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Zorin OS 6 – One small step for Windows converts

by Rob Zwetsloot

Winux? Lindows? Whatever you want to call it, Zorin OS 6 is out, and again puts a coat of Windows paint on top of Ubuntu

Here’s the pitch. You’ve been using Windows since you were a kid, and you’ve always been pretty tech savvy. Maybe you’ve done some coding, and perhaps you feel restricted by the closed nature of Microsoft’s products. Whatever your background, you’re now interested in giving Linux a try – however there’s a crippling amount of choice in distributions, and they all look so alien. This is where Zorin comes in.

Windows Linux Ubuntu 6 7
It sure looks like Windows, which is the point

Zorin promotes itself as the distro of choice for Windows users to make the change to Linux. To be fair, this situation isn’t all that uncommon, and of course any attempt to help the would-be Redmond converts take their first steps into a larger world should be applauded. For those unfamiliar with Zorin, the very basic concept is that it takes the latest version of Ubuntu, and adds their own custom GNOME Shell that looks remarkably like Windows. In the case of Zorin OS 6, this is no different, taking Ubuntu 12.04 and adding a desktop environment in the vein of Windows 7.

So it still is, and works like, Linux. Which is sort of the point. All Zorin really does is present the options and applications in Ubuntu in a way Windows users can relate to. In the Zorin/Start Menu there’s a Computer folder (the replacement for My Computer in a post-XP world), a Document’s folder, and options for settings, shut down, etc. The taskbar is on the bottom, where windows of the same app are grouped together, and there’s also a window focused alt-tab function. You know, Windows. The main thing is, it’s a stable environment. Aside from the odd (and very minor) inconsistent interface issues like the Start Menu shutdown window being different from the taskbar shutdown window, overall it’s nicely implemented as well.

Windows GNOME Linux 6 7
The core version only includes GNOME 2 and Win XP alternative views

All of this was present and accounted for in the previous version though, and the only main difference in the interface is the reduction in alternate environments for the Look Changer. This is now limited to GNOME 2 and Windows XP, with OS X and older Windows interfaces locked behind a pay gate for the Ultimate edition.

Of course being based on Ubuntu 12.04 is the main change, and it immediately gives Zorin OS 6 some advantages – it gets the full benefits of the LTS promise, and has a better and more up to date selection of software. We wonder though if people trying to convert to Linux would sit on Zorin for years on end, however whether or not that’s the case doesn’t really matter. It’s nice to have the LTS at the very least.

One of the things we complained about last time regarding the release is still present. As well as the free Core and paid Ultimate edition is a selection of specialised editions that are about as confusing, if not more, than all the different versions of Windows. Educational, Business, Multimedia, Gaming, and Entertainment editions are their monikers, although you’d think separate Multimedia, Gaming, and Entertainment versions are redundant. These mainly just come with specific programs pre-installed that you could install otherwise, and some of them do cost money, albeit not as much as the Ultimate version.

Windows Linux 6 7
A minimally reskinned Ubuntu Software Centre makes accessing applications easy

In the end, the core version is a perfectly fine distribution. However with the ridiculous amount of barely indistinguishable paid editions, it may turn off the Window’s users it hopes to attract. In our opinion, they’d be much better off with Kubuntu or Linux Mint Cinnamon.



In some ways, Zorin OS 6 achieves what it sets out to do, and that is to dress up Linux in a Windows shirt. It’s still Linux underneath, but it may help wannabe-converts along their journey. In other ways, it presents a confusing selection of free and paid versions that is not representative of the wider world of Linux.

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    • Ernst

      What’s the language support for Zorin OS 6? Well i know it’s based on Ubuntu but in some Ubuntu-clan distros there are differences you’ll soon see in your desktop and UI. Have all menus translated or are there too many applications there named in English? I’m planning to install either Linux Mint or Zorin OS 6 to pc of my parents.

    • Pingback: Zorin OS 6 – A Linux Look like Windows 7, XP and Mac OS X – Smashing Web()

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    • Don Link

      Most reviewers of Zorin are missing a very important point. Emulating a windows look and feel is of crucial importance for a family computer. I have 3 children and migrated, several years ago, all 3 of the family computers to Zorin. It is similar enough to Windows, along with Libre Office, that my children can easily adapt to the PCs at school and elsewhere. All these new windows managers are totally unsuited for a family environment where children will be developing PC skills. Remember everyone’s shock at Gnome 3 & Unity, and the instant loss of productivity while learning the new environment. If my kids only used Unity, could they be productive on PCs in school? The same goes for Apple OS, except that people are some what willing to excuse Apple folks, due to Apple’s newly found prestige. Apple OSX for that matter, is far less radical than Gnome 3 or Unity. ZORIN IS THE BEST SOLUTION FOR A FAMILY PC regardless of its faults. Ubuntu resources, Windows familiarity & Linux viral immunity.

    • katherine

      XP refugees are simply running away from win7 and all its Explorer-8 inconveniences. Zorin OS team should have worked on one of the MOST HATED features of win7 – the inability to display Folder Size column. Just make a ‘my computer’ icon or ‘devices’ (a la Xandros) and display an Explorer-like table complete with Folder-size column. With a feature like that I’d dual-boot immediately ! Linux OS generally makes navigating the folder and file system non-intuitive and inconvenient. The Details choices for columns are not comprehensive either. As it is I’m stocking up on hardware esp. mobos for the day when manufacturers stop making drivers for XP. I have industrial software for audio that would not run on any Wine whatsoever AND I have no interest in win7 or win8 or win9 – they just get worse with every iteration.

    • First, my hat is off to the programmers who obviously spend a lot of time doing something that so many of us can’t or won’t do, trying to devise a usable operating system alternative to Microsoft products.
      I would like to submit some feedback, though, from the perspective of the end user. I was a long time user of Zorin 5. For the most part I was very pleased with Zorin 5. I really like the desktop effects, especially the ability to easily modify the mouse pointer. As some one with eyesight issues,that was very important to me and Zorin 5 was the only Linux based distribution that I found that allowed this functionality.
      There was one issue that continually bugged me, though with the Zorin 5 environment, the message pane list in Evolution was double spaced. I searched the web for a resolution to this, but never found one.
      So, I was very eager to try the Zorin 6 distribution. However, I was very disappointed in Zorin 6. The ability to manipulate the mouse pointer was withdrawn and the double spaced mail list issue Evolution was not addressed.
      Furthermore, I was forced to search for a fix that would allow me to use my USB devices with the new Zorin 6 distribution.
      I’m sure there must have been a number of things improved in the “upgrade,’ but the ones things that really mattered to me were not. In fact the user experience for me was worse than with Zorin 5. I was left with no choice but to downgrade back to Zorin 5 or look for another alternative. I was very disappointed.

    • Peter Tyler

      I love it. A lot of my customers use windows, and I’m forever moving back and forth between Linux and Windows. This OS lets me use all the nice stuff about ubuntu and also keep my sanity. It runs nice and fast on my old hardware too.
      Without being too exact, I give it 8.8574 out of 10.

    • Oh. best try. But windows is itself and linux is ifself. I dont like mix them. its color is paling!!

    • Marbec

      J’utilise Zorin OS 6 à la maison sur mon PC et je l’utilise au bureau sur mon portable Vaio VGN-NS160D.

      Plusieurs de mes collègues l’ont essayé et l’ont adopté. Zorin OS est très efficace, rapide, professionnel et très sécuritaire. Si vous êtes un habitués à Windows, vous ne serez pas dépaysé avec cette distribution Linux.

    • sick of microsoft

      I can never understand the mentality of windows users
      why anyone would ever want a distro that looked like XP Vista,..7..

      in Gods name what is the point of making something new look like a thing of the past?
      its as ludicrous as buying a Ferrari or Aston Martin and putting a Mini engine in it

      just accept Linux for what it is….and make your own themes and designs

    • Ariya

      Do you think, Windows users are fools? Maybe Zorin thinks that way?

      Read here;

    • Ariya

      If you think, that Zorin OS 6 Core isn’t Ubuntu 12.04 simply changed, then have a look here;

      That is Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal with the so-called Zorin Look Changer…

    • John Kennedy

      As a regular user of Windows 7 and test pilot for Windows 8, I must admit Zorin is a nice product. Windows 8 appears to be all about selling anything they can, xbox comes to mind. Zorin is a nice OS, but much of the programs offered lack in their ability. Picasa no longer supports Linux, and all substitutes lack, Winamp is another favorite of mine, rythembox makes a stab at it, but is quite short. Wine attempts to make Winamp work, but fails. I have a Kodak esp 2170 all in one printer, for which there is no codac, I blame this on Kodak not Zorin, but I still have the problem. I must say that Zorin remains ahead of windows 8 new metro, I think this product was designed with children in mind. I consider Windows 8 more of a telephone then an OS, I will not use it although I did find a few work around’s such as Start 8. Provided Zorin does not follow Windows into 8, it will be my new operating system, once I get a new printer.

    • Can Linux really compete with Microsoft? I have attempted to use Linux a few years ago and had a few prro experiences of it. Id like to think that Linux are being Ambitious but would really like them to do well. Will certainly look into Zorin and see if I can grasp it!!!

    • I think we have a very clear divide here!

      You either use windows or Linux – and there seems to be a bit of personal preference well made and known to all.

      Me personally im a windows ‘user’ not a windows ‘fan’

    • geoff

      I’ve been a Mint user since version 10, but there has always been those few pesky apps that only run on Windows. With some degree of difficulty, using Wine, I got Kindle download and iTunes 7 apps going on Mint 13, as my daughter has got these wretched devices.

      Enter Zorin OS 6 with its claim to be Linux for Windows users. Now surely with such a claim the Ultimate addition would contain some enhancement to Wine or better emulator? Err no. Maybe better advice then, from their tech support team on how to get Windows apps running in Zorin; no. Sorry folks, don’t convert that old XP box just yet, you might still need it. On the other hand, it is a very nice looking version of Linux and I might just give it a go, just for fun.

    • Harry

      It looks nice, but it’s quite CPU and Ram intensive though, with few other advantages.

      I’ve been looking at a great many Linux variants over the last few weeks to find a distro that is fully featured and as light as possible.

      Debian LXDE used 134Mb ram an 2%CPU, whereas Zorin uses 341Mb and up to 40 % CPU just to run.
      The best ones I’ve found are AntiX, Deb LXDE or XFCE or Gnome, Bridge, Archbang and Crunchbang.

      All of the Ubuntu variants seem to use at least twice the overheads of the ones listed above.

      If you want eye candy, look at Voyager, Manjaro or PCLinux Full Monty.

    • Mark

      My main home PC just died of hardware failure so I took the step of moving to Ubuntu 12.10 . I have made one very grave mistake. I totally underestimated the difficulty of moving from XP to Ubuntu for a non technical person namely my partner. I realise now that this is a very important issue Ubuntu’s Unity approach is all very exciting for those of us nerdy folk but takes a lot of learning for others. I will therefore be checking out Zorin and if its as good as it seems will install it and buy her a bunch of flowers!

      P.S. I have struggled with screen resolution problems in Ubuntu 12.10 which are still not fixed ( 1,920 x 1,080 resolution on nVidea GeForce cards) but if Zorin is based on Ubuntu 12.04 I fear they will stay with me with Zorin.

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    • Vincent

      Because of lack of funding, we cant afford Windows licenses for a bunch of company computers so Linux was the way to go. Thanks to Zorin, it became easy for us to force Linux to employees who are very much used to the Windows environment.