How do Ubuntu and Zorin OS work

Zorin-OS 9: The Irish Ubuntu offshoot can do that

The system from Dublin, Ireland wants to win over Windows users and comes up with a few ideas on the desktop to offer a Windows-like user experience. In addition to a careful and detailed combination of desktop components, which are generally available for Gnome or KDE interfaces, there are also additional in-house developments. Despite everything, the unmistakable basis remains an Ubuntu 14.04 LTS with a tried and tested installer, Ubuntu Software Center and typical Gnome software such as system monitoring (gnomesystem-monitor), system settings (unity-control-center) or the terminal (gnome-terminal).

"Core" edition and the accusation of rip-off

With the focus on the “superficial”, Zorin-OS has to put up with criticism, especially since there is a “Premium” option at (“Get it”), including “Ultimate” and “Business” “Editions are offered for just under ten euros.

This brought the distribution a “rip-off” accusation, because these premium editions hardly have any additional exclusive proprietary developments (“Zorin Background Plus”) and otherwise only differ in terms of additional software packages that every competent user can find himself . But since there is also the “Free” option with the “Core”, “Lite” and “Educational” variants, it is up to the user to decide whether or not to pay for Zorin. In addition, the Zorin developers expressly advise you to first test the computer's compatibility with the free “Core” edition before you actually spend money on a premium edition.

This article refers to the free Zorin OS 9 "Core". The "Lite" version with LXDE desktop is not nearly as attractive, and attractiveness is an essential aspect at Zorin. If you are looking for a "Lite" system for weaker hardware, you would be better off with an official Ubuntu variant such as Xubuntu or Lubuntu. You can find the free variants at The download of the "Core" edition comprises 1.3 to 1.4 GB (32 and 64 bit).

Use - operation - adaptation

The live system does not even start on the desktop, but immediately offers the install dialog, which you can skip with "Try Zorin" (or after changing to German "Try Zorin") in order to first examine the system. The setup is done with Ubuntu's Ubiquity Installer and is identical to an Ubuntu installation. The installed Zorin offers a nicely adapted Grub-2 start screen at start-up, which already indicates when booting that there is no savings on color here.

An essential element on the desktop is the dock at the bottom of the screen, which can also be attached to the top, right and left only theoretically, because the important Indicator 3 applet with session menu, network, volume can only be used horizontally. This dock is the Avant Window Navigator (AWN): It combines the taskbar and pinnable favorites similar to Windows 7, shows the indicators comparable to the Windows systray, offers a program menu and other optional applets such as a desktop switcher. AWN is adjusted using the awn-settings tool, which is most easily loaded by right-clicking on the start menu and “Dock Preferences”. Under “Applets” you can drag and drop plug-ins down into the “Active applets” line, which will then appear immediately at the relevant point in the dock. Conversely, you can simply drag unnecessary applets out of the “Active Applets” with the mouse.

An important standard plug-in is called Dockbar X, which as a taskbar offers effects similar to those of Windows 7 - with an aero-like thumbnail preview of running tasks. As a start menu there is a selection under the “applets”. The closest thing to Windows is the Zorin menu with program categories, the most important media folders (documents, music, etc.), the control center (“system control”) and an instant search for program searches. The optics and animations show a love of detail: even the standard images for user accounts are based on those of Windows. And while Windows 8 has done away with the 3D task switcher with the Super-Tab (Win-Tab) key combination, it is here again.

The Compiz window manager allows numerous other animation effects and window settings such as the snapping of windows that are dragged to the edge of the screen using the well-known CCSM (Compizconfig Settings Manager) tool.