Consequences of using an older Ubuntu LTS (for casual use)

Hi, I'm playing around with a few Linux distros to install on a couple of 5-10 year old PCs I have at home. They will only really be for casual use (mainly web browsing, video chat, email, an office suite, etc). I will probably go with either Ubuntu LTS, Linux Mint, or Zorin OS. Of these, I like the interface of Zorin OS the most, but looking at release histories I've noticed Zorin takes a relatively long time to switch to the newest Ubuntu LTS base (in comparison to Mint).

From a casual user perspective, is there any downside to Zorin's approach here that's worth being aware of? In particular I'm wondering if there is any consequence on availability of most recent versions of applications, and whether this affects certain software sources but not others?

I found a couple of now-locked threads with similar questions but they seemed to have a bit more of an advanced user focus. Also, there wasn't a lot of discussion in them about application support (that I understood anyway).

I'm new to Linux and am coming from Windows.


They did this for stability reasons. 22.04 is still slightly buggy.

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I didn't mention it, but I assumed stability would be a likely positive consequence. I suppose I'm more wondering about potential downsides.

Uh… some apps are not compatible? But most apps are.

Zorin 16 is in support and has been updated enough, so I have never had a problem with it. Whether or not an application supports Ubuntu 20.04 is up to the developer of application and is beyond the power of Zorin OS.

I have a hobby specific PC that uses software that I rely on on a daily basis and I'm finding Zorin v16.3 based on 20.04 LTS does not support software for newer devices now needed to be interfaced with that software. Newer Ubuntu versions (23.04, 23.10) do support software for my interfacing needs. No problem with Zorin itself - we've been using it for every day use for over a year, and find it a more than adequate solution vs. anything M$. Unfortunately, I'm now previewing similar Windows software in a Gnome Boxes VM (works very well BTW) for my interfacing needs. Also unfortunately, I'm contemplating returning this hobby specific PC to boot Windows 10, instead of Zorin v16.3, instead of running my required software in a Windows 10 VM under Zorin. In our every day PC's, I'm resolved to use a Windows VM under Zorin for other applications for Windows specific software. A good solution there, since there are limited applications required - like tax software and iTunes/phone interfacing that we don't access on a regular basis.

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Really, I can only answer this honestly with "No."
In recent times, some users have reported problems with certain packages that set a dependency on glibc6 that is higher than Zorin OS 16 uses.
This is partly due to timing; where between Ubuntu 20.04 and Ubuntu 22.04, Canonical made a contentious decision to set this dependency on the Canonical patched kernel starting around 5.13. There are workarounds, but this caused a lot of unnecessary frustration among many distro users.

Will this happen again between 22.04 and 24.04? It is very hard to say. It is not something that really happened before... It could have even been initially due to an oversight. Or it could have been an intentional decision to show more force to pressure users to upgrade to the latest Ubuntu in order to get their numbers up to impress their stakeholders.

There are also other dependent packages like Python to consider.

From what you describe, it does not sound like you have much to be concerned about at all. A daily casual use machine does not need to worry much about glibc6 or python versions.
And Zorin OS's stability has long been a boon to casual users and developers alike.

The loudest reports often seem more mired in "I want the latest" than in "I need the latest". Often including exaggerated statements like "Zorin OS is severely outdated" when in fact, it is not.
These statements are misleading and an older package base that is LTS does not mean the same thing as "outdated".
When a base has 5 year Long Term Support and you are releasing a new LTS every 1.7 years... I would actually say it appears that the high pressure to release too often creates more problems.


Thanks all for the replies, although I think there may be an assumption I have more knowledge than I actually have!

The Zorin help article for installing apps (Install Apps - Zorin Help) describes several potential app sources. Namely, Zorin OS & Ubuntu APT repositories, Flathub, Snap, .deb files, and .AppImage files.

It's unclear to me if Zorin running an older Ubuntu LTS version is relevant for all these sources (in terms of whether or not the most recent version of an app from that source can be run in Zorin). Or are there some sources in this list where its not relevant (perhaps Flathub and Snap)?

You can definitely use Flatpak and Snaps as alternative sources for software. They are a bit peculiar in how they work, and may need some attention to make them work correctly, but are designed to run everywhere so if you can find them in the Software Store you should definitely give it a go.

As for considering not using ZorinOS, maybe you can try other distributions with a bit more support for the particular software that you need. You can try Ubuntu 22.04 itself, Linux Mint, Debian, Fedora... Keep an eye for the ZorinOS 17 release as well.

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You could also take a look at MX-Linux - this even has in its MX-Tools something to connect i-devices (Applesque hardware). It would be useful to know what applications you need to interface with so that we could give more specific solutions to what you are seeking. Connecting to a remote Windows desktop is possible using Remmina which comes with Zorin by default.

Only reason I keep Windows around as well. I set it up as Dual boot on 3 of 7 units, the other 4 dual boot differing linux systems and Zorin.

So am I correct in assuming that the available version number of Flatpak, Snap and AppImage apps are not influenced by the underlying Ubuntu version, but available version number of apps from other sources (apt repository, .deb files) could be?

At the moment I'm just trying to understand the OS and the app landscape in general terms.

I'm not 100% sure, as there are some details that I'm not entirely familiar with, but I'm going to say yes, at least for Flatpak.

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You can't define what is present in flatpak or snap without some sort of reference to the application required. So if you know the name of the application you are looking for you would do the following from a terminal as it searches the flatpak repos and snap repos for said application.

Let's do an example of Inkscape, a great free Vector Drawing Package that I used and persuaded the service I worked for to adopt to create accessible tactile images without having to spend £'00s on bespoke tactile image software.

sudo flatpak install inkscape

The terminal will come back to see if there is a flatpak package and if it does loads the installer and asks if you want to continue with either 'y' or 'n'.

Similarly with snap

sudo snap install inkscape

With regards to App Images you would need to visit the particular software website.

This is how it works:

So for Inkscape App Image you need to visit the website:

Synaptic Package Manager is my preferred alternative as it offers more solutions as I outlined in the Unofficial Manual I produced for Zorin 15 (Page 99-102).

In terms of the initial question, you need to ask yourself when will the LTS of your choice expire? Ubuntu 18.04 on which Zorin 15 was based was to be EOL in April this year, but Hardware element supported beyond that. As Distributions reach end of life web browsing might become more difficult to do if the browser doesn't get updated to the latest version.

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Inkscape is an interesting example. When I look inside different software stores for Inkscape, I see the following versions

In Zorin Core 16.3 (in Software store):

  • Zorin OS source - 0.92.5
  • Flathub source - 1.3
  • Snap source - 1.2.2 to 1.3

In Ubuntu 22.04 LTS (Ubuntu software store)

  • Ubuntu source - 1.1.2
  • Snap source - 1.2.2 to 1.3

In Linux Mint 21.2 (Software Manager):

  • System package source - 1.1.2
  • Flathub source - 1.3

So in the Zorin software store Inkscape is on a much older version for the system package source than in Ubuntu and Mint. Is this a direct consequence of Zorin being based on an older Ubuntu release, or something else? I also looked in Synaptic Package Manager and it follows the same pattern (0.92.5 in Zorin, and 1.1.2 in Ubuntu and Mint).

I also notice that version availability for Flathub and Snap is the same across distributions and is more recent than the system packages. Is it typical for more recent versions of software store apps to be available via Flathub and Snap than via system package?

Another observation, albeit slightly off-topic (I was intending to create a separate thread for this, but perhaps I can mention here instead). When I search for Inkscape in the Zorin store, two entries come up and they both provide access to system package and Flathub but not Snap (via the source drop down menu). To access the Snap you have to browse to (rather than search for Inkscape). This store entry provides access to snap, flathub, and system package). I've noticed this type of fragmentation in the store for other apps. Since source can be selected from the drop down menu, it would be much better if there was only one entry in the store for each app.

Yes, this is correct.

Yes. But I must point out that I am using Inkscape 1.3 on Zorin OS without using any Snaps or Flatpak. I installed it directly from the Devs page.

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Side question:

Am I right in assuming that if I install apps from the software centre or from the terminal that I will be notified by the software updater app when app updates are available?

What about if I install apps direct from developer page (.deb or .appimage)? In these cases do I need to manually check for updates?

There isn't much info in Zorin help about updating software, at least not much background/contextual info.


Generally, yes. Some installed packages will notify you - For example Discord notifies that a new version is available... and will not let you launch Discord or do anything else with Discord until you download and install their latest version. (Grumpy face).

The last point you make in your post kind of blends into this.

See... just because an update is available or a later version has been released... Do you need it?
If you are on version 1.0.1 and everything is working as you expect, you have no bugs... and version 1.0.2 is released... It is a fundamental question as to whether you need to rush out and get 1.0.2
If you installed a .deb package and you are not having any problems... Then you're doing just fine.
If you are having problems, you are highly likely to check the dev page. So having nagware probably won't make a difference.

Notably, this is true on Windows OS and MacOS, too. If you install from their Software Installer, you will only get notifications for updates on those sources. Any .exe or .pkg you installed from elsewhere won't be included.

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And that is also the case for App Images as they don't get installed into the system which is why Synaptic Package Manager will always be king! Why? Because it has Sections (Genre of Software) from which you can explore:

This is from Devuan 3.1.1 OS which uses a kernel of 4.19.xx and 'only' has inkscape 0.92 - but it works and it is what I used to create Accessible Tactile Images for Low and no vision students.

@ozaz, it may be simpler to answer your questions with a little detail as to how software is shared with Zorin for users to access and install if they choose.

Zorin 16, being based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, will access the apt repository dedicated to that version (focal is the codename used for this version). These repositories are updated by the various software developers to maintain support for their applications on this version of Ubuntu base (used by Zorin, mint and many other OSs). They must keep up with security updates, library updates or announce they will no longer support the software in this LTS version. Most developers do not resort to the last option.

So any application you find that meets your needs in the focal repository, will be maintained, the entire lifecycle of the LTS version you are using.

Snaps and flatpak are versioned differently and rely less on the host OS, as they are fully packaged, with the necessary libraries for them to run. This means you very well could have gnome 4.* graphics running on a system built around gnome 3.38 (zorin 16). Nothing will break, and it may not match the host OS graphics because of this. That doesn't mean Zorin 16 supports gnome 4.*, only that the prepackaged application in snap or flatpak have and use those libraries.

Snap and flatpak versions are updated every time the developers make changes to the package. This could be a dependency (libraries necessary for the application itself to run) update, a container (the part of the package that creates the environment for the application to run on any OS) update, and security updates for both. This will confuse users because it seems that they don't have the latest versions unless running snap or flatpak. This is not the case. While some features may be introduced to applications in the snap or flatpak version first, this is a developer decision, usually based on ease of update for the developer. Apt requires a little more to update, as there are checks in place to ensure stable and expected behavior from applications.

So the application you speak of above may only be 0.93 in apt. Developers may not have to adjust for library changes as much as this is up to the OS, and they require only a minimum of that dependency. Versioning is still not quite a standard, more a template of how they should be numbered. Young software may introduce new features every .10th version. Where others believe new features should be a major update, and take whole numbers, leaving the decimal portion for bug fixes and security updates. Due to this, you may not know if a feature is missing from a specific package type software (apt, snap, flatpak...) unless you try each. If you do try each package type, make sure you uninstall the other package type before running the new package type. It is not recommended to install an apt, snap and flatpak version simultaneously, as this can confuse the computer and cause many issues. Most users do not try multiple package versus, rather they are comfortable with a particular package type and use only the one of possible.

Snaps and flatpak are easy to install and can be hassle free in use. They also, each, bring with them all of the dependencies they need. While Zorin 16 has python 3.8 installed, each application that you use in snap or flatpak packaging, that require this dependency, will have it included in the package. This may not seem bad, until software that is less than a megabyte is taking up gigabytes. This compounds as you use more applications in that package type. Six applications could take 6+ gigabytes of hard drive space. Throw in a game or two (at between 20 and 100 gigabytes, depending on the game) and you will have used a majority of your hard drive for applications and personal files are unstorable.

Whatever you choose, on the hardware you specify, you should have no worries. Even if you plan on upgrading hardware on older laptops or desktops, you are limited in the version of hardware by the motherboard of the computer. Eliminating any worry of lack of support, even if you upgrade a machine part or two.

If you get a brand new computer, well, that's an entire story all together.

I hope I helped clear things up a bit for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them.

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