Should Zorin OS have a Pay-For Version?

Zorin OS Education, Lite and Core are free. But you can choose Zorin OS Pro, which is a Pay-For version that offers more layouts and pre-installed software.

The threads about piracy have raised an interesting point. Many people have a bit of a reaction to a pay-for version in a Linux Desktop market where distros are generally free.
Many say they would rather have the option to donate at will.

This raises some interesting points:

  • Zorin OS is free.
  • Zorin OS website offers two distinct locations where a user can choose to Donate.
  • Choosing Zorin OS Pro is the same thing, in principle as donating. It just comes with some extra perks.

I could argue that these comments about preferring to donate to be more of a sidestep of the issue. It is a great way to imply that you would do the right thing, had you a choice in the matter, even if you really wouldn't. This façade shatters however, in light of Zorin OS being completely free. "They want something for nothing."

If the general public perception misses the mark on Zorin OS Pro being the same thing as Donating to Zorin OS, with a set donation amount that brings a reward... Then how may this be addressed?

Should ZorinGroup consider a different way of supporting development? If they did, would it be as effective?
Would users prefer advertisements or other methods of funding the project?


Good post!

OK, here's the thing, I have read many comments where people claim that Zorin is for dummies, and Linux experts would never use Zorin, and rather use Arch or whatever.

So, basically what they are saying were too smart for Zorin OS. So I have a question for them, if they are so smart, how is it that they don't get, that buying Zorin OS 16 PRO, is a donation to the dev's? LMAO!

I am sorry but this hilarious content writes itself, cause they people come off to me as so rediculous. I agree with Aravisian, its totally a facaad, in like every freaking way.

About the only thing that I can think of that the Zorin brother's could do to make it more obvious to these supposedly smarter then Zorin users folks, is to put a big sized, neon lit like sign that is easy to notice next to the buy button that says, DONATION!

This way we can deliver the message to the supposedly smarter then us Zorin users, that when you pay for PRO, its a donation. You wanna hear my opinion? Good cause I will tell ya.

I wanna send digital hugs to all Zorin users. I love you all ok, I think we Zorin users are wonderful. :heart: I think we are smart, I think we choose Zorin OS, because its lovely just as we are. We appreciate an OS that is equally functional as it is beautiful.

So if the Zorin brother's have to put up a giant sign, banner, whatever on their site that says DONATION, then so be it. Make sure people know, your not buying a license, just like Aravisian said, your giving a donation, thats all.

I don't like how these piracy folks try to spin it otherwise.

So digital hugs for everyone on this site, cause you guys are all smart to me. :hugs:


People see it as a paid product because there are perks to buying it. This is also the reason why people buy ZorinOs 16 Pro, they don't think it's a donation because it comes with something.

@StarTreker they don't buy it, they torrent it. I don't think any person who knows how to pirate wouldn't. I think having a donation thing is much better because we won't have anything like this. I'm not saying this is bad, I'm saying that most people don't like the idea of a paid Linux Distro.


I wonder how many prospective users see ZorinOS Pro as paid version and move away, without looking at the other free flavours of ZorinOS. I think the "Donate" facility could be more prominent. We seem to be explaining to users that buying Pro is in effect a Donation to Zorin Bros and the ZorinOS project. It could also be construed as a worthy investment in the future development of ZorinOS.


This is the question. :wink:

Very valid point.

Or in this - similar to Windows. Windows gets money by other means. They don't mind pirating from Windows because they perceive Windows as already too rich and greedy. Microsoft recently hit the two trillion dollar make, second only to Apple.


A lot of opinions and views. I think Zorin should give the pro version free and instead try to fund the project through donations like Linux Mint. I would also like to see wallpaper packs that can be bought for little money. So as an exclusive content for supporters of the project that they could buy the packs for 2.99 or so in that direction. In order to generate more income.

I think this would work the same way and it would probably make even more money. It's one thing to get people to pay for some money or to give them the choice to volunteer and support a project. Of course there will always be some who don't have the money or don't want to pay, but then let them use the product rather than something else so you also have advertising and find more distribution. Should something then change in the financial situation, the person will certainly voluntarily donate something out of gratitude to be able to use the product for so long for free.

I like free software as it gives me the opportunity to try it out and see whether it is what I need to do my job.

I then pay for a pro version, even if it just gives me a bit of support, or donate as it saves me time and money trying to do things by hand.

I wonder how many core users donate to support the project compared to those who buy pro to support the project?

Would you be happy to spend months on a task at work and then not get paid? I wouldn't, I'd be out the door in an instant.

The other options are to add advertising or sell your usage and search data to make money. Thanks, I'd rather donate.


Zorin has different financial needs than other small-market distros, because the Zorins are the sole developers/maintainers of Zorin OS and work full time on the project. As a result, Zorin needs to generate an income stream sufficient to pay expenses and developer salaries. Other small-market distros, developed/maintained by a team of unpaid volunteers who have other employment, need only enough income stream to pay expenses.

Expenses (say $10,000 to $15,000 USD per year) can be funded through donations without much difficultly. Many small-market distros do so. Funding developer salaries (say $50,000 USD per developer) is much more difficult to do through voluntary donations. Although I know nothing about the Zorins' business model, I suspect that reality is behind the decision to charge for Pro.

Canonical, like other large-scale commercial/business Linux developers, derives its income stream from Ubuntu commercial/business products and services. The funds to pay Ubuntu desktop developers derive from the commercial/business income stream rather than Ubuntu desktop.

Zorin, at this stage in its development, does not have commercial/business products to provide an income stream, so that income model is not available. Funding for Zorin has to come from Zorin OS.

I have no expertise in marketing, so I don't have an opinion about how sale of Zorin Pro fits Zorin's market -- adopters coming from other distros (no cost to the user) and adopters coming from other operating systems (OS packaged with the device and perceived as no cost to the user).

I believe in paying for Linux. My practice has been to make an annual contribution equal to the cost of a Windows license for my Solus production installation. If I install Zorin Core as a production operating system for the museum use case, I plan to contribute an amount equal to a Pro license, although I will be installing Core.

I wish that Zorin Pro was marketed more transparently, however. Try as I might, I have been unable to figure out what apps are bundled with Pro in addition to the apps bundled with Core. That's my only problem with the way in which Pro is marketed.


As always - very well said. A "like" clicked on your post is insufficient, so I think your words bear immediate repeating:

This is exactly how I view this as well. Like you, I have no idea how their business model works or - to put it rather bluntly... if they are scraping by or laughing all the way to the bank. Admittedly, I have often wondered this...

Given the speed at which the ZorinGroup cranks out updates and address bugs with fixes, I suspect they must be working quite a lot, though. Sometimes, evidence comes in forms unspoken.

I also fear that simple donations simply would be insufficient to cover what Zorin OS Pro does.
On the one hand, Pro Excludes anyone who wants to donate, but finds the cost of Pro beyond their current budget. User chosen donations solve that, allowing far more people to donate.
Perhaps due to this, the ZorinGroup opted to add a donation link to the Zorin Page, again, in two distinct locations - that should cover that.
While having Pro.
To bounce topics- it's like having terminal available as a choice and having GUI available as a choice- and may well be the best way to go. If not one or the other, why not both?


"Pay what you can ..." donation-on-purchase is the model used by Elementary OS:


People who pirate software are thieves, pure and simple. It doesn't make any difference who they steal from ... Zorin or Microsoft.


Instead of 'Pay what you can', it should 'Pay what you can to support the developers, so that they can provide quality products/service to you' (Should be like a heading under which there are payment options).


How ZorinGroup moves to ensure support for development of Zorin OS is entirely in their hands and their decisions.
I hope that this thread - as an open forum for the free exchange of ideas - can test certain assumptions.

But I would like to clarify one detail: My intention was not to start a thread that addresses the ZorinGroup in order to influence the ZorinGroup to consider alternatives. That is most certainly an open possibility...

But also that the many members, users, lurkers - all have a place where they can participate or acknowledge the topic. That is to say, a person who has doubts about the validity of the Zorin OS Pro model can examine whether their doubts have validity.

Questions and doubts are clearly raised. And these cannot be ignored.


Exactly. Zorin is not a community-based project. Zorin Group is a private, closely-held company. We all have our views about what the Zorins might or should do about many things, but the Zorins will succeed or fail based on their own vision and the decisions that follow from that vision.


This was a lot of reading, with different points of view, but mostly the same.
It all comes down to choice. Free vs Paid, or as many view it Paid = Donation.

I don't like the fact of the "piracy'. To me, it's like literally stealing from a aid worker. We all have seen 2 Step Authentication. Maybe they can create a method with instead of emailing us a link after we pay for Pro, that they send a code that combined with our email address allows us to download the Pro version. And we would have to also enter both during the install process.

Being how I don't opt out of the "anonymous unique identifier", I would have no issue with the extra steps required for an authentic install.

The thing that really gets under my skin, is they have FREE VERSIONS...
Bad people s*^k... Too many have a something for nothing mindset, which is scary. This, right after an earlier post where I said the future looks

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Also to point out, there is so much we don't know. As tomscharbach points out, Zorin needs to generate an income stream sufficient to pay expenses and developer salaries. Other small-market distros, developed/maintained by a team of unpaid volunteers who have other employment, need only enough income stream to pay expenses.

So who are we to judge how they have decided to do it. It seems like we are the fans telling our favorite sports team "How they should do it" based upon our own thoughts and preferences. I prefer not to. I just want to be a fan.

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Maybe this is Zorin Bros aim, to extend Linux Desktop into corporate and education IT as a revenue stream.

"This is our vision for the future of IT in the workplace."

Yup. me too.

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The revamp of the website between Zorin 15 and Zorin 16 certainly suggests so. I hope so, because I don't think that the consumer Linux desktop market will expand much more than another percent or two going forward.

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New user here. I bought Zorin 16 Pro only because I wanted the windows 11 layout. But as I read The Forum and see the wonderful people here and like what the Zorin brothers are doing, I am so glad I forked out the money. I never felt I had to pay it was just a personal choice. I was actually excited to do it. This is a wonderful project with a great helping community. Waiting for the light pro version. I don't actually like Gnome, but I couldn't wait haha


I know the feeling. :wink:
So, I installed XFCE on Zorin OS 16 instead of waiting. :smiley: