From Windows to Zorin to Mint and back to Zorin: some feedback

I've been using Windows since Win95. I switched from Windows to Linux last summer, so it's been a little under one year. During that time I've gone back and forth between Zorin and Mint, but have mostly used Mint. Zorin got me back with the release of 17, which has important improvements (bug fixes, printer compatibility, and the Software app actually works now instead of hanging indefinitely).

I have no regrets about leaving Windows, but I do want to provide some feedback from a lifelong Windows user who isn't super tech savvy. I'm more informed than the normal computer user, but have zero experience in programming and very little in command line stuff.

My desire is to see many more people leave Windows for Linux since there are serious issues with Windows. The best way (as I'm sure you know) to do that is to provide an OS that simply works out of the box. Zorin is 90-95% there IMO. I provide this feedback but I don't wish to be whiny. I know that unlike Microsoft you all don't have billions of dollars to hire thousands of software programmers.

I still think Mint is a great OS, but here are some reasons I came back to Zorin:
-The primary selling point for me was NightLight, which my eyes badly need. Redshift in Mint just doesn't work, and I get headaches from too much blue light.
-The ability to quickly toggle between dark and light modes was also a huge plus.
-This OS has much smaller updates (the Mint updates and flatpack releases were 2-5GB of updates weekly, which is hard on a household that's limited to 100GB of data a month). Zorin is a fraction of that.

Other things that I think Zorin is doing right:
-A newer kernel (6.5) than Mint (5.15), which in my layman's brain means better compatibility with newer hardware and better security - but maybe there's no significant difference between them.
-Cinnamon is nice but the Zorin desktop is prettier, which matters even more to those coming from the MacOS world.
-Also nice is the modern-looking Zorin forum, which doesn't look like something from the 1990s. That may seem silly, but people coming over from Windows or MacOS aren't going to be impressed with something that looks like it hasn't receive updates in decades. When the forum looks dated, it can unfairly give a bad impression of the OS (sorry Mint, your OS is great but your forum needs a redesign).

Issues in Zorin that I didn't have in either Mint or Windows:

  1. I'd like to hit the "Windows" key to bring up the "Start" menu (I found the keyboard shortcut setting, but I haven't a clue what the "Start Menu" is called in Zorin, so I don't know how to switch the keys).
  2. Software app has greatly improved (thank you!) but could still be better. Small apps take a longer time to install when compared to either Mint or Windows.
  3. I'd like to be able to tap a button in the bottom right corner to minimize all windows and display the desktop.
  4. Play DVDs and modern media (such as mp4) - VLC player as the default would allow that. If the system can't legally be setup by default to play ordinary media that most people use, perhaps something in the intro/walkthrough that allows them to choose that (if memory serves me correctly, Mint allows the user to optionally install media codecs at setup). Perhaps if people could also choose a default media player that meets their needs then that would help.
  5. Less nagging when running an appimage file. I open a particular one several times a day and have to hit "Run anyways" every time. It would be nice to have a "Trust this app" box that I can check. It's for my password manager, so I prefer to get that file directly from the website that makes it rather than a third party that wraps and prepares it for flatpack.

Other changes that would be nice someday:

  1. Allow auto-updates. Maybe this is already possible and I haven't seen it yet, but I run a small company and have moved all the computers to Linux (except an iMac, but its time is coming). Hardly anyone knows that updates should be installed, so what ends up happening is I log into their computers once every few months and run all the updates. It's not ideal.
  2. The ability to change the login screen background. Not a huge priority but it would be nice to have the option in the background selector.
  3. A small update to icons. In both Windows and Mint, it's quite easy to tell what's a docx or odt file. In Zorin, some strange file types share the blue icon with three and a half white lines. Sometimes it's docx, other times its .db, whatever that is. It's a bit confusing because I often rely on color cues.
  4. A window that pops up during Tour at first install. It allows you to choose what system you're coming from (Windows, MacOS, or another Linux distro) and you can then view a tutorial or video of how to complete common tasks in Linux.

I know some of those things are a lot of work, especially writing tutorials. But I think it would be helpful for the handful of people who would take the time to read it. And maybe a video would be better since hardly anyone reads articles these days.

Again, thank you for all your hard work, and for having a courteous, helpful forum. Assuming everything continues to work well with Zorin, I look forward to many years with this OS.

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Mint's LMDE works great on 3 different machines with Red Light working fine. Be careful about which version of red light you install. There is an applet called qredshift or something like that and it is based on qt instead of gtk which is what Cinnamon uses. Zorin rocks. It is the best new user Linux experience and good for seasoned Linux veterans. What I really appreciate about Zorin is having all types of applications available including Appimages, Snaps, Flatpaks, and Debian/Ubuntu in one software center - their implementation seems to be the best around.

Yes, I'm a fan of Mint's LMDE as well (both the OS itself and the concept of not being dependent upon Ubuntu). I used it briefly before deciding upon Zorin. If I install Mint on any computer, it'll be that version.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJPhh47RjPc

  2. https://www.appgrid.org

  3. https://youtu.be/dZG8LbjZuNk?si=3uGpmiqbPPRSBUng

  4. had the same problem on 17.1 and I installed this:
    sudo apt install gstreamer1.0-plugins-bad

That fixed it so the Zorin Video player played my DVDs again.
I found this solution here:
https://help.ubuntu.com/stable/ubuntu-help/video-dvd-restricted.html.en

  1. GitHub - TheAssassin/AppImageLauncher: Helper application for Linux distributions serving as a kind of "entry point" for running and integrating AppImages

  2. Auto Updates - Setting up automatic updates?

  3. Change login screen. Search for GDM Settings in the Software Center.

  4. Changing icons - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u23NQX959s0

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Thank you very much for those links, that is helpful! I'll work on those things in the coming days.

FTFY :wink:

I've also had a bit of a bumpy ride with Linux Mint, but it would be nice to provide this feedback to them as well. It's one distribution that I really want to see succeed for the good of people coming new to Linux.

On the topic of automatic updates, I strongly encourage you to reconsider. Updates are good and generally there are no issues with them, particularly in distributions that inherit Debian's focus on stability, but things do break from time to time. An update gone wrong can cause a lot of headaches, especially if you run your own business. I understand that doing this does not seem ideal but it gives you better assurances that things won't break on you when you need them the most.

And if you are willing to learn how to use the terminal, there are tools that can automate the task of connecting to those computers and update them remotely. So you can have the best of both worlds with a bit of effort (an effort that you are already putting into manually installing updates). I know it sounds dreadful, but it's really not that scary.
In case you are curious, or for those reading this who might be, I will recommend a tool called Ansible, which is purposefully made to configure multiple machines remotely.

Here's a getting started book on Ansible and a companion playlist by the same author. Don't worry, in the first few chapters there already are examples of doing exactly what you are after.

Fun fact, this book is exactly what motivated me to dive deeper into Linux, and I hope it at least helps you.

Which password manager are you using? Maybe there is a .deb package that you can install.

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Unfortunately it doesn't work good on Zorin.

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This is possible. In Gnome Software Center click on the Settings Button (beneath the min/max/close Buttons on the top right), go to Preferences and there the first Point are Automatic Updates.

For the Software Updater go to Software & Updates and there to the middle Tab and there You can set up that Updates will be automatically downloaded and installed.

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Thank you for the feedback. You're probably right on the auto-updates. Fortunately, the primary apps used are LibreOffice and Thunderbird. Not much internet usage. In fact, most of the computers are not even used daily since the volunteers are only there about two days a week (it's a small, non-profit that has some volunteer administrators who help me keep up with record keeping and finances). So the need to implement security updates immediately is probably not very critical.

I didn't mean to imply that it's a good idea to hold off on security updates, on the contrary. But even with unattended-upgrades enabled, security updates quite often need a system reboot to be applied. If these computers are turned off at the end of the day, then this won't be a problem. You could configure unattended-upgrades to reboot the system at a specific time if they are not turned off.

Some updates may come during the week and installed once the computers are turned on, but not applied if they need a reboot. This would still leave you in a situation where you might need to go manually and instruct people to reboot them.

Again, I'm not saying that it's a bad idea, just something to consider. All in all, updates in Zorin OS have been quite smooth in my experience but this hasn't always been the case for everyone.

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Bitwarden, and I just checked and see there is a .deb package (and several other options). I started using it about a year ago when I didn't know much about Linux and appimage files were the easiest thing.

I pulled up an article on unattended-upgrades and I'm getting it installed on two of the computers right now. Thanks!

Me too - actually since Windows 3.1 - and like you I've been switching back and forth between Mint and Zorin for the last year or so. During this time I've always kept a Windows 10 machine connected and updated as I wasn't confident enough to totally ditch Windows altogether. That PC was consigned to the attic a couple of months ago and I'm now running Zorin as my main OS on a i7/13 with a i5/7 running Mint as a backup/test machine.

So far all is good. Zorin does everything that I need an OS to do. It's intuative, has a beautiful interface and just works. It's like a good waiter - nowhere to be seen until you need him and then instantly by your side with a fresh napkin or the wine list.

Admittedly my needs are pretty basic and I don't use any heavyweight apps - OnlyOffice and Audacity fit the bill nicely and I do some basic graphic design stuff using online services. I don't get obsessed about privacy and use Microsoft's Edge browser simply because I like its features and ease of use, although I run the Surfshark VPN and uBlock Origin (I've yet to encounter and advert on YouTube :grinning:).

I'm with you 100% on the kernel (had to upgrade Mint because my monitor speakers weren't recognised) and forum points - people here seem to be friendlier and more helpful than elsewhere.

All in all I'm very happy that I've finally made the switch.


PS - I've celebrated my new-found freedom by creating a new desktop background!

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