Zorin OS Review

Jun 6th, 2012No Comments

How many distros does it take to convert Windows users? A lot, apparently.

While looking at the latest news articles on DistroWatch the other week I came across a distro I had not heard of called Zorin.

A quick look at the DW page tells me that Zorin, based on Ubuntu, is designed for Linux newcomers. Having seen Ubuntu create a massive storm in the ‘new-to-Linux’ world and distros such as LinuxMint following suit I had to see what made Zorin so different.

Zorin is available as a free download from their website but for those wanting the more authentic Windows deal you can purchase Zorin.  Zorin comes in four different flavours, these being Business, Multimedia, Gaming and Ultimate and are 13 for a physical disc or just €10 for a download.

I downloaded the free ISO and booted it up into a virtual machine.  Lets have a play..!

Zorin boots up into a fairly simple looking Gnome interface. At first nothing really stands out.

The ‘start’ menu does have a Windows 7 look about it. Application groups are down the left hand side and a list of folders are on the right along with shortcuts to Network settings and Control Center. There is also a search box and Power/Logout buttons, just like Windows 7.

Windows 7… on Linux!

In true Linux fashion there is a selection of applications already installed on the OS. Google Chrome is the web browser with Empathy IM client, Evolution mail and Gwibber filling up the Internet apps. Also included is a complete LibreOffice suite, Gimp for photo editing and some media playback apps such as Banshee, Totem and VLC.

So far so good. We’ve got a simple Windows like menu which makes it easy to find the application we are looking for. We can browse the web, check our emails and watch our videos.

Starting up Chrome I pointed the browser to Youtube and guess what, everything works out of the box! Another +1 for the easy to use ideology.

Looking at the menu again I can see that Wine is installed and we’ve also got the Software Center. As Zorin is based on Ubuntu the Software Center acts very similar to Ubuntus. There isn’t any information about the Software Center though, aside from going to Help on the toolbar. This may throw some newbies who aren’t aware of how Linux provides applications.

There are a number of unique applications found through the menus. The first one I came across was Look Changer. This opens up a window with three ‘looks’ you can choose from. These are Windows 7, Linux GNOME and Windows XP. A simple click of the desired look, log out and back in and hey presto! A new look! This may come in handy for all those people still rocking the XP! These are just variants of the Gnome look though.

Choose your style…

Another app I found is the Internet Browser Manager. Basically this is just a one-button install/uninstall for various browsers. The browsers on offer are Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Midori. Click ‘Install’ under your favourite browser and Zorin will download and install it for you. Simple!

As a Ubuntu based distro there is also UbuntuOne and UbuntuTweak installed.

Zorin certainly seems to cater to the new to Linux crowd and has made a big effort to look a lot like Windows. It is easy to use and the menu is laid out similar to Windows, again to help the newbies.

So what is wrong with it? Well I think it is jumping on the band wagon with out providing enough to make it stand out. Yes it looks a lot like Windows but it seems that most new users are happy with a change, as demonstated by Ubuntu. There also seems to be a lot of Ubuntu applications which makes Zorin feel like Ubuntu with a different look, hardly worth having a complete new distro.

I also feel that selling 4 different versions of the distro is not the Linux way. Agreed some people don’t want all the Multimedia apps, just the Business ones but the website doesn’t explain that you can easily add or remove applications. It must be noted that these variants are only available if you purchase Zorin, the free download is Zorin OS Core. Will new to Linux users understand that you don’t need to purchase a variant just to get the desired applications? It is not explained on the website. I think this will con newbies into buying Zorin instead of getting the free ISO and installing the apps they want after install. There is a hyperlink on the Free download page for ‘package list and other details’ but this just directs you back to DistroWatch. For a new user this may really confuse them.

I’m not sure Zorin will make too much noise in the Linux world. It’s just another distro trying to entice new users but without offering enough to be seen.  It may be nice for users who think Unity or Gnome3 is too much of a change and it’s nice to see developers are still trying but I feel Zorin is too little too late.

If you have any comments or questions please contact me in the forums.



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