The "Deepin is spyware" problem

#linux #garbage #sophistry

WARNING: this article contains strong words. Beware.

Nowadays we can get in touch with people thousands of miles away really easily, which is not even imaginable just a few decades ago. Thanks to that, I visit reddit regularly and found some dispute about the only "sane" Chinese Linux distro arouse:

Although I've never actually used Deepin as my daily driver, nor am I affiliated with the company that develops it, seeing Chinese being discredited in these posts made me want to say something for Deepin. However I found that I had literally nothing to say.

Dispite of the clickbait nature of the video's title, deploying tracking code without notifying the user is blaspheming the user's trust in the software. However what really triggered me is their offical statement:

Recently, there is saying that Linux Deepin is spyware. The logic is that Deepin has links in its website and Appstore, and since cnzz will collect some client information in the browser, thus Linux Deepin is spyware. It is really a serious problem, since nobody wants to have his/her private information leaked, as in the Facebook event.

Deepin has to inform all those interested that our Appstore backend is a website and cnzz is a famous internet statistics analysis service provider that collects website anonymous usage information such as browser user agents, resolution, etc. and which is just a same product as Google Analytics. Deepin uses cnzz to collect website access information and so to know how to improve our website experience and detect website problems. No private information can be collected this way just by the data above mentioned.

We hope this clarifies the spyware thing above and make the promise again that Deepin has not collected user private information in the past and will not collect user private information in the future.

Enjoy Linux Deepin~

This is utter nonsense. And it's even worse than nothing. It is same as saying "you dumbass chose to trust us and this is what you deserve."

Also someone on reddit pointed out that Deepin comes with Google Chrome preinstalled and they distribute it from their own servers (almost certainly without Google's permission), which is explictly prohibited in the EULA of Google Chrome. What they could thinking should be like "fuck those legal stuff. Google won't give us a shit and let's provide maximum convience to our users!".

So you might be wondering why I still refer it as "the only sane Chinese distro". Well, you might agree if you know something about other Chinese distros such as Start OS and Kylin OS. The latter is essentially the Chinese version of the Red Star OS. It has a very Windows 7-ish look and feel, which can be described as photocopying.

Start OS (formerly known as ylmf OS) has a similiar history as Linux Deepin: they both emerged from organizations that produced pirated Windows XP using Ghost from Symentec. They started their own OS after the largest organization doing pirated Windows copies was taken down by the government. Start OS has been inactive for quite some time though.

Deepin, however, really made some progress. At least they are developing decent software, not applying a Windows XP theme on Ubuntu and rebrand it. I actually used components from Deepin on my Debian machine for over a year (until KDE finally revamped their counterparts). Deepin managed to get a stable and fairly large user base. Then they seemed start doing what every single Chinese technology company have done: making software use the user. (In China, you don't use computer. The computer uses you! Seems familiar, right?)

Even though I am Chinese, I found some Chinese companies being over ambitious disturbing. And some of them don't really comply with the rules. (GPL violations of Allwinner and Xiaomi are infamous examples.)

Above is an excerpt from my unposted reply to the reddit post. The Chinese government seems acquiescent with that, for its own purposes. Shame on that.

But trustworthy Chinese still exist, right?