back to article Afraid of the big bad Linux desktop? Zorin 16.1 is here

Zorin 16.1 has arrived, marking the first major update of the Linux distribution since August's release. Unashamedly user-friendly, with an interface unlikely to scare off Windows or Mac users, the most eye-catching element of the update is LibreOffice 7.3, replete with better Microsoft Office compatibility, improved …

  1. devin3782

    Do they also sell horses and airships too?

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      I wonder if the downvoters got your reference.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Which is?

        1. Lord Kipper III

          https://www.airshipsonline.com/airships/ss500/Zorin.htm

        2. jgarbo
          Facepalm

          Bond, James Bond

          Christopher Walken as crazy villain in A View to Kill. Raised race horses, killed escaping in his airship.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alert

      Mayday

      Grace Jones will pop up to do BSOD duties

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vhXnXLuD4p4

  2. Miss Config

    Android Apps

    As someone who does NOT have a smartphone, the first thing I ask about any Linux distro nowadays is :

    How is it for handling software that allows access to Android apps ?

    1. Jan 0

      Re: Android Apps

      Don't you ask about systemd first?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Android Apps

        It's based on the Ubuntu toy. No need.

        1. Zolko Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: Android Apps

          It's based on the Ubuntu toy

          and Gnome. I'll stay with MX-Linux, based on Debian, without systemd, and KDE

  3. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    you will need to pay up if you want access to desktop interfaces styled on Windows and macOS

    Isn't that why people use Linux? Because it's not Windows?

    Having said that I wish Gnome would stop doing its stupid things like still keeping a window in focus when you've *outside* it. That's bloody irritating.It also has lots of other irritations, but the best thing is it isn't Windows. :-)

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: you will need to pay up if you want access to desktop interfaces styled on Windows and macOS

      It is why people who already use Linux on the Desktop use Linux.

      But Zorin's target is people who use and are familiar with Windoze.

      If Linux on the Desktop is going to gain ground, it's not by convincing Linux users to switch distros, it's by giving non Linux users a comfortable desktop.

      1. badflorist

        Re: you will need to pay up if you want access to desktop interfaces styled on Windows and macOS

        "If Linux on the Desktop is going to gain ground, it's not .."

        .. by writing underwhelming reviews.

        "...the most eye-catching element of the update is LibreOffice 7.3"

        Really? LibreOffice is the most eye-catching thing? I guess this review is targeted at people who've never used anything but WIndows and even then, have lived solely inside of notepad.

        Note to Windows users: LibreOffice isn't the most eye-catching thing on any OS or OS update, I doubt I had to tell you that though.

    2. BenDwire Silver badge

      @RegGuy1

      Have you tried Tweaks->Windows->Window Focus->Focus on Hover ? That brings a window into focus as soon as the mouse pointer is over it.

      Agreed, it does have loads of irritations, but there are fixes for many of them.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: @RegGuy1

        "Agreed, it does have loads of irritations, but there are fixes for many of them."

        That's the problem with Gnome. It seems to have to be tweaked to make it useful. These limitations seem to be design choices. I've never seen the point in starting with something that has to be taken so far from its designers' intentions to be useful. Maybe it's intended to be a blank canvas for the likes of the Zorins to customise but even so KDE has always seemed a good deal more functional straight out of the box.

        Having said that Zorin has been what I've used for relatives' ex-Windows boxes.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: @RegGuy1

          Have you tried the supposedly "hard" Slackware yet/recently? Works for the Wife, MeDearOldMum, and my Great Aunt.

        2. NATTtrash
      2. Nate Amsden Silver badge

        Re: @RegGuy1

        In my experience that is often called "mouse over activation". I've used it myself since the late 90s on everything(started with AfterStep as my window manager). Used it with Gnome 2 on Ubuntu 10.04 until I switched to Mate. Still run Mate today and run with this option. Used it on windows too for years, easy to turn on with..powertoys control panel?? Not sure if that exists anymore I'd wager the registry option is still there whatever it might be though.

        However maybe 5-6 years ago something started bugging out on it. Drives me mad. This feature breaks with the marco window manager at random times, sometimes after a day sometimes after less than a minute(sometimes 3 times in 5 minutes). I was hoping an upgrade from Mate 17 to Mate 20 (actually a complete new computer and a fresh install) would fix it but it did not. Still happens every day. Originally I would have to log out and login again but I marco has a --replace option to reload it without losing anything. So I would run that. Then I got irritated enough and put a shortcut on the top menu bar so I can just click it when it fucks up. I have to click it a lot. Logs don't really show anything useful. At first I thought it was due to a vmware workstation upgrade triggering the behavior but have seen it without switching to workstation (which runs full screen in one of my 16 workspaces).

        I also use edge flipping(move mouse to edge of screen and it changes to the adjacent workspace), critical to my workflow(again been using that for over 20 years now too) to use that I had to take some extra steps to build the (now obsolete I suppose last version Ubuntu shipped with this was 16) app brightside. Fortunately it works flawlessly on Mate 20/Ubuntu 20 after building it from source(took some trickery). I'd wager it won't build again when Mate 20 reaches end of life and I have to switch to something else, trying not to think about that time. Could not find any other edge switching apps for gnome last time I looked.

        Probably one of the only people in the world that prefers 1 monitor. 16 work spaces (4x4) I believe I can get a lot more done faster than someone who uses multiple monitors.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: @RegGuy1

          The buzzphrase you are probably looking for is "focus follows pointer". Windows had it natively as an option starting with Win95 (registry hack ... I believe TweakUI could make the change). It's useful for some things, hellaciously annoying for others. I use it probably once a month or so on Slackware w/KDE (pointy-clicky: System Settings -> Window Behavior -> Window Behavior -> Focus, a slider gives 6 different variations on the theme.)

          I have three monitors, the native laptop screen, a much larger external monitor, and a dumb terminal. The laptop has 2 virtual desktops side by side, just in case. I rarely use more than one. I can also hot-key into 6 command prompts (this last is stock for Slackware).

          The external monitor has 6 desktops, in a 1x6 grid. 5 are in near constant use, the 6th is kind of a scratch pad.

          The dumb terminal is just that ... IBM 3151 (amber) at the moment. Handy if the GUI goes TITSUP[0] (rare as that is these days), and I do most of my serious writing on it.

          [0] Total Inability To Show the Usual Pr0n^H^H^Hictures.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: @RegGuy1

            When the 3251 and the keyboard gives up the ghost, Jake probably has punch card and line printer backups that he can plug in!

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: you will need to pay up if you want access to desktop interfaces styled on Windows and macOS

      "Isn't that why people use Linux? Because it's not Windows?"

      No. I use Linux because it's stable and works. Windows is fragile, and frequently doesn't.

    4. jake Silver badge

      Re: you will need to pay up if you want access to desktop interfaces styled on Windows and macOS

      "Having said that I wish Gnome would stop doing its stupid things'

      Some people have been wishing that for a decade and a half or so. The rest of us have decided that Gnome's developers are irrational, and that Gnome is no longer worth bothering with.

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: you will need to pay up if you want access to desktop interfaces styled on Windows and macOS

        Agree to both posts.

    5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: you will need to pay up if you want access to desktop interfaces styled on Windows and macOS

      "you will need to pay up if you want access to desktop interfaces styled on Windows and macOS"

      Windows and macOS users are used to paying up, so that's no barrier. The problem is getting them to switch.

      The dealers have got the addicts hooked and its a tough job to wean them off

  4. BobBob

    Support for Ukraine

    “pledged to donate all profits from sales of Zorin Pro between now and 1700 GMT on March 17 to charities providing humanitarian aid in Ukraine”

    Might just place an order now

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Support for Ukraine

      Just donate the same money to the charity of your choice. No need to change your distribution, eliminate at least one middleman taking his cut, and YOU get any tax benefits, not said middleman.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Support for Ukraine

        In the UK, you don't get any tax benefits. However, you can fill out a form and then the charity can claim back the tax you already paid on your donation when you earned the money, in effect increasing your donation by 20%.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Support for Ukraine

          In the UK, donations to a recognised and registered charity are eligible for Gift Aid.

          Providing that your donations do not exceed the amount of tax you have paid that tax year, the charity can claim the 20% basic rate of tax which would have been paid from your taxed income.

          Higher-rate tax payers can then individually claim the difference between that 20% and the higher rates of income tax as a rebate against income tax, as part of their annual return.

          Without making any comment on the Zorin team, I have been suspicious of other companies who talk about donating a "portion" of their "profits" because that implies what remains after their costs. In such cases, it will be better to donate to an (effective) charity directly.

      2. BobBob

        Re: Support for Ukraine

        Already made donations, but I was looking for a distro for the other half to put on her aging MacBook from 2008 (upgraded the hard disk to a bigger SSD, replaced the battery and maxed out the RAM). It still works really well but it's getting harder to use as the root certificates have all expired. This distro will make it look like macOS and I get a warm fuzzy feeling that the profits go to a worthy cause.

        1. AceGrace

          Re: Support for Ukraine

          Would this also work on a 2013 iMac?

          1. Ken G Bronze badge

            Re: Support for Ukraine

            No reason why not. That's recent by Linux standards.

          2. BobBob

            Re: Support for Ukraine

            Try it out with the Live USB stick. You can use balena Etcher to create the USB stick. You may need to go into Additional Drivers to enable the proprietary WiFI adapter. Also use a wired keyboard and mouse for the first use, you can then add your Bluetooth keyboard and mouse after.

  5. Falmari Silver badge
    Go

    Zorin, Ideal for beginners

    Zorin is ideal for new and inexperienced Linux users as it is so simple to install. I have a few VMs with different Linux distros on them and Zorin is the only one that works right out the box.

    Unlike the others nothing else needs to be installed for it to work like video codecs.

    So no scary terminal to install codecs.

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

      Doesn’t Ubuntu just work like that too?

      My docker is running off Ubuntu, I rarely login to the Ubuntu bit but it works ok.

      Runs fine on esxi 6.5

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        @tip pc I have Ubuntu 20.04 and I had to download the codecs 'sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extras'

        Suse had to have them downloaded after the install too, but I can't remember what I did to install them now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

          Isn't there a check-box in the installer for that? (there was the last time I played with Ubuntu some years ago, but I ended up going with Mint instead)

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        And Mint.

    2. nematoad Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

      "Zorin is the only one that works right out the box."

      Then you might want to take a look at Q4OS. It's smart enough to know that its running in a VM and will automatically install the Virtualbox additions for you. It doesn't get any easier than that and is quite a nice Debian based distro with the Trinity desktop environment.

      Smart and it looks good, pity about SUDO and systemd though.

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        @nematoad Thanks for the info on Q4OS, I do tend to run my VMs on Virtualbox though Zorin did not need Virtualbox additions.

        As for Ubuntu I am running that on MS Hyper-V (decided to give Hyper-V a look) so additions is not an issue. Meaning setting screen res was an issue. 'sudo vi /etc/default/grub' etc.

    3. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

      > nothing else needs to be installed for it to work like video codecs.

      I think I would prefer it to work like an operating system.

      -A.

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        Nice one captain. +1

    4. LionelB Bronze badge

      Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

      Who needed a scary terminal to install video codecs?

      Mint, for example, offers the option on installation. Ubuntu, as I recall (haven't installed/used it recently) offers a package which bundles codecs and can be simply installed through the graphical software manager.

      FWIW, Mint has worked out of the box for me (including sound & video codecs) on various PCs and laptops I've installed it on over the past couple of years, and none of the standard desktops (Cinnamon, Mate, and especially XFCE) would be wildly unfamiliar to a Windows (or Mac) user.

      What was so special about Zorin, again?

      1. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        FWIW, Slackware has worked out of the box for me (including sound & video codecs) on various PCs and laptops I've installed it on over the past decade plus, and neither of the standard desktops (KDE and XFCE, others are available) are wildly unfamiliar to a Windows (or Mac) user.

        What was so special about Zorin, again?

        Imitation is the ... ah, have a beer instead.

    5. Def Silver badge

      Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

      So no scary terminal...

      This is where all Linux distributions fall down as far as new users are concerned, when you ask the question: "How long does it take before I'm forced to start typing commands into a terminal to configure something?"

      On Windows for the vast majority of users that answer is "never". On Linux, it usually takes about 20 minutes.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        On Linux, it usually takes about 20 minutes.

        Damn, I knew I was doing something wrong... I can't recall the last time I *had* to reach for a terminal to configure something.

        I use the console, certainly, as I did when I had to use Windows, but in both cases that was by choice - usually for something simple like a ping check.

        In the meantime, I carry on developing software, designing hardware, simulating logic, browsing, playing music and video, browsing... the 2000s called and want their FUD back.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

          You can always tell those who've never used Linux but you can't tell 'em much.

        2. Def Silver badge

          Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

          Ok, I tried Zorin. (Am trying it now, actually.)

          Took me less than 10 minutes to find something I couldn't do from the UI (that I would typically change when setting up a new machine): Change the system date format to YYYY-MM-DD.

      2. CAPS LOCK

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        Try Linux Mint Xfce. See how it goes, you might be surprised.

      3. Roopee
        Thumb Up

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        I wish I could give you 100 upvotes for that very astute comment!

        Until there is a distribution that has UI access to at least as much as Windows has, it isn’t competitive in the one area that is and has always been one of Windows’ major competitive advantages (starting long before Office and OS bundling).

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

          But Linux gives UI[0] access to EVERYTHING, whereas Redmond (in its infinite glory) has decided that there are aspects of Windows that users (and their admins) are not allowed to access. Fuck that.

          Office is not really a competitive advantage, outside the shallow minds of the gullible. Bundles are for the easily lead down the garden path.

          [0] UI is short for user interface. Perhaps you meant to specify either Command-line User Interface or Graphical User Interface?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        Been running Linux Mint since v17 ... literally never used the terminal except to fire off the version upgrade process (i.e. going from 17.3 to 18.0).

        1. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge
          Coat

          Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

          same here, I do dabble with terminal on occasion (mostly for 'because reasons') but wifey's machine has never been terminal'd I doubt she knows what terminal is or cares tbh. Thats what i'm for and I dont mess with her Mint xfce, for her wants theres really is no need to.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Def - Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        You must admit it is way much easier to do copy and paste in the terminal than it is to do in GUI. I mean compared to, go to ... menu, click on ... option, select ... then check ...check-boxes and then click OK.

        We (the *nix crowd) are doing it for convenience, just paste at the command line and you're done. Heck, this is why Microsoft itself created PowerShell: it is bloody useful. If Linux falls down as you like to say, it seems Microsoft is following.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: @Def - Zorin, Ideal for beginners

          What are you talking about? You Ctrl+Click on the items you want to select, and press Ctrl+C to copy.

          In my experience copy and paste in the Windows console is a lot more convenient than any Linux terminal I've used too. Drag with the mouse to select, and then Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V to copy and paste as you would everywhere else - and Ctrl+C teminates the current program as usual if there's no selection.

          Compared to Linux where you drag to select, right-click, select copy, right-click, select paste, or use some obscure keyboard shortcut that isn't used anywhere else in the known universe. Apparently Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V would be too convenient, and how would you output obscure control codes then?

    6. weladenwow

      Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

      Famari it does you have not installed Linux Mint? - codecs. are just a scary tickbox.

    7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

      "Unlike the others nothing else needs to be installed for it to work like video codecs."

      What video codecs? Admittedly I've not installed Linux for some years, being a FreeBSD user here, but seriously, what codecs? After installing mplayer/mencoder/VLC/whatever, they pull in what they need at install time. I've never had to manually install codec from a command line or even a GUI based package manager. At worst, I've built mplayer/mencoder and sox to include mp3 when there was that kerfuffle over patents and binaries or whatever the issue was, but still not had top install codecs separately or manually.

      EDIT: I see from later posts that some stuff like mp3 codecs may not be installed by default and the user has to choose to install them or, in same cases, install after the fact. I assume that may also apply to some other stuff like NVidia binary blobs, especially with Linux and the special conditions of GPL that don't apply to FreeBSD. As a FreeBSD user, I'm not used to vagaries of Linux "distros" and their full-on, OOTB desktops :-)

    8. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

      Doesn't ubuntu prompt you to install those codecs during the installation? I believe it has for many many years...I just did a web search and found a sample screen shot of such a page from Ubuntu 15.04. It's a checkbox during install to install codecs. Maybe it's not super clear to newbies I suppose.

      I see another screenshot from Ubuntu 20.04 specifically it is a (default unchecked) checkbox that says "Install third party software for graphics and wifi hardware and additional media formats. This software is subject to license terms included with it's documentation. Some is proprietary."

      But I guess people are so used to clicking next->next->next->done and don't read what they are installing.

      Linux was easy to install for the end user literally 20 years ago, Corel installer, SuSE (I remember it even had a game you could play while the packages were installing, I think at least). Hell my sister had zero linux knowledge and really minimal computer experience and managed to install Yahoo! messenger back in maybe 2003 on her SuSE system. That messenger installed via Wine. I was blown away that it worked so seamlessly. She didn't even ask me or tell me I just noticed one day an icon on her desktop and it was installed via wine, She must of downloaded the windows installer not knowing any different and the system just worked. Honestly I wouldn't even expect that of a linux desktop in 2022 yet alone 2003.

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Zorin, Ideal for beginners

        @Nate Amsden I installed Ubuntu 20.04 within the last week and I saw no option to install the codecs. I have since checked a few of the tutorials on the web and they all install the codecs after from the terminal. There is no mention of an option during the install.

        Checking my own installed Ubuntu 20.04 I see it would have been possible to install the codecs through the software center but to do that I would have had to know what the codecs were called and which ones to install.

        As I have no problem using the terminal, that for me that is the easiest and quickest option and also the option offered by those web sites.

        The reason I stated Zorin was Ideal for beginners is because codecs do not have to be installed after the OS has been installed. Of course, this statement is equally true for other distros that install the codecs at install time.

        Ubuntu is not the only distro that does not install the codecs I use openSUSE (KDE) which also requires the codecs to be installed after the OS install. Which for me is not a problem but it could be for a beginner.

  6. PhilipN

    So far so good

    Nice well presented and easy to follow download pages. Instils confidence. Same with install instructions Mac and PC.

    Only downside apart from sharing one's hard-earned is having to give an email address but I guess by now we all have multiple addresses so it's only a case of remembering which one is designated to accumulate clutter.

    In this case it is more helpful since you get a key : needed to re-download.

  7. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    FAIL

    Like it fine, but . . .

    If you are running an earlier version of Zorin, and they are still in the primitive realm where to upgrade, one must reinitialize the root partition and reinstall the OS from scratch, so minus several points for that.

    1. mrfill

      Re: Like it fine, but . . .

      Ideal for the WIndows XP user then...

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    WTF?

    What ?

    No Torrent link for the free version ?

    On a Linux distribution ?

    What are they thinking ?

    1. Def Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: What ?

      And a really slow server to boot as well.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: What ?

        To be fair, servers shouldn't need rebooting often enough for it to matter how long it takes. Shit, my desktops rarely get rebooted. This isn't Windows.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: What ?

          I meant the server serving the Zorin ISO was slow. It downloaded at 6.5MB/s. My connection can handle over 14 times that.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: What ?

            Probably all the ElReg users overloading it.

            Not joking ... bumps in traffic after articles like this one are normal. Especially on weekends.

  9. frabbledeklatter

    Very Nice for Single Machines

    I saw this article, and as an Ubuntu geek, was intrigued. I installed it as dual-boot on a couple of Ubuntu/Gnome boxes over the weekend. It is, indeed, a nice way to make the move from Windows, provided there is no need to interact with other machines on the LAN. It's right for my wife's machine when her W7 finally keels over.

    For a small home network with a mix of Windows and Linux, though, it's still Ubuntu. One must install Samba, etc. to play nice in a Windows workgroup. If all machines on a home LAN were Zorin/Ubuntu, NFS would be new and mysterious to naive Windows users. One would need to do some programming to make NFS look and feel like Windows file sharing.

    I ended up testing support on one minor matter, due to a lack of documentation. I send the question at midnight UK time on Sunday night, and got a correct, useful answer in less than an hour. That is a huge plus for beginners,

    In short, Zorin seems to be a significant step toward seamless Windows migration, but there are more steps to go. I'm happy enough to have Zorin for my daily driver laptop.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: Very Nice for Single Machines

      @frabbledeklatter I had the same with my LAN Zorin sees the Windows network but won't connect. But it had no problem seeing and connecting to my NAS. :)

  10. iced.lemonade

    Paid for Zorin

    Paid for Zorin 16 and the experience is nice. The UI is snappy and it feels polished and without dumbing everything down. One point for them is their support of Nvidia graphics - they have a boot option to use a better Nvidia driver and that's is the only way that I can use linux with decent graphics on my laptop (it is a MSI with a 2070) - without that the graphics (especially with external monitor) is super slow. I am sure it is doable with other distributions like Ubuntu, but I don't have the persistence to drill into the forums.

    It feels good to pay for them (in no way related to their donation to the Ukraine - i will donate directly to the charity there), in a sense that it needs money to develop and support any piece of software (and their's a good one). Hope my minor contribution will be useful for them to continue their effort.

  11. Alan(UK)

    Windows for Linux Users

    When will someone release a Microsoft Windows distribution which acts like Linux?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Windows for Linux Users

      About the same time they make Windows updates as easy and as fast as Linux.

  12. TNTGrunf

    Having used all sorts of linux distros in the past, switching back and forth to windows occasionaly, I guess I'll give zorin a test run. Seems nice enough for my MS-addicted family to to be able to finally linuxify my household for good.

    Browsing through the screenshots on Zorin's site one thing caught my attention, rather negatively in light of the recent events: the "start button" icon.

    Zed's dead, baby. Change it, please.

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