Zorin OS, an Ubuntu-based operating system aimed at Windows users who are switching over to Linux, has now reached version 8.
Clearly it is aimed at current Windows users thinking of moving to Linux. If you are using Windows XP or Vista then Zorin OS is a cheap way of getting a Windows 7 interface and you will need less resources to run Zorin than Windows 7. If Zorin OS core doesn’t work for you then there is always Zorin OS Lite.
Zorin OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu, but besides identical packages and base system there are some major differences between the two. One of the major goals of Zorin OS is to offer a user interface that is similar to that of Windows, making Windows users feel more comfortable when they use Zorin OS.
If you choose the free version, you will then be offered a choice between the latest release (currently Zorin OS 8.1), which is based on Ubuntu 13.10, or the current Long Term Support (LTS) release (Zorin OS 6.4), which is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Furthermore, both the current and LTS releases have three versions: Core, Educational and Gaming. That’s quite a variety of versions to choose from — and there might even be a “Lite” version coming with LXDE!
The Core ISO file is about 1.75GB, so it obviously won’t fit on a CD. I guess we should have given up expecting that quite some time ago now, and just note the few exceptional cases where there is a download that would fit on a CD. Anyway, the download page notes that you can either burn this image to a DVD, or create a bootable Live USB stick using our old friend unetbootin. I took the latter route, and it booted to a nice looking Linux desktop with an “Install Zorin 8” icon on it.
You can get Zorin OS by visiting http://zorin-os.com/free8.html. There are only two versions currently at version 8 and they are the core version and the educational version.
If you have a computer a little light on resources then you will want Zorin OS 7.1 Lite.
After downloading the ISO image you can create a Zorin DVD by inserting a blank DVD into your drive and using disk burning software to burn the image to a disk.
Alternatively use UNetbootin to burn the ISO to a blank USB drive.
If you are unsure as to how to burn an ISO to a DVD or USB drive or you have a slow internet connection then you can buy a bootable Zorin USB drive or disk by clicking this link.
Boot from the DVD or USB drive into the live version of Zorin OS. You can now test out functions such as connecting to the internet to make sure there are no glaring issues.
When you are ready to install Zorin click on “Install Zorin OS”.
The installation for Zorin is fairly straight forward. First things first, choose your language.
Make sure that you have enough disk space, you are plugged in and you have an internet connection. (Being plugged in and having an internet connection are actually optional, you just risk trouble if your battery dies and you won’t get updates if there is no internet connection).
A message will appear asking you to unmount drives that are mounted. Click “Yes” to unmount the drives.
You can now choose to install Zorin alongside an existing operating system (Dual boot), erase the entire disk and install Zorin on the whole drive or something else.
The “Something else” option will pull up the partitioning tool and you will be able to add and set up partitions exactly how you would like them to be.
If you are unsure how to do this then either read up on the subject of partitioning or make life easy for yourself and either choose the install alongside option or erase everything and install Zorin option.
The next screen asks you to choose where you live.
Choose the keyboard layout.
Create a user.
When you have finished simply click “Restart Now”.
Zorin looks like Windows 7 by default. There are 2 icons on the desktop for “Home” and “Computer”. There is also a taskbar with a “Z” instead of the word “Start”, a quick launch bar and a system tray.
Clicking on the “Z” icon pulls up a menu which looks like the Windows 7 menu.
The quick launch bar includes icons for the Chrome web browser, a file browser and audio application. The system tray has icons for the keyboard layouts, Bluetooth, network settings, online status, power management, audio settings and a clock.
To connect to the internet click on the network icon in the system tray. A list of wired and wireless networks appear.
To open a web browser click on the “Chrome” icon next to the “Z” icon.
Flash and MP3
Flash is installed by default in Zorin and therefore you can watch Youtube videos and play Flash games without installing any further software.
The codecs required to play MP3 files are also installed by default so you can listen to your music collection without installing further software.
One of the best reasons to install Zorin is the choice of applications that are there by default (without having to resort to the package manager).
There are all the applications you would expect from an operating system such as screen grabber, text editor, terminal, archive/compression tool, calculator and disc burning software,
The browser within Zorin is Chrome. Many other distributions ship with FireFox or Chromium but Zorin comes with the actual Chrome browser.
If you don’t like Chrome of course then that isn’t a problem either because Zorin has a web browser manager.
Thunderbird is installed as the email client and Empathy is the instant messenging client. There are also remote desktop and desktop sharing tools. A noticeable omission is an IRC chat client along the lines of XChat.
The full LibreOffice office suite is installed with Writer, Calc, Impress and Draw. GIMP is also installed for image editing. There is a PDF viewer installed and the Shotwell photo management tool.
If you have any Windows programs that you want to run within Zorin then there is WINE which is not an emulator. WINE is a compatibility layer that enables you to run Windows software. It isn’t 100% perfect but works for a good number of applications. Zorin has made this even better by installing PlayOnLinux which makes installing your Windows applications as simple as point and click.
The Zorin software centre has a nice and clean interface and it is easy to either browse for new applications by clicking on the different categories. You can search for the program you want to install by typing the name in the search bar.
Look and feel
Zorin is obviously designed to make Windows users feel comfortable. There are a few tools to help you customise your experience.
The first one is the theme changer. By default you get the light Zorin theme. There is also a dark theme available and you can use the theme changer to select the theme you like the best.
The other tool that you might like is the Zorin Look Changer.
By default in Zorin 8 you get the Windows 7 look. If you are old school then you can choose the Windows XP style and if you are old school Ubuntu there is the Gnome 2 look. There are more looks available but you have to upgrade to the Zorin premium version.
There are a number of wallpapers that come with Zorin but you can choose one from your own collection by choosing “Pictures”. If you prefer a plain colour then click on the “Colours” option.
If you like to add extra effects such as fading windows or cube effects then there is the Compiz Settings Manager