A familiar face
The Linux world has long offered virtually innumerable alternatives to Windows and Mac OS, including several options designed specifically to ease the transition for those making the switch. Born back in 2009, Zorin OS may well be the best-known example.
Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution designed especially for newcomers to Linux. With a Windows-like interface and many programs similar to those found in Microsoft’s proprietary OS, it aims to make it easy for Windows users to get the most out of Linux.
Zorin OS 9 just made its debut with a familiar, Windows 7-like interface by default. In the wake of XP’s demise, there may be no better time to check it out. Zorin OS 9’s free and premium editions are now available in 32- and 64-bit versions for download from the project website.
Give it a familiar look and feel
Much the way LXLE Linux gives you a choice of numerous desktop looks, so too does Zorin OS 9. Though Windows 7 is the default desktop style, the Zorin Look Changer also lets you make your desktop look and act like Windows XP, Windows 2000, Mac OS X, Ubuntu’s Unity interface, or the ever-popular Linux standard, GNOME 2.
The Windows 7, Windows XP and GNOME 2 interfaces are available in the free versions of Zorin OS. Users of the software’s paid premium editions, priced starting at 10 euros, get the others as well.
Windows XP redux
Those who still yearn for the comfort of Microsoft’s now-retired Windows XP need look no further than Zorin OS 9 for a compelling replacement with a short learning curve.
Whereas XP is now considered a significant security vulnerability, however, Zorin OS offers all the security advantages of Linux, along with integrated firewall software to keep your system safe. When a potential security threat does arise, software updates typically come within hours through the operating system’s Update Manager.
Much like a mac
Apple fans also have a way to feel at home with Zorin OS 9, thanks to an OS X option in the software’s premium editions.
The Zorin Theme Changer, meanwhile, lets users quickly and easily switch among several desktop themes, including a new “Blue” theme option added in this release.
Zorin Background Plus—available to premium users—delivers even more flexibility by letting you set a video as your background. A default animated background entitled “Space” is also available.
Borrowing from Ubuntu
Yet another option for users of Zorin OS’s premium editions is to recreate the look and feel of the Unity desktop that’s now default in Ubuntu Linux.
Like Linux Mint 17, Zorin OS 9 is actually based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS “Trusty Tahr”—Canonical’s latest Long-Term Support release. Users can expect to receive continuous software updates all the way through to 2019. That makes it a great OS choice for business and large-scale deployments.
Optimized for Offices
Office productivity tools that come preinstalled with the free versions of Zorin OS 9 include LibreOffice—with modules for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and graphics—along with Firefox for browsing the Web and Thunderbird for email.
The Zorin Web Browser Manager, meanwhile, makes installing and uninstalling Web browsers simple and quick.
The premium Zorin OS 9 Ultimate version offers even more software, while a Business edition—coming soon—will pack in apps for accounting, bookkeeping, stock analysis, retail and more.
Multimedia and more
Multimedia apps preinstalled in Zorin OS 9 include the feature-packed OpenShot video editor along with the Rhythmbox Music Player. EFI boot support has been added to the 64-bit versions of the operating system, making it easier to get Zorin OS up and running on newer computers.
In addition to the forthcoming Business edition, Zorin OS comes in a free “Core” version for general use; “Lite” for old and low-spec computers; “Educational” for use in schools and universities; and “Ultimate,” which “packs the best software Linux has to offer,” in the project team’s own words.
A world of software
For those who need applications beyond what comes preinstalled, Zorin OS’s Software Center offers access to tens of thousands of free and paid-for programs. All you have to do is open the Software Center from the start menu, find what you want and click to install. You can even use Windows programs and games inside Zorin OS thanks to the included WINE and PlayOnLinux applications. Zorin OS supports a large library of devices such as printers, scanners, cameras and keyboards without the need for additional drivers.
The ability to have multiple workspaces available at once has long been one of the benefits of using desktop Linux, and Zorin OS is no exception.
Also included in Zorin OS 9 are a raft of tools designed to make it “one of the most accessible operating systems around,” the project team says. Zorin OS includes a text-to-speech program, the Orca Screen Reader, a screen magnifier for the visually impaired, and a dwell-click feature for pressing a mouse button automatically.
Zorin OS is also available in more than 50 languages.
Special desktop effects
For those who like graphical effects, Zorin OS’s cube feature offers a visually appealing way to view the desktop. Fleeting breaks during the day, meanwhile, can be filled with casual games like Solitaire, Minesweeper, Sudoku, a Tetris-like game, Mah-jongg and more.
Zorin OS Ultimate comes with an even wider array of games, ranging from fast-paced, first-person shooters to racing games and more.
Today's Best Tech Deals
Picked by PCWorld's Editors