Onward With Zorin OS 8

Last year, I wrote about my first impressions of Zorin OS 7, a Linux distribution based upon Ubuntu Linux. I continued to use Zorin for several months, and was very pleased with it; it did everything I needed to do, and was very reliable. A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at Mageia 4 Linux, which is based upon Mandriva Linux. While it was easy to install and worked well on my laptop, my old aversion to KDE reared it's ugly head again, and I stopped using it after several days. Now, you can get certainly use Gnome, Mate and so on with Mageia, but I think I was secretly itching to try the newest version of Zorin - Zorin OS 8, in this case.

In many respects, Zorin OS 8 puts a polish on version 7: by default 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. I would say that hard core Linux users might dismiss Zorin as too Windows-like in it's default configuration, but for someone coming from the Windows world, I submit the Zorin experience should be familiar enough to make them feel comfortable and allow them to get "into" using a Linux distribution.

I installed the free 64-bit "Core" version, there are other versions according to your needs; Ultimate, Educational, Premium and LTS (long term support). Subjectively, it feels perhaps a bit faster than version 7, and out of the box has some fairly subtle but effective "eye candy" window effects. There is also a new Theme Changer, with "light" and "dark" themes included in the Core version.

As with my experiences with Zorin OS 7 and Mageia 4, there were no installation or hardware detection issues on my 2-year-old Samsung laptop - everything "just worked" (unlike the last time I installed Windows 7 on it).

The Grub loader is slightly ugly, but perfectly clear and functional, but the login screen is a slick improvement from Zorin OS 7. There is still the usual nice selection of available software - not too much to confuse new users, but enough to handle just about every need, and I would say the individual programs are well-chosen, such as Libre Office, GIMP and OpenShot video editor. Zorin OS 8 also comes with common multimedia codecs installed, the absence of which can frustrate and trip up new Linux users with other distros.

Installing and uninstalling software is straightforward, using the Software Center. Zorin OS 8 (and the previous version) has a separate Web Browser Manager to handle browser installations - actually a nice feature, but a little confusing at first - I had assumed you would do this from the Software Center. The default browser installed is Google Chrome.

The video below from Spatry goes over the Release Candidate (RC) version of Zorin OS 8, but is a good representation of the features and functions available in the final release.

This one's a keeper, as far as I am concerned.