Sunday, February 9, 2014

Zorin OS 8 Review: A very good distro for beginners

Zorin is definitely one of the easiest Linux distros to use, IMHO. Most of the things ship pre-installed and pre-tweaked to make life easy for a new Linux convert. Further, it looks quite similar to Windows 7 and it really helps.

From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Zorin has a commercial and a non-commercial line of release. For this review, I downloaded the free Zorin OS 8 Core 64-bit ISO (about 1.6 GB in size). It's final version was released on 27th Jan 2014 and is based on Ubuntu Saucy Salamander with support till July 2014. Zorin 8 ships with a tweaked GNOME 3.8.2 desktop and Linux kernel 3.11.0.

I used Unetbootin to create a live USB on a 4 GB USB drive. I booted it up on my Asus K55VM laptop (2.3 Ghz Core i7 Processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphic card) and then installed it on a 50 GB partition.

From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Aesthetics
Zorin 8 ships with a tweaked Windows 7 like interface, a gorgeous wallpaper and some cool animations/effects.

From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
There are options to create WinXP and typical GNOME 2 looks as well. Thank God the Zorin developers decided to do away with the Mac OS X look - it was pretty lame anyway. Of course, Zorin Win 7 look is the best of the lot.

From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Zorin ships with some attractive wallpapers as well in addition to the default one. Majority of the wallpapers look very good.
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

One of the new additions I saw in this release is the Zorin theme changer. It provides users option of a dark theme in addition to the typical Zorin light theme. I know experienced Linux users will smile at the option (as it just takes a mouse click to implement it from the settings option and doesn't really require a separate app for it), but I feel it is quite handy for Linux novices. The black theme looks cooler than the light theme and adding a conky to it actually makes it enigmatic!

From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Another new addition is the Zorin Grub. It is simply the best grub I've seen and looks quite stunning. Unfortunately I am using a real computer to test the OS and hence, couldn't capture it.

Even the File browser look quite different and attractive in Zorin.
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

As usual Zorin ships with a whole lot of compiz effects, some bordering to the point of distraction. But, they are really nice to show off for new Linux converts. As usual there is desktop cube in Zorin. One new effect I noted is circling open windows on pressing Windows + Tab. Looks pretty neat!
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
 Other effects were in previous versions as well.

From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Zorin's design of the desktop is pretty neat and professional. Font rendering is also very good. Indeed there are very few Linux distros which look as good as Zorin.

Score on Aesthetics: 10/10

Hardware Recognition
Even on hardware recognition, Zorin is impeccable. Everything, starting from screen resolution to touchpad recognition, worked perfect and as good as any top notch Linux OS I've used. Both touchpad single / double tap and 2 finger scroll worked right from the beginning without requiring any manual intervention.

Score on Hardware Recognition: 10/10

Pre-installed Packages
Zorin ships with quite a few essential applications pre-installed, like
  • Office: LibreOffice 4.1.3.2 (Calc, Draw, Impress, Writer), Document viewer
  • Internet: Google Chrome 32, Empathy IM, Desktop Sharing, Remmina remote desktop, Thunderbird
  • Graphics: GIMP 2.8.6, Image viewer, Shotwell photo manager, Simple Scan, Screenshot
  • Multimedia: Brasero disc burner, Cheese webcam booth, Music, Openshot video editor, Sound recorder, Videos
  • Accessories: Archive manager, Calculator, Font viewer, Files search, terminal, Text editor, gparted, Startup disc creator
  • Others: Wine, PlayonLinux, Zorin Look Changer, Zorin Theme Changer, Zorin Web browser manager
Zorin OS 8 ships with all multimedia codecs (incl. restricted) and Adobe flash plugin pre-installed. It helps for a new user undoubtedly.
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Google Chrome is another welcome addition as it ships with the latest Adobe flash plugin (which is not available to other browsers in Linux) and it can synchronize bookmarks across platforms (Windows, Android and Linux).

Additional browsers like Firefox, Opera and a lightweight Midori can be installed from the repositories using the Zorin browser manager. It is pretty easy to use.
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Only apps that I miss in Zorin are: Skype and a download manager. These are apps which I regularly use and hence, included in assessment as per my personal requirement.

Score for Pre-installed Packages: 8/10

Installation
Zorin installs faster than Ubuntu Saucy Salamander. It took me about 15 minutes of time to get Zorin installed on a 50 GB partition which is very fast for Ubuntu standards. The steps are the regular ones and pretty easy like: choosing language and keyboard, time zone, drive to install and user ID creation.
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Score on Installation: 8.5/10

Installing Bumblebee for NVIDIA graphics
Ubuntu derivatives actually keep Nvidia graphics always on and hence, may cause a lot of heat if the system has hybrid graphics. To minimize heat and selectively run Nvidia, bumblebee is the easiest option available to Linux users. The laptop I used has hybrid graphics and hence, I used the following steps at the terminal to install bumblebee:
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia primus linux-headers-generic
Post installation of bumblebee, I added myself in the bumblebee group by:
$ sudo gpasswd -a arindam bumblebee
Now I am able to run my system for entire day without any heating issue what-so-ever. Even after extensive usage, my laptop stays as cold as ice!

Repositories
Zorin OS 8 sources it's packages primarily from the Ubuntu Saucy repositories. Alongside, third party repositories like Google Chrome, Opera, etc. are also added.
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Zorin Software Manager is the primary GUI to browse and install applications. It is in actual Ubuntu Software Center with re-branding. Alongside, there is a Synaptic Package Manager as well for relatively experienced users.

From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Performance
Zorin OS 8 gave rock solid performance and good stability. The OS takes 31 seconds to boot up with autologin enabled which is quite quick by GNOME standards.

From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Further, at steady state, 10 min. after reboot, the distro consumes about 445 MB RAM and 0-5% CPU with compiz and system monitor running.
From Zorin OS 8 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

On a powerful laptop, it is quite smooth to use (when you actually visit compiz settings manager and reduce some of the animations). I didn't face any freeze during my usage. Though on a couple of occasions, Zorin desktop prompted error messages but it didn't result in any instability.


Operating System (64 bit) Release Year Size of ISO (GB) Base Desktop Linux kernel CPU (%) RAM usage (MB) Size of installation (GB) Boot time (sec)
Pardus 2.0 2013 1.7 Debian Testing GNOME 3.8.4 3.10.3 0-5% 278 6.4 52
Mint 15 Cinnamon 2013 0.9594 Ubuntu Raring Cinnamon 1.8 3.8.0 0-5% 307 5.1 32
Mint 16 Cinnamon 2013 1.3 Ubuntu Saucy Cinnamon 2.0 3.11.0 0-5% 312 4.1 45
Ubuntu GNOME 13.04 2013 0.9878 Ubuntu Raring GNOME 3.6.3 3.8.0 0-5% 321 3.9 24
Mint 15 Mate 2013 1 Ubuntu Raring Mate 1.6.0 3.8.0 0-5% 325 4.5 30
Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 2013 0.907 Ubuntu Saucy GNOME 3.8.4 3.11.0 0-5% 335 4.1 27
Mint 16 Mate 2013 1.4 Ubuntu Saucy Mate 1.6.0 3.11.0 0-5% 355 4.5 31
Siduction 13.2.0 GNOME 2013 1 Debian Unstable GNOME 3.8.4 3.12.0 0-5% 357 3.5 53
Linux Deepin 2013 2013 1.3 Ubuntu Raring GNOME 3.8.1 (DDE) 3.8.0 0-5% 358 4.7 33
Zorin OS 7 2013 1.7 Ubuntu Raring GNOME 3.6.2 3.8.0 0-5% 364 5.6 28
Ubuntu 12.04.3 2013 0.741 Ubuntu Precise Unity 5.20.0 3.8.0 0-5% 370 3 39
Antergos 2013.11.17 2013 0.7518 Arch GNOME 3.10.1 3.12.4 0-5% 376 4.1 43
Ubuntu 13.04 2013 0.835 Ubuntu Raring Unity 7.0.0 3.8.0 0-5% 377 4 26
Gajj 0.1 Cinnamon 2014 3.7 Ubuntu Precise Cinnamon 2.0 3.11.0 0-5% 419 9.2 75
Fedora 20 GNOME 2013 0.9993 Fedora GNOME 3.8.2 3.9.5 0-10% 433 4 34
Elementary OS 0.2 2013 0.7277 Ubuntu Precise GNOME 3.6.3 3.2.0 0-5% 440 3.1 22
Zorin OS 8 2014 1.6 Ubuntu Saucy GNOME 3.8.2 3.11.0 0-5% 445 5.6 31
Ubuntu 13.10 2013 0.939 Ubuntu Saucy Unity 7.1.2 3.11.0 0-5% 466 4.4 30
ExTix 14 2013 1.5 Ubuntu Saucy GNOME 3.10.1 3.12.0 0-5% 468 4.8 33
OpenSUSE 13.1 GNOME 2013 4.4 OpenSUSE GNOME 3.10.1 3.11.6 0-5% 531 4.9 37

Overall
Zorin OS 8 is a really good OS for new Linux converts, especially the users migrating from Windows 7. It provides great aesthetics with stable performance and comes pre-installed with a good collection of applications. I rate it as one of the best operating systems for Linux newbies who wants to migrate from Windows 7 or 8.

Linux Mint too provides similar functionality but is a bit bland compared to Zorin OS. Zorin ships with a whole lot of animations and special effects enabled, good for impressing other Windows users to try it out and also show off to them what they are missing in Windows. Functionally Zorin is Ubuntu sans Unity. So, what works with Ubuntu, works with Zorin as well.

If you are a Linux newbie or willing to try out Linux, don't wait! Try out Zorin OS 8 today, I bet you'll find it interesting. You can download 32 and 64 bit versions of Zorin OS core from here.

Overall Score: 9.3/10
Installation: 8.5/10
Aesthetics: 10/10
Hardware Recognition: 10/10
Pre-installed Packages: 8/10
Performance: 8/10

24 comments:

  1. Yeyeye yeyeye... :) What about the best xfce distro? :)

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  2. Best Zorin yet. Always use this distro to show Windows users how Linux can be similar to Windows. Love this version. Makes me want to see the gnome showdown now...xfce to.

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  3. Well I'm impressed with this review. You seem to be impressed with this distro. The only thing that bothers me is the "support until July 2014" deal. That don't seem like a long time for any kind of support. Another thing I can count on is your mods on the desktop. You have some of the best looking desktops I've ever seen. Maybe you should think about some tutorials on how to mod a desktop. Thanks and looking forward to your next one.

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  4. very nice review. zorin os does looks like a windows os.

    this is going to be little bit long.

    i have a question regarding linux mint 14 xfce. i am using mint 14 xfce 64 bit version. but it takes a little bit more ram to just boot, i mean when i just boot the mint 14 xfce desktop, it is consuming about 312 mb of ram.(withought any appplicaiton running and being idle). in ur review of mint 14 xfce u have said that mint 14 xfce is using just 120-140 mb of ram(although u were using 32 bit version), but that;s not in my case .

    i would like to ask, does the 64 bit version consumes more ram than the 32 bit version?
    does 64 bit uses double amount of ram than 32 bit versions? also can u suggest me which version should we download for minimum ram usage and best performance, 32 or 64 bit and also which kernel pae or non pae so that it can run on about any hardware, (i mean on most hardwares.)

    one more thing i would like to ask, i am using mint 14 on a 16 gb flash drive (i have permanenty installed it to that flash drive ie, by making all / and /home partitions. and its running very fast and stable, no problems,
    although on mint forum somebody said that if we full install mint to the storage medium(ie hdd or flashdrive ). it binds itself to that hardware. ie after that we can't use that mint installation on other computers, because mint configures itself to that hardware, the portability option is finished after that, is it true?

    thanks for reading and taking pain.
    thanks in advance.

    regards
    Pratyush.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Pratyush,

      Thanks for reading my blog. Please find below answersbto your queries:

      1. Yes, 64 bit consumes almost double the RAM of a 32 bit version and hence you see the difference.

      2. As of now it is more efficient to use 32 bit version with pae kernel if you've a 64 bit machine with > 3 gb RAM.

      3. Yes, the forum members are right. Almost every linux distro gives much better performance once installed in hard drive. Please create a 10 gb + partiton and install Mint. Also, pendrives may get damaged and you may lose the data stored inside.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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    2. I know its bit late of a reply as I was just looking up on reviews for the Zorin OS which I am thinking of installing for my mom since XP is a bit of a drag, regarding your third point of pendrives getting damaged, the main reason is because of the max write cycle's of a pendrive can be as low as 50,000 so a constant read/write operation by a live OS can be damaging in such a sccenario I would advise people to use Puppy Linux as its write operation is very minimal and it achieves that because it is completely loaded into the RAM(but still constant write operation like downloading to the root dir will be damaging as the user will be writing to the device)

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    3. BTW Xp is at its EOL(finally). at April 8th, and its not a safe bet for people who like to do online shopping and other confidential stuff.

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    4. Yes, I agree with Seb. With XP's support officially ending, it is better to shift to Linux for online security. Further, given most of the malware/viruses are tailor made for Windows, Linux is always a safer bet :).

      Delete
  5. Please give the review of Linux Mint Debian Edition....

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  6. Any idea when Zorin will release its LXDE or lite version for 8.0?

    Thanks.
    Joan in Reno

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    Replies
    1. ..I'm waiting for the LXDE or Xfce (or Lite) version of Zorin 8 also for my netbook. Currently running Zorin 7 Ultimate on my desktop and 7 Lite in my netbook. Running well.. even installed some Windows programs on my Zorin desktop I can't do without (via PlayOnLinux/Wine)...giving me the best of both worlds without having to boot in the other OS. A simple Zorin OS version upgrade button would be nice. :)

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    2. Not sure about the Zorin lite with LXDE this time. Normally it is released hand in hand with the core version. Anyway, LXDE will have it's new avatar pretty soon - the LXDE-QT.

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  7. I have just spent a few days using Zorin 8. I'm been a Zorin fan since Zorin 6 Ultimate and currently Zorin 7 Ultimate on my PC and Zorin 7 Lite on my netbook. With some Windows programs shortcuts on my desktop (via PlayOnLinux/Wine). Zorin 8 just seems graphically enriched over Zorin 7 . . but even with the speed constraints of a live DVD system, Zorin 8 is slower to boot and (maybe) run than its predecessor. I have to evaluate it more. A note to Blogspot: I follow all your reviews on multiple Linux distros. Very thorough.Well done. A note to Zorin: an easier way to upgrade between Zorin versions would be nice! . . from Andrew in New Zealand

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    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for liking my blog. Animations and graphics are enhanced in Zorin 8 and hence, even I found it to be a bit slower than Zorin 7. Also, I agree with you - I tried upgrading Zorin in the past and post upgradation Zorin became Ubuntu! I guess that's an issue with majority of the Ubuntu forks. Hence, it is better to use Zorin 6, the LTS one with 5 years of support or wait for Zorin 9 to be released around April May this year, if you don't want a fresh installation every 6 months.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  8. Based on reviews, I decided to try Zorin again. I downloaded the 32bit version 8, burned to DVD and rebooted on my Core 2 Duo, 4gb, Intel graphics Dell (I know it's old, but it runs Linux just fine). I went to explore and went to change the theme from light to dark and lost the task bar completely. Complete waste of time! I have tried every Zorin release from 6 to 8 and each release has ridiculous bugs in the user interface that drive me away within minutes. Another coaster and my last attempt with this distro. Good luck to all that seem to get a usable interface, but this is it.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. Even I had the same experience with the task bar. It is actually a bug in the awn dock and selecting Win7 theme again makes it normal. Please check if it works for you.

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    2. I agree. Even I had the same experience with the task bar. It is actually a bug in the awn dock and selecting Win7 theme again makes it normal. Please check if it works for you.

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  9. I would love to know, if there is a version of Zorin, that is compatible with non-pae laptops..?

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    Replies
    1. http://www.zoringroup.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2298&start=10

      Hope this will work with their Lite, LXDE version of Zorin 6.0, since the others were retired.

      Joan in Reno

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  10. This is my first Linux but i have to say out of all i have had this is probably the nicest one to have. Im really a windows person so to get me to move to his is a hard thing. So far im loving this version and have done away with windows 7 on my laptop.

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    Replies
    1. Hi David:

      Zorin is very good as a pain free operating system. Unlike Windows, it doesn't have any issue of virus or malware. I think pretty soon they are going to come up with Zorin 9 which will have support till April 2019. Please keep watching for it!

      Regards,
      Arindam

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  11. Finally, I was looking for an alternative to win xp, i'm currently using Fedora 11 which is really outdated.. and i haven't even figured out how to update it nor was i able to even install Firefox even though i already download it, with your review i am now officially a Zorin follower ^__^ thanks again for your review.

    Question : does this come with drivers? i tried Fedora but ditch it when i realize my wireless can't be detected.. does Zorin install it automatically?

    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Zorin ships with the commonly used drivers. It worked on most of the systems I tried. Please let me know if you face any issue.

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    2. thanks, say do you happen to have a guide like a "first thing you should do after installing Zorin" or anything between those lines..

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