Zorin OS 4

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