Saturday, June 11, 2011

Zorin OS Review - I wanna be Windows 7 - Part 1

Today we are doing a full review of Zorin OS. Their website says: Zorin OS is a multi-functional operating system designed specifically for Windows users who want to have easy and smooth access to Linux. This is how they introduce their product and their slogan is Beyond Limitations. OK, this sounds really exciting but I think the first sentence needs some correction: Windows users in general *don't* want to use Linux. It would be more honest to say ...designed specifically for Windows users because WE want that they switch to Linux and we want to make sure the switch will be smooth. The Zorin OS website looks good, modern and a normal visitor really will have the idea that these guys have produced an operating system. To be fair with the Zorin team I have to admit that on the first page they say clearly that their OS is based on Ubuntu. It is based on Ubuntu which is the most popular Linux operating system in the world. And already we are at the second problem (two sentences, two problems). What is the problem in this case? The Zorin OS team is producing a Linux OS for Windows users. And not just any kind of Windows users, but probably for Windows users with very little knowledge of Linux and Ubuntu. Let's say this new user never heard about Ubuntu. Then why you tell him this is based on Ubuntu. He don't know what is Zorin and what is Ubuntu, and you tell him that Zorin is based on Ubuntu. He will search Ubuntu but no luck: Ubuntu is based on Debian. And then Debian: that is something on some kernel and hurd... The second case is when the new user already heard about Ubuntu. For this user you have to tell what is the advantage of Zorin over Ubuntu. Something must be wrong with Ubuntu if your OS is here, no? Because the Ubuntu website advertizes almost the same set of features.

One more thing about the website and we will start the real thing. They have a nice "Take the tour" button which links to a really nice features page. Big problem here! The feature set is BORING! Com'on guys, No risk of getting viruses is the first feature? This is a very very old joke. And Security comes first. Is this a mission critical server OS? People are in constant fear of viruses and malware in this digital world. Thanks to Zorin OS's immunity to Windows viruses you will never have to worry about them. Zorin OS also comes with integrated firewall software to keep your system extra safe. When a potential security threat arises, software updates usually come within a matter of hours through the Update Manager. With Zorin OS you are sure to have peace of mind. People are in a constant fear? Why you did not mentioned the terrorist threat? And you have another logical problem here. You say that Zorin OS is immune to Windows viruses. In fact this is logic, because this is Zorin not Windows, but you don't say anything about Zorin OS viruses. Did they exist? If yes, this is a problem, if not then why not? I mean the bad guys are writing viruses to Windows but not for Zorin? Why nobody has interest in writing a Zorin virus? This puts Zorin OS in a bad light.

And what is with the Much faster than Windows 7 feature? Do you have any data?

The rest of features are the same standard things available on any distro website.

The website review was somehow negative but let's forget this (maybe they just put all their efforts in the OS itself, not in the marketing things) and start the real test with a positive thing: the download was fast. They do offer a free version (I have tested Zorin OS 5 Core 32-bit) and some premium editions for purchase, which is fine.

The Installer: the Welcome screen is the first part of the Installer. And look nice. Because this is an OS specifically designed for new or inexperienced users, we are expecting a very polished user experience and attention to details. Unfortunately even this simple screen already can create confusions. Only the experienced user will click Forward automatically. One may wonder why the button on the top-right corner of the screen is red? Is something wrong? That button is red (the shut down menu in fact) even when you install the desktop. Ubuntu changes the color of the Shut down menu to red when an update requires a restart. In Zorin OS this dark red colored button is always there, leaving you with the constant impression that something is wrong and needs your attention.

This page also has a You may wish to read the release notes label or button. A new user may really wish to read the release notes, but this will be not so simple as it sounds. First a Welcome to Google Chrome dialog pops up with Choose search engine question. Com'on, I just want to read the release notes. Who knows, maybe says something important. At this point I accidentally clicked on the installer form and guess what. The Chrome dialog dissapeared and the release notes button did not worked anymore. A bit frustrating.

Finally I've managed to bring Chrome back (Alt-Tab) and the release notes appeared. Coming Soon... And one of the feature was the "document creation".

OK, no release notes probably means no problems! Continuing with the installation. This is a standard Ubuntu installer, the slideshows were changed. While the installation is in progress we have the possibility to click on that damn red button. Interestingly you can access the Control Center and play with the settings. Of course this is non-sense and creates another confusion. A new user may think he can configure his computer at this point but receives strange error messages only. Is it so hard to disable these items at install time?

Installer finished without errors and we are ready for the first boot!


Dear Zorin OS support team! I need your help. Today I have installed Zorin OS, but now I have a virus on my computer. The virus name is "gnu grub version 1.99~rc1-13ubuntu3" or 2.6.38-8-generic, I don't know. Please help!

I can image such support requests at Zorin. Look at this:

You say: let's take Ubuntu and make it better for new users. And you don't change this? What the hell is this? It's too complicated to change? Then stop pretending you have an "operating system". Until this point you did not added any value to Ubuntu! Only a few bugs. Period. be continued


  1. Is there something wrong with you? If you can read, you can install Zorin OS!! If you such a basic user, you should not even attempt to install any OS. My Zorin installation was 15min, which is way faster then Windows. I mean even Windows have a screen that looks similar to your last pic (safe mode startup) wouldn't that confuse users? I've used Zorin for a few months now, and its the only software that I can say has come closest to flawless!! Even MS Office works like a instead of writing crap on your thread rather help Windows develop something more stable like Zorin OS, cos it looks like you can only comment on the small things that don't really matter instead of the actual product developed! I wish Windows could develop something as stable!! Ciao

  2. Actually, he was griping on the 'small things' that Zorin had changed over Ubuntu... which are really the only things that Zorin 'created'.

    The rest of this is pure Ubuntu, all versions of which are free.

    An example, here, is you stating that 'MS Office works like a charm'... that is *not* due to Zorin, that is due to WINE, and there were numerous developers that worked very hard to achieve that... you might want to drop by their website, and let them know how much you appreciated their hard work.

    Pretty much everything you seem to like about the Zorin OS could be repeated for any number (well, not *any* number, but probably 1000+) operating systems build on Ubuntu.

    Personally, if you *really* like Windows, and are looking at a similar OS, then I would make the jump to Pinguy (which, like Ubuntu, is free)... it also offers a Windows-like environment due to being based on Gnome (thats the desktop version, Ubuntu main has moved to a different setup [Unity], and there are others.. Gnome is most windows-like), additionally it adds Mint-menus (like an advanced version of Windows start menu) and it also has numerous software packages built in; yet unlike Zorin, you don't feel like you have to pay for something that the Zorin 'team' didn't actually do.

  3. I have never read so much drivel in my life.

  4. Grub Customizer can get rid of that hideous GRUB screen for you. I haven't gotten it to be as nice as Zorin's Live boot screen, though. :( I think i've fixed the absurd res of the login screen now (lightdm in Zorin 7 Lite) but am still looking to change/disable the ultrabright splash screen before that. Maybe i should just back up my stuff and install Ubuntu.

  5. As a long time user of 95, XP, and 7, I was fine with windows. I was used to it. Some virus on my daughter laptop had me putting Ubuntu on it. That too was fine. My new netbook was miserable to use with windows 8. When I saw Zorin I ran it from a flash drive. It was faster than Windows 8 running from a flash drive. Since windows 8 takes over bios I just deleted it during the Install of Zorin. So before you install you have to change Bios, this is Microsoft's little poison pill. I think they need to be brought up on Anti trust on this. Anyway Zorin is great on this little netbook. I love it. At this point in life its like a reflex memory. I need this I go here type of thing.