Linux

Let Zorin OS pick up where Windows XP left off

Jack Wallen examines Zorin OS to determine if it's the replacement Windows XP users have been waiting for.

 

Zorin OS
 

Soon, very soon, Windows XP will be defunct. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of PCs will wind up seemingly worthless. And so the Linux cry of “Carpe Penguin” is heard around the world. Although I’ve gone on the record to say that the death of Windows XP shouldn't be the sole rallying call for Linux, it's certainly a moment to be seized. This is the perfect time for Linux distributions, such as Zorin OS.

The Zorin OS is unique in the world of Linux in that it wants to embrace the Windows crowd and show them they can feel at home anywhere. To that end, Zorin OS goes out of its way to emulate Windows XP and even Windows 7. It does this by employing a user-friendly, Windows-like desktop that anyone can use. Oddly enough, in this Unity-, GNOME-, XFCE-, KDE-dominated world of Linux, Zorin OS opts to roll out their own desktop environment (Zorin Desktop Environment), along with the Zorin Menu, to create an interface that's both amazingly familiar and unique.

I installed Zorin OS on one of my crustier laptops (to see how it would fare on machines about to be hogtied with an unusable Windows XP). I have to say that this Linux distribution, geared toward new users, might well appease just about any experience level.

Instead of the usual kicking of tires, I thought it might be best to look at this from the perspective of a Windows user. So, what makes Zorin OS the replacement for Windows XP? More importantly, will it work as a drop-in replacement for the latest Windows OS? I won’t talk about the installation (it’s breezily simple) or the specs (they’re fine). Instead, I want to view this from a new user’s eyes and see if it’s worthy of my time and effort.

Immediate reaction

When I log into Zorin OS, everything I see is familiar. There's a start button, a system tray, desktop icons, taskbar... all the things expected of a computer desktop (Figure A).

Figure A

 

Figure A
 

The Zorin OS Desktop Environment.

Clicking the start button, I see the usual suspects (Figure B). From here, everything pretty much follows the standard desktop metaphor.

Figure B

 

Figure B
 

The Zorin Menu makes locating apps easy.

At this point, there are very few surprises. Zorin OS is an environment that's as familiar and as comfortable as an old t-shirt. Everything is there, waiting to help you get your work done. What's interesting about the collection of apps is that they seem to come from different environments. You have the standard LibreOffice and Chrome web browser, but then you have the Elementary-based music player (Noise), the GNOME-based video player (Totem), the Ubuntu Unity language picker, the GNOME-based file manager (Files, previously known as Nautilus), and the Ubuntu-based Software Center. After looking around a while, it becomes clear the Zorin Desktop Environment took the GNOME desktop, gave it a bit of KDE-flavor, and rolled it all up until it felt like Windows XP.

You'll also find out that the task bar is actually a dock -- specifically Avant Window Navigator (AWN) -- with the specialized Zorin Menu added. This combination makes for an incredible experience any level of user will appreciate. Anyone who's used AWN knows that it can be highly configured to make it unique and an effective means of accessing applications and information.

In the background, Compiz gives Zorin OS just the right amount of modern appeal for the tried-and-true Windows XP user. Anyone with enough experience can take the CompizConfig Settings Manager (CCSM) tool and make Compiz work some serious magic on the screen. If you want to tweak Comiz to better meet your needs, you’ll find CCSM (Figure C) in Start | System Tools | Preferences | CompizConfig Settings Manager. Remember, this tool isn’t for the faint of heart. One wrong configuration, and you could wind up with a mess on your hands (or desktop, as it were).

Figure C

 

Figure C
 

CCSM as seen on the Zorin OS desktop.

The idea behind Zorin OS is to be the perfect combination of Linux pieces to serve as the ideal desktop operating system for the new user. Does it succeed? The short answer is a resounding "yes." While most other platforms are migrating away from the traditional desktop design, Zorin OS opts to hang tight to what has worked for many years. To this end, they've created something truly and completely user-friendly.

The problem will arise when users expect the same applications they're accustomed to using. Although Zorin OS includes the Play On Linux service, where you can install plenty of Windows-specific apps (thanks to the inclusion of Wine) -- even Office 2010 (you’ll need the install DVD or a downloaded install file) -- there are no instructions on how to use Play On Linux. The new user isn’t going to think to run that service and then install their old faithful tools. Yes, the vast majority of users can get by with LibreOffice, but if you’re shooting for familiarity, why not go all the way?

I’ve been harping on this point for a very long time, and never before has this point been made more clear. Zorin OS needs to have a welcome screen that allows users to view how-to guides and other information about the desktop. That welcome screen can be temporarily or permanently dismissed by the user, but it’s something that's an absolute necessity for this type of desktop. Imagine how helpful it would be (for the new user) to see a how-to on installing Microsoft apps in Zorin OS. That alone takes the distribution from the realm of “passible” to the single best solution to replace the soon-to-be defunct Windows XP.

Zorin OS is, in fact, a very solid distribution for new users. It’s not perfect, but it is familiar enough that new users wouldn't experience problems quickly getting up to speed. The only thing it lacks is the addition of some solid help information to guide users through the few aspects of Zorin OS that may not be as user-friendly.

What do you think? Is a distribution like Zorin OS the best route to go for those Windows XP users not ready to part with their hardware? If not, what would you suggest? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

 

 

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

70 comments
BlueScreen R85
BlueScreen R85

No Blue Sreens Here! I am not used to Linux, My computer used to run Windows XP however Xp died. I found Zorin 9.0 and it is perfect besides the fact THERE IS NO INSTRUCTION PDF OR TUTORIAL PROFIDED ON THE DOWNLOAD! Other than that it is very user friendy! Can play many widows programs though it cant on some. I am no Techy so I can't Explain why. Other than that a solid 8.0 fo 10.0 stars!

Sphincter_Muscle
Sphincter_Muscle

I have tinkered with Linux for the past three to four years. I started with Mandrake.... It was fine, but Mandrake went bust. I looked at multiple other distros (Mint, Ubuntu, BSD, and several others). THEN I came across Zorin. The first version I played with, Version 5.5 I think, was highly configurable and I really liked the Compiz feature. Then 6.0 came out and I felt that they had stripped it down to make it more user friendly. I lost interest and started playing with other distros again. Then Version 7 came out and, to me at least, had many features that had been taken out in v.6.0. Then version 8.0 came out. I am now working with 8.0 and I absolutely LOVE it.


I paid for the ultimate version and I use it on a daily basis. My desktop is dual boot so I haven't completely dropped Windows yet, but I am very tempted. It seems much faster and on my machine, Windows sometimes slows down to the point where I get up and go make a pot of coffee. I haven't had that experience with Zorin, and as Jack states it has the feel of Windows (only better). The LibreOffice program is just as good as MS-Office, The Thunderbird mail service is great. Has the same feel as OUTLOOK.


The thing I miss doing in Linux that I did a lot in Windows was scanning for viruses and defragging the hard drives (I have multiple units), and constantly trying to improve the performance of my computer by stopping applications. I wasted more time doing this than being productive...

jbuerge
jbuerge

As one who has been reading the comments here seeking an answer to my concerns about the EOL of XP and my past use of  MS Works for most of my file requirements (although have already started to convert my text files to RTF or plan text) I have several DB and Spread sheets also in Works format that I would like to transfer to readable Linux format so that I can dump MS and make use of a reliable Linux distribution.

BUT, my main concern about leaving XP is my wish to continue to use an older VR application, Via-Voice, which has worked very well for me in XP Pro for many years and, yes, even DOS designed CAD applications with a range of drawings that I would also like to be able to retain.

I understand that none of this can be done using any of the later versions of MS and I am not anxious to have to recreate them just because MS has a desire to sell me a different OS needing an extended bunch of hardware that does not supply anything I now wish to do.

Does anyone here KNOW that a particular version of Linux will supply that need for me in the simplest way possible?

Alrod50
Alrod50

Your article about Zorin is spot-on. I have an old PC that used XP. It's really for guests and for a quick look-up on the web. It uses an inexpensive Rosewill PCI wireless card. I'm familiar with Ubuntu, but I don't care for the taskbar on the left side of the screen. For the old PC, I tried Elementary OS, Antix, Ubuntu and yes GOS. I like GOS and it is installed on my Panasonic Toughbook even though it's not supported anymore. On the old PC, no linux programs could connect to the Web. I tried linux drivers for similar wireless cards and even a USB dongle that stated that it would work with linux. The Rosewill card only states that it will work with Windows. So I installed Zorin as a last resort. To my surprise, it located my wireless network and two others BEFORE it finished installing! After setting the network parameters, Zorin connects every time, Even XP had some problems connecting even with the installation of a second AP. Turns out, the card had an Atheros chip and that chip can work with linux and Zorin found it. I tried Zorin for a while. I loaded Firefox and a few general programs and the PC is ready for anyone to use. I'm going to add Zorin to my main computer as a second boot option. I would recommend Zorin to any XP user. Zorin is faster and if you use a version that's LTS, like Ubuntu, you can expect support at least until 2017. By doing so, it extends the life of an old PC. With Zorin, upgrading is not your only option anymore.

pmshah9
pmshah9

This is addressed to all distributors of Linux OS. My biggest complaint has been that ever since they switched to Grub boot manager the option of writing the boot sector to the installation partition has vanished and it simply wipes out the original MBR and writes its own. If one has any other OS installed it is lost for ever unless he / she is knowledgeable enough to recover the deleted partition/s.

There are many who want to use their own boot manager and NOT GRUB. I am one of them. I have several versions of windows installed on my machine, all selectable at boot time via Boot IT NG by Terabyte Unlimited.  All residing in their own exclusive C: drive. When I want to try out a software or OS without disturbing my main installation I can do so without any worries. I never had any problems with Lilo. Until this option becomes available again at installation time I am not willing to try any avatar of Limux.


BTW the Live version of Zorin boots really fast !

Altotus
Altotus

For those who think installing is a chore use the Debian packages with a deb package manager. Better yet do not install anything not in the Software manager until you understand the issues. You will find the deb package manager in the Software Manager or Synaptics. Let the managers do it if you do not know what a command line is. The CLI for Linux is sweet the best part of UNIX handed down for generations now. Its commands are not like the Windows CLI just diffrent enough to confuse. A web page or book can help you explore the power of the CLI. I will try out Zorin (I liked the wallpaper) but I use Ubuntu and Mint for the most part some Debian as well. Knoppix is my old pal for the live disk fix of busted systems (hint for MS systems the last resort). I will try that out on virtualbox and see what its like. I would not panic about the XP Apocalypse. It is a sales gimmick for the most part. Keep the protection up and do not dl stuff unless you know for sure it Ok and perhaps not then.  I dl something on W7 and I can not get it out 100% I should reinstall but... I know how it is with many many years of stuff and its working like you want it.  Consider wine and virtual box if you don't want to dual boot. Run apps with wine and Windows can run as a virtual machine.

cateye217
cateye217

Great article--I've been using Zorin for about 2 months on a dual boot 9 year old PC and I love it.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

Comments like "seemingly worthless" and "death of the OS" are wildly over-dramatic. It's not like XP is going to be switched off.


I lost count of the number of Win 98 machines I was still supporting long after it went out of support. But slowly I managed to bring those users round to replacing the computers (in some cases, I just slapped a bit more memory in the existing machines and installed XP. A bit slow, but for retired people just using it for e-mail and Skype it didn't really matter).


For home users (probably the majority of XP owners at this stage) XP will still be sort of OK - for a while - as long as they keep a decent anti-malware / Internet security suite running. And start thinking about upgrading. But to think that they *have to get it done this week* is unnecessarily panicky and puts me in mind of the Y2K sh!t-storm that just blew over, remember that?

anoriega6
anoriega6

me and many ( 500 millions winxp and plus) users  that had been using this OS, mainly by the specialized software in the industry, schools, laboratories, oil and gas, CAD, CAE, etc, etc.very expensive applications that I supose we need to buy for the new OSs, if these software codes still are working and producing good results.

I think a solution is to have winxp inside of win 7 or 8

Gravely
Gravely

Jack, thanks for your review and comments.  

I have a lot of older clients.  Many of them trust my judgement about their hardware and OS needs.  Of course, I listen to them before I make recommendations.  I have tested many distros and have narrowed the pool to Zorin, PCLinuxOS, Mint and Puppy.


Only one works well out of the box for my needs.  In addition to the usual LibreOffice, Thunderbird Mail (with Lightning calendar), Remmina Remote Desktop, Brasero disk burner WINE, and others, I use Skanlite, and Simple Scan with an old HP scanner, KBackup and a host of other application.  Under WINE I run Volutive business software and e-Sword.  

The deal breaker for me with PCLinuxOS and Mint is access to my shares across the network on a SME server.  We have a mixed Windows and Linux environment so Samba is used.  So far, only Zorin allows me to find a document on the file server and merely double click to open it.  I went through all of the permissions issues looking for a solution with many other distros.  That wore me out.  Zorin accomplished the task (and still does after more than a year's use) without any input from me.


Zorin does fail in the printer connection area.  Until I learned about system-config-printer in the terminal, it seemed hopeless to connect a shared printer from another PC either through Printers in System Settings or using CUPS.  Wow!  What needless struggles and waste of time.  I use system-config-printer and can guide my clients over the phone now. 

Some of my clients get Zorin and others get PCLinuxOS because the menus not only list the application but its purpose as well.  That is a great boon for many because they do not know what all those apps are and what they do.  That is Puppy's drawback.


I am getting older now and not as sharp as I once was.  Zorin makes my life so much easier.

cateye217
cateye217

BTW--Mint is great too but I found Zoron much easier to get up to speed

cateye217
cateye217

I love this distro--I started using it after I installed Ubuntu and found it much easier to navigate and feel at home...

tmradius
tmradius

I was planning on using Ubuntu but this sounds a lot better.  It is almost like using Ubuntu but with the XP-like interface (at desktop.)

flmagman
flmagman

Thanks, Jack! I was just getting ready to look at Mint, but Zorin looks even better. For one of my kids (whose Win 8 trashed their system on update), it might be a simple way to go. At this point, I'm thinking anything but MS. And most of my work doesn't require any MS products, as I've found what I need in the Open Source community. For those times I absolutely need an MS product, I'll dual boot back to XP, or use my Win 7 pc.

andromedasj
andromedasj

Simplest solution for me is to install windows 7/8 and then use VMWare and install XP so that you can still run your dedicated programs. Not rocket science. No need to get rid of XP. You wont need to worry about Hackers. You will disable your internet connection within the VMWare XP OS.. Simples! 

andromedasj
andromedasj

Simplest solution for me is to install windows 7/8 and then use VMWare and install XP so that you can still run your dedicated programs. Not rocket science. No need to get rid of XP. You wont need to worry about Hackers. You will disable your internet connection withing the VMWare XP OS.. Simples!

theo_butter
theo_butter

There seems to be a misunderstanding as to what will happen when XP support ends. XP will still work, it will not cease to function. Only the updates will end. I do not see what the problem is. Updates and support will be taken over by others if a demand exists. There may even be an XP clone coming out of this like with DR-DOS from Digital Research as a replacement of MS-DOS.

janitorman
janitorman

Why is it so hard to comment here and sign in? I have to disable  NoScript entirely or there are 3rd level or even 4th level things on the page that don't let you sign in, or post, or edit a post etc. WHY CAN'T this just be run on-site instead, instead of this insecure, tracking-vulnerable method?

Who needs things like Fyre.com and Livefyre.com and optimizely.com and clicktale.com AND especially facebook, google, twitter and all that nonsense?

That said, yes it's an opportunity to introduce XP users who can't afford new hardware, to Linux. Will it work? Probably not... Who changes their OS except geeks (like me.) NO ONE.

The sheep just will keep using XP, and most likely without updates since they had them on automatic, and blissfully go onwards with no virus protection or firewall until the system dies, probably from infection. Then they'll listen to a friend, buy a used XP unit that still runs for less than the Windows Upgrade they were likely to do IF their old hardware supported it (which it probably doesn't since Windows is all about making you buy more memory, a faster processor, etc. to get the basic essentials that just worked 10 years ago on it, and won't work now on the same hardware!)

I tried Zorin, I have nothing bad to say against it, but.. I prefer Xubuntu with my own modifications.
digilante
digilante

Will it run, without issue, the following without needing to resort to hack-ish third party apps such as Wine:

- Microsoft Office 2010 Professional (full installation)

- Microsoft Visual Studio (any version 2005 or later)

- Any app I've written in my line of work that uses .Net


if the answer is "No" to any one of these, then it's not a suitable replacement for Windows XP for me.

cheth
cheth

The cold reality is that most people will not even know Zorin exists.   That said, it looks promising.  Perhaps if they include the basic instructions with the O.S. some may like it.   I'm using Mint Linux and enjoy that distribution, because it supports the desktop.  I'm sure that Zorin is easier to use than Mint.   The major problem for Window users is that they are tied to all the window's programs and will not adopt Linux..   Wrapping the windows programs with wine is a good start until users learn to take advantage of Linux programs on a Linux PC.

oldmicro
oldmicro

How it looks is NOT the reason that I still keep my machine running XP., It is little things like "Silverlight", and an old Corel suite which includes "Wordperfect", "Paradox", "QuatroPro", "Envoy", and. "Paint.NET." I would love to at least like to look at the files prior to deleting them, or being able to convert them to some modern form that can be used. What the desktop looks like makes no difference.

keithdunstan
keithdunstan

I've been using Zorin OS for about 4 years now (along with Win Pro in a dual boot system) and I found myself always using Zorin OS exclusively. It's much faster (along with the apps), far more secure and I have found that it interfaces with almost any hardware. Zorin is absolutely free and so are all of the apps and programs based on the Ubuntu kernel. Sure, Linux can be a pain but it's worth learning about to properly customize your system. Even so, horsing around with MS updates on patch Tuesdays every month is an even bigger pain. Anything windows can do, Zorin can do, and do it faster (with fewer hardware requirements). I even use Zorin for a file sharing network between three 'puters and it was easier to set up than Win7. I encourage anyone to at leaqst try this OS out. What have you go to lose but a few minutes of time?

manxann
manxann

Used Windows from 3.1 through  95, 98, XP and 7 .  Tried a few Linux distro's but not keen enough to spend the time adding modules for what I want them to do! Zorin 8.0 is nice but the main snag I hit was inability to access my home network! Digging around on the net produced very little assistance. As I see it, this is why Linux is still a niche OS as most of the people I know (and fic PCs for!) want to press the ON button and have no further interest in fiddling with the system, If they can produce a one-shot install they may yet penetrate the home market!

tneto1
tneto1

Hi.

First, I am not against the various OpenSource O/S.

That stated, I just tried the version 8 of Zorin as VirtualBox (4.3.8 r92456) machines on my MacBook Pro (10.9.2).   I gave each VM 32bit and 64bit 768MB RAM and 10GB storage.


The 32bit hung in the boot loader.  Would not install or run live.


The 64bit did install.  It runs.  As Jack states it is a nice look feel desktop.  I am able to install the VirtualBox guest additions and run full screen.  The default music player is lacking though.  I copied up some MP3 files via the VB shared folder (had to sudo to root).  The player does not cleanly recognize the MP3 (iTunes and VLC on the Mac O/S, no problem) files.   It starts to play a file, then crashed after 30 seconds or so.  The audio pass through to the Mac was really good.


A nice O/S, perhaps it behave better on a bare metal installation.


First impression, okay, but needs work.


On suggestion, on the boot menu, drop the memtest from the main screen.  Just list a Live or Install option.  Maybe a the memtest could be put in a "Tools" option.  The menu should be simplified to.


* Live - Run from DVD

* Install

* Tools


This would be more functional.  The authors appear to want to a non-geek audience.  Drop the geek references from the installer.   Keep It Simple S...


Tim

Sphincter_Muscle
Sphincter_Muscle

I have used D.O.S since late 1980's. I have used Windows since 3.1. My desktop is dual boot and has Zorin-OS 7 and Windows 8.1. I have a laptop that I actually have two hard drives for. Windows 8.1 and Zorin 8. I like Zorin, but it is flaky sometimes. Since reading the posts here, I am going to download Mint and play with that. If I like it I may reinstall it on both systems. But I do like the compiz 3d desktop of Zorin. Don't know if that is on other distros. I have used ubuntu, and mandrake and as others have stated finding drivers is a pain. Most everything works out of the box. I had to configure a driver for the Netgear wireless adapter using NDISwrapper I have on Zorin. Other than that and as other have stated, I haven't needed Wine either. The LibreOffice Office Suite works well. I use ClamAV to scan my Windows drives for virus. It identifies PDF files as a possible infection though. Interestingly Linux will detect and read Windows formatted drives, while Windows is oblivious to a Linux partition. I keep my data files on a separate partition so I can access them from both OS's. I just worry that when a Linux distro reaches its EOL and that seams relatively quickly for most distros I have tried (except for the LTS releases) there are no further upgrades or updates and you are still left with upgrading your system by installing a new version. It would be nice to have one system that it perpetually updated for years LIKE WINDOWS XP has been. I believe that OS is over a decade old and people are still using it. Why cant Linux distros be the same?

james.vandamme
james.vandamme

I'm intrigued by the rolling distro SolydXK, which is kind of like Mint Debian. Their idea of update packages every 3 months or so means no reinstalling, like you do with the regular Mint. They have an XFCE desktop for old machines and a KDE for others. Ubuntu's infrequent updates can be scary.


I think people can use just about any distro if they put their minds to it, but they might find one desktop that is more productive. There are people that like Unity, or Gnome 3, even Windows 8. Who am I to disagree? But I think there are too many desktops and distros. It might be years before the marketplace decides which are better, but the opportunity is now because of the Windows 8/XP fiasco.


I fired up a 13 year old laptop yesterday and I was amazed at how fast Windows 2000 booted and ran. For machines that old, I install Lubuntu (if I want something familiar) or Puppy (which has a lot of built-in helps and explanations for installing and configuring).

 I run Mint Cinnamon at work (dual boot XP), collaborate with MS Office users (using LibreOffice), print and scan, remote desktop. At home openSUSE KDE.

mikel.king
mikel.king

There are 'Free' and Premium versions of Zorin...

For me however I've gone 'Carpe Daemon!' I've found PC-BSD to be a better fit for me and my Family.

BoDiddley2013
BoDiddley2013

Good commentary. My Notebook came with Windows XP. I switched to Debian - via Knoppix about 3 years ago and never looked back. I think Windows users should stay with Windows until and when they have the desire for something greater. I agree that not many will still be using XP anyway because Windows systems get so bogged down, and attacked that by now they have been forced to upgrade, since most Windows users will replace a system as it begins to frustrate them, instead of getting dirty to clean it up. This is how Microsoft keeps their revenue turning over.


Linux is quite simply not the OS for the faint of heart.


I never found Wine necessary, and everything I could do on Windows - I can do on Linux, no exceptions. Was it pretty, no. 


I also noticed where somebody said they "purchased" Zorin. Is it not GNU? If this is an honest conversation lets tell it all. Is there a subscription required for updates?


I know people want to grow the Linux community, but I think it is growing just fine. Linux is not for the average/ordinary user. Linux users must be born from desire. Else they will just fill up the forums with silly questions and switch back to Windows.

alfred2
alfred2

I am a retired engineer who would like to move to Linux but I am not the one of the types who inhabit the Linux environment. I have made several attempts to try Linux but found that it was too difficult to overcome any problems that arose. Searching for help produced plenty of advice which was written by people so immersed in Linux that they might as well be writing in a foreign language. The terms used in the text were obviously meaningful but since there was no translation mechanism the explanations were useless.

Is there anywhere a newcomer can find plain language advice or simple explanations of the terms so that a newcomer can get up to speed? It seems to have been forgotten by the Linux fraternity that its usage will only expand when the inexpert learn enough to get confidence. Zorin OS may be a good place to start and the proposal for a pop up explanatory screen seems to me a vital ingredient.

gmonette
gmonette

Totally agree - if its entire intent is to mimic XP, and you consider how much XP was designed for the average PC-illiterate person (and hence all of its own 'Welcome-to-XP' walk-through tours and other MS wizards etc.), then I would call it a major oversight to miss that 'bridge' that helps carry people from XP to Zorin as smoothly as possible.

Sphincter_Muscle
Sphincter_Muscle

@jbuerge Sir,

I can only reiterate what Jack said above about the "play on linux" feature of Zorin. I honestly haven't been able to figure it out yet, and I am sure it is just me, but you can download Zorin-OS for free off the internet, (or any other version of Linux for that matter), burn the disk image to a DVD and boot from the DVD without installing it. That is another thing I like about Linux. It will run from a DVD. I don't know if this will work for you, but it is an idea. I used MS-Works for years, then I was FORCED to buy MS-Office.


Also, you might just try to open your DB files with the LibreOffice "BASE" program. LibreOffice seems to be about 99.99% compatible with MS-Office and many other file formats. All I can say is TRY IT.

barcgg
barcgg

@pmshah when I installed Linux Mint to an external drive, it asked me where I wanted to install Grub, I chose the same drive as the installation, leaving the Windows boot partition alone. All I have to do is to select the external drive as the 1st boot device. Grub even picked up Windows on the list to allow dual boot.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

@andromedasj You could generalise this statement to say install any secure OS [this could be a Linux distro] and run XP in a virtual machine [and this could be a VBox installation].


Seems the way to go for those who really really need (for whatever reason, real or imagined!) to keep their XP. Of course it is a bit of a resource-hungry solution so a 64-bit host OS and lots of RAM are pretty much mandatory.

George Chrysler
George Chrysler

@theo_butter  Theo, I agree with you. My mother and another friend recently felt compelled to upgrade to Windows 8. In both cases they got viruses within a few weeks. Windows XP has been around a long time and is very reliable. The only reason I think MS is releasing updates is to thwart the crackers that people are using to keep it running. I've been using XP for about 3 years and have never had a virus. Why would there be suddenly a risk? It's a smoke screen for the real objectives - software companies want your money!!

mcumbee
mcumbee

@theo_butter The only replacement has been in development for years and still will not run well on bare metal. I dumped MS products years ago and keep a Win7 under dual boot for an occasional game.

Even that is becoming unnesesary. For some reason...I am guessing copyright infringments a Windows clone has been elusive.

mcumbee
mcumbee

@oldmicro if you dont mind experimenting that stuff might run under wine. I have been using linux for maybe 20 years now and the recent distros are just as easy as windows. You also might like libreoffice.

mcumbee
mcumbee

@Sphincter_Muscle There are some that are perpetually updated, the problem with that is you get the potential problems and sometimes have to wait for the fixes to roll. I have a laptop with Mint debian which is one of those. Opensuse has been my main OS for years and stays stable and they have tumbleweed

which I believe is install once and just update  perpetually. Compiz is installable on any distro, but it will

take some configuration to get it right. I have also used it for years and the ability to just flip the screen to switch desktops has become a requirement for me...extremely convenient.

EddieGWilson
EddieGWilson

@james.vandamme  Sounds like you may use a little bit of everything. You have a good attitude when it comes to different desktop environments.  I've been using Ubuntu since the 5.04 version and I kind of like Unity. To each his own. I don't really think that the marketplace will decide what DE is the best and the main reason for that is lots of times a person will pick out a DE that fits their work environment or one they are comfortable with. I don't own Windows 8 but it seems to me that more people are starting to get use to it. It is a new concept and could very fit in with the mobile computing craze, that I don't believe will did down. You will always have desktops and that is a good thing but mobile is the future. 

Sphincter_Muscle
Sphincter_Muscle

@mikel.king When Zorin 5.2 came out I bought the premium version. $13 bucks. Couldn't beat it. I really didn't see that much difference in the free version and the premium version (and now I don't remember exactly what the difference was). But for $13 bucks, eh... For that price I don't get to watch a two hour movie in a theatre

K7AAY
K7AAY

@BoDiddley2013 "I also noticed where somebody said they "purchased" Zorin." Zorin's basic package is a free download; more feature filled distros of Zorin are sold, but you can take the base version and add the differentiating apps for free with Synaptic Package Manager. 

K7AAY
K7AAY

@alfred "Is there anywhere a newcomer can find plain language advice or simple explanations of the terms so that a newcomer can get up to speed?" Sure. http://freegeek.org in Portland, OR, offers free classes to the local community. Look for a FreeGeek near you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Geek#Locations or another non-profit doing computer rebuilding or community comkputer support. IF you strike out with both, http://www.zoringroup.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=3 , http://askubuntu.com , http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewforum.php?f=90 http://unix.stackexchange.com , and http://ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=326 can help you long distance.

pgit
pgit

@alfred I am very busy these days replacing XP with Linux. What I do is run a bunch of different distributions on them to find the one that runs the hardware the best. some distributions provide a 'live' version for testing, but many distros do not have live a cd/dvd, I have to install these to test. A time consuming PITA for sure, but well worth it to get the hardware running as smoothly as possible.


It's a hit-or-miss proposition. But I find this far easier than deciding I'm going to stick with one distro and fight to the death over whatever hardware problems I encounter. (90% it's wifi, 9% video)


I'm surprised often that some odd, little used distro runs hardware 'out of the box' that I found near impossible to get running with one of the "big" distros like fedora, debian etc.


I have about 40 distros on disk. I start with the "big boys" but at the first sign of trouble I dump it and move on to the next... usually I end up installing one of those popular distros, but occasionally I have to dig deep into the obscure distributions before I find the one that just plain works.

I just sent out a laptop yesterday with Sabayon. Today it looks like Mageia 4 is going to live on the laptop I'm ridding of XP today.

This may be crazy, but all I can say is it works for me.

PS - I should mention that if I run into a problem and I know the quick fix, I'll install, say, fedora and fix the wifi problem rather than dump it and try another distro. It's the head-scratchers that I dump swiftly and move on to try another distribution.

stew2
stew2

@alfred As an engineer, you must be aware that every community has jargon which becomes so ingrained, they don't even realize that they use it. If you could be specific about the terminology or issues you've faced for which you've not gotten a clear, jargon-free explanation, we might be able to help.

BoDiddley2013
BoDiddley2013

@alfred It takes time. You basically need to do a clean install and begin working your problems. I can assure that every basic system function has a solution. But it might take time to work it out. To answer your question, there are too many Linux distros to have one set of instructions.

bobc4012
bobc4012

I went to edit and the system timed out on my edit. 

I wanted to add the the typical home user would readily pick up on the Linux menu using a distro such as Linux Mint with MATE, but then would have problems with the differences between Linux applications and their  Windows counterparts. WINE would be a helpful as long as the Windows program will run under it. For example, I like Notepad++ and use it on my Linux installs. But there are other things where I have to install DOSBox or the DOS Emulator, which is beyond the abilityof a typical home user (I still have some old DOS favorites that I use for which their is no Windows (or GUI) counterpart. Zorin, Mint and many other distros now, typically, install WINE as part of the installation, which is helpful install a Windows application and you get your desktop icon.

gmonette
gmonette

Missed my edit time window - meant to clarify that I agreed with Jack's point of the welcome screen/familiarization feature...especially IF Zorin largely intends to capture die-hard XP users that wish to transition to something other than MS... or even those that wish to ease verrrry slowly into Linux.

alfred2
alfred2

@pgit @alfred  I admire your persistence with so many distros pgit. The main point I wished to make is that the uninitiated who would most benefit from a way out of Win XP have not the time or skills to do as you are doing. Jono W. expresses the point well. If any one distro had a beginners guide which avoided all the jargon or explain it without using more jargon Linux would take off in a big way. Like you I could devote much time to learning about all the varieties of Linux to find the ideal for my needs but I have other interests so I have put Linux on the back burner for now. This is why Zorin OS might be improved as mentioned in the article with a welcome screen to guide users and make it easier for newcomers.

Jono.W
Jono.W

@stew @alfred  Stew, whilst helpful to Alfred, that misses the point to some extent. Alfred is clearly not a technophobe & he is struggling.  I'm not a technophobe either & am fairly computer savvy, but haven't got as far as I'd like with Linux (time...).  These difficulties with Linux are a key stumbling block to mass adoption. How many distros will let the user connect to a NAS without some command line work? And then some if they want it to happen when they next boot up.  Things like this and simpler are deal-breakers for the average user.

stew2
stew2

@Jono.W Since my reply was to Alfred, aimed at his specific issues, I fail to see how I missed the point. I wasn't trying to speak to the bigger issue of making Linux easier for newcomers. However, since you mentioned it, making things work easily, without the need to resort to the command line, is problematic. Those most capable of addressing the issue are those who least need the alternative and are likely unpaid for their efforts. They must follow altruistic motives to expend their time and creativity to do the work. Companies like Canonical do pay people to work on Linux. And contributing to OSS can be good for one's resume. For these reasons, things have improved, though there are still gaps.

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