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A Tour of the Zorin Lite LXDE Desktop

 The Zorin OS 6 Lite Desktop in Action

The Zorin OS Lite LXDE Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Zorin Lite OS Lite is based on the standard Ubuntu binaries and features an LXDE based GUI/desktop aimed at older or lower-specification hardware. It provides a traditional desktop layout, with icons and menus along a panel at the bottom of the screen.

Zorin Lite is based on the standard Ubuntu binaries and features an LXDE based GUI/desktop aimed at older or lower-specification hardware

The response speed is very good even when running Zorin Lite direct from a USB Stick; the boot speed is much improved over the full version too!

Note: the screenshots in this chapter were taken from the Zorin Lite OS 6 release

Default Applications

The applications that come pre-installed with Zorin Lite naturally reflect the low-power ethos of the distro. Here is a taster of some of the applications that Zorin Lite OS 6 is currently shipping with:

..The applications that come pre-installed with Zorin Lite naturally reflect the low-power ethos of the distro

ApplicationPackage Used
Word Processor AbiWord
Image EditorN/A
Email ClientPostler Mail
Media PlayersAudacious,Gnome MPlayer
Video EditorN/A
Internet BrowserChromium
Chat/Social MediaPidgin
CD/DVD WriterXfburn
Web SupportFlash and PDF support
Windows EmulationWine [installable]

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. Unlike it's big sibling, Zorin Lite is not that well-endowed with applications in the default install: as the aim is a low-footprint, it is left to the user to install any desired software.

Note that even if an application is not in the default installation, it can be easily downloaded using a rather spartan version of the Software Center within minutes.

In summary, Zorin Lite is an odd beast. Unlike the Gnome version, which is squarely aimed at Windows users wanting to make the jump to Linux with the minimum of fuss or configuration, Zorin Lite seems to be missing most of this functionality out of the box. Much of it can be installed by the user - but then, this is true of most Linux distros. As a result, it may appeal only to users who run the full version of Zorin on their main desktops and want a similar look/feel on their lower-powered hardware.

As a result, it is very difficult for Zorin Lite to stand out of the pack. Consequently, we would be inclined to go with the standard Lubuntu or Fedora LXDE Spin on low-powered hardware, due to the larger user base and support available.

The Zorin Look Changer

Zorin Lite includes a cut-down version of the the Zorin Look Changer which allows it emulate the look and feel of the desktop of two alternatives. This can be accessed from the Main Menu under the "System Tools" heading.

The Zorin Look Changer Option

This will display the dialogue box for the Zorin Look Changer, which allows you to switch between two desktop themes which to give you a (somewhat) similar look to one of the following desktops:

  • Windows 2000 [default]
  • Mac OS X

The Zorin Look Changer Dialogue

When you change theme, unlike the Gnome of Zorin which takes effect immediately, you will be prompted to reboot your machine to enable the new theme:

The Zorin Look Changer Confirmation

The degree to which these themes are successful is debatable, but it does somewhat lessen the learning curve for those coming to Linux from a purely Windows or Mac background. In this chapter, we will be looking at the default (Windows 2000 style) desktop theme.

The Zorin Desktop

Zorin Lite, like the Lubuntu offering, uses the LXDE desktop and both desktops look very similar. When you boot Zorin Lite, the desktop will display as shown below:

The Zorin Gnome Desktop

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 Lite allows files and shortcuts to be saved to the desktop, by simply click-dragging the desired file to the desktop from the file manager (PCManFM) window then releasing the mouse button. An icon will then appear on the desktop, which can be dragged around or renamed / deleted as desired.

By default, there is only one icon on the desktop when running in Live CD mode: if you click this, the Zorin Lite installer will start:

The Install Zorin Wizard

Just follow the prompts to install Zorin Lite to your hard drive.

The Bottom Panel

The bulk of your desktop interaction with Zorin Lite will be through the panel at the bottom of the desktop:

The Zorin Bottom Panel LHSThe Zorin Bottom Panel RHS

This can be divided into four main parts:

  • Icon for the Zorin Main MenuClicking on the Zorin Lite logo in the bottom left hand corner of the screen displays the Main Menu, which allows the user access to all the Zorin Lite functions

  • Next, comes a series of shortcut icons:
    Zorin Browser IconThe first shortcut (immediately to the right of the Zorin Lite Main Menu icon) is the Internet Browser icon. Click this and (by default) a Google Chrome browser window will display
    Zorin File Manager IconThe next icon is the File Manager icon. Click this and a PCManFM window will display
    Zorin Audacious IconThe icon immediately to the right of the browser icon opens up a new Audacious media player window
    Zorin Workspace SwitcherThe two icons immediately to the right of the media player icon allows you to switch between the default two different Workspaces
  • In the middle part of the panel, the thumbnails of all open applications are listed: click on these to jump directly to that window -or to restore it to it's former size if it was previously minimized (iconified)

    Zorin Application Minimized

  • On the right hand side of the panel is the system tray: this allows you to interact with any system program and processes (daemons) running in the background. What appears here depends on what you are doing and what it running on your system but, by default, the icons are as follows:

    Zorin Volume Config
    The icon immediately to the right of the task manager allows you to alter the speaker volume:Zorin Volume Dialogue
    Zorin Battery IconThe next icon is the battery icon, which allows you to check battery status and configure power saving options
    Zorin Network IconClicking on the network icon allows you to check and configure your network settings
    Zorin Calendar IconThe next icon is a display of the current system time. If you click this, a display of the current month pops up. Unfortunately, clicking on the dates in this does not access the calendar application (Osmo)
    Zorin Shutdown IconClicking on the power icon in the bottom right hand corner allows access to the Shutdown and Logout options, as well as general system functions

The Main Menu

The Main Menu allows users to access to all the Zorin Lite functions. This can be likened to the "Start" menu in Windows. Simply click on the icon in the bottom left hand corner:

Icon for the Zorin Main Menu

The Main Menu will display:

Zorin Main Menu

From here you can access functions such as:

Menu OptionUsage
AccessoriesVarious small tools for making the most of your system
GraphicsLists programs for dealing with images
InternetList programs for accessing the internet and the network
OfficeList any applications commonly used for business purposes, such as word processing and spreadsheets
Sound & VideoList any applications for audio / video viewing
System ToolsClick this icon to access various Linux system tools
PreferencesUtilities and settings for customizing the desktop
RunRun a file or script without dropping to the command line
LogoutDisplay the Shutdown menu

Note: most options will themselves have sub-menus themselves

The Internet Browser

Clicking on the browser icon in the Bottom Panel will bring up a new internet window - which is (by default) Google Chrome:

Zorin Chrome Browser Window

The Media Player

Clicking on the browser icon in the Bottom Panel will bring up a new media browser window - which is (by default) Audacious:

Zorin Audacious Media Player

The File Manager

Zorin Lite uses the PCManFM File Manager, which works very much like most other file managers, allowing you to drill down into directories, access and manipluates files, etc.

The File Manager can be accessed directly from the icon in the Bottom Panel - or via the "Accessories" option on the Main Menu. Both will open up a File Manager window similar to that below:

Zorin Lite File Manager

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.

The Context Menu

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 backgroud wallpaper.

Exiting Zorin

When you have finished with Zorin Lite, select the "Power" icon in the Bottom Panel. A pop-up menu will display from which you can select a number of options:

Zorin Confirm Shutdown


  • Shutdown : power-down the PC
  • Reboot : power-down the PC, then power it immediately back on
  • Suspend : put the PC into a temporary power-save mode
  • Hibernate : write current state of PC/memory to disc before powering down
  • Switch User : lock the current account and logon as a different user
  • Logout : log out of the current session (note - a confirm message is displayed before the logout occurs)
  • Cancel : quit this menu and return to the desktop

Simply choose the desired option in order to carry it out or click "Cancel" to quit the menu.

References and Further Reading:

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