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Zorin OS 17.1 makes it even easier to run your must-have Windows apps on Linux

If you want the security and reliability of Linux, but still have Windows apps you need to use, Zorin OS 17.1 is the OS for you.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The default Zorin OS 17.1 desktop.

You can easily switch out Zorin OS 17.1's default desktop layout.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • Zorin OS 17.1 is available now for free.
  • It's the easiest Linux distribution to use for installing and using Windows apps, and it offers multiple desktop layouts and plenty of pre-installed apps to make you productive out of the box.
  • It would be nice if the Windows App Support software was installed by default.

Linux has tons of apps, most of which are free. In nearly every Linux OS app store, you'll find a plethora of software to install with a single click of the mouse. But even with tens of thousands of titles to choose from, you might not find the one application you need (or its equivalent) available for Linux. 

If you're moving from Windows, are you out of luck? No. For years, Wine has served as a compatibility layer between Linux and Windows applications. You can easily install Wine on just about every Linux distribution available. If you didn't want to use Wine, you could always turn to Zorin OS, a Linux distribution that strives to up the ante on running Windows apps on Linux.

Also: How to run a Windows app on Linux with Wine

There's also Bottles, a handy app that makes running Windows apps on Linux even easier. Bottles deals with Windows apps by using "environments," which are a combination of ready-to-use settings, libraries, and dependencies. In other words, it bottles up everything together for Windows apps on Linux, to simplify the process.

With the release of Zorin OS version 17.1, Zorin's development team has made using Windows apps on Linux even easier by combining both Wine and Bottles in a single installable package: Windows App Support.

Also: BigLinux makes Linux easy for anyone - and it should be way more popular

Zorin OS 17.1 includes Wine version 9.0 (which is a massive upgrade) and the latest version of Bottles. According to Zorin OS 17.1's official release notes, "We've expanded our built-in database to detect installer files for popular Windows apps and games. It now supports over 100 apps, providing even more tailored recommendations for alternatives to sideloading their Windows executables."

So, how does this play out? I installed Zorin OS 17.1 to see just how much easier it was to run Windows apps. I've used Wine quite a bit over the years, so I have no trouble installing apps designed for Windows on the Linux platform. Also, as a disclaimer, not every Windows app runs on Linux with Wine. The good news is that the list of apps that can run with Wine is extensive. You can check the Wine Application Database to see if the app you need is listed.

How well does Windows App Support work? Let's give it a go.

How to install Windows apps on Zorin OS 17.1

1. Open the Zorin App Store

Click the main Zorin OS menu, click System Tools, and then on Windows App Support. Because this app isn't installed by default, it'll open the App Store to the Windows App Support entry, where you just need to click Install. After you type your user password (aka, your sudo password), the installation will commence. This installation will take some time, so let it run and complete.

The Zorin OS 17.1 app store.

Installing Windows App Support is just a click away.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Open the app

When the installation finishes, you'll see a new Windows App category in the main menu. Click that and then click Bottles. Walk through the introductory wizard, and then (when it completes), close the wizard.

3. Create a new Bottle

In the main window, click + in the upper left corner. In the Create New Bottle Window, give the bottle a name, select if it will be used for either Application, Gaming, or Custom, and click Create. This will create a configuration, update the Wine config file, and install all of the necessary dependencies for the category you've selected. When this is done, click Close.

The Zorin OS Windows App Support application.

Creating a new Bottle for an application in Zorin OS 17.1.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Install programs

Next, download the Windows application you want to install. Once it's downloaded, click the Bottles tab and then click the newly-created bottle. In the resulting window, click Run Executable. You could also click Install Programs and then scan through the list of curated apps that are available to install without having to first download the installer. When you click Run Executable, a file picker will open. Navigate to the download, select it, and then click Run. You will then see the installer open for the application you're installing.

The Bottles Windows app installation page.

You're ready to install the Windows application you downloaded.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

And that's all there is to installing Windows apps on Zorin OS 17.1.

Does this process make Zorin OS 17.1 a compelling enough release for you to adopt it as your main operating system? If you depend on Windows applications and would like to enjoy the security and reliability of Linux, yes it does. 

Also: The first 5 Linux commands every new user should learn

If you don't depend on Windows applications, Zorin OS is still an outstanding Linux distribution. Not only is it highly configurable, it's user-friendly, and includes all the apps you need to get up and running (including the LibreOffice, Firefox, Evolution, and Flatpak). 

I've been a big fan of Zorin OS for a long time now and can vouch that every release its team puts out is rock solid and easy to use. This latest iteration also proves that the development team is striving to create a Linux distribution that is ready for the masses. 

Download an ISO of Zorin OS 17.1 now. Install it and see just how easy-to-use a Linux distro can be.

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