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Zorin OS 4

March 8, 2011
By

Many people coming from Windows try Ubuntu Linux as their first Linux distribution. But Ubuntu itself, while very good, may not always be the best choice. There are many Ubuntu derivatives and it’s possible that one of those can sometimes be a better bet for those seeking to ease their way into a comfortable Linux niche. Zorin OS is an Ubuntu derivative designed to help make the transition from Windows to Linux as easy as possible.

Zorin OS 4 is the latest release. Zorin OS comes in a number of flavors including:

Zorin OS Core
Zorin OS Lite
Zorin OS Gaming
Zorin OS Multimedia
Zorin OS Ultimate

Zorin OS Core is one of the free versions and that’s the version I downloaded for this review. The other two free versions are Lite and Educational Full and Lite. The Lite version offers the LXDE desktop environment and the educational version is…well…educational.

You can buy the other versions in the Zorin OS store for 10 or 15 euros. I know that some people frown on distro developers selling a particular version of their distro rather than giving it away free. Personally, I see nothing wrong with it since people always have the choice to use a totally free distro if they don’t want to pay. But, for some people, it might be worth a few bucks to get a particular version of their preferred distribution. Each individual has to make that choice for himself or herself.

Zorin OS Core comes in 32 or 64 bit versions. Zorin OS Lite and Educational come in 32 bit versions only.

Install Boot

Install Boot Menu

What’s New In This Release
Zorin OS 4 has a number of new features. Please be aware though that some only apply to the premium or light versions of this distro. Please see the release notes for clarification on what features are available in each version of Zorin OS.

Here’s a sample of the new features:

Lite version
New desktop theme
Background plus
Redesigned splash screen
Internet browser manager
Splash screen manager
Better sound menu
Improved file manager
File preview
Updated software center
Better installer

Splash Screen Manager

Splash Screen Manager

Browser Manager

Browser Manager

The splash screen manager is a nice touch, though it’s probably not something I’d use a lot. I also liked the Internet Browser Manager. It gives Linux newbies a chance to experiment with different browsers rather than just sticking with the default choice.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • 700 MHz x86 processor
  • 3GB of Hard Drive space
  • 256 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • Graphics card capable of 640×480 resolution
  • Sound card

Installation
Zorin OS 4 uses the Ubuntu installer and it’s a piece of cake, even if you’ve never installed Linux before. Windows users should have no problem with it. The install takes about ten minutes and you can watch a helpful slideshow while it completes.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Install 10

Install 10

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
Zorin OS 4 uses GNOME for its desktop environment. The panel at the bottom of the screen has a “Z” as a start button and contains icons for Chrome, etc. Newbies to GNOME should not have a problem using the Zorin OS 4 desktop. Everything is where you expect it to be in the application menus, etc. The look and feel of Zorin OS 4 is quite good. It’s a fairly attractive looking desktop.

Desktop

Desktop

Themes
Zorin OS 4 uses a customized theme, but all the usual ones are available in the Appearance Preferences menu. More are available online.

Themes

Themes

Wallpaper
The Zorin OS 4 wallpaper has a sort of bluish hippy, space theme. It’s attractive but not particularly distinct. There are some other good wallpaper choices available in the Background tab in the Appearance Preferences menu. More are available online.

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Admin Tools
Here’s an image of what you’ll find on the control center, admin & system preferences menus:

Administration

Administration

Preferences

Preferences

 

Control Center

Control Center

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
gbrainy
Mahjongg
Mines
Quadrapassel
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
OpenOffice.org Drawing
Scribus
Shotwell
Simple Scan

Internet
Empathy
Giver
Google Chrome
Gwibber
Internet Browser Manager
Remote Desktop Viewer
Sun Java 6 Web Start
Terminal Server Client
Transmission

Multimedia
Brasero
Cheese
Movie Player
OpenShot
Rhythymbox
VLC

Office
OpenOffice.org
Evolution
Dictionary

Others
Wine

The inclusion of Wine is probably a good idea, considering who this distro was mainly designed to serve. However, I am not generally a big fan of running Windows programs on Linux at this point. I generally like to see people find equivalent Linux applications rather than remain dependent on Windows applications.

I recognize though that some people simply must have certain Windows applications available so Wine can sometimes be a very useful tool. If you are one of those folks, I encourage you to first browse around the Software Center and see if there’s a Linux application that will meet your needs before becoming dependent on Wine to run your old Windows applications.

Wine Menu

Wine Menu

Software Management
You can use Synaptic or the Software Center to manage your applications. I recommend that folks coming from Windows skip Synaptic and use the Software Center instead. Synaptic works fine, but it’s less attractive and intuitive than the Software Center. So it’s probably best to stick with the Software Center initially if you are new to Linux and coming to it from Windows.

Software Center

Software Center

 

Synaptic

Synaptic

Adding & Removing Software
It’s quite easy to add or remove software. Just find the application you want in the Software Center and click the Install or Remove buttons. You can also click a More Info button if you aren’t sure if about installing an application.

Software Center Browser List

Software Center Browser List

Installing Software

Installing Software

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
I tried my usual tests on YouTube and Amazon Prime. I had no problems running videos or hearing sound. Both of the videos I tried look great running on Zorin OS 4. Flash is included by default so you don’t have to install anything to view videos on the web. This is something that should definitely work by default in a distro geared toward newbies, so I’m glad that it did.

YouTube

YouTube

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime

Multimedia Applications
The default selection of multimedia software is good and should cover the needs of most users coming from Windows. Brasero, VLC, Movie Player and the other typical applications are all available after you install Zorin OS 4. If you need more there are about 305 multimedia applications available in the Software Center.

VLC

VLC

Problems & Headaches
I’m pleased to report that I didn’t encounter any noticeable problems running Zorin OS 4. Everything seemed pretty fast and stable while using it. I had no problems updating my system, or adding or removing applications. Zorin OS 4 was a pretty enjoyable experience overall.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Zorin OS forums, help and FAQ pages.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Zorin OS 4 largely achieves its goal of providing an easy to use distro for those coming to Linux from Windows. This distro has been set up very well and provides a better overall experience than generic Ubuntu. While some might dismiss Zorin OS 4 as being unnecessary, I think it definitely has its place among the distros best suited to welcome new Linux users.

Although Zorin OS 4 is geared toward beginners, I suspect that some intermediate and even advanced users might enjoy using it. It’s certainly worth a download for distrohoppers that might be curious about yet another Ubuntu derivative.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Zorin OS 4
Web Site: http://zorin-os.webs.com
Price: Free
Pros: Based on Ubuntu; geared toward Linux newbies; good selection of software; comes with Wine installed to run Windows applications.
Cons: Those who don’t run Windows applications might not want Wine installed by default. Gaming, Multimedia & Ultimate versions require a small purchase fee.
Suitable For: Beginners (and intermediate or advanced Linux users who might appreciate what it has to offer).
Rating: 4/5

 


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14 Responses to Zorin OS 4

  1. mark on April 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    This is my favorite distro by far. The lite version is very complete and has a similar feel to the full distro and it amazingly fast as is the full distro. On a modern PC running Windows 7 or 8 in a VM is very reasonable with plenty of resources available since Zorin is so effecient.

    Thanks for the review. 

  2. D1omedes on March 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I plan on building my first desktop some time this year. Money is a bit tight and I have been planning on installing Linux rather than dropping $100 on a Windows 7 cd. Most of my computing experience has been with XP. I have seriously been considering Linux Mint and Zorin OS. But I have some questions.

    With the Gnome 3 releasing and the dramatic changes with Ubuntu and Mint, where does that leave Zorin OS? I have read that Mint has forked Gnome 2 with MATE – will the Zorin distro do the same?

  3. kampion998 on February 24, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    LOL i am a distro hopper! I use puppy a lot, it goes with me everywhere, but zorin so far looks great. an os should be point and click, not massaged and stroked to get it to do what i want … thats what the gf is for!!!!!

  4. Ron on November 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Nice review Jim. I'm typing this on Firefox on Zorin.

    Liking it so far.

    I was an Ubuntu faithful until they messed up with Gnome3.

    So I'm going distrohopping again.

    So far my candidate is Xubuntu, Zorin, and LMDE.

    Zorin seems to be the pick.

  5. jonesy on September 30, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I'm writing this via Firefox 7 on Zorin OS 64-bit in a VirtualBox vm under Ubuntu 11.04 64-bit using 2 cores of a AMD 1090T and 1.5GB RAM of 8 available. (I use 3 cores and 2GB RAM for worldcommunitygrid.)

    When asked by VirtualBox what flavor OS, I chose Ubuntu 64-bit, and also the usual PAE, 2D, 3D, etc. I've not tried to install VirtualBox extensions yet.

    Zorin works flawlessly; I installed it a few weeks back and run it every couple of days. I expect to recommend it, especially to people using Windows and having problems – unless they absolutely need Windows apps for work that don't have reasonable 'nix alternatives.

    While I'll likely keep Ubuntu as main OS, I'll keep Zorin in mind as a replacement.

  6. amsweitzer on August 13, 2011 at 3:06 am

    I've distro hopped around a bit and discovered Zorin os through the splash screen changer gave it a try even though its an Ubuntu remix it has on the core version a lot of the tools I've tried and installed in Ubuntu. So for me its a plus because I get a clean install with all those tweak tools plus backup and the Remastersys which is a great way to put your desktop on a live usb or dvd.

    ps is there anyway to get the background you have on this page of all the diff tuxes

  7. Lance on May 4, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    @ limo:

    OK, OK, No need to shout.

  8. limo on April 16, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I HAVE TO SAY I AM REALLY SURPRISED… I AM A PERSON WHO HAS HAD THE FULL WINDOWS EXPERIENCE… WIN 98 2000 MILLENIUM XP VISTA AND 7

    I ALWAYS HAVE BEEN AROUND SEEING AND READING ALL THE THINGS COMING OUT FROM LINUX… I SAW IT RUN AND TASTED IT 3 TIMES…

    UNTIL NOW I ALWAYS HAD THIS FEAR OF LOSING MY PC OR THINGS NOT WORK AND NEVER SWITCHED TO LINUX

    WHEN ZORIN CAME TO SURFACE I SAW IT BUT DIDNT ATTRACTED ME (1ST VERSION) AFTER SEEING THE VIDEOS AND REVIEWS OF AT LEAST 60 PEOPLE READING COMMENTS I AM READ TO GIVE IT A GO.,,,

    I AM DOWNLOADING IT NOW AND IM GOING TO DROP WIN 7 ON MY 20" LAPTOP AND INSTALL IT ALL

    WISH ME GOOD LUCK

    5 STARS REVIEW BTW!

  9. Stephen on March 18, 2011 at 5:18 am

    Helpful review. As well as something to use myself, I need a distro I can install for friends who just want to give Linux a first try – especially on 3-4 year old machines. It has to install in a few minutes and be basically ready to use without much tinkering, as well as making very reasonable demands on hardware. This could be it. However, I'm left struggling to differentiate its appeal users from that of, say, Mint, which seems to do much the same thing and comes in very similar flavours. I'll probably give it a try.

  10. darkduck on March 10, 2011 at 6:15 am

    What I like:

    1)Choice of browsers! It is the best feature you can imagine. Choose what you want, not get what developers like.

    This is second OS I see this option in after Puppy.

    2) It is based on Ubuntu, so you [potentially] have no issues with ongoing support.

    What I do not like:

    1) Too many versions. Difficult to make a choice. Though, if only some of them are actually free, it makes things easier! ;-)

    2) Only KDE and LXDE? Not much freedom of choice… :devil:

  11. Randy Fry on March 10, 2011 at 1:43 am

    I have been using Zorin OS 4 as my main OS for about 3 months. I believe it to be one of the fastest Ubuntu based systems available running gnome.

    It is very stable and I have had no problems with it in any form, and I have heavily customized it.

    I have installed it on three computers, and out of the box it had no problems with any of the hardware, especially the wireless which I found impressive.

    I found it to be a major improvement over Ubuntu. And as I am checking out Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 3 (not impressed), I'm pretty sure I'll stay with

    Zorin OS 4.

  12. Neal on March 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks for reviewing one of my favorite buntu's. Its been on my wife's box for quite some time and when I get bored with my main distro I like to play with Zorin…..I enjoy the W7 look the best.

    Its been a very reliable, stable system since I first installed it back in Dec. Been very pleased with it and I've used about every distro out there. So yes even seasoned Linux people could enjoy Zorin.

  13. PrinceCruise on March 8, 2011 at 11:42 am

    2009 year release of Zorin was the one I had put in my girlfriend's PC, just to let her use Linux by her own. She was impressed at first but then i had to get bashed after some time for her complaints of no "Photoshop/Yahoo messanger/ etc."! Ha Ha!

    I just quit and let her use her Windows 7 and had to create a Windows 7 partition in my laptop too for her…*sigh!

    But overall I was mighty impressed that time too and still I think it's a nice release.

  14. Brian Masinick on March 8, 2011 at 9:31 am

    It sounds like this derivative of Ubuntu could find a few niches, and it may do a better job in those niches than some of the other alternatives, but it is a pretty crowded field. I just wonder if they have provided the right mix of applications and tools to reach the right niche. Apparently there is some interest out there, and it appears that the software is reasonably solid. It may not be worth it to get it unless you are a tester or a distro hopper, but if you are relatively new to Linux software, it may well be one of a handful of systems worthwhile enough to try out.



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