23 Mar 2011

Tux Which Does Not Exist...

Does Wikipedia know everything? 99% of Internet users will most likely answer "yes" to this question. Do you want me to prove that is not true?
Ubuntu is not only the most popular Linux distributive in the world. It is also basis for tons of other distributives. It is like Russian doll. Debian is core for Ubuntu (and some others). Ubuntu in its turn is core for many other distributives. You just need to have a look at Wikipedia page to understand the scale of Ubuntu-dependent systems.
But is this list full? I think it is not. Let's talk about this later.
When reading blogs, forums and articles about Linux, I have met my new guest several times. It is widely discussed. And then I wanted to try it myself. That was the point when my browser was pointed to official site: http://www.zorin-os.webs.com/ As you may guess from the link, this time I will talk about Zorin OS.
But why did I talk about Wikipedia first? You can answer this question yourself, if you type in "zorin" into the search field there. Have you found anything about Zorin OS? Nope! From Wikipedia point of view, this Tux does not exist. Hope, that deficiency will be solved soon.
In the meantime, I managed to get Zorin OS 4 distributive downloaded. This OS has several versions, and some of them are not free. You need either purchase DVD with distributive or donate to get a download link. But there are still Core and some other versions available for free. Moreover, Core is available in 32 and 64 bit. My choice was for 32 bit.
It weights more than 1Gb, which means for me that DVD has to be burnt. And this also means that I could only try Zorin OS on my Toshiba L500 laptop.
So, DVD is loaded into the drive. Reboot. Choose to boot from DVD. Let's go!

First screen which you see appears almost immediately. And this screen is quite usual for many Linux distributives. It allows you to choose what you're going to do with DVD. Default option, and the one which I have chosen, is to boot into Zorin OS Live.
Soon after that screen was replaced with some nice picture which stayed until I could see graphical envionment starting up. Basically, there is another point in boot menu which disables this "splash screen" and allows you to see what is actually happening. But as most users do not need this booting information, I understand that self-promoting splash is more useful.
It actually did not take much time to boot Zorin OS. I cannot say it was very quick, but it was faster than many other distributives. I would say, booting time is average closer to quick.
Nice surprise was waiting for me inside! Zorin OS managed to recognize and activate my WiFi network card and to find all available networks around. Of course, my home network was listed. I only needed to enter my security code to get connected! Well done Zorin!
But why do I wonder so much? I'd say that behavior should be expected! Zorin OS is based on Ubuntu 10.10 which works with Toshiba's built-in Realtek card, and I have already tested it in several other distros: Ubuntu itself, Linux Mint Julia, Pinguy OS. Although, I had to make some manipulations in latter.
Another nice surprise waited for me in the main menu under the icon "Internet Browser". Icon itself does not tell you much. But when I clicked, I got... my favourite browser, Google Chrome! Hurray! Although it was only version 8. Google develops its product with much faster pace than Linux developers their systems. By the way, Zorin's official web page promises Firefox. But reality is even better for me!
Zorin OS is another distributive which allows you to choose the browser(s) you like. I have seen similar tool for the first time in Puppy Linux. But Puppy comes with very basic version of Midori included, which means you need to install something before you do any decent browsing. Zorin in its turn includes one of the most popular browsers out of the box with an option to change it later. Again, well done Zorin!
What else is included into the distributive? To be honest, I was slightly disappointed with the choice. Distributive this big could include more.
  • Zorin OS works with GNOME Desktop environment, and Nautilus is default file manager there.
  • Set of OpenOffice.org applications is reduced. It only has Word, Spreadsheet, Presentation and Draw (in Graphics section). There is no database application or Math. Probably, they are not so crucial for users. At least, that is true for me.
  • There are several multimedia players, including my favorite VLC. Also OpenShot Video Editor is included in Multimedia section. From my point of view, set of applications in Multimedia is quite random. Some functions are duplicated in different packages. But generally speaking, you are likely to get everything you need out of the box.
  • Graphics section includes already mentioned Draw and de-facto standard GIMP. Photo managers are represented by Shotwell.
  • Zorin OS includes several games. But not many. Good balance here? I'd say so.
  • Getting Wine installed out of the box becomes good tradition for Linux remixes, doesn't it? I have already seen this in Pinguy. Same is applicable to Zorin OS.
Of course I cannot list all available applications here. Bus as I said before, I was not much impressed with number of available software. If you need to install more, you can easily do this with Software Centre. This tool was developed for Ubuntu, and now became part of Debian. Of course, Zorin OS has it too.
If not applications, then what does distributive include on all those megabytes? Probably, you will be able to answer this question when you start working with system. There is a lot of animation. You get your windows and menus braking into squares when closed. Window edges waiving when moving or resizing. Windows are folding in and out when minimizing and restoring. This might be nice for a minute or two. But I got very quickly annoyed with this. I like eye candy, but to the certain extent. Luckily enough, this animation can be easily switched off at Tweak tool which I will talk about later.
With all this developers' efforts to make visual effect and animation working, I was very much annoyed with some issues in color palette. Do you like looking for blue objects on blue background? If yes, than you would like Chrome's scrolling bars in default theme of Zorin OS. For me they did not work. I would prefer them to be more contrast. To be honest, I only noticed this issue in Chrome. Other applications had blue scrolling bars with grey background, which is not ideal but still better.
Zorin OS not only comes with good set of drivers (my Realtek WiFi card is an example), but also with good set codecs. I have managed to see video on Youtube straight away.
Zorin OS includes tool called Ubuntu Tweaks. I would classify it as a single cockpit for configuration tasks. You can control quite a lot from there. Again, well done Zorin. I have managed to switched all the animations from there... But that is not the only thing you would use Tweak tool for.
Official web page promises that Zorin also features Look Changer which allows to quickly switch system look to WinXP or Win7-like. But I did not manage to get to that point. Why? Because I was irritated with... No, I won't tell you now. Please read on!
Zorin OS does not have GNOME standard panels. Instead, panels are separate application Dropbar. This has some benefits, as well as brings some issues.
There are large icons on the panel. That is nice and convenient. Icons themselves look in my opinion better than GNOME-default which can be seen in Debian or Ubuntu.
Of course, as I always do, I tried to add Russian keyboard layout to Zorin OS. Any issues here? No. Just usual GNOME procedure. Few seconds, and indicator appears on the panel.
There was something strange with panel which I have missed initially. But when I saw it, my eyebrows went up. Clocks showed strange time. The difference was -4 hours from real. I was surprised to see myself placed somewhere on Caribbean islands (GMT-4).
Dropbar panel has a feature called "Pin application". I first saw it in Windows 7 and I liked it there very much. Generally speaking, it allows you create quick launch button on the panel in 2 clicks.
Side-effect of this "Pin application" is that I got "Unexpected error" from Dropbar after unpinning the application. That was just a beginning of the story...
Attempt to change font in Blogger editor (yes, I started to draft this post in Zorin OS) in Chrome led to... GNOME restart! It meant I had to enter username and password. I was lucky enough to notice that Live system's username is live. Obviously, nil password is usual for Live systems. When I got back to GNOME environment, I had to re-enter WiFi security code. But some of configuration parameters remained. For example, Rus and GBr keyboard layout stayed configured, and default USA layout was again added into the list. Desktop background which I changed remained.
Another standard part of my Linux tests is network drive connection. Initially Zorin OS did not show itself from good side here. I could not mount network drive using standard CLI method: command mount. The issue I got related to username, even though guest,nolinux options were specified in the mounting command. You can see that on the screenshot.
But... I was still able to connect using "Connect to server" GNOME widget. That was nice and honestly unexpected. Though, there was still a spoon of tar in my barrel of joy. I got just another GNOME restart when browsing freshly connected remote folder.
Once again, username and password are provided, WiFi security code typed in. Second time I managed to connect and browse network drive without any issues.
And of course I played some MP3 files from network drive. They played without any issues. And even Russian characters in the path and filename were processed without any problems! Again, well done Zorin!
Though, soon after playback start I got... another GNOME restart.
That was enough for me, and no more studies were done in Zorin OS.

What is my general opinion about Zorin OS? It is nice and good looking. Although, there is still something to work on. Major issue from my point is stability. But that may be just side-effects of Live system, which are not applicable in installed version.

Do you run Zorin? Or are you going to install it on your computer soon? What is your opinion about this OS and Ubuntu-based distributives in general?


  1. Wikipedia most certainly does NOT know everything. For example, it lists B. Hussein Obama's birthplace as Hawaii instead of the correct Kenya.

  2. If a page doesn't exist, yet, create one. If some information is incorrect, edit the page and correct it... it's the beauty of Wikipedia :)

  3. Dear DarkDuck,
    Thank you very much for reviewing Zorin OS.
    We just wanted to clarify that it is strongly advisable to do a full install of Zorin OS to enjoy its full potential as some features of Zorin OS may be less stable in Live mode.

    Best Regards,
    The Zorin OS Team

  4. You can install Zorin OS by using UNetBootin to burn the .iso to a USB stick if your computer doesn't support DVDs.

  5. There are plenty of good reasons not to mention ZorinOS, or most Ubuntu derivatives for that matter. There are few that are setting good examples for users.

  6. @IGnatius T Foobar
    Very funny. But as Velenux said, everyone is free to edit Wikipedia. That is the beauty of this principle.
    The reason why I mentioned Wikipedia here is that my post would probably give developers an idea to create a Wiki article about their baby.

  7. @Velenux
    I believe developers can make better article than me.

  8. @The Zorin OS Team
    Thanks for reading my review! I also think that installed version is more stable. Though, there are a lot of other Linuxes which are pretty much stable in Live mode.
    Stability in Live adds confidence that installed version will be OK.

  9. @Victor
    Sure enough I can.
    But I prefer original iso when possible.
    Another reason why I would use DVD on Toshiba laptop is because my older Compaq (where DVD is not available) has Broadcom WiFi card. That's whole story, if you know what I am talking about.

  10. @Murder's Last Crow
    Customer (user) should always make informed choice.

  11. Using Zorin4 since December. It changed my whole concept of Gnome and has worked flawlessly on my desktop computer.
    I thought so much of it I've passed it on to my sister and 3 of my friends who are using it, too, and they WERE "Windows" users. Thank you for your review.

  12. Mind taking a look at another Ubuntu based project I am working on? This weekend Bodhi Linux is going to (finally) reach it's first stable release. Please take a look at our release this weekend if you find time:


    ~Jeff Hoogland

  13. @Jeff91:
    Will review, but not that quick. Check your e-mail.

  14. Mr. Foobar, Have you not seen President Obama's birth announcements in two different Hawaiian newspapers? It's pretty hard to forge something when thousands of copies were made.

  15. @ RawNut
    It's easy to forge when it exists. It's difficult to forge when it does not exist.

  16. Another LiveCD review? Ooops.!

    I didn't see any real evidence that Ubuntu is NOT the most popular desktop Linux Os on the Inet? Yet according to you, DarkDuck, it's a false claim ?

    You seem to have a habit of making unfounded information available via this dark little corner.

  17. @Robert.
    Linux Mint is 3rd popular OS in the world, after Windows and Mac. Of course, there are 2 "buts"
    1) Part of the statistics on that Wikipedia page is gathered by Mint team itself.
    2) Mint is still based on Ubuntu.
    Anyway, "plain" Ubuntu is No.4
    Please note, I am not fan of Linux Mint. Even more, I do not like Mint. But I still have proof for their position on the market.

  18. I know this may be a little late and (probably) a little useless, but try here:


    regarding a Wiki page on Zorin OS.

    Cheers from no one in particular. 8-)

  19. @Anonymous:
    The link you gave me is some kind of "User page", which is not searchable in usual mechanism.
    Search on Zorin OS in Wikipedia still does not return any good result.

  20. Argh....., "missed it by that much", darn it.

    Cheers from no one in particular (again), 8-)

  21. Thanks 4 the review. I am also a big fan of Zorin OS.