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Another nice feature of the Zorin OS is the Web Browser Manager'(found on the 'Internet' menu). The Zorin Core distribution comes with Chrome installed. This utility lets you install (or uninstall) Firefox, Opera or Midori as well.
When you select one to be installed it actually goes through the package manager to download and install it, and it will then be added to the Internet menu and will show up as being installed in the Software Centre or Synaptic.
Interestingly, when I installed Firefox this way, after the installation was complete I suddenly got a notification that there were a lot of updates available. Apparently the installation process had set up the software sources and refreshed the cache.
By the way, I am pleased that Zorin OS still includes the Synaptic Package Manager in addition to the Software Centre. I still prefer to use Synaptic, so I was disappointed when it was dropped from Ubuntu. Yes, I know that I can still put it back there myself, but that's just one more step, so I'm happier this way. Humour me.
The Zorin OS 8.1 Core distribution, with the latest updates installed, includes:
- Linux kernel 3.11
- Avant Window Navigator 0.4.2
- X.org X Server 1.14.5
- Files 3.8.2 (File Manager)
The Core distribution includes a good selection of application software and utilities:
- Google Chrome 33.0
- Mozilla Thunderbird 24.4
- GIMP 2.8.6
- Shotwell 0.15.0 (Photo Manager)
- ImageMagick 6.7.7
- LibreOffice 18.104.22.168
- Noise (Music) 0.2.4
- Videos (Totem) 3.8.2
- OpenShot 1.4.3 (Video Editor)
- WINE 1.6.1
Using the Zorin Web Browser Manager you can also easily install:
- Firefox 28.0
- Opera 12.16
- Midori 0.4.3
Using the Software Centre or Synaptic, there are literally thousands of other packages available.
Okay, one last screen shot and then a summary. In addition to the Zorin Look Changer mentioned previously, there is also a Zorin Theme Changer, which by default gives you a choice between 'Light' and 'Dark' themes.
The default, shown in all of the previous screen shots, is Light; the screen shot above is Dark. I suppose that there might be a way to add other themes, but I didn't notice it — there's nothing for that in the Theme Changer window, at least.
How to summarise my impression of Zorin OS? I'm afraid that what I have written until now just seems relentlessly negative, and I don't mean for it to be that way.
It seems like a good distribution, and it has some nice, novel ideas included. The different "Looks", with different menu layouts and operation and a very easy way to switch between them is nice.
The Light/Dark theme switching is also a nice touch (although the Dark theme has gray text on a black background, which is nearly unreadable on my laptop).
The Zorin Web Browser Manager is also a good idea. It is based on Ubuntu, which is a good, solid foundation, and the developers are to be commended for maintaining both a current and an LTS release, that requires a significant amount of additional work.
But something about it just doesn't sit right with me: maybe I just had the wrong expectations going in.
With all the hype about easy transition for Windows users, I was really expecting more than I got — a lot more. In my opinion (and my experience with a lot of family and friends), the biggest problem in getting ordinary users to move from Windows to Linux isn't really the desktop or user interface, it is the applications.
I don't recall that I have ever had someone tell me they couldn't/wouldn't use Linux because they couldn't figure out or deal with the desktop. It is always "I need Office", or "I need Photoshop" or whatever, any one of a long list of established Windows applications.
Now I know that there are good alternatives for pretty much all of those things on Linux, but Zorin doesn't seem to do any more than any other Linux distribution in this area — that list of applications on the previous page is similar to many other distributions.
The one thing it has preloaded which most others don't is WINE, so you could actually run most original Windows programs, but are Windows users trying to switch to Linux going to be able to figure that out?
Even if you ignore the application issue, I don't even see the Zorin OS desktops as being close enough to Windows XP or Windows 7 to make the transition https://cms.zdnet.com/story/edit/7000027587/significantly easier than with many other Linux distribution.
Well, I guess I should qualify that: compared to KDE, Xfce, MATE and even LXDM, all of which have similar kinds of "panel at the bottom, menu button at the left end, icons and such at the right" layout.
The transition to Gnome 3 or Unity might be more difficult, since the basic concepts are different, but even then, how long does it take a reasonable user to figure that part out? The ones I have watched, or helped, take about a minute to say "Oh, okay", and that's that.
Like I said, I don't want to be totally negative about Zorin OS. It looks good. It works well. It has some nice unique features. Considered on its own merits, it stacks up well against other Linux distributions. If it looks interesting to you, give it a try.