I made my first steps in the Linux world hand in hand with my good old friend Linux Mint. The reason was that the Linux Mint distribution is very newbie friendly but also good for professional use, incredibly easy to install and setup and many important and useful functionalities are already available out-of-the-box. Linux Mint makes it more easy for beginners to make the switch compared to other Linux distributions. And while Linux Mint was my favorite distro for a couple of years and I think it is still a great distribution, I feel that it mainly pleases former Windows users due to the chosen UI design language and way of working. But there is another easily accessible, friendly and beautiful Linux distribution that will appeal not only to former Windows users but to former macOS users as well, and that has some great special features that Linux Mint doesn’t offer straight out of the box. That is, in my opinion, Zorin OS. I really lost my heart to this distribution because it looks fantastic, can be visually set up via simple adjustments to appeal both Windows and macOS users, offers a lot of robust functionality that is already present after installation, has nice integration with your mobile device and offers many user-friendly and health friendly functionalities which makes this distribution rise above others. I am very enthusiastic about Zorin OS so I am really excited that yesterday the Zorin team released Zorin OS 15.1. Let’s see what it has to offer.
About Zorin OS
Unlike many other distributions, the Zorin OS developers focus on absolute reliability and stability and consciously choose not to be a leader in all bleeding edge developments. In order to do that, Zorin OS is always based on what is called an Ubuntu based LTS, or Long Term Support release. LTS releases receive 5 years of support and security updates. Next to that Zorin OS itself comes with interim updates with new functionalities and improvements, but always based on the stable LTS Ubuntu releases. The most recent version of Zorin OS is 15.1 which was released on December 12, 2019. This version is based on Ubuntu Bionic Beaver 18.04.2 LTS with release date April 26, 2018. Thus this release of Zorin OS will be supported until April 2023.
Here a nice promotion video that shows some key features of Zorin OS. The quality and style of the video is also an indicator for the modern, minimalist and flat design style that you will also find in Zorin OS.
Source: Zorin OS Youtube Channel
What is new in Zorin OS 15.1
Zorin OS 15 already was a really great distro, but each time the developers find things to further improve this distro. So let’s see what Zorin OS 15.1 has to offer.
Zorin Connect has been improved with presentation Pointer
Zorin Connect offers integration functionality between your Zorin OS computer and your Android mobile device. Zorin Connect is a software solution that makes wireless communication possible between your Zorin OS device and your Android mobile phone, as long as your computer is connected to your network and your Android phone is connected to the same network via WiFi. With Zorin Connect it is possible to receive the notifications that normally appear on your phone, on your desktop as well, like WhatsApp or Telegram messages. You even can react to these messages or remove them directly from your desktop. But you also can browse the photos on your phone, share both files and links between your devices, get notifications for incoming phone calls and SMS messages on your computer and you can even use your Android phone as a remote control to control some software on your computer.
So what has been improved? You already could use the Slideshow remote feature on your Android device for changing presentation slides in for example a LibreOffice document, but now it offers a pointer that responds to the movements of your mobile. This makes it easier to get your point across when presenting slide decks. Just select the Slideshow remote option in Zorin Connect on your mobile device, keep touching the Pointer area, and just move your device to move the pointer on the screen.
Zorin Connect now also makes it possible to control playback of the media player on your Android device directly from your desktop from the notifications menu in Zorin OS 15.1.
If you want to know how to setup a connection between your devices based on Zorin Connect, you can read my article “How to Connect your Android phone to Zorin OS with Zorin Connect“.
Includes updated version of LibreOffice
Even though improvements within LibreOffice are not direct merits of the Zorin OS team, the fact that they choose to make LibreOffice 6.3 part of Zorin OS 15.1 is a good choice. LibreOffice 6.3 has a lot of improvements and was focussed on making the application even more compatible with Microsoft Office documents. In addition, documents now open and save up to 97% faster than before, according to the LibreOffice team.
Optimized support for gamers
Originally yes, but now not for years anymore, I am not really a gamer anymore, so this is not my expertise. But I know more and more Linux enthusiasts, but also originally Windows-based gamers, have recently seen enormous growth in the gaming possibilities of different Linux distributions. And Zorin OS also focussed on improved gaming support. Zorin OS 15.1 now includes a GameMode, which makes games run noticeably faster than in the previous version. It helps to dynamically allocate CPU, GPU, and disk I/O resources to the game you’re playing when required, so it prioritizes its performance when necessary. GameMode will work together with supported games and will be automatically enabled in the background.
Zorin Auto Theme
In the previous version of Zorin OS the team included the possibility to automatically switch between light and dark mode, based on the time of the day. The Zorin team received very positive reactions and personally I think it is a great feature as well. Due to this positive feedback the Zorin team wanted to further improve this feature by adding the possibility to set your own schedule, next to the existing location based schedule.
Dynamic background opacity
Another new feature is the possibility to enable or disable Dynamic background opacity in the panel settings. When enabled the panel changes its transparency when a window is nearby or maximized.
Dynamic background opacity enabled…
New font Sans Forgetica
The font Sans Forgetica has been included in this distro. Probably you directly think…why is this exciting? Well, this font is kind of special as it is developed by a team of designers and behavioral scientists at RMIT University with the goal to help you remember your study notes. This improvement fits also perfectly in the existence of Zorin OS 15.1 Education edition.
See below a nice video with some background on this special font.
Source: RMIT University
Zorin OS 15.1 is now based on the more modern 5.0 Linux kernel. This kernel offers improved support for more recent hardware. Further it makes sure end users can trust Zorin OS even more because of several performance enhancements and security improvements.
How to get Zorin OS
When you already installed Zorin OS 15, your system will be automatically updated to the newest 15.1 version. In that case You probably already got the pop up that there are new updates available. Agree to install the updates, reboot your machine and you will see under Settings / Details that Zorin OS 15.1 has been installed.
You can also check that your system is now indeed being migrated to Linux kernel 5.0, by typing the following command in your Terminal:
This will give you output comparable like this:
When you use another Linux distribution or Windows or macOS, you can try Zorin OS 15.1 first without installing by using a live usb drive or install it right away. Downloading Zorin OS is incredibly easy. I assume that you want to use the most recent version, Zorin OS 15.1. To do this, follow these steps:
1) Go to https://zorinos.com/download/
On this Download page you see 4 variants that you can choose from, namely Zorin OS 15.1 Ultimate which is the only paid option that cost Euro 39 (Read the following why you should consider paying: https://zorinos.com/download/why-pay/), Zorin OS 15.1 Core (free), Zorin OS 15.1 Lite (free) and Zorin OS 15.1 Education (free).
- Zorin OS 15.1 Ultimate is the most extended distribution variant of Zorin OS, which means that the distro includes lots of additional games, business and media software, but also out-of-the-box more selectable desktop layouts (macOS, Windows, Touch, Windows Classic, Gnome 3, Ubuntu). And you will get Installation support.
- Zorin OS 15.1 Core is the variant that I use myself. This is a free version with less options out-of-the-box, but for which a lot of them can be installed and selected manually. It offers only the Windows and Touch desktop, which are in my opinion already great options, as the latter already gives a macOS like vibe.
- Zorin OS 15.1 Lite has been created with old computers in mind. It offers XFCE, which is a very lightweight desktop environment so it runs fast on very old computers.
- Zorin OS 15.1 Education is created for educational purposes. It offers many useful educational apps, like applications to learn coding like GDevelop, Builder and Scratch.
2) On the Download page look for the Zorin OS 15.1 version you are interested in and hit the Download button.
A new screen opens with the option to sign up for the Zorin OS newsletter. If you don’t want to sign up just click on “Skip to Download”.
You now get a Thank you for Downloading page with a link to the installation instructions. Meanwhile the ISO file will be downloaded to your Downloads folder.
Now that you have downloaded the Zorin OS 15.1 ISO file, you want to create a usb bootable live drive to test the operating system or to install it directly. If you need some support, I created the tutorial “How to create a Zorin OS bootable usb in macOS and Windows” on how to do this on both a Windows and a macOS based computer.
Have lots of fun with Zorin OS 15.1 and till next time!