FRAMINGHAM 31 DECEMBER 2010 - One of the best features of the open-source Linux operating system is that there are so many distributions to choose from.
Ubuntu gets by far the lion's share of the media's attention, it's true -- largely by virtue of its top ranking at the top of DistroWatch's popularity list -- but there are hundreds of other options out there as well, many tailored to particular kinds of users and situations.
I've already looked briefly at several of the Ubuntu derivatives that are available and more specifically at Linux Mint, which is currently third in popularity. Today, however, I'd like to make a pitch for Zorin OS, an Ubuntu-based distribution that offers a number of advantages with particular appeal for Windows users.
Zorin OS 4 was just released earlier this month. Why should you consider it? Here are just a few reasons.
1. A Seamless Transition
Much like the Ubuntu base that underlies it, Zorin OS is designed especially for newcomers to Linux. It has a Windows-like graphical user interface and many programs similar to those found in Windows.
Zorin OS also comes with software including Wine and PlayOnLinux that let users run many Windows programs. The distribution's ultimate goal is "to provide a Linux alternative to Windows and let Windows users enjoy all the features of Linux without complications," in the project's own words.
What this means, of course, is that Zorin OS is a great distribution for those who are comfortable with the look and feel of Windows, but still want to see what Linux is all about. Alternatively, it can be perfect for employees or coworkers who don't like change.
2. It Can Mimic Windows
Zorin OS comes with the ever-popular GNOME interface familiar to countless Ubuntu users, but it also offers a number of alternatives direct from the proprietary world. Specifically, the operating system features a unique "Look Changer" program that lets users change the software's interface at the touch of a button.
All users need do is click on the Windows 7 or Windows XP option, for example, and their desktop looks and behaves accordingly. Premium versions of Zorin OS -- targeting gaming and multimedia uses, for example -- also include interfaces mimicking those of Mac OS X, Windows Vista and Windows 2000.
3. The Comfort of GNOME
Those of us who have gotten used to Ubuntu have become accustomed to its default GNOME desktop. For those anxious about the distribution's upcoming switch to the touch-enabled Unity interface, Zorin OS offers an option for sticking with what's familiar.
Also like Ubuntu, Zorin OS comes pre-installed with OpenOffice, Firefox, the Evolution e-mail client, the Rhythmbox music player, the Totem video player, the GIMP image editor, lots of multimedia codecs, and more.
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