Zorin OS 15.1 Review

Zorin Os 15 Review Featured

Hailed as the last good version of Windows by many, Windows 7 is now officially retired. Zorin OS’s creators know this leaves a massive chunk of users with a choice between two equally uncomfortable solutions: upgrade to Windows 10 or jump ship to Linux. This is primarily the user group Zorin OS targets and, to Microsoft’s chagrin and as we’ll see, probably the better choice.

Installation and First Contact

Zorin OS is at least as easy, if not more so, as the easiest-to-install Linux distribution available today. Its installation is almost identical to Ubuntu’s.

Zorin Os 15 Review Installation

Some highlights worth mentioning would be:

  • Option to test it in a live environment or install it, as the industry norm does.
  • Option to install third-party driver and codecs.
  • Allows you to share data with its developers to count you as an active user, but it’s opt-in and disabled by default.
  • Supports LVM.

The first thing you notice when Zorin OS boots up is its animated logo. I admit I found it cool in a world of static screens, and it reminded me of similar boot screens in unofficial Android ROMs for smartphones.

Zorin Os 15 Review Boot Screen

Zorin’s log screen can work as a lesson in aesthetics for other distributions – it has no fluff, looks professional, and presents everything in the best way possible.

Zorin Os 15 Review Accessibility

Like Ubuntu, there are accessibility options available (albeit hidden in an extra menu, somewhat defeating their ease of access purpose) but also the option to use Wayland as the Desktop Environment’s back-end.

Zorin Os 15 Review Login

Looks and Customization

I personally dislike the welcome windows that turn up after the installation of many distributions. Thankfully, Zorin OS throws you straight at its minimalistic, based-on-Gnome desktop: a wallpaper, a toolbar, and that’s it.

Zorin Os 15 Review Desktop

After one or two clicks, Zorin might notify you that updates are available. You can install them immediately, ask it to remind you later, or seize the opportunity to check out its “Settings …” as I did.

Zorin Os 15 Review Updates Notification

I don’t know if that’s a bug since I usually update my installations through Bash, but enabling any of the three options under “Install updates from,” in the Updates tab of the “Software & Updates” windows, wouldn’t stick.

Zorin Os 15 Review Update No Selection

The update procedure itself is painless, and you only have to acknowledge its completion.

Zorin Os 15 Review Updated

One click on the clock on the toolbar displays a typical daily information panel with a mini-view of the month’s calendar, notifications (and a do-not-disturb setting), and support for world clocks and a weather forecast.

Zorin Os 15 Review Time Panel

Zorin OS is that rare breed of a modern OS with a rational structure in its settings. Want to add a photograph to your account? Click its thumbnail preview and select the image file you desire.

Zorin Os 15 Review User Account

Maybe you don’t like the default applications. Change them by visiting “Default Applications.”

Zorin Os 15 Review Default Apps

In a world where in almost every single OS, from Windows 10 to many Linux distributions, you have to rely on some form of search to find the specific option you are looking ford, Zorin OS’s organization of all its settings is a breath of fresh air.

Zorin Os 15 Review Appearance

Features and Programs

In its based-on-Gnome Core version, Zorin OS offers three different pre-defined desktop layouts. Based on your decision, it can alter the taskbar to a dock or a hybrid appearance and swap a typical Start menu for a grid of larger icons. Or you can manually customize its elements as you wish.

Although we didn’t test it, the Lite version, based on XFCE, presents similar visual customization options, with almost identical aesthetics.

Zorin Os 15 Review Desktop Layout

Zorin OS allows you to easily change the accents of the active theme, swap themes, and icon sets.

Zorin Os 15 Review Theme Schedule

Not only does Zorin OS offer a dark version of its main theme, it also supports setting up a time schedule for it. By setting it up you can have a light version of the theme during the day, switching automatically to its dark variant when the sun goes down.

Zorin Os 15 Review Dark Theme

It was nice how Zorin OS offered to download needed extra software for proper support of Greek since I’m a bilingual user. It wasn’t as lovely how it also hauled in GIMP’s language packs for everything else, including Spanish

Zorin Os 15 Review Languages

Online-friendly, Zorin OS offers support for connecting to:

  • Google
  • Nextcloud
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Flickr
  • Pocket
  • Foursquare
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Todoist
  • IMAP and SMTP
  • Enterprise Login (Kerberos)
Zorin Os 15 Review Online Accounts

Zorin OS comes with support for remote access/screen sharing through VNC. It’s somewhat slower than Windows Remote Desktop, for anyone looking to make the jump, but it’s more versatile. And it doesn’t force you to “buy a professional license” to get it.

Zorin Os 15 Review Screen Sharing

Buried in the settings about your Displays, “Night Light” can utilize the computer’s camera to make your screen’s colors warmer during the night. Minimizing they screen’s blue light has been proven to increase sleep quality.

Zorin Os 15 Review Night Light

Zorin’s default software isn’t anything to write home about – it’s how it’s implemented and presented that matters. Perusing its menu, you’ll find software like:

  • Firefox
  • Files (file manager)
  • Libre Office (office suite)
  • gEdit (text editor)
  • Brasero (optical media writing)
  • GIMP (image manipulation)
  • Pitivi (media editing)
  • Rhythmbox (music player)
  • Videos (media player)
  • Calendar
  • To Do (task management)
  • Deja Dup (backup tool)
  • Disk Usage Analyzer (storage analysis)
  • Zorin Connect (Phone sync & remote functionality)
Zorin Os 15 Review Software Selection

I’d love to share my opinion on how Zorin Connect works, but unfortunately, my phone’s busted, so I was unable to review that function.

Zorin Os 15 Review Software Center

Nothing restricts you to Zorn OS’s collection of installed software – its Software Center allows you to expand it with everything but the kitchen sink.

Although it might be presented as a solid alternative to Windows, Zorin OS is also worth a look for everyone tired of trying to grasp with some distributions’ approach to organization. It’s uncomplicated in its use, beautiful to look at and fast. What’s not to like?

Odysseas Kourafalos Odysseas Kourafalos

OK's real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer - a Commodore 128. Since then, he's been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

9 comments

  1. What’s not to like?! Read Robert Rijkhoff, DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 849, 20 January 2020:

    “Clicking any of the Download links for the free versions triggers a “Sign up to our newsletter & Download” pop-up window featuring a huge “Sign up & Download” button and a very small “Skip to download” link. I am not a fan of this type of marketing. I don’t mind that they ask if I maybe want to sign up to their mailing list, but I take issue with the fact that the dialogue window has been designed to make the “No thanks” option easy to miss. Such marketing techniques assume that users need to be tricked into signing up to receiving marketing materials, which reflects poorly on the project as a whole.”

    Not enough? Read on!

    “Speaking of dubious marketing practices, Zorin’s home page claims that installing the operating system will make your computer “virus resistant”. The word “resistant” is open to interpretation, but I reckon it is fair to say that most people use “resistant” and “immune” interchangeably. Zorin’s claim is obviously false, and I really wish Zorin would reign in its marketing department. So much for my rant about marketing – let’s get back to the review… ”

    Still not enough? Read on, and on, and on, and you’ll see a dozen and more big minusses.

    1. I agree. Zorin was my first real Linux OS. I had played a bit with the now defunct Xandros and PC Linux, but Zorin was my first serious install. I used it from Zorin 5 until Zorin 10. I did not like the direction Zoin was heading after 10. Billing itself as “Windows like” for new users I found it to be to like Windows, locked down and hidden. There was not the advertising at that time. Very happy I left after reading the DistroWatch review. The one thing I have to give Zorin credit for was a very good Forum with great moderators. They really helped my get going on Linux. I don’t know if the forum is still like that today, or if the same moderators continue to help newbies.

    2. You are right about their marketing, but… Well… The article is about the OS itself, how it performs and if the available software is able to cover most users’ needs.

      While using Zorin, it performed as I expected a typical Linux distribution to do, worse in some regards, better in others. And didn’t raise any red flags during day to day use.

      Did I miss anything important security-wise, has Zorin (as in “the OS itself”) been involved in any “fuss” like what happened relatively recently with Deepin?

      1. I’m replying again to mention that, yes, it seems I did miss something – and I did hit the mark when I mentioned Deepin, since it was a similar case with Zorin: telemetry. I didn’t know about it and fully missed it, since I hadn’t ever used Zorin before this review.

        This is a bad practice that should be frowned uppon, when the OS “phones home” without first asking the user if it should. But Zorin 15.1 didn’t do it after I opted-out in the installer. My bad for thinking “it was this way in previous versions as well” and not making a point of it. But, at the same time, as someone who hasn’t used it before, and judging this version as-it-is, well… There wasn’t much “to blame” really. It did what it promised and worked as it should – at least, as far as I could tell. I’m no programming guru and didn’t analyse its source code.

  2. This weeks issue of DistroWatch Weekly has a review of Zorin 15.1 Light by Robert Rijkhoff. He was not too impressed. In his opinion there are better distros that one can use.

    “its Software Center allows you to expand it with everything but the kitchen sink.”
    I hope that Zorin developers have updated the Software Center functionality to more closely resemble that of Synaptic. I find that the various Software Center in Ubuntu-based distros are mostly eye-candy with just a dash of functionality. I prefer Synaptic which allows me to update the existing packages, delete packages I do not want and install new packages all in one execution of the program. I do not much care for pretty icons and package ratings by other users. If I want a package, I’ll install it even if nobody likes it.

    1. Agree here too. Synaptic is an amazing GUI for the package manager. If it is not included the first thing I do on my install after sudo apt-get update is sudo apt-get install synaptic. From there I customize my OS to my preferences. While made for Debian based apt systems, I believe PC Linux also uses a version of Synaptic with rpm packages?

  3. That issue in the software update settings that will not stick was in zorin 14 as well. I think its a minor bug.

  4. HI
    Great article – and I believe Zorin heard the community and changed the spying policy (u can opt out of it, in installation).
    I have tried Zorin core and found it to be very good – but wondering if the Zorin Lite would be equally as good (with as many features) but more lighter to run ???? Cant seem to find this answer any place, do u know ?

    Some other thing: u need to fix your speed issues on your site. Acc to GT metrix load time is very bad. (almost 27 sec)
    See here: (link will expire in 3 months or so..) https://gtmetrix.com/reports/www.maketecheasier.com/MLnocuUX
    There are several issues, too many requests, too big a site, and generally a lot of heavy time consuming scripts – see the GTmetrix test.

    Regards, Claus

    1. Haven’t tried it myself but, based on what I hear and read, it’s a similar experience but with some extra bugs. Not important deal-breakers, but annoyances, like some option in its configuration menus “not sticking” etc. It seems that, as it is, the “core” version is the best out of the two, at least up to now.

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