Saturday, January 2, 2010

Distro Hoppin`: Zorin OS 2.0

We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Chr... what? The holidays are over? Oh... well. Awkward...

:D Joke aside, I really hope all of you have an AMAZING, EXTRAORDINARY, SPECTACULAR 2010. As late as my wishes are, they are not alone! They come with a brand new Distro Hoppin` episode in which I will take a look at Zorin OS 2.0, which was born on the very first day of 2010. But before I begin, I have to warn you that this is an Ubuntu-based distro and I know that there are a lot of... "people" that hold a grudge against the "U word" and anything related to it. So, shoo, shoo! :)

Test machine specs:

  • Pentium 4 @ 2.4 GhZ
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce FX5500 with 256 NVRAM
  • Samsung WriteMaster DVD-RW

Zorin OS comes in a beautifully packaged ~1.4 GB ISO file for both the 32 and 64 bit architectures. I, of course, am using a 32-bit processor (not for long though ohboyohboyohboy) so I got the corresponding image. The live environment booted in about 2 minutes with a rather unprofessional looking logo flashing in the middle of the screen. I wasted no time and installed the system onto my battered HDD. The process is identical to Ubuntu's, except the feature slideshow part, which is understandable, given the fact that Zorin OS looks quite different from Karmic.




As I began to wander through the menus and open all kinds of folders, I couldn't miss the fact that Zorin OS borrows quite a few things from its proprietary distant cousins. The thick bar that occupies the bottom part of the screen was made to look like Windows 7's and not only does it look like it, but it also shares some of its functionality. By default, there are three launchers in there: Firefox, Evolution and Rhythmbox. When opening Firefox, the icon gets a rectangle around it so you know that the application is open. If you want to open another instance, you have to right click the icon and select Launch Application. When you have more than one open, the number of instances will be shown next to the icon and you simply have to hover the pointer over the icon, and select the window you want from the pop-up.

Even the "Start menu" looks like Windows, with the user avatar up top and elements like the search bar and "recent items" reminding me of Vista or 7. But the crisp shades of blue and the elegant icon theme departs Zorin from the Windows land and brings it closer to Mac OSX.

I really used to hate when Linux distros tried to steal the looks and/or functionality of other OSes, but, at the end of the day, many people that come from a life with Windows, need at least some familiarity. I am the complete opposite and I will always choose something that's 180 degrees from anything I know. But hey, for me, computers and software are more than just tools. Aaaanyway, the idea is that I won't try to judge Zorin for these aspects.

The desktop provides a pleasant look with the calm blue wallpaper and the ABSOLUTELY HUGE "Computer" icon sitting on top of the Home folder and the Trash. Unfortunately there was no sign of a desktop switcher. I mean, I understand copying features, but why remove perfectly good, authentic Linux ones? Oh well. You can always add the icon yourself, but it should've been there!




No Ubuntu-based system is complete without the proper video drivers installed, especially when that OS comes with its own set of customized effects that will impress your friends and get the ladies line up at your doorstep. Unfortunately, right after installing Zorin, it surprisingly couldn't find my graphics card. But, a restart later, everything was AOK. Speaking of restarts, Zorin boots fast enough to not have time for a cup of biscuittea (that's what you get when biscuits melt in your tea! biscuittea!)

A really good thing about Zorin is that it comes fully updated with whatever Ubuntu 9.10 pushed since its launch in October, so you won't waste any time looking at a loading bar. Well, at least you would've had some more biscuittea left!

Going back to the looks of Zorin, the developers included a great selection of wallpapers and added some nice transparencies here and there. Oh, before I leave this section, there is a nasty glitch happening when dragging a window between the two workspaces. GUI chaos I tell you, GUI chaos!




But what does Zorin bring new compared to a regular Ubuntu install, besides the look? Well, quite a few things, beginning with out of the box MP3 support, pre-installed Flash, a working Java platform and ending with a couple of useful applications to make your Linux easier to operate.

Wine and PlayOnLinux will help you run the Windows software you can't live without and UbuntuTweak lets you customize Zorin in almost any way you want. There is also "Back in Time", a powerful, easy to use backup application that I highly recommend using. Backup should really become like breathing to us people living inside a computer more and more each day.

Cheese is also available by default and it was a great way to see if Zorin can pick up my Alcatel OT-800's camera as a webcam, which it did, happily. :) The HP Deskjet 3940 printer was also detected and is working fine and dandy.




Kino lets you edit your movies and Firefox is used to browse the ever-growing Internets. :) Oh, the developers made available more than one versions of Zorin OS, for different needs: a Multimedia one which includes 40+ sound and video apps, a Gaming one with A LOT of open source games and an Educational one with, you guessed, edu software! Thumbs up for that. Thumbs down for the fact that you actually have to pay for them.

I would've liked to see Pidgin instead of Empathy in the Internet category, but it seems Zorin followed Ubuntu in that respect. Oh well. There's always the Ubuntu Software Center waiting for me to install whatever my heart desires.




Oh, and talking about Empathy I noticed there are no notifications appearing when I receive IMs. I really found those useful, as I didn't have to open the chat window for every unimportant message. The weird part is that Rhythmbox or the volume control are "blessed" with the nifty pop-ups.

For people with disabilities, Zorin OS 2.0 comes with the accesibility applet starting at boot, so it's easy to turn on various helping features.




The Control Center offers a great place to change various aspects of the system, including turning on the firewall, creating a remaster of a modified Live CD, or mess with the boot process (switching resolutions, using a different usplash theme, etc.).

OpenOffice couldn't have been left out, so if you were worried, stop being worried, it's there. Relax. Jeez.

Zorin went so far with the customization as they also created their own sound theme. I like small details like that.

ZZZZZOOORIIIIN

Well, what can I say... Zorin OS 2.0 is a good distribution, as Frankesteinish as it is. It certainly won't let you down. You get the solid Ubuntu base complete with out of the box extended multimedia functionality and some smashing good looks. As for me, I will still be out there hopping, looking for other ambitious Linux projects and sharing my views with THE WHOLE WORLD. Cause yes, the whole world reads IT Lure. No kidding. Just take my word for it. Ok, bye.

Download Zorin OS 2.0 for 32-bit and 64-bit.

32 comments:

  1. solid review man. i think i am going to try zorin.

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  2. is it there a simple way to have a live USB ZORIN key ???
    Maybe a unetbootin utility or similar....

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  3. methinks to do the same !
    is it comparable to mint?

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  4. I'm AZorin from the Zorin OS Team. Thank you very much for the review and comments! Regarding the desktop switcher glitch, this happens when the Graphics card is not fully supported in Zorin OS. However this does not happen when you have 4 desktops. You can change the amount of desktops by going into Start>System>Preferences>CompizConfig and change the Desktop size in the General settings. Also we got rid of the desktop switcher panel applet to save space.

    Thanks again,
    AZorin

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  5. A Beautiful System. Alot like Dream Linux but much much better.

    This is what you want to show people that think Linux is just a CLI and a few boxes.

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  6. I cannot believe how quickly I was impressed with your distro.

    Kicked my Ubuntu installed right off my laptop, never to bee seen again.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

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  7. Only pity is its dvd based only :o(
    As I don't have a DVD-RW drive thats a minus for me. How abouts putting up a 'lite' version for us CD-RW peeps?

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  8. You can use it on a USB instead of a DVD using a program called UNetbootin.

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  9. Thank you for all your comments, peeps!

    "is it comparable to mint?"

    Well, in the sense that it takes Ubuntu and adds more out-of-the-box functionality, yes, it is comparable to Mint. Other than that, they are pretty different.

    AZorin, thanks for dropping by to clarify those issues. Oh, and thanks for helping with the comments. ;)

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  10. I want to hear the Zoooriiin sound before I try this. It might be too creepy to hear my computer saying something very similar to my name in a zombie voice. So, is the sound anywhere on the internets? ;)

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  11. Zorin might be just what I need to bring a few of them Microsoft Windows users over to opensource. I just need it to run Microsoft Office in Ubuntu I can't run MS Office without installing windows XP in Sun's virtualBox. Yes, I know OpenOffice blows MS Office 2000 away but, them MS users don't take changes well. We need Linux to be able to runs all Windows software, I have not found WINE able to do that yet. Great OS though I will be downloading it and giving it a spin.

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  12. Hello,
    i installed Zorin on a HPCompaq DC5700.
    Monitor is a Dell 24 inch.
    The screen goes not higher than 800x600.
    Not abble the find new hardware.

    Ubuntu on the same PC (live CD) 1152x864

    Greatings and goodluck Zorin

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  13. Great Distro I like the desktop very well because of the task list that is gone with the button showing how many programs are open, and I am a 64 bit user and Zorin 2.0 64 bit is the best i have seen so far for proformance and amazing graphics.

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  14. make it support Canon Printer Drivers "out of the box". If done, ZORIN will be the first linux distro to support Canon Printers.

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  15. nice os ,have swapped from mint and not missed it yet

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  16. I've intended download a few windows software in zorin but got nothing so,I think wine is no working as it should.
    pipo.

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  17. Hi, I'm Zorink from the Zorin OS Team. To all of you who can't get WINE to work try using playonlinux which is installed in Zorin OS. It is in the games section in the menu. I have installed Microsoft Office with it and it worked perfectly. In playonlinux just click install and then select the program you are trying to install. Then just follow the wizard and it should install the software for you. If you have any more questions you can contact us on our website (www.zorin-os.webs.com).

    Best Regards,
    Zorink

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  18. Over the past few weeks I have tried about 10 of the most popular linux disrtos as listed on distrowatch. This is the only one I have tried where I could install Nvidia drivers (FX5200) and set the resolution/refresh rate etc to want I wanted and the image was still centered. Also it has not crashed or frozen after a lot of fooling around.
    It's also easy to update, and install/unistall software.
    The installation also went smooth and the partition manager was straight forward to use.
    This is the the most useful distro I've seen.

    Whishing you all you Zoriners the very best and thanks.

    Allan

    Basingstoke

    England

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  19. I am amazed at the quality of Zorin OS 2.0.It's now my default distro.Congratulation on a job well done.

    Paul
    Edmonton
    Canada

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  20. Installed it on my Macbook last night; pretty nice, but a few glitches.

    I had OS/X (10.6), Windows 7, and Ubuntu on the drive already; when I went to partition the drive I chose to shrink the Win7 partition to make room for Zorin, and at some point was asked if I wanted to login with no password, or with password, or with password plus encryption on my home folder. I chose the encryption folder, and the partioning/installation failed with no warning. I tried the install again; same results. Eventually the partitioner got confused and I had to manually sort things out, and this time around I left the encryption turned off, and the install completed successfully.

    The wireless card was not recognized until after install and an update/upgrade and a manual installation of the bcm...-source package.

    I can only get 600x480 resolution, and only one desktop.

    The login sound plays too long, but I can change that., and I had to tweak power settings, but that was easy.

    Other than these things, I've been very impressed so far.

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  21. Thanks and keep up the good work!
    I cannot believe how quickly I was impressed with your distro.
    i think i am going to try zorin.

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  22. Hi. If you liked zorin, try YmlF OS, a Chinese Ubuntu's respin which is more workable and efective than the *buntus or mint, within the lower 384 MB RAM's target. In fact, YmlF WORKS.

    Mean

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  23. You missed something important, there. you can adjust the size of the icons by right-clicking the icon, selecting 'Stretch Icon' and make it any size you want. Also, you can make zorin look like pretty much any os. I have zorin and i think it rocks. However, i found some online reviews that say that it buggers up your hdd when you install it.
    -Amateur Technician ☻

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  24. "Also, you can make zorin look like pretty much any os."

    Well, of course, but the purpose of these articles is commenting upon how the developers of a certain distro decided to "ship" their products to users.

    "You missed something important, there. you can adjust the size of the icons by right-clicking the icon[...]"

    I don't think it's that important, given the fact that that is a feature of GNOME and not of Zorin. Oh, you probably think that I was complaining about the icon's size, but I really wasn't, I was just expressing my surprise. :) I really didn't mind it, I think it's a touch of originality.

    Well, thanks a lot for the comment and have a great day!

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  25. Almost got me hooked.
    Great work applause to the team.
    No time to rest now, go back to the Zorin cave and hammer out the one true all inclusive Zorin 3.0 that changes os history forever.
    Thanks to all.

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  26. It might be simpler than PCLinuxOS, which claims to be radically SIMPLE, for the new users.
    I should try it.
    But, is it very stable?!

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  27. It's very stable

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  28. how i get zorin without download?

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  29. how i get zorin without download?

    Where are you from? I don't think Zorin offers free CDs like Ubuntu, but if you really want an ISO, I will try and ship one to you.

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  30. Linux for Downies. Herp derp.

    From DistroWatch: "Zorin OS also comes with an application that lets users run many Windows programs." OMGamazing!! Where else would I ever have found such a thing?!

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  31. works perfectly on both my emachine and acer laptops this is now my default and only distro on both machines. i have tried many versions of linux over the years, this one is going on all my machines, i have 3 and growing, fantastic !! CONGRATS TO THE ZORIN TEAM

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