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Distro hopping around DistroWatch challenge: Zorin OS

July 1st, 2017 No comments

I have an older Lenovo X60 laptop lying around that I don’t really use for anything these days and I decided that it might make for a decent computer to use to play around with some random distributions. It’s not the best machine in the world but does come packed with an Intel Core2Duo (T7200) @ 2GHz and 2GiB of RAM.

OK so it’s not the newest laptop in the world but it’ll do 🙂

OK so I have the machine and now to install a new distribution! …Unfortunately when I went to finally pick which distribution to actually install I couldn’t make up my mind and instead figured that I should first come up with an interesting way to help out with that process. So I went over to everyone’s favourite website DistroWatch.com and, after loading up their big list of distributions, I kind of just scrolled up and down while randomly moving the mouse for a while. Yeah not the most scientific approach but whatever. When I stopped my mouse was highlighting a link for Zorin OS and so the decision was made.

Designed for Windows XP but not limited to it!

I also came up with a simple rule for this round of distro hopping: stick to the base included software if possible. So for example if a distribution ships with Evolution as its e-mail client then use that instead of installing Thunderbird or something else. The point of this ‘rule’ is simply to try and use it in the way the packagers intended, rather than simply falling back to my standard set of software choices.

Very nice first impression

Zorin OS is a distribution that I’ve never actually used before and so this was a good first stop. According to its website it positions itself as:

“…the perfect blend of power and usability for everyone. Zorin OS was built to be as easy as possible, so you won’t need to learn a thing to get started thanks to its familiar user interface. It comes loaded with all the apps and tools you need out of the box for browsing the web, working, playing and everything in between.”

OK so let’s see what major software Zorin OS comes with by default:

I must say I’m actually quite impressed by this list. This is extremely close to what I would normally install on my systems and I think it will offer an excellent experience to Linux newcomers. I should also point out that even though it doesn’t look like it, Zorin OS is running on top of GNOME Shell and is actually based on Ubuntu so you inherit a lot of nice things (e.g. online help, PPAs, etc.) as a result.

Even something as boring as the menu is really, really nice!

My first impressions of Zorin OS in the brief time that I’ve used it so far are that the team spent a lot of time really polishing the presentation of their desktop. There is a lot of attention to detail here in the small things, for example how the logo fades in during boot or how the menu animates and slides as you move through it, that you just don’t find in a lot of other major distributions.

In terms of how it performs, even on this old laptop it seems pretty decent. On cold start it uses about 900 MiB of RAM which is a tad bit high but after a few hours of using it I was only up to around ~1.5 GiB or so which isn’t too bad.

I’ll be playing around with Zorin OS more over the coming days/weeks/whatever and will post anything interesting that I find as I go. Then it’ll be off to hop to another DistroWatch link. If you’re interested in joining me on this crazy made up challenge we would love to feature your write ups here at The Linux Experiment as well. Simply head over to this link and get in touch!

So Many Fruity Flavours…

July 30th, 2009 No comments

I think that I’m the only member of the group with absolutely zero experience with Linux. Sure, I’ve used TightVNC to check the status of a Ubuntu-based file server, and I may even have dropped a live CD into my machine once or twice before in vain attempts to save my files from a bricked Windows install, but I have roughly zero actual experience with any of the distributions. Due to my lack of knowledge and the antique laptop that I’ll likely be using during the experiment, I’ve decided to stick to one of the more popular distributions to ensure ease of use and a wide base of drivers to draw from. So far, the Top Ten Distributions page over at DistroWatch has been very helpful, and I’ve managed to narrow my choice down to just a few of the hundreds of available flavours of Linux (ordered by my current preference):

  • Debian: Over 1000 developers, 20 000 packages, and no corporate backing – the definition of open source community development
  • Fedora: Strictly adheres to the free software philosophy; used by Linus Torvalds himself (If that ain’t street cred…)
  • openSUSE: A pretty looking desktop, with corporate backing from Novell.

While doing my research, I have purposely avoided Ubuntu Linux and it’s variants, as they seem to be “the” distribution of choice these days. To really get a taste of what it’s like to make the switch from Windows with zero previous experience, I’ve decided to stay away from Ubuntu. It’s just too common, and I’m non-conformist as can be.

The Search Begins

July 29th, 2009 1 comment

100% fat free

Picking a flavour of Linux is like picking what you want to eat for dinner; sure some items may taste better than others but in the end you’re still full. At least I hope, the satisfied part still remains to be seen.

Where to begin?

A quick search of Wikipedia reveals that the sheer number of Linux distributions, and thus choices, can be very overwhelming. Thankfully because of my past experience with Ubuntu I can at least remove it and it’s immediate variants, Kubuntu and Xubuntu, from this list of potential candidates. That should only leave me with… well that hardly narrowed it down at all!

Seriously... the number of possible choices is a bit ridiculous

Seriously... the number of possible choices is a bit ridiculous

Learning from others’ experience

My next thought was to use the Internet for what it was designed to do: letting other people do your work for you! To start Wikipedia has a list of popular distributions. I figured if these distributions have somehow managed to make a name for themselves, among all of the possibilities, there must be a reason for that. Removing the direct Ubuntu variants, the site lists these as Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, gOS, Knoppix, Linux Mint, Mandriva, MontaVista Linux, OpenGEU, openSUSE, Oracle Enterprise Linux, Pardus, PCLinuxOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Sabayon Linux, Slackware and, finally, Slax.

Doing a both a Google and a Bing search for “linux distributions” I found a number of additional websites that seem as though they might prove to be very useful. All of these websites aim to provide information about the various distributions or help point you in the direction of the one that’s right for you.

Only the start

Things are just getting started. There is plenty more research to do as I compare and narrow down the distributions until I finally arrive at the one that I will install come September 1st. Hopefully I can wrap my head around things by then.