Zorin OS 12.4 Core

Ubuntu-based dis­tros are a dime a dozen. Shashank Sharma won­ders if Zorin is yet an­other new­bie-cen­tric de­riv­a­tive, or some­thing more…

Linux Format - - CONTENTS -

Ubuntu-based dis­tros are a dime a dozen, and Shashank Sharma isn’t eas­ily im­pressed. Is Zorin some­thing spe­cial?

Till about the mid-2000s, the Linux com­mu­nity spent a lot of time dis­cussing the rea­son­ing for, and ex­is­tence of ev­er­in­creas­ing num­ber of dis­tri­bu­tions. Didn’t we al­ready have enough? Wouldn’t the time and ef­fort in cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing yet an­other dis­tri­bu­tion be bet­ter utilised in ser­vice of an ex­ist­ing project?

Such ex­is­ten­tial ques­tions were fre­quently bandied about, with no clear an­swer to the ques­tion of pro­lif­er­a­tion of dis­tri­bu­tions. How­ever, some­where along the way, the pro­lif­er­a­tion spread away from desk­top dis­tri­bu­tions into niches such as busi­ness and server dis­tri­bu­tions, and oth­ers. It’ not known just how much this pro­lif­er­a­tion is re­spon­si­ble for the ev­er­ex­pand­ing Linux users, but we’re now at the point where peo­ple no longer con­demn new projects. Which is a good thing too, or we would have been de­nied the large num­ber of rel­a­tively new dis­tri­bu­tions that are aimed at new users.

Zorin OS, which was started in 2009, is based on Ubuntu and like its par­ent, the project has strived for two new re­leases each year. What sets Zorin apart from sim­i­lar dis­tri­bu­tions aimed at new­bies is its de­sign phi­los­o­phy, which would ap­peal to Win­dows and Mac users. Cou­ple its de­sign with the choice of bun­dled soft­ware, specif­i­cally the in­clu­sion of Wine and Play­onLinux out of the box, and it’s easy to see how the dis­tri­bu­tion has fos­tered a ded­i­cated and pas­sion­ate com­mu­nity in rel­a­tively short amount of time. For users dis­sat­is­fied with the open source al­ter­na­tives to their pre­ferred pro­pri­etary ap­pli­ca­tions, these ap­pli­ca­tions can be used to in­stall games and ap­pli­ca­tions de­signed for Win­dows within the Linux in­stal­la­tion.

Neat and fast

Un­like many of its peers, the project still pro­duces vari­ants for 32-bit ma­chines, and rec­om­mends this for older ma­chines with less than 2GB of RAM. You can use the Zorin Ap­pear­ance tool to change the lay­out of the desk­top, all of which fea­ture a launcher at the bot­tom left of the screen on the Gnome 3.18.2 desk­top. Even on a sin­gle core 2GHz ma­chine fit­ted with 4GB of RAM, Zorin is ap­pre­cia­bly faster than its par­ent, and most other Gnome-pow­ered desk­top dis­tri­bu­tions such as Ubuntu and Fe­dora.

Apart from the usual com­pli­ment of mul­ti­me­dia and in­ter­net tools, Zorin also fea­tures De­jaDup backup util­ity and a browser man­ager to in­stall ad­di­tional web browsers such as Fire­fox, if you dis­like the de­fault Chromium.

For users in­ter­ested in even more ap­pli­ca­tions and sup­port out of the box, the project also pro­duces a vari­ant called Zorin Ul­ti­mate. Un­like the Core edi­tion how­ever, which is avail­able as a free down­load, you must shell out €19 (£17) for this ver­sion of the dis­tro.

The project hosts dis­ap­point­ingly brief guides on a hand­ful of top­ics such as in­stal­la­tion, con­fig­u­ra­tion of wire­less and graph­ics cards and in­stalling ap­pli­ca­tions. Thank­fully, these terse write-ups are com­pli­mented by the com­mu­nity driven fo­rum boards, which also host user con­trib­uted tu­to­ri­als and guides.

Un­like many other desk­top dis­tri­bu­tions such as its par­ent Ubuntu, or its peers like Linux Mint, Fe­dora, OpenSUSE and oth­ers, Zorin doesn’t main­tain a to-do list, nor pro­vides a list of ex­cit­ing-sound­ing fea­tures that may ship with fu­ture re­leases. This in­for­ma­tion is re­leased when the project pre­pares to un­veil its early re­leases to the pub­lic for beta test­ing.

For the past few years, the project has re­leased two edi­tions each year. The lat­est edi­tion, al­ready the sec­ond re­lease for 2018, will be the last in the 12.x se­ries. The next ma­jor re­lease, based on Ubuntu 18.04.1, will be an­nounced in au­tumn, and while there are no de­tails for now, the project has termed the up­com­ing edi­tion as a huge re­lease. Watch this space!

If you’re in­ter­ested in an eas­ily ex­ten­si­ble dis­tri­bu­tion that’s also fast, in­tu­itively de­signed and pleas­ant look­ing, we rec­om­mend giv­ing Zorin a try.

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