Exploring the Windows-like Linux distros ChaletOS and Zorin OS


ChaletOS is breaking new ground with documentation. Click the Start Point icon to call up an attractive application that displays the most important aspects of the system in video sequences. ChaletOS also offers guides depicting how some essential PC technologies function (Figure 5).

Figure 5: As an alternative to text help files, ChaletOS videos easily orient new users to the system.

The ChaletOS project offers forums where users exchange information [4], and you can visit the project's Google+ channel [5], which offers video help along with discussions.

Zorin OS

The Zorin OS system from Ireland is also well suited for defectors from Windows. Zorin OS is available for download in different versions. The Core, Lite, Educational, and Educational Lite versions are free; Business and Ultimate editions are available for around EUR10. Most versions come in 32- and 64-bit variants. At around 1.4GB, the 64-bit core version  9 is surprisingly compact. Zorin  OS, like ChaletOS, is based on Ubuntu, although it is based on version 14.04 from 2014. Canonical provides long-term support for Ubuntu 14.04 until April 2019.

In spite of the name, the Core edition is a full operating system, equipped with plenty of applications. The system is tailored for the desktop user and offers several customization options. The developers made efforts to keep Zorin OS as lean as possible to ensure it runs smoothly, including on older computers – the Lite version with an LXDE desktop is best suited for low-end hardware.

The operating system starts as a Live system, unless you launch Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer during the boot process. If you choose Live operation, the system launches into an elegant and modern Gnome 3 desktop with some 3D effects activated (Figure 6). The 3D effects did not result in a noticeable loss of speed.

Figure 6: Zorin OS boots into a Gnome 3 desktop with some 3D effects activated, although they do not noticeably affect performance.

Zorin OS makes it easy for newcomers from other systems to maintain a familiar working environment. You can select the desktop layout by choosing between the (preset) Windows 7 look and a Windows XP-based or Gnome 2-based appearance in System Tools | Look Changer.

Use the Zorin Look Changer dialog (Figure 7) to modify the menu structure and the arrangement of the panel strips. Zorin Theme Changer (also under System Tools) modifies the appearance of windows. Along with the conventional variants, you will also find options with high-contrast, dark background colors, facilitating good readability on notebook displays.

Figure 7: Adapt the desktop layout as you please in the Zorin Look Changer dialog.


Zorin OS differs from ChaletOS in that it brings with it all the main applications out of the box. The default software inventory includes LibreOffice, Firefox, Gimp, and the Thunderbird email client. Firefox comes preinstalled, and you can change the browser to Chrome, Opera, or the slim Midori. To switch the browser, go to Internet | Zorin Web Browser Manager.

Zorin OS provides access to common repositories for installing new software. In addition to Synaptic, you'll find a visually adapted version of the Ubuntu Software Center, which is simply called Software Center. The Zorin OS software inventory is a little smaller than the ChaletOS inventory, because the Ubuntu 14.04 variant is missing some of the packages included in the 16.04 edition.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Zorin OS

    If you are looking to migrate from Windows and Mac OS to Linux, but still need Windows compatibility and applications, Zorin OS might be the solution.

  • Zorin OS

    Artyom and Kyrill Zorin set out to design a user-friendly operating system, resulting in Zorin OS, a favorite among new users. Bruce talks to Artyom about Zorin OS and where the project is headed.

  • Zorin OS 15 Released

    The new release is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

  • Zorin Unveils New Linux-Based PC

    Zorin announces its own commercial Linux computer called the Zorin PC and is marketing the new PC as a gateway for Windows users to move to a Linux-based system.

  • A New Version of Zorin OS is Now Available

    Fan-favorite, Zorin OS 15.3 is officially available.

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More