With the impending release of Windows 10 (yes Microsoft skipped Windows 9, I guess 8.1 was 9?)…I figured I would give a quick look for a Linux OS that has the look and feel of Windows while still having at its core the openness and friendliness of Linux. At the same time, I heard from a friend that he is having problems connecting his iPhone to the Ubuntu install that I put together for him so fortunately my daughter is here so I could test some theories on getting her iPad to connect to Linux and share them with him (see separate post).
Zorin OS is based on Ubuntu so for me, this will be like putting on a comfortable pair of pants and kicking back and relaxing. You can download one of 5 alternatives for installation from www.zorin-os.com, I chose to look at the 1.4 GB Core Install in its 64 Bit Flavor and set things up in a Virtual Box Environment with 20 GB HDD and 4 GB of RAM and the installation was more than smooth…it was among the quickest that I have seen in recent memory (download to full desktop in less than 15 minutes).
Out of the box, the Screen Resolution for the install was less than perfect (defaulting to 640 x 480) but this was quickly fixed with a quick:
sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms
Then a quick restart of the Virtual Machine.
Once back up to the Desktop it was time to take a real look at what really makes this Linux Distro – More Windows than Windows!
The first thing that is apparent, is the similarity to the Windows XP interface that has been with us since the late 2001 (yes 13 years has flown by) but the default look is more in tune with Windows 7 with Taskbar Docked Apps:
There are numerous things that make this Distro a good fit for many, the first of which is the fact that it is comfortable. For Windows Users looking to stay within their comfort zone of having a Start Menu but at the same time moving away from the security risks and unsupported features of Windows XP (Microsoft stopped updating the venerable OS in April 2014) and rather than the cost and expenses of either updating your Computer (new Desktops while far cheaper than in the past…are still a not free) or just the pain of making the radical change to Windows 8 (or even 10 in a few months)…this at the outset is a great alternative!
What comes with the OS though? Well for the most part, everything most people would need to get things running without many hickups:
- GIMP Image Editor
- Shotwell Image Viewer
- Simple Scan
- Libre Office
- Firefox Web Browser
- Empathy Instant Messenging
- Thunderbird Mail
- Zorin Web Browser Manager??? (See Below)
- Remmina Remote Desktop
Sound and Video:
- Brasero Disc Burner
- Cheese Web Cam
- OpenShot Video Editor
- Rhythmbox Music Player
- Totem Video Player
The Zorin Web Browser Manager is an interesting little tool that lets you add the other 3 primary Web Browsers for Linux:
- Google Chrome
Each of these can be done with a single click and entering your password that you login to the system with…easy peasy!
The system also comes preconfigured with WINE which provides Linux users with the ability to install many Windows Programs (with a variety of success). For this install I decided that I would try to install a CorelDRAW X6 and see how things would play out.
The Installation was smooth as silk with no issues at all (although the installer looked a little strange). I did try to install a version of Microsoft Office 2013 but it kept spitting out errors at me and I have long since archived all other versions of Office as I tend to use the Office Online version for most of my work outside of being at work…all you need is a Microsoft Account (which does not need to be a live.com, hotmail.com or even outlook.com email address).
Overall, Zorin is a good mixture of ease of use and compatibility but at the end of the day, it is most important to test to make sure that any needed Windows Programs will work within the WINE environment if that is the real challenge for you making the move to OS Independence.