My personal shallow and naive opinion on ZorinOS (comparing against Mint) after brief usage

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 :sweat_smile:

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.

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That is not what sandboxing is, which I suspect you know given you put it in quotes.
You are right, this is something Zorin OS does quite well. Having all the GUI settings in one container. However, both Cinnamon and XFCE desktops offer this. Each of the different utilities in the settings are actually different GUI apps.
On Cinnamon and XFCE, the similar layout is under the Main Settings Window and Xfce-Settings-Manager respectively and on Zorin OS with Gnome, they are under Zorin Settings Window.
Zorin OS places this Settings launcher in very clear view on the app menu and is bookmarked.
On Cinnamon and on XFCE, it is in the Preferences and Settings Categories, respectively.

And I, for one, support Mints principles on this 100%.

These terms really bother me because... "outdated..." and "modern..." are purely subjective terms that are intended to Lead The Reader to the same conclusion the author wants them to have and do not take into account that tastes and preferences vary and that others may like a certain look and not feel too drawn to a different look. By calling a look others like "Outdated," and claiming that the look you like is "modern," you are really just telling others that don't aesthetically like the same as you that They are Wrong and need to Get With the Times.

Linux Mint will look exactly like Zorin if you load up a Zorin or Zorin-based theme onto it... Which makes it clear that it is not in a state or Modern or Outdated.
These terms are way overused by people Pushing Their Opinions and Preferences onto others and it really is best to avoid them.

However you label it, thanks for sharing your Feedback.:slight_smile:

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I cannot click "like" on that statement enough times.
Very well said.

Too many users seem to perceive Zorin or Other Linux Distros as a replacement that they wish to Mimic Windows or even essentially be "Windows - on linux."
Windows On Linux would make Linux as a whole redundant.

I don't know how to quote specific posts yet so, will be using this as an alternative for now.

These terms really bother me because... "outdated..." and "modern..." are purely subjective terms that are intended to Lead The Reader to the same conclusion the author wants them to have and do not take into account that tastes and preferences vary and that others may like a certain look and not feel too drawn to a different look. By calling a look others like "Outdated," and claiming that the look you like is "modern," you are really just telling others that don't aesthetically like the same as you that They are Wrong and need to Get With the Times.

It's definitely difficult to justify modern and outdated in my opinion. It is definitely no doubt purely subjective, but its not a subjective opinion on one person, but rather "everyone", or "most people" (I'm using quote here because its definitely not everyone, but I'm trying to bring across the idea of majority. Similar to why i used quotes on "sandbox"). Being modern in my opinion, means its in current trend, and it aligns with "everyone", being outdated means the trend is over, and "everyone" has moved on to the next. Being completely new or different, will fit in neither modern or outdated. With that said, it is possible to have an outdated design back into trend, or a completely new design back into trend, with a good chance of throwing off the current trend into outdated category.

Of course as usual, I may not be correct on this, and hence its just my understanding, or an opinion, on what I think is considered modern or outdated

Linux Mint will look exactly like Zorin if you load up a Zorin or Zorin-based theme onto it... Which makes it clear that it is not in a state or Modern or Outdated.
These terms are way overused by people Pushing Their Opinions and Preferences onto others and it really is best to avoid them.

You are absolutely correct. However, due to the way I view ZorinOS to be, the default theme is alot more important compared to a distro aimed at tinkerers or Linux Learners. I view Mint as a beginner OS to learn linux, while ZorinOS a linux OS that do not need you to learn anything about linux. I'm sure one can use Mint without learning (or rather, a very negligible learning curve) any linux or OS related stuffs, but in my opinion, it will not be as easy as ZorinOS.

Highlight the portion you wish to quote and the option to Quote will open in a bubble above the highlighted portion.

This is an interesting take. I might check back on you about this opinion in a couple of weeks.:wink:

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I like your point of view :slight_smile:
But Mint and Zorin are the same "way" to learn Linux.
Same base, different DE :slight_smile:

If you want learn Linux, try Fedora (minimal install, and then install step by step from terminal) , or use Arch ( and risk everyday for errors) etc.

Every distro is a Linux. And different way or concept how to do things. But after all, with every distro you can get the same. Easier or harder way, that depends.
Main goal of Zorin is to make easier move from Windows to Linux. And that is done.

Very true. Once firing up the terminal, the differences are almost 0. It just I felt that mint presented itself in a way where perhaps its friendlier or more encouraging to tweak small stuffs, which may help to pique interest and dive even further down.

While mint, from memory, have similar goal, I feel Zorin does it better on the stuffs that they have polished (dedicated settings app, bigger software catalogs, Windows App Runner to help with wine). Things that they did not polish though, are a different story, such as the Software & Updates GUI. Zorin only have two devs though, which may be too much workload on their side, and probably have other priorities to deal with.

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