The Power of Linux in a User-Friendly Package: Zorin OS Puts Security, Privacy, and Customization Within Reach for a Wider Consumer Base

The Power of Linux in a User-Friendly Package: Zorin OS Puts Security, Privacy, and Customization Within Reach for a Wider Consumer Base

TL; DR: Zorin OS, an intuitive, open-source operating system for Linux newbies, was designed with a focus on simplicity and familiarity. The powerful alternative to Microsoft Windows and macOS is intended to improve speed, boost power, and enhance security. With the introduction of Zorin OS 15 and plans for further expansion, the company is continuing its mission to introduce new users to the Linux-based computer system as seamlessly as possible.

Look closely, and you’ll see that the history behind Zorin OS is essentially a coming-of-age story set within our newfound tech era. It begins in the summer of 2008 when young brothers Artyom and Kyrill Zorin were playing around with Linux — as today’s inquisitive teens sometimes do.

“When we first came across Ubuntu 7.10, we thought it was amazing — especially compared with the operating systems offered by Windows and Mac,” Artyom said. “It was more customizable, it made the computer run faster, it was flexible, and it didn’t get viruses.”

Zorin OS logo

Like training wheels for Linux: Zorin OS is designed to help users transition to a robust Linux-based computer system.

The brothers, just 12 and 14 years old at the time, were shocked that more people weren’t taking advantage of the operating system — until they introduced it to their father. “We instantly realized that it wasn’t user-friendly for new and inexperienced individuals,” Artyom said.

Despite their young ages and a complete absence of development skills, the brothers were inspired by the eye-opening experience and decided to take on the challenge that lay ahead. So, as part of a school science project, they began developing a user-friendly Linux-based operating system while teaching themselves programming at the same time.

Artyom and Kyrill were soon granted awards at the science fair, but their journey was far from over. Finally, after months of further development, the pair officially shipped Zorin OS 1.0 on July 1, 2009. “It grew quickly from there,” Artyom said.

Today, a decade later, the intuitive open-source alternative to Windows and macOS brings the power of Linux to users of all skill levels. By maintaining a focus on simplicity and familiarity, Zorin OS empowers countless individuals to access a faster, more powerful, and highly secure computing experience. Now, with plans for further expansion as well as the release of Zorin OS 15, the company is continuing to introduce new users to the Linux-based system.

An Intuitive Open-Source Solution

By November 2017, less than a year after its release, Zorin OS 12 had been downloaded more than 1 million times — and 60% of those downloads came from Windows and Mac users. Artyom partially attributes this to the company’s user-friendly tools and a customer-centric approach.

“We designed Zorin OS to have the perfect blend of power and usability for everyone,” he said. “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.”

Zorin OS on two devices

The operating system makes your computer — or laptop — fast, powerful, and secure.

Artyom said the company faced early challenges making the project more appealing to the market, especially in terms of accessing applications. “A lot of people really liked our systems but were apprehensive of switching completely away from something like Windows, simply because they couldn’t run all of their apps on Zorin OS,” he said.

But the move toward cloud-hosted applications during the past 10 years has helped change that. “Modern web developers want their apps to work on major platforms as well as smartphones, tablets, and other devices,” Artyom said. “But it would require a lot of work to create native apps for each of those specifically — so they’ve started using the web browser as the interface.”

According to Artyom, this industry shift has made it much easier for people who use traditional platforms to make the leap to alternative ones.

Built-in Apps and a Familiar User Interface

Zorin OS comes preloaded with a full suite of powerful professional apps designed to enable users to browse, work, play, and tackle everything in between. Out of the box, the software includes a full office suite, professional photo-editing software, and built-in firewall tools.

In addition to a wide range of apps, the Zorin desktop environment makes users feel right at home within their new operating system, allowing them to change the desktop to resemble familiar displays on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. In terms of accessibility, Zorin OS has also been translated into more than 50 languages and comes preloaded with assistive technologies. These additions put a powerful computing experience within reach for a greater pool of users while allowing for a seamless, frustration-free transition.

Apps for Zorin OS

Zorin OS comes preloaded with a range of apps for business, educational, and personal use.

The company offers distinct versions of Zorin OS in which bundled apps vary. Plans start with the Zorin OS Core, which includes the essential features you need to browse the web, work on office documents, or chat with friends.

Zorin OS Ultimate, on the other hand, includes everything in the business plan plus more than 20 games, video wallpapers, additional business and media apps, added desktop layouts, and access to direct support from Zorin’s knowledgeable customer service team. Other plans, such as Zorin OS Education and Zorin OS Lite, are also available for specific use cases.

Fast, Reliable, Versatile, and Secure Technology

When it comes to ongoing development, the Zorin OS team’s decision-making process is very much informed by the experience of novice users. “If there are features that our users suggest that would be really advantageous to the new user, we usually put them on our roadmap,” Artyom said. “Generally, we ask whether the new feature is both useful and user-friendly before we consider adding something new.”

Ultimately, the company’s core goal is to make Linux simple for users like Artyom and Kyrill’s father, who would benefit from the speed, security, and flexibility of the open-source operating system, but may not be comfortable with a harsh transition.

“We aim for simplicity every step of the way,” Artyom said. “So we examine how people get introduced to the operating system, where the advantages lie, how they install the operating system, etc. — rather than appealing to enthusiasts and engineers.”

That’s also why the system makes it simple to use Wine and PlayOnLinux, empowering users to run the Windows computer programs and games they’re accustomed to on Zorin OS. If you’re looking for more solutions, simply visit the Zorin OS software store for additional apps and games.

“Some apps that people love are only available for Windows, which inspired us to actively support Windows applications through Wine,” Artyom said. “We’re constantly including the newest version of Wine in our repository to ensure back compatibility.”

Introducing Zorin OS 15, Now in Beta

After a lengthy development cycle, the company recently introduced the next major version of the operating system, Zorin OS 15, in Beta. With this release, the company continues to focus on ensuring an intuitive user experience from start to finish.

“We’ve gotten really good feedback from the Beta so far,” Artyom said.

Zorin OS 15 will feature powerful tools for syncing and transitioning between devices, performance optimizations, a more welcoming desktop theme including light and dark modes, an interface tailored specifically for touchscreens, redesigned LibreOffice apps, color emoji support, and several additional improvements.

For Artyom and Kyrill, who still run the business together, Zorin OS 15 is a direct result of what the pair have been working to create for more than a decade: An operating system that truly puts the power of Linux within reach for nontechnical users through user-friendly design.

Christine Preusler

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