One of the best features of the open source Linux operating system is that there are so many distributions to choose from.
Ubuntu gets by far the lion's share of the media's attention, it's true--largely by virtue of its top ranking at the top of DistroWatch's popularity list--but there are hundreds of other options out there as well, many tailored to particular kinds of users and situations.
I've already looked briefly at several of the Ubuntu derivatives that are available and more specifically at Linux Mint, which is currently third in popularity. Today, however, I'd like to make a pitch for Zorin OS, an Ubuntu-based distribution that offers a number of advantages with particular appeal for Windows users.
Zorin OS 4 was just released earlier this month. Why should you consider it? Here are just a few reasons.
1. A Seamless Transition
Much like the Ubuntu base that underlies it, Zorin OS is designed especially for newcomers to Linux. It has a Windows-like graphical user interface and many programs similar to those found in Windows.
Zorin OS also comes with software including Wine and PlayOnLinux that let users run many Windows programs. The distribution's ultimate goal is "to provide a Linux alternative to Windows and let Windows users enjoy all the features of Linux without complications," in the project's own words.
What this means, of course, is that Zorin OS is a great distribution for those who are comfortable with the look and feel of Windows, but still want to see what Linux is all about. Alternatively, it can be perfect for employees or coworkers who don't like change.
2. It Can Mimic Windows
Zorin OS comes with the ever-popular GNOME interface familiar to countless Ubuntu users, but it also offers a number of alternatives direct from the proprietary world. Specifically, the operating system features a unique "Look Changer" program that lets users change the software's interface at the touch of a button.
All users need do is click on the Windows 7 or Windows XP option, for example, and their desktop looks and behaves accordingly. Premium versions of Zorin OS--targeting gaming and multimedia uses, for example--also include interfaces mimicking those of Mac OS X, Windows Vista and Windows 2000.
3. The Comfort of GNOME
Those of us who have gotten used to Ubuntu have become accustomed to its default GNOME desktop. For those anxious about the distribution's upcoming switch to the touch-enabled Unity interface, Zorin OS offers an option for sticking with what's familiar.
Also like Ubuntu, Zorin OS comes pre-installed with OpenOffice, Firefox, the Evolution e-mail client, the Rhythmbox music player, the Totem video player, the GIMP image editor, lots of multimedia codecs, and more.
4. It's Fast
When speed is of the essence, Zorin OS really shines. Not only is its latest version faster than Ubuntu, its makers say, but it clocks in at a full four times faster than Windows 7. That's pretty impressive.
With the help of Wine and PlayOnLinux, meanwhile, Zorin OS even runs many Windows apps faster than Windows does, the project says. It's also available in more than 55 languages.
5. There's No Commitment
As always in the Linux world, you can take the free Zorin OS for a test drive without committing to it until you're ready. The Zorin OS 4 Core release is available for free download from the project's site. Alternatively, Zorin OS 4 Gaming and Multimedia releases each cost 10 euros, while Zorin OS 4 Ultimate is 15 euros from the project's store.
So many users come to Linux from the Windows world, it makes a great deal of sense to offer them a little familiarity to help ease the transition. If that sounds like something your business could benefit from, why not give Zorin OS a try?
Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.