Left Zorin; some heartfelt feedback for Zorin OS

Been a while since I've posted here. I'll get to the point: I don't use Zorin OS anymore. I know I don't have to post here and say that aloud. My intent here is not to be an "attention getter" or anything stupid like that, but I wanted to say it here so to provide a bridge to my feedback about Zorin OS. I have been using Linux Mint for some time now. I have my desktop set to look like MATE, and it works for me.

I am going to list some feedback here that I stand behind (after having used Zorin for a good while and also distrohopping more before staying with Mint). I believe what I have to say will help Zorin OS over the long run. I actually still prefer Zorin over Mint in some ways, and would love to go back to Zorin if a few changes were implemented both for the OS itself and also organizationally for the Zorin Group.

Read on:

  1. Dump GNOME. Go with another desktop environment. I know the Zorin Group will probably stop reading here, but hear me out, please. When I first started using Zorin OS, I was a bit turned off by having to download the extension manager (and GNOME Tweaks) just to gain what should've been basic functionality included from the get-go, but wasn't. I was like, "what the ... ?" when I had to download Tweaks just to center windows. But to their credit, the Zorin Group did listen to my feedback about including an option to center the windows. (Thank you again.) Still, that did not change the fact I had to download more extensions just to make things "work," like the Espresso extension via Extension Manager to have the screen stay on while playing a game. I didn't have to do anything like that on Windows. At all. Also, more to the point, recently the GNOME website was down for some time. People were complaining online about how they couldn't download extensions. That's a huge disadvantage. Huge. And I realize it even more now, because I've been using Mint, which comes with a bunch of applets already installed to make the user experience smooth (including their "Inhibit" applet). Perhaps the Zorin Group can look into incorporating more extensions so to anticipate more user case scenarios in where a specific function may be expected to be present (like better power management). The more I have learned about Linux, the less I like GNOME. Again, dump GNOME. Go with a customized version of Cinnamon (like with a modified theme) or KDE, even. Or develop Zorin's own DE, like how System76 is doing with COSMIC. (Maybe that could be something to do later.) Otherwise, re-evaluate what extensions Zorin includes and incorporate more extensions that fulfill what users would expect to be included in a OS, as with Windows.

  2. Please vet default applications more carefully. I was like, "what?" when default, included applications like Cheese didn't work right, and I had to go download a different version of them just to make them work. I paid for Zorin OS Pro, and was a little puzzled when I encountered this issue. Again, before the next major release, please go through each and every app individually and make sure they function correctly. It wasn't just Cheese; it was also other apps, like the Flatpak version of VLC. Installing the APT version of VLC made the file picker window issue go away. My point is, users shouldn't have to do this. The "out-of-the-box" experience counts.

  3. Please communicate more. I cannot stress this enough. I (and many, many other users) have suggested this before. If not a monthly blog, then a quarterly blog, at least. One thing that convinced me to move to Linux Mint was Clem's consistent monthly updates about what's going on behind the scenes, and what specifically will happen later. I did appreciate that as an end user. I did. 100%. If there had been more consistent updates with some detail, I probably would've stayed with Zorin knowing what to expect later.

  4. Some smaller feedback:

  • Please fix the ability to rename apps in the menu (using the regular menu editor). Can't do that for all apps. Why? This made me go, "what the ... ?" Example: Advanced Network Configuration.

  • Please make all the apps APT only from the get-go until the ongoing issue with unverified Flatpaks is resolved across Linux. (Right now, I have all .DEB files and no Flatpaks on my Linux Mint installation for security reasons.)

  • Include certain apps by default when installing Zorin. I love how Linux Mint includes valuable apps, like Timeshift and Synaptic Package Manager.

I think that's it. Well, I sincerely hope people (and the Zorin Group) will read this, and take it to heart. I will absolutely consider Zorin OS 18, and be happy to purchase the Pro version if certain feedback is accepted. Until then, good luck to the Zorin Group. I will still visit these forums, but less so.

Thanks to @Aravisian and the others, too.

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Any chance we can take a look? :smiley:

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I loved your suggestion @zenzen

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Done. Also tagged you. Thanks.

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I also have left Zorin. When I made the switch from windoze to Linux nearly 3 years ago I started with Zorin. I used Zorin for about a year but kept running into programs that didn't want to work correctly. But I really like this forum because of the very friendly and helpful people here.

I did a lot of distro hopping and settled on Linux Mint. It did almost everything I wanted to do. But about the same time Z17 came out in beta I learned that the political leanings of the dev of LM were contrary to my beliefs. So I switched to Zorin beta. And then upgraded to Z17 core when it came out.

I do plan to continue to visit this forum regularly. Sometimes I can even help someone else. And maybe in the future I can come back to Zorin when they get some of the bugs worked out.

Some of the reasons I have left Zorin are similiar to the reasons the OP posted. Namely that some of the programs you download from the Zorin store just don't work. I know how to find and install ones that do but the store shouldn't have programs that don't work.

My biggest problem that has not been solved is that some of the programs from the Z store can't be pinned to the task bar. That doesn't make any sense to me. But a couple of programs that I use every day can't be pinned to the task bar. I have not seen that problem on any other distro.

I have moved to MX Linux KDE and so far after a couple of months I have not found any major problems with it. And what really surprised me is that the devs are very active on the forum. And a really great feature MX has is an MX tool called QSI or quick system info. You just open that tool and it loads all your system info. Then you click at the bottom and it makes a pre-formatted copy ready to paste into a post you can make on the forum if you have a problem. I have seen the devs and others use that info many times to tell a user what they need to do to fix their problem. IMHO every distro should have this feature.

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I think it is fine to leave Zorin OS. I have used other distros as well. Just as humans have strengths and weaknesses, so human creations also have both. Everyone can use whatever they like best.

I do not emotionally refute the opinions that point out the shortcomings of the Zorin OS, because I am not Zorin OS and it is not my pride.

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Zorin OS is a nice transition from Windows for someone new to GNU/Linux. But to maintain that status, it requires Devs to listen to users and consider improvements.
So what I would like to see from my perspective are the following:

  1. Make "Zorin on Xorg" the default compositor with Wayland as the second option.

  2. Remove Flatpak and snap packages, with the option to add flathub and snapd during the installation process.

  3. Remove dependency on systemd, which can't be done while Gnome is the default DE as it is embedded into Gnome.

  4. To attract Windows users, use KDE Plasma as the default DE with Tiled Menu as the default menu by zren for Windows 10 migrants, and for Windows 11 fans, the Onze Menu as second option.

  5. Reduce the overhead of Software Store/Discover by deploying Synaptic Package Manager for Software Sources and updates. Because PCLinuxOS KDE uses this, together with a Mandrake base, running at idle only consumes 661 Mb RAM, and doesnt have the bloat of systemd. Alternatively, to replace xfce, use Trinity Desktop Environment which has a similar experience to early KDE. Only Q4OS offers this as an alternative to KDE Plasma. Trinity is only available as a community version in PCLinuxOS.

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It is an interesting thread.

In think with many of the suggestions that people mentioned above, there is an important aspect forgotten : Zorin team is really small one, comparing to Linux Mint, for example. In order to provide something very stable for new users, they need to start with something very stable: hence is Gnome DE instead of KDE.
And another important advantage oif Gnome is regular schedule : major update every six monthes. It makes planning the distro development much easier.

Yes, Gnome Software is buggy and slow, but what are the alternatives? Synaptic is great, but no Flatpaks or Snaps. Discover is, of course, more relaible (to my experience), but alien to Gnome eco-system, so, why risk it?

Developing own DE sounds great, but then again, requires a lot of man-hour efforts. Mint can do it with Cinnamon, because of huge community, but Zorin is not (yet?) there. And look at System 76 which is working on Cosmic for 3 year already, continuously shifting the relase date. Their main incme is hardware sale, so, they can afford it, but Zorin can't.

I mean, I like Zorin, and this is my working distro. It is safe and stable, expecially whe you know the tricks, and very pretty. It is not perfect, but no distro is. It has small, but most friendly community, I have ever encountered in linux world. So, let's keep helping to improve it!

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Zorin is good for beginning. That is normal if users more deeping how linux working then startint reading and distrohopping.
Show me developers what they don't put any information what will be next version?
Zorin gived finished product but what is inside we don't have to much information.
The Zorin is ubuntu based on debian.
Then propably we can reading what it will be implemented.
The Zorin devs in my opinion are focused on themes.
For beginners it could be excited.
I am older and i liked one type desktop and I am tired with terminal.
From 2018 when I started using ZORIN 16 - then I still using Linux but another distribution.
Like Chris Titus sayed the same kernel, the same DE enviroment just diffrent package manager.
Zorin is good for beginners but many people liked new things where many things could be repaired like example arch or OpenSuse.
The best option is choice distribution to your suit.
The second hurting Zorin distribution is a higher price if we check price on developers partners microsoft.
Business propably is good option but with new moderns technology and learning younger generation with exclusive products then Zorin propably is good choice for them.
In 6 years I was learning mostly installation from xxx.net terminal distributions.
From slackware and gentoo to fedora,arch,opensuse,mint,zorin and etc.
Gnome for me is to much complicated with extensions what you need installing and download the problem is gnome extensions are thousand and you cannot check everyone with one could be have a script with backdoor.
More people now excited Wayland and KDE.
Well everyone can taken a choice.
Sometimes i jump to this forum to check if something changes about activity developers but propably people are tired.
I was wondering when new version Zorin17 it will be lower problems what users have with that version and many issues gived me hold on to buying that version.
Zorin is the same and will be the same all time.
I wish you all good luck and healthy life.
I will still sometimes peek here to check if something changed.

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I would start with something small and simple: X11 as the default display, and .deb as the default package format in the Software Store. That's it, no need to remove anything or re-invent the entire desktop environment from scratch. A subtle "back to basics" that works, while leaving the door open to other options.

Unfortunately, some popular programs are not found in the default software repositories, and are only available through the Software Store as flatpaks. E.g.: Discord, Steam, Google Chrome or Brave Browser. An additional effort is needed to make them available as the native .deb format as well, but one that is very much worth the trouble.

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This is an important point of view. While enthusiasts try to realize their ideal OS, most users just use OS to realize their ideals. OS is first and foremost an everyday tool, it does not need to be special. It can be as unobtrusive as air. What I like about Zorin OS is that it is not a gas to be superman, but just oxygen.

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How unfeasible is it to focus on fixing things rather than replacing them with others that also have their own problems?

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Nice metaphore indeed. It's not strickly an oxygen, but rather fresh air, containing exact amount of oxygen needed to well function, without being too excited (like about all new whistles and features : Fedora, Arch, ...), and not too suffocated (like waiting for years for a point update, Debian, MX Linux, ...).

It just works, and make my work flowing and pleasant, and this is what I need. On my testing machine I am jumping between Fedora, Open Suse, and Endeavour OS, may couple of others, just for the sake of amusement, but for working machine my choice is Zorin OS.

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Good point. I'm not a developer, so, I don't know, but this is one of the purpose of this thread to suggest the developpers their focusing points to optimize user experience.

But as far as I see it, often the choice of software included is not the choice of Zorin team, but imposed rather by what is in the stable version of Gnome. It includes, for example, the notorius Gnome Software Centre. The focus of Zorin, as I see it, is to develop their tools (Zorin Appearance, Zorin Connect, etc.), integrat them into current version of Gnome, and optimize the work flow for the best experience of various types of users, especially the newbies in Linux.

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I don't want to take away credit from Zorin Devs, but many Zorin tools are forks of tools that already exist for gnome.

Zorin Connect = Gnome Connect = KDE Connect.

Install Gnome Connect in Cellphone and you will see that it works the same with Zorin Connect on PC. I believe that even if you have KDE Connect on Cell it will work with Zorin Connect.

Zorin Menu = Arc Menu Extension (Zorin has removing some customization options, Arc is more complete.)

Zorin Taskbar = Dash to Panel Extension (Again, Zorin removed some customization options).

And so on...

Edit: As explained below, I'm just talking nonsense here. It's the opposite. The other extensions that forked those developed for Zorin.

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Looking into this, I found the opposite is true.

It turns out the Zorin devs were the ones who wrote the initial code behind Dash to Panel and Arc Menu. Those projects were originally forks of Zorin Taskbar and Zorin Menu, not the other way around.

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Thanks for this. Going back in time a ways, I too was under the impression that Zorin Menu was forked from Arc menu.

Probably in part due to other maintainers being vocal contributors and interacting publicly a lot more, leaving a silent gap where the first maintainer was.

However, I just looked at the Arc Menu gitlab and found:
Additional Credits:

  • The 'ArcMenu' layout design is insipired by the Zorin OS menu extension.
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That sounds good for me. What I like on Zorin is that they offer Flatpak and Snap as another Option to install a Program. That is what I would like to see on Ubuntu directly. There is Snap not just an Option to install a Program. They forcing it and press it in the System.

What I would find good preinstalled would be the Extension Manager. Because of the Gnome Desktop I would think that this is a good Tool to have for managing and install Gnome Extensions.

With adding the Mozilla-own Repo they have made a good Step. Theoretically they could offer this for other Browsers like Brave, too.

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That is really an interesting Topic. I must say, I tought to this too that the Zorin Team simply take ArcMenu and Dash To Panel and forking/customize it.

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Wow. I actually thought the opposite.

Thanks for clarifying and congratulations to the Zorin developers.

This even changes the way I thought about this distro. Which was a collection of things that already existed.

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