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Zorin OS 16 (zorin.com)
102 points by oedmarap 58 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 76 comments



I know linux always had the problem of being unappealing to normal people, so I guess it's good folks are trying to make pretty websites for their distros, working on pretty and consistent themes, sane defaults, layman terms etc.

But does that mean you have to completely hide any technical information from your website? It maybe I'm just too dumb to find it?

What distro is that based on? Indirectly mentioned by saying the Ubuntu apt repo is available.

What's the DE based on? You certainly didn't create a new one. It looks like a reskinned KDE to me.

You mention how fast it is, and that the new release has been optimized for performance. How? Did you fork KDE, the kernel, or apply some clever configurations, or did you get that performance for free because upstream just optimized their code? How is this different from installing Ubuntu and adding flatpack and your KDE theme?

Again, first impression is this is a great distro for my mom et al., but for a HN submission I ended up with more questions than answers.


I've distro-hopped for a few years, and I feel confident that I could answer your questions (even if that's not necessarily what you're asking):

>What distro is that based on? Indirectly mentioned by saying the Ubuntu apt repo is available.

It's based on Ubuntu, for the most part. You get apt and Snap, with flatpak out of the box, now.

> What's the DE based on? You certainly didn't create a new one. It looks like a reskinned KDE to me.

This distro is actually GNOME, with a large handful of shell extensions emulating the Windows look-and-feel.

> You mention how fast it is, and that the new release has been optimized for performance. How?

It's Linux. Even with all of the extras they pack on, memory usage is still under 1gig on most systems, with most also idling under 1% of CPU usage on the desktop. It's by no means the fastest distro I've ever seen, but it's snappy.

> Again, first impression is this is a great distro for my mom

Bingo!


It doesn't answer any real questions but for someone new coming to linux who has read zorin is a good starter for windows users... front page has a large blue download zorin os button it. click it, default to ultimate version and a blue download/buy zorin ultimate.

feels like the website was created by marketing department or a used car salesman.


I believe the feature table lists Xfce for the light version and Gnome for the other. https://zorinos.com/ultimate/


Zorin was my first distro (on Arch now), and it was a choice of Gnome or Xfce (both skinned to look the same). Aside from a few applications by Zorin, and many preinstalled, the theming and easy layout changing is the primary difference from Ubuntu I think.


I think it's for Windows converts. By keeping things similar, like the start menu position, it makes things more welcoming.


Design is still massively under-appreciated. Airbnb, Airtable and Coinbase and Stripe massively succeeded, because of Design. And Zorin OS 16 is on the right track, but still: hire an excellent Designer to review the entire system again. Check margins, Branding, consistency of the entire system, and more.

Design makes all the difference and creates real business (and user experience) value.


> Design is still massively under-appreciated.

Is it? With everyone talking about it here how important it is, I get the feeling it is over hyped. There is also not a lot or maybe actually no proof at all these sites became popular because of design. They threw massive amounts of VC money into marketing and networking and ads etc. And next to that they went viral (probably because of the massive amounts of vc money and people in influencer circles egging eachother on, for which you can find traces on HN and reddit easily): would be great to see some actual references how you came to say with such certainty this is 'because of design'.


Your definition of design here is limited to graphic design.

For many, design also refers to how a product solves a people problem, how does it affect people’s lives, what’s it worth ...

People who practice (product) design spend time looking at usage data, talking to people and understanding what the impact of a design change is.

I think most will agree those are essential things for a product to be successful.


Well, the GP is talking margins and branding. That sounds like graphic design to me.

But it does also apply to your definition somewhat though: if we were marketing forcefed a solution which made (possibly better designed per your definition) competitors die, is this excellent design (per your definition) or is everyone parotting eachother because they had enough cash to 'win the race' and are therefor the new standard? Which has nothing to do with design (even in your broader definition).

Ps. I do agree with you but very much feel that GP is mostly talking about graphical design, which I simply do not think is as important as designers think it is. Compared to most other aspects.


Indeed I don’t agree with GP’s pov that a clean graphical design is a major factor in the success of the products listed. I see it more as a side effect of a good team. That is to say, I would have less faith in a company that can’t get their process in shape to produce basic UI consistency for a consumer product.


> Design makes all the difference and creates real business (and user experience) value

Yes, design adds value, but the graphical aspect (margins, branding, etc) adds less than you think. In my view, given two technically equal systems, design only decides which system users will gravitate towards. Without good design, users will happily use your system, unless they know that there is a better-looking version of the same system elsewhere.

So this makes graphical design mandatory, but in a way that is to a great extent decoupled from value.


ElementaryOS is the best at this I've seen, as far as Linux distros. They have their own desktop environment, pantheon, which a designer has obviously laboured over. Use Inter as a UI font, disable all font hinting, and you have visual aesthetics and usability that is better than Windows, and in striking distance to macOS.


and: please kick sourceforge.net, that download page is incredibly ugly and destroys the "quality aura" you built up on your own website.


Totally agree. I don’t understand why so many programmers insist on designing stuff themselves. Except few exceptions we all suck at that (but then I admire people who are good at both).


Insist? While it is easy to find programmers to contribute to a community project for free, designers expect to be paid. Not everyone has enough spare cash to pay a professional designer. So they do the design themselves to the best of their ability.


I’m not talking about people who can’t afford paying and needing one, but even those can find a designer to help them if the project is interesting enough. I have done it myself and it’s been good for everyone involved. But my comment was targeted to the “I could totally afford a designer but I’m good enough myself” when most of the time is just ego speaking.


I totally agree with your comment. I think design is one of the reasons Linux Hasn’t been able to take over the desktops despite offering so many distros to choose from.


Are there any linux teams who need a UX designer / QA process?


Yes. After nearly 20 years the year for "Linux on Desktop", all Linux OS / Distro design still screams Linux right from the start.


Give me ZFS option in the installer, I will give it a go. Presently om Ubuntu because it has the best desktop experience with excellent ZFS support out of the box.


Curious, why does the filesystem matter for desktop usage?

(I ask out of ignorance, not pedantry - I'm on Windows which only allows one filesystem choice and I've never felt limited by that)


> I'm on Windows which only allows one filesystem choice and I've never felt limited by that

I'm on Windows too (because professional constraints and bad hidpi support on Linux) after 25+ years on Linux.

I cry everyday because of poor filesystem performance. Don't know if it's due to NTFS, to Windows, or antivirus stuff (Defender which is disabled most of the time). Git operations in particular are very slow.

Any filesystem on a Linux box would feel 10 times faster :(


This seems to be a known phenomenon - https://stackoverflow.com/questions/197162/ntfs-performance-...

That's looking at large numbers of files and folders, but we all know that overheads like these tend to come about due to inefficiency at the per-file level scaling up.

Also might be worth checking you've got 8.3 filenames disabled and stripped from existing files (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/archive/blogs/josebda/windo...).

Although in general I must admit I find Linux offers better performance due to less "hidden cruft" running - perhaps the issue is background services like Windows defender (and all the other ones that don't immediately leap out) like you suggest.


Thanks, I hadn't heard about 8.3 filenames and it turns out they are activated on my laptop (somewhat recent Dell Latitude 5491). However, unlike the article you linked, I only have a C: drive and Windows won't let me change that setting easily. Will investigate further...

EDIT: finally managed to do it by tweaking a register. Weird, my filesystem already contains a mix of files with and without 8dot3names. Will monitor this in the future to see if there is an impact on FS performance.


I hadn't either, and I'm keen to see if it makes any difference on a local PC (as opposite to a large file server with huge numbers of files stored).

It strikes me Microsoft struggles with significant legacy across much of their product range, that is holding them back. Between filesystems still supporting 8.3 naming, and client links to AD seemingly assuming that clients are on trusted LAN networks (in 2021), I wonder if their backwards compatibility could be their downfall.

In a competitive market where they weren't quite so dominant, it would be interesting to see if a startup could get good enough API compatibility through WINE that they could offer a commercial "windows replacement" distribution, offering remote management via an AD-compatible interface (that can run zero-trust via SSL, the way it should be designed in 2021).


In case someone reads this (6 days later). Looks like git rebase is a lot faster now \o/


Linux mint has had working hidpi for 5 years.


Try a UHD + HD screen combo with fractional scaling an NVIDIA card and we'll talk ;)

I tried every Ubuntu release for a few years and we're not there yet. 21.04-beta now almost works except that fractional scaling makes it unusably slow.

I hear there is progress on the proprietary NVIDIA driver side. Maybe 21.10 will be the one...


I've tried approximating "Virtual Super Resolution" with xrandr and use 200% scaling to get rid of the slowdown, which would have worked if GNOME didn't keep tight grips on screen resolution/framebuffer size -- my manual changes reverted as soon as I got to the display preference panel.


Linux mint adds more quality of life features than vanilla Ubuntu. Including working HIDPI. Try it.


You said you just have Windows Defender, but for others, the big hit to FS performance is why I hate Sophos AV with a passion. IT departments though, seem to love to enforce it.


Yeah my colleagues have the approved AV forced onto them by the IT department and it seems to be much worse for them. Happily, sysadmins seem to have forgotten about me and I'm free to administer my laptop :D


That's not an argument for swappable filesystems as much as for Microsoft to get their shit together :-)

But yeah, competition could do that so point taken.

Ps. An article made the rounds on HN the other day (can't find it back) that was rather confidently suggesting that it's Defender running in every CloseHandle system call. But it's all an obtuse black box so super hard to actually find out what's going on.


To be pedantic, Windows already supports other filesystems, it's just a feature rarely used for the main disk (network filesystems and FAT memory cards are ubiquitous, of course).

And for those who wants a to live dangerously, there is even a port of ZFS: https://github.com/openzfsonwindows/ZFSin


Zfs has great support for snapshots (as mentioned by others) and built-in support for encryption. In addition it handles various types of device management/raid.

Windows/ntfs has (not as good) volume management (dynamic disks) and encryption (bitlocker). But nothing like the snapshot functionality.

In addition to "regular" backups - zfs snapshots can be used in order to present historic data alongside current state.

For any new Linux (or bsd) distribution - I think you really need a special reason not to use zfs.

There's even drivers for windows, macos, bsd - so it's possible to share disks/external drives with a sane fs with encryption support between installations (not sure how stable windows/macos is though).

For dragonfly bsd, they have their own hammer fs with clustering features. For older Linux distros, xfs is well proven tech. And "ext" is of course "standard".

I still believe zfs should be the default for new desktop/server installs.

The one drawback might be memory requirements on embedded systems.


Some filesystems have features for creating snapshots of the whole of the filesystem or parts of it, and for serializing those snapshot and diffs between them in a form that allows streaming reconstruction of exact logical state elsewhere. My slightly elaborate backup/sync requirements made me a big fan of btrfs.

Some other things one may care about even on desktop are compression, corruption detection, and deduplication.


I think the most useful feature of modern filesystems (e.g. ZFS & Btrfs) relevant to desktop usage is the ability to create snapshot. Software store can automatically take a snapshot before add/remove/upgrade apps; if an upgrade causes issue (e.g. blank screen so there is no way to downgrade), just reboot and choose previous snapshot from boot entry.

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2020/03/ubuntu-20-04s-zsys-a...


Zorin is based on Ubuntu, it should have ZFS support (though perhaps not in the installer).


I really like it, especially the Inter font, which I think is much better than Cantarell. I hope the GNOME team decides to switch to it.

I remember installing Zorin back in 2016 after watching an ExplainingComputers video on it. Brings back the memories ...


Inter is very nice, but personally I’ve taken to Iosevka Aile and it’s what I’m using on my own workstation for UI don’t (along with Iosevka Mono for code).


Can you not just change it yourself in Gnome Tweaks? Which font is it they are using?


But the GDM font remains the same


That has to be changed in the GDM theme. Look in /usr/share/gdm/themes . Find the XML greeter file for the theme you are using, make a backup, and edit the font attributes.


Thank you!


Wow this looks beautiful. They have more details on why they charge for certain versions and what their overall goals are like at https://zorinos.com/download/why-pay/

My one question is how security is upheld in what seems like a project maintained by a small number of people.


> My one question is how security is upheld in what seems like a project maintained by a small number of people.

This is a really good question, and one that needs to be asked more. When it comes to distributions, small ones seem to either tend to blindly track their upstream (say Debian or Ubuntu), and add a few custom packages over the top, or go it alone completely, and have to manage all their own distribution and building.

The latter really needs a lot of time spent dealing with CVEs. When a backport of a patch is needed (for a non rolling release distribution), that's effort that smaller distributions can struggle with.

I can't find it just now, but I've seen a table comparing different Linux distributions, and their time in days to ship to users a patch for given vulnerabilities. Some of the bigger distributions were certainly not the best.

In terms of security around software supply chains, reproducible builds are one possible way to do that. Nothing (or almost nothing) is going to stop a rogue developer in the team from adding a malicious patch though.


Is this Linux under the hood?


Yes.

> Zorin OS is a personal computer operating system designed and promoted for users new to Linux-based computers. (...) The new editions continue to use the Ubuntu-based Linux kernel and GNOME or XFCE interface.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zorin_OS


This is an Ubuntu with extra packages.

I thunk here is a repo with all the extra packages that this OS variant has: https://launchpad.net/~zorinos/+archive/ubuntu/stable


Why isn't this just a desktop environment?


For the out of the box experience, I'd think.


Yeah, I didn't want to install Ubuntu then because it looked ugly. Zorin and Elementary were really appealing to me then.


Just installed Zorin's lite version to an Aspire One with Atom CPU and 1gb of ram. Works like a dream for a machine that's ancient for our standards. Some aspire specific tweaks were required but all in all replacing the mechanical disk with a SSD made it live again. The fact that it looks very similar to Windows makes it usable for non-Linux people.

So seeing on HN was a shock to me. Recommended for old hardware nonetheless!


It looks beautiful, but I don't want flatpack anything.


Flatpak is the only practical approach to achieve some degree of isolation on Linux today, unless you are willing to go with Qubes OS.

And yes, I know Flatpak has some way to go before it actually reaches that goal, but I don't see any other solution to this problem that Linux users in general seem to be happy just pretending doesn't exist.

If not Flatpak, do you have an alternative approach to propose to regular users who just want to be able to run a random application without worrying that it has access to all your information?


> Flatpak is the only practical approach to achieve some degree of isolation on Linux today, unless you are willing to go with Qubes OS.

Flatpak tries to solve a problem I don't have. I use the packages from the distro (and you trust the distribution, isn't it?), and it provides any software I need.

So I guess it all depends on your requirements.


I trust the distribution, I have to because they are they ones delivering the kernel.

But I absolutely do not trust any of the software I install from the distribution's repositories. The packager doesn't analyse the code for all the software they add to the distribution, so it cannot be trusted.

Personally, I use Qubes OS, but people who's don't still deserve a secure operating system.


If you are not trusting the packages provided by you distribution, you should switch to a different one.

I'm very happy with the packages I get from Debian.

https://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/

Add a bit of common sense, and it is enough for me (and I assume for most people, but hey!).


There are no distributions that do security testing of all packages. And even if they did, it wouldn't be a guarantee that all software are actually free of security bugs.

The solution is to simply not trust the software at all. This is the approach Qubes OS takes, and works really well. Most regular users don't really need to go as far as Qubes OS does though, and application level isolation that Flatpak is trying to achieve is enough.

I don't see how anyone can accept that any random piece of software is allowed to access all your personal files is acceptable. We certainly don't accept it on mobile platforms (how many posts do we see here about applications that scrape user's contacts?) so why should we accept it on the desktops?


https://www.flatkill.org/2020/

Isolation that with gaping holes in it isn't isolation. Most flathub apps have "access to all your information" one way or another.

It's a pain to work with too, and it's dependency management result in outdated and handicapped dependencies (like when upstream base images decided to disable vaapi support in gstreamer).

The slapped on app store is feature creep of an extreme degree, and I suspect that's the biggest part of the agenda: side-stepping distro repos.

If you want to make a good sandboxing solution, make it standalone and don't mix distribution into things. Say, AppImage + bubblewrap.


> Most flathub apps have "access to all your information" one way or another.

I went thought some of the Flatpak applications I commonly use, and none of them had access to all my information. I'm not going to go through all of them, but this suggests that the quoted statement isn't true.

I stand by my original statement that Flatpak is the only system that tries to address this. The fact that you're suggesting two separate technologies in combination confirms this, in my opinion.


Examples of popular apps that can write to the host filesystem (and remember kids, the ability to write to $HOME always means full account takeover, followed shortly by root access if your account can sudo):

- vs code (https://github.com/flathub/com.visualstudio.code/blob/91e589...)

- chromium (https://github.com/flathub/org.chromium.Chromium/blob/1edd4a...)

- sublime text (https://github.com/flathub/com.sublimetext.three/blob/d1f617...)

- obs studio (https://github.com/flathub/com.obsproject.Studio/blob/051f6f...)

The applications above also provide other dangerous privileges, but they pale in the presence of filesystem access.

Examples of applications that have full device access (which is considered insecure and called "not ideal" in the flatpak docs), as well as sharing a bunch of namespaces like network and IPC (meaning these parts are not sandboxed):

- discord (https://github.com/flathub/com.discordapp.Discord/blob/maste...)

- steam (https://github.com/flathub/com.valvesoftware.Steam/blob/beta...)

- telegram (https://github.com/flathub/org.telegram.desktop/blob/beta/or...)

- lutris (https://github.com/flathub/net.lutris.Lutris/blob/beta/net.l...)

Of all the applications I sampled (some by popularity, some random I knew), all gave full device access and disabled network/ipc sandboxing. A significant chunk gave filesystem=host access (not even home, host!).

(I am however happy to see that the number of filesystem=home/filesystem=host manifests seem to have dropped.)

> The fact that you're suggesting two separate technologies in combination confirms this, in my opinion.

Whenever independent tasks need to be accomplished, independent solutions is the superior choice. The alternative are monoliths and semi-closed gardens.


> Examples of popular apps that can write to the host filesystem (and remember kids, the ability to write to $HOME always means full account takeover, followed shortly by root access if your account can sudo):

I actually use exactly zero of the applications you mentioned. The ones I looked at was:

Spotify - Only access to music and pictures

Element - Keyring and download. It does get all-devices though which could be a problem

Signal - Gets access to a bunch of directories such as desktop and documents. This is a bit excessive.

Tor browser - No access (I wouldn't expect anything less)

Climaxima - No access, but I wrote that application so perhaps that's a bit unfair

Those as the applications I most commonly use. However, now that I look through the list of applications I have installed, I see some that I'm really disappointed are requesting full filesystem access, including GIMP and Kdelive.

> Whenever independent tasks need to be accomplished, independent solutions is the superior choice. The alternative are monoliths and semi-closed gardens.

I don't disagree with this. It's most definitely possible that your proposed approach is better, but as of right now, no one is making that easy (i.e. you need to know what you're doing to benefit from the security benefits).


You don't have to use it. It doesn't look like anything comes from Flatpak by default.


Unlike most Linux distro's, the "ultimate edition" is not free.


Yeah... last I read up, they kinda sell you KDE connect at a price. yeah . zorin connect... i find that..... uh


I find it great, by all means let me pay for something if it means you can use my money to maintain and improve the thing.


I would support it too, but I'm not sure they contribute anything back upstream.


Is it possible to put the cpu, memory usage, network speed (both in and out) in the bottom panel? It'll be great if the cpu&memory usage color can be customized, e.g. green if < threshold1, orange if from threshold1 to threshold2 and red if > threshold 2. Similar customization for the battery level.


Does anyone know why the Ultimate version found here: https://zorinos.com/ultimate/ is on version 15 and not the new 16 version? Because I want Zorin to take my money for building such a great OS


16 is still a beta, according to the link.


>Your feedback will allow us to improve Zorin OS 16 even further

Damn, that's bright! Is there a dark mode?


"Undoubtedly the most groundbreaking and revolutionary feature we’ve ever included, Jelly Mode".

I seriously thought this was a joke. But after seeing the animation I was completely blown away! This is going to change how we interact with computers without a doubt. Wow.


It did change it, about 15 years ago: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compiz#Beryl


KDE has had "Wobbly Windows" in their desktop effects settings for some time, with pretty much the same animation. It gets old quick.




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