Zorin OS 16 Pro | The Perfect Alternative To Windows Or macOS

Today is the official release of Zorin OS 16 and its Pro version with their Lite and Education versions released in the coming months. The guys over at Zorin were nice enough to send me a copy of the Pro version which is what we’re going to be checking out today. For those unfamiliar Zorin is an Ubuntu based distribution that uses a modified GNOME desktop for its Core and Pro versions.

Some of the new features of Zorin 16 include ;

  • A visual refresh with a new and improved default theme
  • New dynamic wallpapers that change depending on the time of day
  • Better performance over previous versions 
  • A new tour to welcome you to your new desktop & distribution 
  • Multi-touch touchpad gestures
  • Flathub integration and Snap support
  • Easily side load Windows software
  • New Sound Recorder app
  • An Improved Taskbar
  • Redesigned Zorin Appearance 
  • A New Windows 11 like desktop layout for Pro version
  • Jelly Mode

And a whole lot more!

The ISO size for the Pro version weighs in at just under 5GB. The Core version will of course be considerably smaller. The installation process was quick and easy and was complete in under 10 minutes on my machine. I can’t see anyone having any issue with the installer especially if you’ve installed a distribution like Ubuntu before.

Zorin 16 is based on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa which is a long term support release. The Linux kernel shipped with Zorin 16 is version 5.11.0 and Zorin uses x11 as its default windowing system.

Upon starting up for the first time you’ll be greeted with the new guided tour to help familiarise yourself with how things work. It will show you around the desktop and also let you choose your desktop look with Zorin Appearance. It will also guide you through setting up your online accounts and linking your phone with Zorin Connect. After a few more steps you’ll be good to go and start enjoying Zorin OS 16.

Zorin Tour

The default desktop layout is an attractive and user friendly setup. It consists of a single panel layout which is positioned at the bottom by default. The panel itself behaves very similarly to the GNOME extension Dash To Panel. You have a simple but attractive application at the left of the panel which is the Zorin menu followed by your overview button. Then you’ll have your pinned applications before making your way to the right hand side of the panel where you will find things like your notifications and other settings. The panel is slightly transparent and although I’m not usually a huge fan of light themes, theirs is fairly pleasant and easy on the eye. If you are not a huge fan of the default panel setup and want to make some adjustments it’s as simple as right clicking on the panel and selecting ‘Taskbar Settings’.

You can further customise the look and feel of the desktop in Zorin Appearance. Here you will find a number of different desktop layouts designed to mimic the look and feel of other popular operating systems. They have layouts that mirror macOS, Unity, Windows 11 and more. New in Zorin OS 16 Pro is their Windows 11 like layout. Overall the new Windows 11 layout does a decent job of acting like Windows 11 and should make people switching to Linux from windows feel more at home.

Windows 11 Layout

Personally I’m still quite partial to the Unity layout. You can also change your theme and accent colours from Zorin Appearance and even enable the new ‘Jelly Mode’ effect which isn’t too dissimilar to wobbly windows.

In Zorin OS 16 you’ll be able to use more applications than ever before. The flathub repository which is home to a whole host of flatpak applications is enabled out of the box on Zorin OS 16. Interestingly a lot of the included applications which are installed out of the box are actually flatpaks themselves. You’ll also find Snap and Appimage support is all enabled out of the box but it doesn’t end there. One of the most intriguing new features of Zorin OS 16 is the ability to ‘Sideload’ Windows applications. It does this in an interesting way. So WINE has been a feature of Linux for what seems like forever and Zorin uses WINE for their Windows ‘Sideloading’. When launching a windows installer it will open up a GUI that will first try to find you a native Linux alternative to the Windows application or you can proceed and install the .exe. 

Windows Application ‘Side loading’

The new multi touch touchpad gestures are a more than welcome addition to Zorin OS. With a combination of three finger pinches and four finger swipes you can move around your desktop with ease. The gestures have 1:1 motion so whether you’re pinching to open the overview or swiping to move workspaces it will all be handled incredibly fluidly. These gestures make using a laptop feel a lot more elegant and intuitive.

On a fresh boot htop showed that I was using around 900-950MB of system memory. While this isn’t the lightest distribution ever in terms of RAM usage it’s about what you would expect from a full fat distribution featuring the GNOME desktop. Of course if that feels just a little too heavy for you there is always their light version which uses XFCE.

All in all I think this is an outstanding release from the team over at Zorin. It’s a distribution I’d be happy to recommend to all users but especially those jumping ship from Windows or macOS due to the desktop layouts available. There has been a lot of new Ubuntu based distribution releases as of late and I think i’d put Zorin OS somewhere near the top of that pile.

What do you think of Zorin OS 16? Let me know in the comments below!

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