Zorin OS is not a stranger to Linux notes from DarkDuck blog. There were several reviews of this operating system. There was a contest together with Zorin OS team. There was even an interview with Artyom Zorin, the Zorin OS team leader.
As you may be aware, Artyom lives with his family in Ireland. And that was the country I had to visit for my business reasons. Was it a coincidence? Maybe... But then, I had even bigger incentive to write about Zorin OS while being in its motherland.
I downloaded Zorin OS 12 Core 64-bit from the official site and burnt it onto the USB stick using the dd command. The image is 1.6 Gb in size. The USB stick is in the port of my laptop Toshiba L500-19X.
Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!
Booting upThe boot process of Zorin OS 12 Core is not any different from Ubuntu 16.04 and many other Ubuntu derivatives. You have only one question during the boot, and this is a choice between the Live run and installation.
After I selected the Live run, the screen flicked several times and eventually left me on the default startup screen.
First impressionsThe default wallpaper on the screen of Zorin OS 12 Core is a photo of a lake in Zorin's favourite blue tones. There is only one icon on the screen - and it runs the Install process.
The panel is at the bottom of the screen. It is in simple black colour and does not feature any diagonal decorations as it did in a few previous versions of this Linux operating system.
The menu button is in the left corner of the panel, and shortcuts to the Chromium browser, Geary email client and file manager are next to it. The right part of the panel has a notification area with clocks, language, volume and battery indicators.
|Zorin OS 12 welcome screen|
The freshly booted system took about 965 Mb of memory, which is a record high among all the operating systems I tested on this laptop.
|Zorin OS 12 resources|
If you are interested in technical details, then Zorin OS 12 Core runs on Linux kernel 4.4.0 taken from the Ubuntu repository. It uses GNOME Shell as a base for its own Zorin Desktop 2.0.
Network connectivityAs you noticed from above, there is no network indicator in the notification area of the system panel immediately after boot. If you want to connect to a wireless network, you need to do this via the Setting panel available in the menu. This was what I did. I went into the WiFi section of Network part of the Settings panel, selected the wireless network of the hotel I was staying in, and soon I was connected. As you understand, Zorin OS 12 had no issues with recognition and configuration of the Realtek network card of my laptop.
Due to my running this test while in the hotel, unfortunately I had to skip the network drive connectivity test that I usually do.
Keyboard layoutKeyboard layout indicator appears on the panel of Zorin OS 12 Core right from the start. If you click that indicator, you can switch between several flavours of English keyboard layouts, UK being one of them. If you want to change the set of available layouts, you need to go to the Settings panel again. This configuration is not available from the indicator itself.
What you actually need is in the Region and Language part of the panel. You can change the set of layouts there. Then you need to go to the Keyboard section to configure the switch shortkey. Unfotunately, my favourite combination Ctrl-Shift is not allowed in Zorin OS 12. Plus, the configuration process itself is far from simple and streamlined.
MultimediaUnfortunately, Zorin OS 12 comes without codecs pre-installed. It means I could not play video files from the local machine, but I had to install the codecs. I tried .avi and .mkv files for that.
However, installation was quick and resolved the playback issues.
I was able to watch videos on YouTube from the Chromium browser, but some other resources like 1tv.ru were unavailable.
|Zorin OS 12 multimedia|
Zorin ToolsZorin OS was always famous for the interface design. This operating system is targeted to fresh Windows converts, that's why it comes with an option to have Windows-style menus and panel.
These configuration changes were somewhere in the menu in earlier versions. Now there is a Zorin Appearance item in the Settings panel. It allows you to switch the theme between 3 available in the Core versions, and also configure the colours, fonts, panel width and behaviour, and a half-ton of other appearance parameters.
Apart from that Settings element, you also get Zorin Web Browser Manager to install or remove browsers.
ApplicationsChromium 53 is the only browser available in Zorin OS 12 Core out of the box. This is another change, because previous versions used the Firefox browser, and the very first Zorin OS releases featured Chrome. In addition to Chromium, you get Geary email client and Empathy internet messenger in the Internet section of the menu.
LibreOffice 184.108.40.206 represents the productivity tools on Zorin OS 12 Core. Of course it is not the freshest version of this office suite, but a newer version is easy to get through the Ubuntu repository. This office suite does not have Math or Base applications. There is also Calendar and Contacts tools.
The Sound & Video section of the menu includes Brasero disk burning tool, PiTiVi and Cheese applications, Rhythmbox and Videos players.
GIMP, LibreOffice Draw and SimpleScan are in the Graphics section of the menu. Image viewer is not listed there, but of course it exists in the system, just in the Utilities menu section.
There is a separate menu section for Wine, the tool to run Windows programs on Linux. PlayOnLinux is also available out of the box in this menu section.
Half a dozen simple games are listed in the Games part of the menu.
Smaller utilities are scattered among 3 menu parts: Accessories, Utilities and Administrative tools, although I don't see much difference between the first two.
Along with "usual suspects" the Accessories menu includes Maps and Weather applications, which were not in previous Zorin OS versions.
Some issuesUnfortunately, I experienced some system issues during my Live run of Zorin OS 12 Core 64-bit.
|Zorin OS 12 bug|
Apart from this crash, Chromium browser sometimes lost the focus, which meant I had to switch to another application and then back to Chromium when I wanted to write this article in the Blogger interface or click a browser button.
The mouse pointer sometimes disappeared from the screen, especially when it was at the right edge of the browser screen, and it took me several seconds to find it again.
If you want to install or remove applications from this operating system, Zorin OS 12 Core gives you the Software tool. Unfortunately, it has the same problem as I saw in Lubuntu 16.10: there is nothing available in this window even after the repository update.
ConclusionUnfortunately, I can say that the general impression Zorin OS 12 Core 64-bit left on me was worse than I had had from previous releases of this operating system.
Yes, there are some nice elements of Zorin Desktop 2.0, which is the main difference with the previous versions.
But they come with a price. The major issues are listed in the previous section of the article. Add here high memory usage and hidden place for network connection. In general, the system looks a bit unpolished for me. Is it an unpolished diamond?
Will that be fixed with the next releases of Zorin OS? Let's see!
Video used on screenshot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoHlrQScWl0