What are pros and cons of Zorin OS?

The 16th version of the Linux variant Zorin OS, based on Ubuntu 20.04, offers the Gnome desktop environment and has an inspiringly chic desktop layout reminiscent of Windows to make any switch from Windows easy. With smooth navigation, practical Android coupling, optimized performance, many preinstalled programs and numerous tools from the repository, Zorin OS 16 presents itself as a strong competitor to the likes of Windows and macOS.

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What are the special features of Zorin OS 16?

The Linux derivative Zorin OS appeared as version 1.0 back in 2009 and now (2022) goes up to version Zorin OS 16. The Ubuntu 20.04 underpinnings make it very easy to use for both beginners and users with Linux experience. Thanks to practical, “out of the box” functionality, Zorin OS offers pre-installed open-source software, support for Windows programs, easy installation and a high-quality design even in the free version.

The operating system impresses users with the following functions and features:

Intuitive installation

Just like Ubuntu and Linux Mint, installing Zorin OS is particularly easy and supports setting up the distribution in virtual machines using VirtualBox. If you make a USB stick bootable, even a live USB installation is possible. Immediately after installation, the distribution presents the Zorin OS functionality to its users.

Pleasant desktop layout

The desktop environment is based on Gnome and should not be a surprise or change, at least for Linux and Ubuntu users. The layout and design of the “Zorin Desktop” environment have been nicely polished and are based on Windows and macOS, which offers users a chic and familiar look. The taskbar can be flexibly customized, while the Windows-like operation runs intuitively and smoothly.

High quality themes

Another handy feature is that the elegant design switches between Dark and Light themes depending on the time of day, while the pre-integrated active wallpaper gently changes and adjusts its color tones throughout the day. To customize the layout and themes as needed, all you need is the free customization tool Gnome Tweaks. Other design features include a night mode with blue light filter, a touchscreen-optimized layout and a do-not-disturb mode.

Smartphone pairing

By default, Zorin OS supports pairing with Android smartphones. You just need the free Zorin Connect app. This way, smartphone media can be easily viewed on your desktop, messaging apps can be used via Zorin OS, and files can be transferred between devices.

Steam support

Steam support is particularly interesting for gamers. After a simple post-installation of the Steam app from the Ubuntu repository, Steam is available, but additional libraries might have to be added manually. However, since most Steam games do not offer Linux support, this is a somewhat insignificant feature.

Windows compatibility with WINE

Those migrating from Windows who do not want to part with Windows programs, despite switching to Zorin OS, can also run and use Windows applications with the Windows emulator, WINE, as long as the program runs using WINE.

Four Zorin OS variants

This is particularly striking when compared to other free Linux distributions. Zorin OS 16 is available in Core, Lite, Education and Pro versions. While the Lite version is primarily intended for older devices due to its low resource consumption, the free standard versions Core and Education offer all necessary functionalities, including preinstalled software, different desktop designs and a Gnome desktop environment. The Education version, which focuses on educational institutions, includes learning programs and remote functions. The Pro version, on the other hand, costs around 40 dollars and offers more high-quality desktop layouts in the style of Windows 11 or macOS, a range of wallpapers and Zorin support.

Versatile tools

Like Ubuntu, Zorin OS comes with all the important pre-installed programs for office work, entertainment, or everyday Internet surfing. These include LibreOffice, Firefox browser as well as other browsers that can be installed later, a media player, the image editing software GIMP, the Windows emulator, WINE, and an email client. For further supplements and tools, the system offers the Ubuntu repositories, Flathub and the Snap Store.

System requirements for Zorin OS

There are different system requirements to consider depending on the version:

  • Lite: 64-bit processor (700 MHz single core), 512 MB RAM, 8 GB memory, 640 x 480 px screen
  • Core/Education: 64-bit processor (1 GHz dual core), 2 GB RAM, 10 GB storage, 800 x 600 px screen
  • Pro: 64-bit processor (1 GHz dual core), 2 GB RAM, 20 GB storage, 800 x 600 px screen

All pros and cons of Zorin OS

Below, we will give you a practical overview of the advantages and disadvantages of Zorin OS.

Pros Cons
Elegant desktop layout based on Windows and macOS Despite focus on Linux newcomers, retrofitting and customizing requires training time
Particularly easy installation either with a USB or using VirtualBox Operation and customization via command line tool is complex for beginners
Smartphone pairing via Zorin Connect Paid Pro version hardly justifies the price despite additional layouts and functions
Out-of-the-box functionality with many pre-installed programs, numerous post-installable tools, and Windows compatibility thanks to WINE Steam usage is honestly aimed at IT-savvy gamers and offers only a few Steam games with Linux support
Smooth operation and strong performance make switching from Windows to Linux functionalities easy Preinstalled Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) not activated by default

Development and forecasts for Zorin OS 16

The origins of Zorin OS lie in a school project by brothers Artyom and Kyrill Zorin, who – based on their programming – founded their own company to further develop and market the Zorin operating system. The intuitive operation does not require many manual adjustments in the settings, and that is thanks to the Zorins’ non- tech-savvy father. The brothers hired him as a tester to make navigation and operation as beginner friendly as possible.

Thanks to intuitive features and a focus on those switching from familiar operating systems, Zorin OS 16 presents itself as a particularly fluid Linux distribution. The different versions and the expandable functionality appeal to a broad audience and do not require intensive Linux knowledge. It can therefore be assumed that Zorin OS will continue to enjoy increasing popularity, especially among Linux beginners.

Safety aspects in detail

Like most Linux-based distributions, Zorin OS provides regular updates for its system components to close security holes and update programs. The Linux security features in turn provide robust protection against malware. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to current versions and reputable developers for post-installation programs. In terms of security, one point of criticism is the firewall, which is disabled by default, meaning users have to activate it first.

Which users is Zorin OS suitable for?

Zorin OS is suitable for Linux newbies, Ubuntu beginners and Windows convertees who do not have intensive Linux knowledge and want to rely on practical navigation, intuitive operation/navigation and familiar layouts. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that familiarization with Linux and Ubuntu is required to make the best use of all features.

Zorin OS alternatives

The range of Linux distributions for laptop and PC is growing every year. Those who are not interested in the Windows competitor Zorin OS may be interested in the following practical Linux variants, among others:

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