A Tour of the Zorin Gnome Desktop
Zorin OS is based on the standard Ubuntu distribution and features a Gnome based GUI/desktop but without the contentious Unity window manager. Instead, Zorin uses the Avant Window Navigator (aka awn) to provide a more traditional desktop layout, with icons and menus along a panel at the bottom of the screen.
Zorin is based on the standard Ubuntu distribution and features a Gnome based GUI/desktop but without the contentious Unity window manager
Quite surprisingly, the response speed is very good even when running Zorin direct from a USB Stick; the boot speed is rather slow, but it is worth the wait!
Note: the screenshots in this chapter were taken from the Zorin OS 6 release
The applications that come pre-installed with Zorin naturally reflect the ethos of the distro, which is to make the transition from Windows as easy as possible. Here is a taster of some of the applications that Zorin OS 6 is currently shipping with:
..The applications that come pre-installed with Zorin naturally reflect the ethos of the distro, which is to make the transition from Windows as easy as possible
|Word Processor ||LibreOffice Writer|
|Image Editor||GIMP 2.8|
|Web Support||Flash and PDF support|
|Package Manager||Ubuntu Software Center|
In addition, it comes with all the system tools you would expect - as well as the ability to customize the look and feel should you so desire. Zorin is stuffed with applications right from the install - which puts it into direct competition with Linux Mint as a distro that is "usable straight out of the box".
Note that even if an application is not in the default installation, it can be easily downloaded using the Software Center within minutes.
In summary, Zorin is aimed at Windows users wanting to make the jump to Linux with the minimum of fuss or configuration. Additionally, if you are an Ubuntu fan but find you cannot bring yourself to use Unity - or do not fancy Linux Mint - then Zorin may be for you!
Zorin includes a utility called the Zorin Look Changer which allows it emulate the look and feel of the desktop of various Windows releases. This can be accessed from the Main Menu under the "System Tools" heading.
Zorin Look Changer is basically a number of desktop themes which you can switch between and give you a somewhat similar look to one of the following desktops:
The screenshot below shows the Windows XP desktop theme:
The degree to which these are successful is debatable, but it does somewhat lessen the learning curve for those coming to Linux from a purely Windows background. In this chapter, we will be looking at the default (Windows 7 style) desktop theme.
Zorin, like the standard Ubuntu offering, uses the Gnome desktop. However, unlike the latter, Zorin eschews the Unity desktop manager in favour of the more conservative Avant Window Navigator(-aka awn). When you boot Zorin, the desktop will display as shown below:
As can be seen, the default desktop is a fairly spartan one, with all functions accessible from the bottom panel at the foot of the screen. The desktop background can be customized as desired, using the "Change Desktop Background" option in the context menu.
Open windows and applications display in the main desktop area.
Zorin allows files and shortcuts to be saved to the desktop, by simply click-dragging the desired file to the desktop from the file manager (nautilus) window then releasing the mouse button. An icon will then appear on the desktop, which can be dragged around or renamed / deleted as desired.
The bulk of your desktop interaction with Zorin will be through the panel at the bottom of the desktop:
This can be divided into four main parts:
The Main Menu allows users to access to all the Zorin functions. This can be likened to the "Start" menu in Windows:
From here you can access functions such as:
|Accessories||Various small tools for making the most of your system|
|Games||Lists some basic games for filling those empty minutes|
|Graphics||Lists programs for dealing with images|
|Internet||List programs for accessing the internet and the network|
|Office||List any applications commonly used for business purposes, such as word processing and spreadsheets|
|Sound & Video||List any applications for audio / video viewing|
|System Tools||Click this icon to access various Linux system tools|
|Universal Access||Utilities and settings for disabled users|
|Wine||Access to the Wine compatibility libraries for Windows applications|
|Software Center||Access the Ubuntu Software Center|
|Places||Access devices attached to the computer using the File Manager|
Note: most options will themselves have sub-menus themselves
Zorin uses the Nautilus File Manager, which works very much like most other file managers, allowing you to drill down into directories, access and manipulates files, etc.
The File Manager can be accessed directly from the icon in the Bottom Panel - or via the "Places" option on the Main Menu. Both will open up a File Manager window, the former to your user home directory, similar to that below:
Left-click any item to select it -or double-click a directory to navigate down into it. Double-click a file to either open it or run it (-depending on whether it is executable or not). Right click a file to access the context menu - which allows you to rename, delete, copy the file, etc.
If you right-click on any blank area of the desktop, the Context Menu will display:
This allows you access to some basic options, such as to create a new file, order any icons on the desktop or set the background wallpaper.
When you have finished with Zorin, select the "Power" icon in the Bottom Panel. A pop-up menu will display from which you can select a number of options:
- Logout... : log out of the current session (note - a confirm message is displayed before the logout occurs)
- Suspend : save the current state in RAM and go into power-save mode
- Shutdown... : display a dialogue box where you can confirm a shutdown or reboot of the PC
Simply choose the desired option in order to carry it out. If you decide you wish to continue with the current session, simply click away from the menu.