Distro vs. DE

I've seen that many people install also an other DE on Zorin, like KDE or Budgie. But what is the difference between an installation from Zorin with KDE, to Kubuntu for example? In my opinion, the special configured DE is what a Distro makes a Distro to what it is. Zorin uses Gnome like Ubuntu but in a specific modified version. But all those modifications probably disapear with the installation of an other DE. So what else distinguishes Zorin with KDE from Kubuntu? Or Zorin with Budgie from Ubuntu Budgie?

There are distributions and there are desktops. Every distribution will have some sort of desktop environment. Zorin 17 Core uses the GNOME desktop.

There are other desktops like Budgie, Xfce, MATE, Cinnamon, and KDE Plasma.

Ubuntu is a distribution. The main flagship, Ubuntu, uses a modified version of GNOME much like Zorin uses a modified version of the GNOME desktop. Ubuntu has other official flavors with different desktops like Kubuntu which uses KDE Plasma desktop or Ubuntu MATE which uses the MATE desktop or Xubuntu which uses the Xfce desktop.

Linux Mint is another distribution with 3 different versions using Ubuntu as the base. The 3 versions use 3 different desktops. There is Mint Xfce, Mint MATE, and Mint Cinnamon. Mint also has a Debian-only version that uses Debian as a base instead of Ubuntu. It uses the Cinnamon desktop only and is my prefered distribution.

Fedora has the same thing going. Their flagship distribution is Fedora Workstation which uses GNOME. Then they have "spins" with different desktops like MATE, Cinnamon, KDE, Budgie, or Xfce to name a few. I read they will have COSMIC soon too.

Last example. MX Linux is a Debian based distribution with 3 desktop versions available. They have MX Linux with the Xfce desktop, MX Linux with the KDE desktop, and MX Linux with the Fluxbox desktop.

You can have one distribution like Zorin using GNOME but you can install a different desktop environment like KDE Plasma or Cinnamon. All doable. The only nuance with that is you get a regular non-customized desktop. For example, Kubuntu (KDE Plasma desktop) is tweaked slightly to make their "experience" the way they want it. Same for Ubuntu MATE - their version is a very tweaked MATE experience. If you installed MATE on Zorin it would not be the same as using Ubuntu MATE. But there are variances to that. Another example of that is the Cinnamon desktop. It was developed by Linux Mint and thus their version is very tweaked/customized to look/feel better subjectively speaking. But installing Cinnamon on Zorin would not be the same as Linux Mint Cinnamon. It would be close but not 100% the same. But you can tweak it and make it yours or the close to the same as Mint's Cinnamon.

I hope I made this make sense.


Ok, it was not that clear to me that there are also that much "under the hood" optimizations. In this case, a distro consists of the optimizations and adjustments under the hood on the one hand and the DE with its own adjustments and functions on the other. Right?

But this also means that if you install another DE, you lose the functionalities of the distro that come with the included DE. Right? This would also mean that from then on it would no longer be the actual original distro, but a customized one?

Regarding Budgie , there are two different packages available in the repository. The budgie-desktop package is a minimal budgie experience with the minimal required packages. The budgie-desktop-environment carries with it all Ubuntu Budgie applications, branding, and login screen. I would not attempt to install the second on Zorin. I ran budgie on Zorin 16 for 2 years and removed for the upgrade to Zorin 17. I was running Zorin 16 with an additional DE.

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Not necessarily, no. There is no reason to assume that a user making customized changes would lose functionality. Quite the opposite, in fact; a user making specified changes most often does so in order to increase the functionality. They do this to support their preferred workflow and efficiency or for their own enjoyment.

The moment that the user changes anything, this statement becomes true and therefor like, "Everyone is special; therefor no one is", it becomes a moot point.

One thing I like about Zorin OS is that it is assembled in a way that allows ease of access for users to modify.

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