I'm currently a newbie Linux Mint 20.2 user (tinkered for many years, but only made the switch last month), and have been testing out ZorinOS (Core 16 & Lite 15.3). The main motivation is due to a cousin of mine having a really slow laptop, and I would like to breathe it to life. While Windows 10 LTSC is an option, I'm pretty skeptical about its security (only an update every 2 years?) and well, Linux is free, Windows LTSC isn't.
Disclaimer: I've only used ZorinOS Core & Lite for about a week in vmware, so feel free to correct me on where I am wrong about. Also this post is just my personal fun, naive and shallow opinion, so please do not harbour any strong feelings
After using ZorinOS for awhile, here's my naive impression on what I think ZorinOS developer wants to achieve:
- A fast, stable, secure, friendly and modern alternative to the big consumer OSes (Windows & Mac)
And what (in my opinion) ZorinOS is NOT trying to be:
- A beginner's entry to Linux.
In my opinion, this is quite apparent in Core 16. The default gnome customization, themes and icons are really beautiful and modern looking. Compared to Linux Mint, which looks really dated. Also, the settings in ZorinOS Core have a very "sandboxed" feels. Almost everything are under the Settings app, similar to how mobile (both Android & iOS) handles their settings. Due to this "sandboxed" feeling, it makes it really easy to change them to see how the users see fit, and the settings are very organized.
Of course everyone is free to modify ZorinOS outside of the sandboxed settings, by installing third party software or using terminal. But Linux Mint has more of these exposed in a GUI (theme section completely exposed in flagship cinnamon). However, Mint's settings are alot more cluttered - spread across multiple apps.
Do note I only made this assumption due my understanding of the theming settings in ZorinOS Core. When I switched over to ZorinOS Lite, I'm aware that the "Appearance" GUI from xfce is available. But the existance of that app makes it feels alot less elegant and polished. I've only used for about a week, so feel free to correct me on where I am wrong about.
Also, ZorinOS comes with Snap & Flatpak, while Mint only comes with Flatpak. Mint excluded Snap due to it being not FOSS (and some ubuntu stuffs that do not align with Mint's dev's values). In addition, ZorinOS comes with a Windows App Compatibility, which is essentially wine. While I have not tried it, it feels that Zorin is trying to make the transition from Windows to Zorin as smooth as possible, by having as many app compatibility as they could. This further reinforce my opinion.
With this whole difference, my personal naive & shallow conclusion is: ZorinOS targets to be a strong alternative to Windows and Mac. It is only Ubuntu-based due to the speed and stability, nothing to do with Linux or FOSS values. While Linux Mint on the other hand, targets to new users who wish to learn about Linux.
Do correct me if I'm wrong in anyways, for as of now, I do find ZorinOS to be an interesting distro, in a positive way.