones like single click on files and folders. If it’s open and you insert an sd card, it won’t be able to access it, you’ll have to close and reopen it. Plugging my phone and tablet in got some rather random behavior too, like going back up a directory every time I deleted a file. Of its few features, what the heck is
‘keep allow’? Turning it on doesn’t seem to do anything. Other customizing choices include ‘forbid thumbnailing’, ‘resident in backend’, and ‘parallel operations’, none of which I’ve played with, and except for the thumbnailing one, I’ve no guesses on what any of them do.

So, summing it up, I think the worst feature is Peony, not only does Linux not really need another file manager, it really shouldn’t’ve been realeased until it matured some. Seriously, they could’ve forked and re-skinned PC ManFM - Qt and had a better product.

You can use this as any every day, at least if’n you’re a light user like me, but otherwise, you’ll quickly be unhappy with it. Also if you are going to use it, add it to a Qt based system, I’ve had good luck with LXQt, otherwise your customization will be non-existant as the UKUI control center won’t launch.


Ok, final post since the experiment is over. For now I’m going back to Cinnamon, although I’ll likely switch to i3 down the road, a rather silly choice as I can’t live with it, nor can I live with out it.

But, that’s not germane to the topic. I was surprised that I got no questions about this, as occasional questions turn up here and there about using UKUI. What’s notable about it is how light it is, at least compared to Cinnamon. For such a pretty distro, and such a young one, it appears to be using less resources, much to my surprise. It is an Ok, DE, adequate for my needs (basic web surfing, email, chat (Telegram and Discord), and the like), but I’m not sure how well it’d work for more intense use. It works well enough, but the lack of keyboard shortcuts is annoying, even Macs have more keyboard shortcuts, and they’re the original GUI. Peony is an utterly pointless file manager, I guess they wanted their own tightly integrated file manager like Deepin, but this one lacks anything more than the most basic featurs. Heck, PCManFM-QT has more features, is smaller, and looks pretty decent on UKUI, and is what I wound up using.

So, the conclusion here is that this is quite usable if you only have basic computer needs, and everything mostly works. Sure, customization is bad, you don’t really get much of a choice in icons regardless of what you install, cursor choices are hit or miss, changing usually doesn’t work. Also while it might’ve been fixed, I’ve found that you need to start with an LXQt install, and add UKUI to it for everything to work, particularly the control center.


Thank you for your series of posts. I have been interested in exactly what UKUI is and how it works. Now I know that personally, it is not the right fit for me.



Ok, maybe we’re not quite done. Gone back to UKUI as I really didn’t like Cinnamon afterwords, and found a solution, actually two, to my workspace switching problem. One is that + will bring up the workspace switcher, though you still have to click on the work space you want to go to. Alternately, + allows you to switch between all open windows, regardless of the workspace they’re on, letting you easily jump to another workspace via keyboard.