One of the best features of Linux is no doubt the fact that it’s free. Not just free to use, but free to use the code in whatever way you wish. Whether you choose to build something new or build on top of something that already exists, the choice is yours.
When we refer to Linux distributions being based on other distributions, there are many good examples out there in the wild. Linux Mint and Bodhi Linux are just a couple that first come to mind. And both of which are based on Ubuntu. And looking deeper into it again, you’ll discover that Ubuntu is actually based on Debian. In fact, a lot of Linux distributions have Debian heritage underneath.
In my Linux experience, I’ve perhaps come across the name Zorin OS once or twice, but I’ve never given it a second thought. It’s a distribution based on Ubuntu. And the fresh new release Zorin OS 6 is based on Ubuntu 12.04.
Upon closer inspection, Zorin OS has a few interesting features that make it stand out from other distributions. A few notable features are:
Linux Kernel 3.2
Zorin Look Changer
Zorin Web Browser Manager
Core, Lite, Educational and Ultimate versions
There’s nothing really different with the 3.2 kernel included with Zorin. In fact, it’s the exact same kernel as what is in Ubuntu. And being based on Ubuntu and using the same repositories, all the same kernel updates should be received.
The Zorin desktop is quite unique. Zorin OS touts itself as a Linux distribution that is aimed at making Windows users feel right at home. And it is done by giving the user the option of different themes that are set out much the same as Windows.
Zorin Look Changer
The Zorin look changer is used exclusively by Zorin OS. And as mentioned above, there are different modes offered. Options include Windows 7, XP, 2000. And there are also options for Unity, Mac OS X and even GNOME 2. Developers have done a great job at catering for all different types of desktop users. No matter what your style of computing is, I’m confident everyone will find a mode that works for them.
Zorin Web Browser Manager
The Zorin Web Browser Manager is another nice little feature used exclusively in Zorin OS. It’s basically a script that makes it easier to install the web browser of your choice. The default browser for Zorin OS is Google Chrome, but this handy little took lets you easily install Firefox, Opera or Midori. Selected browsers can also be uninstalled by running the same script.
Zorin OS also includes all the usual software applications you’d naturally expect to find in a modern Linux distribution. LibreOffice, Rhythmbox and Thunderbird are all bog standard applications included. It’s nice to see developers have included GIMP and OpenShot also. And the Software Center has also had some minor tweaking done. And there’s full support for GTK3, as you’d expect.
I have only one concern with Zorin OS. To be fair, it’s not the operating system itself. It’s the website. One could easily be mistaken for thinking that Zorin OS supports native Windows gaming. Sure, you can run certain games using WINE etc. But this is limited in many different ways. But there doesn’t seem to be any mention of this on the website. Instead, website viewers are given the impression that Zorin OS is a capable gaming operating system. But for the hardcore gamers out there, it’s not. But if you’re a hardcore gamer, you’d probably already know this anyway and you wouldn’t be looking to install a Linux based OS for your gaming needs. But I just think this should at least be outlined somewhere on the website that gaming is limited and catered for through the implementation of WINE. I have scoured the site several times over, but I have been unable to find anything that references this.
Also, the website does not really make it clear what versions of Zorin OS are available to the user. Versions available are Core, Lite, Educational and Ultimate. And some have variations of both 32 and 64bit. Some websites on the internet claim there are Multimedia, Gaming and Business versions available. But they’re all part of the Ultimate package. So it’s all there, but I think the website could be tidied up a little and make it more clear what versions should be used for its intended purpose.
Minor niggles, I know. But certainly no reflection on the Zorin OS service itself which is fine, capable, clean-lined and polished.
If you’re either bored with your current Linux distribution or simply after something a little less bog standard from the usual Linux operating systems available, give Zorin OS a try. It’s exciting and fresh and nice to see that there is still conceptual innovation going on within the Linux development environment.