A Few Days With Zorin OS 7
Zorin OS 7 is based upon Ubuntu, as is Linux Mint. I have used various (mostly Ubuntu-based) Linux distributions on and off for a few years, and just came back to Linux Mint 15 last week, and a few days later I switched to Zorin OS 7 64-bit - not for any particular reason; just because I could. Zorin has a couple of nice features going for it; it has a Windows-like look to it for newcomers to Linux. It also has a very easy-to-use "Zorin Look Changer", which quickly allows you switch between several different "looks" to your Desktop; Windows XP, Windows 7 and Gnome 2 (the latter being a typical Linux Desktop). It also feels quite fast, and out of the box has some fairly subtle but effective "eye candy" window effects.
Zorin 7 detected my laptop hardware without any problems, and indeed these days that's the norm with many Linux distributions - at least the ones I have played with, which admittedly are usually Ubuntu-based. When I install a Linux OS, I may be unusual in that I will install fresh - that is, format my drive and start over. I don't have a lot of data that I need to transfer, so that works for me. Anytime I have dual-booted in the past, I invariably end up using one or the other OS all the time, and so it's a sort of empty exercise.
The installation process is typical, took about 15-20 mins, and had no surprises. Zorin comes in several versions, both free and "premium". The premium version has some more different "looks" built in, along with some other goodies, but I am using the free version. The OS boots quite quickly, and shuts down very quickly (about 5 seconds), which is something I like. On my laptop, neither Linux Mint 15 or Zorin 7 handle sleeping or hibernation well, so the quick boot and shutdown times are useful.
Zorin OS 7 Core comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions with pretty much all the codecs and such you would expect; you can watch YouTube videos and play mp3 files "out of the box". The Lite version works better on older hardware and is 32-bit only.
The only other quirk I have noticed after a few days of enjoyable and uneventful use came when trying to replace the original Chrome browser with Firefox; I could not add Firefox from the software application. A quick web search indicated that Zorin has a separate little applet to handle browser installations - actually a nice feature, but a little confusing at first.
Performance is good, I have had no crashes or lockups (other than the sleep/hibernate issues), I can play HD videos and so on. I was even able to use "two finger scrolling" on my laptop touchpad without fiddling with any settings, which was a pleasant surprise.
The last time I installed Windows 7 on this same laptop, the installation took considerably longer, I had to find and install 5 or six sets of drivers, and then had to spend about 30-45 mins updating. Zorin took about half the time or less to install, I did not need any additional drivers, and the required system updates took less than 20 minutes to install - your mileage may vary of course. Plus, I already have a good selection of software already installed with Zorin. What's not to like?
The only other thing that has been a problem (and I knew it would be going in) was Citrix receiver support. I occasionally need that for work, but the Citrix installer is known to be broken, and I'll need to futz with it, or else throw an XP VM on there for that purpose.
All in all, very nice and works as expected. I will definitely use this for a while.