New to Linux? Zorin OS 6 Makes the Transition Easy

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As the dawn of the Windows 8 era approaches, there are more reasons than ever for longtime Windows users to consider switching to Linux.

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Making that switch has never been easier thanks to supremely user-friendly options like Ubuntu Linux and Linux Mint, but there's also a lesser-known Linux flavor that's designed specifically to offer an easy transition from Microsoft's operating system.

Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that actually bills itself as “the gateway to Linux for Windows users.” I wrote about the free and open source operating system once back in 2010, but just this week a brand-new version 6 made its debut.

If you're accustomed to Windows but are feeling anxious about Windows 8 and all the changes it will bring--or if you're a Linux user who's dissatisfied with the current crop of desktops out there--Zorin OS 6 could be just what you need.

So what's new in this latest release of the software? Here's a quick rundown of some of the highlights.

1. A New Desktop Environment

Certainly most notable about Zorin OS 6 is its new Zorin Desktop environment, which it uses by default instead of Unity, GNOME, Cinnamon, or another alternative. “Zorin Desktop embraces all of the latest and greatest of Open Source software and technologies such as Gtk3 and other software from the GNOME 3 software stack, all without affecting the familiarity and usability of the desktop which still retains its Windows 7-like default look,” the project's developers explain. Also included is the Compiz window manager.

2. Multiple Interface Options

The Zorin Look Changer that's included in the software, meanwhile, allows users to choose from among numerous graphical interfaces. In the “Core” version of the operating system, the Zorin Look Changer offers a choice between the Windows 7, XP and GNOME 2 graphical interfaces, while in the “Ultimate” version--provided with a donation to the Zorin project--there are also the Mac OS X, Unity and Windows 2000 interfaces as options. The Avant Window Navigator (AWN) serves as the default panel offering customizability and support for the different looks available through the Zorin Look Changer.

3. A Browser Manager

Also included in Zorin OS 6 is the Zorin Web Browser Manager, a tool to make it easier to install Web browsers.

4. An Updated Linux Kernel

Linux Kernel version 3.2 serves as the heart of Zorin OS 6 thanks to the fact that it's based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS “Precise Pangolin,” which uses that kernel version itself.

5. Five Years of Security

Also by virtue of the fact that Zorin OS 6 is based on Long Term Support release Ubuntu 12.04 are the five years of security updates that come with it. This is a nice release to choose for longevity, in other words--and that can be particularly important for business users.

6. A 'Ton' of Updates

Last but not least, Zorin OS 6 includes “a ton of software updates, a newly redesigned Software Center, and a load of other improvements and features,” in the project team's words.

Ready to give Zorin OS 6 a try? The Core version can be downloaded for free from the project site, while the Ultimate version--which includes technical support--is available on disk or by download with a donation to the project of at least 10 euros.

Versions tailored for use in education, business, multimedia, gaming, and entertainment will be released in the next few weeks.

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