Zorin OS 10 was released August 1st 2015, and is the latest in a long line of very nice, Ubuntu-based Linux distributions with a definite nod toward the ex-Windows user. I jump around operating systems quite a bit, and had been happily using Elementary OS for several months prior to this change.
I noticed fairly quickly that the icons in Zorin looked rather familiar, and a little further investigation showed that indeed the Zorin folks had incorporated the Elementary icons into Zorin OS 10. The icons are clean and attractive, and actually do not look out of place at all.
|The various default themes available (click to enlarge)|
With Zorin OS 10, we have refreshed the selection of default applications with the addition of a streamlined new Media Player, the gorgeous Geary Mail client, Calendar app and the new Activity Journal, which lets you see the files and documents you have worked with based on duration and the time throughout the day. Our existing app selection has also been treated with updates, bug fixes and design enhancements throughout.
Zorin OS 10 is based on Ubuntu 15.04 and comes pre-installed with the updated Linux Kernel 3.19 & systemd for performance boosts, stronger security and improved hardware support.The new version of Zorin builds well from the previous ones; a good-looking, polished modern Linux distro, similar to something like Linux Mint (another favorite of mine). As with most Ubuntu-based distros, installation is straightforward and hardware detection is not an issue. EFI support is there if needed, as is the use of LVM.
The version I am using in the 64-bit core version, available as a free download. I have an AMD-powered laptop which is a few years old, and I recently installed an SSD drive. Performance is very good, and there are some default window effects in place which are pleasing without being flashy.
The default desktop environment is a customized Gnome affair, which looks similar enough to Windows 7 that most Windows users would feel right at home. There is something similar to the Windows 7 "aero peek" function when hovering over running programs in the taskbar, and also the ability to flip through open windows by using the Windows key with the Tab key (see my short video below).
Zorin comes with a good selection of software out of the gate, including Libre Office. And has a useful "look changer" and "theme changer" which allows one to quickly alter the general look and feel of the desktop environment without fiddling with a lot of little settings, although you can do that too of course if you like.
For people who are still hanging on to Windows XP, I wish I could impress upon them what a positive experiences using something like Zorin OS 10 can be. I know most home users would not be comfortable downloading and burning an ISO, copying their data and wiping out their Windows installation, but that's a shame. They are missing out on something that is a freely-available and very functional modern operating system.
Zorin Home Page