Is the lite version meant to be faster and easier on machine?
Pretty much, yes.
Zorin Core and Zorin Ultimate use Gnome Desktop.
Zorin Lite, Education and Zorin Ultimate Lite use XFCE4 Desktop environment.
All are “full” versions.
Gnome can be a mid to heavy weight desktop environment, offering and using a lot of resources. For example; Gnome Shell and Activities Overview- these are more resource intensive, but the idea is to allow faster more efficient workflow on the user.
Xfce4 is a Lighter Weight on resource usage. That is, rather than leaving multiple processes running for fast access or fast loading, many processes are killed when no longer being actively used.
I prefer XFCE desktop over Gnome (which is very well known) because I do not mind waiting and extra 0.043 seconds on something to load or having to go all the way over to the App Menu and scroll to “settings” rather than using the Activities Overview. Though it is true that XFCE offers a similar XFDesktop for those that enjoy what Activities Overview offers that XFCE users can install and run.
Gnome operates more within the parameters of Systemd, whereas XFCE is a bit more independent.
Where Zorin Lite becomes a thing:
Lower specs or Older machines. XFCE is a bit friendlier on older hardware and lower RAM. Using less intensive resources means that less demand is placed on the hardware. Gnome really comes into its own on a larger and powerful machine being used for fast paced work, programming, calculating and efficiency for the user, if not for the machine.
But a lighter weight desktop can outpace the heavier Gnome, depending on application and usage. While in one situation, easy reach by non-stop running processes can help; in others, less resource hogging means faster application processes individually.
I use XFCE on a lot of Graphics related work, which means it can keep up without panting and leaves more work on the Graphics card and less on the MB processor.
Zorin Lite is a Good Choice or older or lower specs- but is a powerhorse on new hardware and high end machines, too.
Zorin OS offers a Choice that users can match themselves with, but Zorin Lite needs not be delegated to “For older machines.”
You can choose Zorin Ultimate or Zorin Ultiamte Lite for the most program packed experience.
You can choose Zorin Core for processing and hard driven daily use.
You can choose Zorin Lite for a lighter desktop for a variety of applications.
You can choose Zorin Education for preinstalled applications to assist learning and development.
I agree with Aravisian, especially in the context of using Lite. Especially when it comes to running Zorin on older computers, I think the goal should be, to use the least amount of resources on your hardware as possible, which allows the computer to run more smoothly, and allows applications to operate smoothly as well.
Gnome is just far too much of a resource hog, and has been for years, I don’t recommend it. Also, Gnome doesn’t like to allow you to really customize the OS how you want it. XFCE allows real customization, and Aravisian and I have been able to do a lot with it actually.
As in web development?
That is a good question. Zorin OS education comes with a suite of learning applications, including coding and programming.
But I am not a developer of Zorin OS or for Zorin OS; just a user of the OS and a member of the forum. There is a great deal about the details of Zorin OS I do not know.
What makes Zorin OS Education appealing is that it comes with a bundle of software that you may have not tried out or heard of. What does not suit your needs can be uninstalled. And of course you can install what you prefer.
But you can install the development apps you know and prefer on Zorin OS, Zorin OS Lite to achieve the same end result.
Zorin OS Education is geared both toward educators and to students - of all ages. I have already learned that just because an app is geared toward children does not mean it cannot effectively teach me. But that broad range may also annoy an active and focused developer that needs to remove the excess.
I perceive Zorin OS Education as more “introductory”. But nothing about the Operating System itself is designed in some particular way to enhance development- rather, the app suite is. So you can take a Basic Installation of Zorin OS / Lite and build your own suite based on carefully selected apps of your own choosing, just as easily as installing Zorin OS Education.
All versions of Zorin come with Imagemagick and Gimp. I always install inkscape as one of my first moves.
While Zorin OS comes with gedit, I prefer Xed, Geany or Pluma. The differences between Xed and Pluma are pretty minor, but Xed allows “Previous” button on 'find" and Pluma opens up ‘find’ as a separate window- so different applications call for which I use. I prefer Xed for .css but Geany for most other coding.
You also may want
PHPMYADMIN, Komodo, Bluefish, Scribd and Pinegrow. And search the web for Linux or Linux friendly development apps that are more stack specific.
The ide in education, builder, offers these languages:
Assembly, C,C++, Shell Script, Python, and Perl by including the tools assembler, compilers, interpreters, and debuggers.