Is Zorin OS Really Easier than Ubuntu?

by Susan Linton - Dec. 14, 2010Comments (20)

Zorin OSZorin OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution, which its developers say is, "designed specifically for Linux beginners who want to have easy and smooth access to open source software." Well, isn't that similar to what Ubuntu says? Why would anyone need anything easier than Ubuntu? Is it even possible to have anything easier than Ubuntu? Well, Zorin folks think so, but let's see.

Since we're looking at Zorin OS 4.0 RC, we'll forego any mention of bugs. The GRUB screen looks like a hold-over from 3.0, but it might change before final. The boot-up splash is very attractive and takes one straight to the desktop. The 1024x768 resolution was a bit cautious for an NVIDIA 6000 series graphic chip, but the background image is fairly attractive. It's very similar to the one used in 3.0, perhaps a little less pretty. A lot of the panel applets are gone from 3.0 with only the Message Indicator, clock, Session Indicators, and Network Manager remaining. Was this done to appear less confusing for new users? On the launcher side of panel there are Chromium, Nautilus, and Rhythmbox buttons. Again, for simplicity I presume.

The menu is a clone of XP's and perhaps later. You have the basic categories listed at the left that when clicked brings up the choices of applications. On the right of the menu are some places and shortcuts to things like the Control Center and Package Manager. Some of the application listings are Windows-like in that they are listed by functionality rather than software name, but then others were listed by their software names, and even other were listed with both. Sometimes both a functionality was listed and then the same application listed under it by name. I think consistency and consistency using functionality would probably be easier for new folks. So, I like the look of the menu, but it needs some polishing. For users coming from Windows, this type of menu would probably be comforting. For Linux users, well, opinions would probably be split.

The system tools that Linux users are accustomed to might give pause to new users such as the Control Center and package manager. The Synaptic interface has become a bit busy and might intimidate new Windows converts. The Control Center is another tool that just might overwhelm the new user by all the category icons, many of which lead to pages and pages of configuration choices. This isn't Zorin's fault and they couldn't very well leave it out, but still, it could be overwhelming. Perhaps Zorin can make a simplified version to put out front with just the most commonly used functions and hide the more advanced one under a "more advanced button."

Multimedia functionality works out of the box which is always good for a new-user distro. There are some extra drivers for wireless and such. Ubuntu Tweak is included which has some nice options and feels less intimidating than the GNOME Control Center (although less options as well). But it has the things new users might look for like theme elements, backup options, and a software installer.

There is quite a variety of applications already included, which is good for new users. They can get a feel for Linux before trying to install new software. Wine is included, but even experienced Linux users can have a hard time with Wine. It would probably be better for new users to just leave that out. PlayonLinux is also included and it could provide some of that functionality.

The installer spawned an error message saying the one gigabyte of RAM in my test machine wasn't enough to install Zorin. People coming from XP might only have one gigabyte of RAM, but I guess those running from Vista or 7 will have plenty. I'll take the error message at face value and perhaps test the final when I put my other spare machine back together.

But I think we've looked around enough to decide that Zorin OS is still Linux despite its efforts to hide that fact. Even the Windows-style menu is Linux-like with all the weird application names. The Control Center might make a new user change their mind about changing anything. Wine doesn't help. The fact that multimedia works out of the box does make it easier than Ubuntu, but lots of other newbie distros do that too.

Overall, I'm just not really impressed very much. Zorin OS looks and feels like a cobbled together piecemeal system. Many many distributions borrow from other distros, but most are a bit more polished. Really, the menu look is the only visual aspect I can see that might ease the migration, until the user starts clicking around in it. The multimedia support is a plus, but Zorin OS developers still need to do lots more work to truly reach their goal.

In summary, Linux is Linux is Linux. Sticking an XP-like menu in there doesn't change that. I'm not sure we should try.



Coby Randquist uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


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0 Votes

I agree with you Susan. Unless you are going to take another quantum leap in some significant way over what Ubuntu already provides, is it even worth the bother? Linux Mint adds some things not found in Ubuntu, but sometimes I question whether or not it is actually progress or a step backward?

I like things to be simple - if they can be done well enough that I can trust the approach and not have to follow up after it or check up on it. Mint, for example, makes me nervous. They have, for whatever reason, chosen not to use a feature that is quite common in other Debian systems - checking package integrity using the keyring authentication. I hope Mint has fixed this, but last I looked, it seemed broken to me.

As for this Zorin OS, all it seems to change are menus and the addition of a few media additions. For that, it takes me minutes, if that, to bring in what I want, and I can make my own menus too. Maybe this will help a few people, but not that many. Seems more of a let down and a potential black eye to the name than any significant improvement.

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Well, not that I disagree with your assessment about trying to make it look like Windows, but from the screen shot it's obviously going for a windows vista/7 feel and not fact looks nothing like XP

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i completely disagree with susan,i am a simple desktop user migrated from xp.

i tried many distros initially ubuntu at first to me was scary. mint sabayon linux and the most useless xandross all gives a weired picture of linux. then i tried Mandriva this was the perfect distro for the migrators from windows. then i tried zorin nice and impressed me a lot resembling windows. any how i finally landed in Ultimate edition which is my favourite distro now.

all i want to say was zorin os was nice and gives a feel of windows in linux and very useful for an average desktop user who doesnot know what is gnome and kde. mandriva was the easiest linux distro for begniners.This was my experience with linux

dr sudharaj


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Dear Ms. Linton,

Thank you very much for your review of Zorin OS 4. Your comments will help us to further improve Zorin OS. We would also like to clarify a few points.

Firstly, we do not intend to compete with or undermine Ubuntu. We clearly stated that Zorin OS is based on Ubuntu Linux and we are proud to show that!

Our main goal is to make the transition for Linux newcomers easier as many of them find Ubuntu's GUI unfamiliar and unfriendly. This causes many Linux newcomers to retreat back to Windows as they are not willing to spend time learning an entirely new GUI.

Apart from the Zorin OS 4 features that you have mentioned we would also like to draw your attention to some other unique features like our Splash Screen Manager, our Internet Browser Manager and our Look Changer programs. The Look Changer allows users to switch between a Windows 7 look, a Windows XP look and GNOME's default interface. Users of the Premium versions of Zorin OS (Gaming, Multimedia and Ultimate) can also enjoy the Mac OS X, Windows Vista and Windows 2000 looks. We have also included the Nautilus-Elementary file browser that cuts out with the unnecessary clunk found in Ubuntu's standard Nautilus file browser. This provides an easier and much less daunting file browsing experience. We have made changes in the core system, making Zorin OS even faster than Ubuntu. We have also included many other features and improvements that make Zorin OS stand out.

Many Linux newcomers found Zorin OS very user friendly and over the period of 18 months of its existence, Zorin OS was downloaded by over 300,000 users which is impressive in our opinion. Currently Zorin OS is ranked at number 48 on the Distrowatch site (for the past 12 months).

We will continue to work on Zorin OS for the benefit of our users and Linux in general.

We also would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your very positive review of Zorin OS 2.0 which you have written for Linux Format magazine (April 2010).

Best regards,

The Zorin OS Team

1 Votes

As I've not tried out Zorin OS yet, I'd suggest that the developers are trying to something

useful for the 'noobs' migrating to Linux be cautious about what they're doing. The Linux landscape is already over run with many 'easy to use' Linux distros. The huge number of them

is intimidating, all by itself. Really. I hear this all the time. I usually suggest Ubuntu because

it's the cream of the crop. As ALL the developers are copying it one way or another. Nothing

personal you Zorin OS people, but the last thing the world needs is another cloned Ubuntu.

And yes of course I'm a long time Linux user, I hold no degrees in anything, I don't develop

anything, I'm speaking strictly as a long time computer enthusiast. Who hasn't forgotten

what it's like to be a newby.

0 Votes

Susan Linton: "Linux is Linux is Linux" ??

But the user experience does not have to be traditional Linux. Take a look at Jolicloud Linux 1.1 and you should see that the user experience is a lot different from other distros.

No, Jolicloud is far from perfect and may even seem a bit limited for experienced Linux users, However, it appears to be both different from and easier-to-use than Linux or Windows while still maintaining a lot of power and functionality. For new-to-Linux users, Ubuntu-based Jolicloud is the best distro I have so far encountered.


For a compact list of links to many Linux-related distribution, tutorial, forum, news, and help sites, try the link above.

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Why don't you guys just use kubuntu? IMO it looks a lot more like a pretty recent windows out of the box. IMO Gnome simply looks dated out of the box. With kubuntu, you just have to remember to apt-get update/upgrade (why doesn't this happen automatically upon the first reboot after install?), and you even have all the effects of Windows 7 (actually more).

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I find nothing very exciting in this version of Zorin OS, for instance the start menu is Gnomenu's app which anyone could easily install from the ppa (I prefer kde's start menu). While I find it so much to quicker to get things done on the command line than within a gui, more effort needs to invested to make linux desktop more novice friendly.

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@anonymous coward :

apt-get update/upgrade works with every distro that uses Synaptic/Aptitude, i.e. all (K)Ubuntu derratives, as is Zorin OS,

BTW I have Zorin 3.0 on one of my machines with de Gnome desktop and it is really a tid faster than my Ubuntu Lucid distro.

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I loaded Linux Mandrake into a partition on a laptop about six years ago. That was my first Linux experience. I pretty quickly went back to Windows XP. Now I'm building up a new computer and still would like to break away from Windows, mostly due to cost and virus issues. I downloaded Zorin 4 OS and burned it to a DVD and booted up into it. As a newbe I think that this is going to work out for me just fine. I really don't have a lot of time for learning curves and it looks like Zorin will have me in business quickly. I did also run Ubuntu 10.10 from a disc and I think that I could be happy with that also but the Zorin is getting my vote at this point.

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I downloaded the Zorin 4 Lite to try on my Eee 701. It was a great experiment with running from the live disk. I have to admit that the GUI switching capability is a strong draw. I have tried Eeebuntu NBR and EasyPeasy, and each distro has strengths. As a newbie, my interest is in getting more people using Linux - any distro they can be comfortable with. I was using Ubuntu's "Lucid" on my workhorse desktop until MB failure took it out. Loved using it.

My only concern with Zorin is........ will it disappear with updates and repository URLs, and another distro found?

0 Votes

I actually liked Zorin and think it would be good for people like my wife who is a very low level user and hates change. As much as I like it, I will stick to Ubuntu 10.10.

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I am not new to Linux, nor to Ubuntu. I have used Linux since Mandrake 7. I consider myself an advanced Ubuntu user, and have set up several desktops and servers with it.

I tried out Zorin on my Acer Aspire One, and can say everything hardware-wise worked out of the box. The system seemed fast and stable.

However, the update manager appears broken. It says "Latest update 58 days ago", though I only installed it yesterday. The other problem was, unlike Ubuntu and LinuxMint, it recognized but would not mount my windows partitions, although in GParted, the partitions appear as mounted.

I will give it few more days to see if I can fix it.

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i like zorin 4 os my computer works well with it.up to now i have been using ubuntu which zorin 4 os is based on. the difference with zorin from my point of view is the graphics my sapphire hd5670 works really well with zorin all so the sound is crisp and clear you can hear music properly no muffled sound zorin people have done there homework zorin 4 os will work well with multimedia.its very modern,all those years ago when linux started out ubuntu was office based zorin people have moved things on with the modern user in mind.who wants good graphics and really good sound and a os system which is fast i am very impressed with zorin 4 os. and i wont be changing from it back to and sound did not work as well in ubuntu,all though to be faire they cant do any thing to the graphics its down the graphics card manufacturer to sort the drivers out but still my computer likes zorin .works well with it.

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this is the perfect distro to migrate windows users to linux. isn't that what it's all about? as for it looking to much like windows, if everyone is so happy with the ubuntu interface, why, everytime i read ubuntu magazines, there is another article on how to make ubuntu look more like windows or mac?

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I recently tried Zorin v4 and I have to say as an avid windows gamer I'm impressed with it. Seeing how well it'll perform with my needs for a PC and if I can get it working I'll be ditching Windows full stop. Runs faster, Looks nicer... What more can you want :p

If I can get my gaming side bolted into Linux then I will be donating to the devs for the nice work they put in, Anything that makes migrating to Linux from Windows is a plus in my opinion.

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zorin is the only distribution of ubuntu where everything worked when loaded. it may just be another distro, but, if everything works, it is light years ahead of ubuntu 10.04, 10.10, and especially 11.04. it is in my opinion the best i have found, including mint, kde, xfce. it just works. looking forward to the next release, as it does not include gnome 3.0

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i just installed Zorin os 5 free version everything worked out of the box i have 3 girls ages 9-15 and the windows xp look was a perfect choice for them Win XP is what they are used to using all 3 of them took right to it no complaints flash and java worked they went right to playing music you tubing and face booking i am very impressed with that because they always give me a hard time and complain about my Linux tinkering ..i think its a great way to migrate windows users its a very familiar and comfortable environment it doesn't scare the newbie right off the bat i think the look changer is a very smart way to ease users into the Linux world its still Linux and in just a few clicks you can switch to the regular gnome desktop or get down and dirty with the terminal i hope this distro stays active my kids actually like it and use it and that's a big deal.

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I am very impressed with Zorin, since previous Windows XP users to switch to linux first, I tried all distributions, and find that time is PCLinuxOS, but after trying zorin very pleased with menu2nya as very similar to windows especially after the xp install gnome Them, similar once with windows xp, perfect for desktop users migrasian of windows xp, but I try to install the online game point blank successful, but the patch update fails, what causes it to fail, do not know, where we can find out ....?


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