22 Aug 2017

Zorin OS 12.1 Lite, the Xfce one

Zorin OS has always been famous for its design, specifically made for Linux newcomers, thus made to resemble the Windows interface.

Zorin OS had several versions in the past, the most popular of them being Core and Lite. While the Core and Ultimate versions of Zorin OS are based on heavily customized GNOME 3, the powerhouse of many distributions, the Lite version was based on LXDE desktop environment.

However, things have changed recently with the release of Zorin OS 12.1 Lite. This operating system uses Xfce desktop environment. It is a good reason to check that distribution, isn't it?

You can download the ISO image of Zorin OS 12.1 Lite from the official site of the project. 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available. The 32-bit ISO image is about 1.4 GB in size. I "burnt" that ISO image to the USB stick using the dd command and plugged the stick into the USB port of my Dell Inspirion 17 laptop.

Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

Booting up

The boot process of Zorin OS 12.1 Lite is not different from many other Ubuntu based-distributions. Zorin OS 12.1 is based on Ubuntu 16.04.1. You have a choice between the Try and Install actions, and once you click "Try", you land on the default desktop of the operating system.

The boot process itself took a bit longer than one could expect from an Xfce-based distro.

First impressions

Once booted, you have a default desktop with an image of a lake in blue tones, the signature ones for Zorin OS. Their Install icon is on the desktop, along with shortcuts to HDD partitions.

There's a choice of about 10-15 alternative images for the wallpaper.

The panel at the bottom of the screen has some opacity, so you can see the part of the wallpaper behind the panel too.

The left part of the panel includes a menu button with the Zorin OS logo on it and shortcuts to Chromium browser, Thunar file manager and Geary email client. If you want to add another application to the shortcuts area, you need to right-click the icon of a running application and then select the option "Pin application".

The right part of the panel includes clocks with the day of the week indicator, network, volume, battery and bluetooth applets and a notification icon.
Zorin OS 12.1 Lite welcome screen

The freshly booted system took around 360 MB of memory.
Zorin OS 12.1 Lite resources

That's a bit more than MX-16 Xfce or Xubuntu 16.04.

Network connectivity

There were no issues with my network card in any Ubuntu 16.04 based distributions I have tried so far. Zorin OS 12.1 Lite followed the suite. I could select my home network when I right-clicked the network indicator on the panel. Enter the password, and I was connected.

Keyboard layout

Zorin OS 12.1 Lite boots with the English US keyboard layout by default. If you don't like that, you can add or change the layouts by the process for Xfce-based distributions described in my other article.


Parole multimedia player is the default one for MP3 files in Zorin OS 12.1 Lite.

It starts playing music immediately after start, which means that necessary codecs are in the system.

However, it crashed when I tried to scroll the music file to the middle of the track, and it happened with all the files I tried during my Live session of Zorin OS 12.1 Lite.
The dmesg output contained the errors like this:
[ 2315.317325] parole[6583]: segfault at 26 ip b0cae7f4 sp bfa8ef00 error 4 in parole-mpris2.so[b0caa000+13000]
YouTube videos played well in the Chromium browser, both on the original YouTube page and in the embedded frame.
Zorin OS 12.1 Lite multimedia
Other sites like 1tv.ru, Vimeo and BBC also played their videos.


Zorin OS 12.1 Lite comes with a relatively good set of applications. Some of them are Zorin-specific.

Chromium 58 is default and the only browser available for you. Apart from this browser and Geary email client, you have no other Internet tools out of the box. You can change the browser though, there is a specific Zorin browser management tool for that.

There are 5 simple games listed in the menu.

The Graphics tools include GIMP, SimpleScan, Document Viewer and Ristretto Image Viewer.
Office tools include LibreOffice applications like Writer, Calc, Draw (also available in the Graphics section) and Impress. Document Viewer is available in this menu section too.

Multimedia tools include Parole media player that gave me the error mentioned above, Xfburn disk burning utility, PiTiVi video editor and Cheese webcam utility. There's also a PulseAudio control utility.

There is a special section in the menu called "Wine" where you can find tools to launch Windows-based applications.

Of course, there are dozens of small-size system utilities and accessories: Screenshot (not assigned to the hotkey although), Terminal, Calculator, Thunar file manager, Task Manager, gParted Partition Manager and so on.

There are two Zorin-specific tools too. One of them is for browser selection, I wrote about it earlier. Another is Zorin Appearance. It allows you to slightly tweak the design of the desktop, but there is no complete "theme" switch between Windows XP / Windows 2000 / Windows 7 as there was in the previous versions. You can only change the colour scheme, the view of the buttons on the panel, location of control elements on the window bar, fonts and selection of items on the desktop.


Zorin OS 12.1 Lite is the first distribution from the Zorin team featuring Xfce desktop environment. Maybe that's the reason why I was not too convinced with its stability.

Apart from the issue with Parole player that I mentioned above, I also received a black screen during my Live run of this operating system. The system restored after few seconds, but I was forced to enter the username (guess it: zorin without password), and all the open applications were closed.

Zorin Appearance tool was a disappointment too. It's a far cry from what it used to be.

I will hope that Zorin OS will develop further and will bring joy to more and more Linux fans all around the world.

Video used on screenshot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEjclME_BM4



    1. Let's think this is just a transitional step...

    2. I agree, it is horrible. But I'm testing more Linuxes. And I am not happy. [The most workable for this moment (in mho) is Linux Lite. ]

    3. Zorin lite is my default desktop OS. I find it very fast to boot. Faster than every other OS except Manjaro Xfce. It has all the apps I use daily, is easy to configure and never, ever crashes on me. I don't understand the hate for it here.

  2. I've tried and installed Zorin 12 on a friend's laptop. None of it convinces me to dump my Zorin OS 11 on my own laptop. I think this distro is taking a step backwards. Someone has lost the vision.

  3. Does Zorin uses a NTFS partition?, I read thats is dangerous, but I don't know why.

    1. All Linux OSes install themselves on Linux-specific partitions. After the installation they can access NTFS partitions too. Zorin OS is not an exception.