Elementary OS vs Zorin OS: Similarities & Differences!

Credits:

Elementary OS

Zorin OS

In this article let us have a look at 2 very popular distros Elementary OS and Zorin OS and see where each distro shines so that you can pick one that best suit your needs!

For those of you in a hurry, here is the short version of the answer.

The Short Version Of The Answer

What are the differences between Elementary OS and Zorin OS? The main difference between Elementary OS and Zorin OS is Elementary OS is meant for users who need an aesthetically pleasing distro while Zorin OS is meant for users who need the best WINE support for using windows apps

The table below highlights the important differences between the 2 distros

Elementary OS Zorin OS
Organization Name Founded by a small group of UX specialists with a strong focus on User experience.

Organization Type: Company

Zorin OS is a distro focused on regular users (as opposed to engineers) built with the aim of providing a beginner-friendly opensource distro.

Organization Type: Community

Expertise Level Needed Beginner Beginner
Based On Ubuntu Ubuntu
Target Use-cases General-purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: Media Consumption Beginner Linux Distro

Other Use-cases: Since this distro is based on Ubuntu, this distro can be used as a workstation too.

General-purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: Good first distro for switching from Windows or Mac

Other use cases: Gaming, Content consumption, workstation

Software Support 6/10

Out of the box software: 3/5

Software Repository: 3/5

7.5/10

Out of the box software: 4/5

Software Repository: 3.5/5

Hardware Support 7/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 3/5

8.5/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 4.5/5

Hardware Resource Needs middleweight middleweight
Support 5/10

Paid support: Not available

Community 3/5: Since this is based on Ubuntu’s LTS release, most problems can be solved through Ubuntu’s forums.

Documentation 2/5: Very basic documentation available

5/10

Paid support: not available

Community:
3/5

Documentation: 2/5

Ease of use 8/10: Easy

But need to do a lot of post-install activities to get the best apps

8/10 Easy
Stability 8/10: Stable

The Elementary apps are still in their early days and hence are not performing at their best all the time. But since this OS is based on Ubuntu LTS the distro is stable in the other aspects

8/10: stable

Based on Ubuntu LTS hence Zorin OS is stable

Release Cycles Releases are based on Ubuntu’s LTS release

Release schedule: Not fixed, Based on when the features are ready

Fixed Release

Release schedule: There is no strict schedule, the features and bug fixes are rolled out once they are ready.

The graph below summarizes the table and compares the 2 distros and shows us how they compare with each other on various factors (Higher the points the better that particular feature is in a given distro)

That is just the short version of the answer, let’s go ahead and look at the longer and more informative version and learn more about the similarities and differences between 2 distros.

The Linux Distributions World

The word Distro is short for “Distribution”. Since the Linux source code is open for everyone to see, large communities started evolving to bring together Operating Systems suited towards specific needs/goals.

These “specific needs/goals” include, but not limited to the following.

  • producing documents
  • writing programs and creating software
  • editing pictures, videos, audio, and multimedia-production related works
  • store sensitive information by securing the operating system so that no one can hack into it or
  • just browse the internet and consume media.

Say a community of people just wanted to browse the internet with their computers, then there is no point giving them the software to write programs in. Thus since every community’s needs and goals were different these communities started distributing built images of this operating system with all the essential tools installed. These prebuilt images are called distros!

If you wish to know more about the reason behind the presence of so many choices in the Linux World, I suggest reading the article given below.

Reasons Behind The Existence of SO MANY Linux Distros: An Analysis!

The Main Factors of Comparison

The factors mentioned above are just a small list of 100s of factors that differentiate distros. If you are either switching from some other OS to Linux or you are in the process of choosing your next Linux distro and you are confused which one to choose, you need to have a look at these top 5 decision-making factors

  • Factor#1: Good Match with your Particular use-case
  • Factor#2: Support for your favorite software
  • Factor#3: Hardware Support and Proprietary Driver Support
  • Factor#4: Your level of expertise in Linux
  • Factor#5: Hardware Resource Needs

I have written a separate article explaining these factors which you can find in the link below

Top 5 Factors To Choose Between Linux Distros!

Let’s have a look at each of these important factors and see how Elementary OS and Zorin OS compare against each other.

Factor#1: Good Match with your Particular use-case

By use-case, I mean the type of work you are going to be doing on your computer. The Linux distro world originated because of the difference in use cases.

Elementary OS’s goal is wildly different from that of Zorin OS’s.

Let’s have a brief comparison between Elementary OS and Zorin OS in terms of goals, target users, and best use cases to employ these distros.

Elementary OS Zorin OS
Goal To make an aesthetically good looking and stable distro To provide a beginner-friendly opensource distro.
Target users Users of Mac OS that are trying to move to Linux Windows users who want to try out Linux and Linux users who want a distro for gaming.
Best Use-Cases to Employ the Distro Best Use-case: Media Consumption Beginner Linux Distro

Other Use-cases: Since this distro is based on Ubuntu, this distro can be used as a workstation too.

Best Use-case: Good first distro for switching from Windows or Mac

Other use cases: Gaming, Content consumption, workstation

Factor#2: Support for your favorite software

If your main work involves some specific software or the latest versions of a given software then that becomes a decision-making factor for choosing a Linux Distribution. So before fixing on a given distro, be sure to google if that distro has official support for your main software needs.

The factors you need to be considering include the following

  • Out of the Box support: The software that the distro ships with.
  • Repository Support: The curated software that is available on the official repos
  • Type of release cycle: This decides the trade-off between up-to-date software and stable tested software.
  • Availability of Graphical Software managers
  • Package manager used: This can decide the ease of which you can install and uninstall software

Let’s see how Elementary OS and Zorin OS fair up against each other in the category of Software support

Elementary OS Zorin OS
Out of the Box Software 3/5: The elementary OS comes with very basic apps, and even those apps are not perfect which means if you don’t like the apps, you need to search for replacements 4/5: The core edition comes with all the necessary software to start using the operating system straight away after installation and the ultimate edition (paid version) comes with a lot of apps preinstalled.
Repository Support 3/5: The official repo is still in the early days but you can install all the Debian packages through the command line. 3.5/5: The official repository is growing, and since this OS is based on Ubuntu, you can use the synaptic package manager to install system packages
Type of release cycle Releases are based on Ubuntu’s LTS release

Release schedule: Not fixed, Based on when the features are ready

Fixed Release

Release schedule: There is no strict schedule, the features and bug fixes are rolled out once they are ready.

GUI Software Management Tools Available

App center

Available

Software center and Synaptic package manager

Package manager used APT and Snap Supports apt, snappy and flatpak

The bar chart below summarizes the table above. As you can see, Zorin OS is better than Elementary OS in terms of Out of the box software support. Zorin OS is better than Elementary OS in terms of Repository support.

Hence, Zorin OS wins the round of Software support!

Refer to the article below if you wish to learn more about package managers.

A Beginners Introduction To Linux Package managers: apt, yum, dpkg & rpm

Factor#3: Hardware Support and Proprietary Driver Support

Not all Linux distros support proprietary drivers officially. Depending on your computer’s hardware, you may or may not have open-source driver support from the manufacturers. This is especially true for hardware such as graphics cards and network cards. Hence it is a good idea to take “driver support” into consideration while choosing your next distro.

The factors you need to be considering include the following

  • Distro’s Policy of use of opensource vs proprietary 3rd party software
  • Official driver support by Major Companies
  • 3rd party driver support from official repos
  • Support for older hardware
Elementary OS Zorin OS
Distro’s Policy Open-source drivers are chosen by default, but you can choose to use Proprietary during the installation process as they are officially supported Proprietary drivers officially supported
Official driver support by Major Companies 4/5: Being Ubuntu’s derivative Elementary OS enjoys the drivers released for Ubuntu 4/5, since based on Ubuntu LTS, the drivers provided by major companies like NVidia are made available for Zorin users.
3rd party driver support 3rd party repos available 3rd party repos available
Support for older hardware 3/5: Has good driver availability from Debian and Ubuntu, but there is no 32-bit processor support 4.5/5: still supports old 32-bit systems

The bar chart below summarizes the table above. As you can see, both Zorin OS and Elementary OS got the same points when it comes to official driver support. Zorin OS is better than Elementary OS in terms of support for Older Hardware.

Hence, Zorin OS wins the round of Hardware support!

Refer to the article below if you wish to have a look at some of the top distros in terms of hardware support.

Best Distro For Software And Hardware Support: A Comparison!!

Factor#4: Your level of expertise in Linux

Depending on your level of expertise in Linux, the choice of the distro you need will vary. This is because of the following factors

  • Ease of use: beginner, intermediate, expert
  • Paid customer support: available, not available
  • Online community support: great, good, okay, not good, no support
  • Available Documentation: Great documentation, Good documentation, Okay documentation, no documentation

Let’s see the level of support available for Elementary OS and Zorin OS and see how they compare against each other

Elementary OS Zorin OS
Ease of Use beginner beginner
Paid Customer Support Not available, hence might not be the best choice for organizations The buyers of the Ultimate edition can enjoy faster responses for support queries and they sell laptops preloaded with Zorin OS, but there is no paid support.
Online Community Support 3/5: Since this is based on Ubuntu’s LTS release, most problems can be solved through Ubuntu’s forums. 3/5 good: small yet responsive community
Documentation 2/5: Very basic documentation available 2/5 Okay documentation, focused on beginners’ tutorials

The bar chart below summarizes the table above. As you can see, both Zorin OS and Elementary OS got the same points in terms of online community support. Both Zorin OS and Elementary OS got the same points in terms of Documentation.

Hence, this round is a tie between Zorin OS and Elementary OS!!

Factor#5: Hardware Resource Needs

This is an important factor if you are planning to employ Linux on a computer with limited hardware resources. This may be an old machine or a new one with less than stellar specs.

The factors you need to be considering include the following

  • Category: Lightweight or Middleweight or Heavyweight
  • RAM Requirements to have a snappy system &
  • Minimum processor requirements

Let’s see how Elementary OS and Zorin OS fair up against each other in terms of Hardware resource needs

Elementary OS Zorin OS
Category Middleweight Middleweight
Minimum RAM requirements 4GB recommended (no minimum requirements given out officially) (Minimum) 512MB for the Lite edition
Minimum Processor Requirements dual-core 64bit recommended (no minimum requirements given out officially) (Minimum) 700MHz single-core 32-bit for the Lite edition

Refer to the article below if you wish to have a look at a step by step guide for choosing a Linux distro for your computer’s specifications.

A Complete Guide For Choosing A Distro For Your Computer’s Specs..!!

The Results!

Let us know go ahead and see the results of our comparison! Have a look at the Bar chart below.

Zorin OS wins in Software support, Hardware support, and Hardware Resource needs.

There is a tie between the 2 distros in User support, Ease of use, and Stability.

I suggest you pick the distro that best suits you based on this graph. For example, if hardware support is more important to you, then pick the distro that has better support for your hardware!

Summary

To summarise the article here is the comparison table from the beginning of the blog again.

Elementary OS Zorin OS
Organization Name Founded by a small group of UX specialists with a strong focus on User experience.

Organization Type: Company

Zorin OS is a distro focused on regular users (as opposed to engineers) built with the aim of providing a beginner-friendly opensource distro.

Organization Type: Community

Expertise Level Needed Beginner Beginner
Based On Ubuntu Ubuntu
Target Use-cases General-purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: Media Consumption Beginner Linux Distro

Other Use-cases: Since this distro is based on Ubuntu, this distro can be used as a workstation too.

General-purpose Distro.

Best Use-case: Good first distro for switching from Windows or Mac

Other use cases: Gaming, Content consumption, workstation

Software Support 6/10

Out of the box software: 3/5

Software Repository: 3/5

7.5/10

Out of the box software: 4/5

Software Repository: 3.5/5

Hardware Support 7/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 3/5

8.5/10

Official driver support: 4/5

Support for older hardware: 4.5/5

Hardware Resource Needs middleweight middleweight
Support 5/10

Paid support: Not available

Community 3/5: Since this is based on Ubuntu’s LTS release, most problems can be solved through Ubuntu’s forums.

Documentation 2/5: Very basic documentation available

5/10

Paid support: not available

Community:
3/5

Documentation: 2/5

Ease of use 8/10: Easy

But need to do a lot of post-install activities to get the best apps

8/10 Easy
Stability 8/10: Stable

The Elementary apps are still in their early days and hence are not performing at their best all the time. But since this OS is based on Ubuntu LTS the distro is stable in the other aspects

8/10: stable

Based on Ubuntu LTS hence Zorin OS is stable

Release Cycles Releases are based on Ubuntu’s LTS release

Release schedule: Not fixed, Based on when the features are ready

Fixed Release

Release schedule: There is no strict schedule, the features and bug fixes are rolled out once they are ready.

Hope you have got enough data to choose between these 2 amazing distros!

And with that, I will conclude this article!

I hope you guys enjoyed this article and learned something useful.

If you liked the post, feel free to share this post with your friends and colleagues!

Related Articles

Here are some of my other articles that might interest you!

What Is The Best Linux Distro? Analysis & Comparison..!!

A Step By Step Plan To Learn Linux..!

Best Linux Distro For Workstation: Analysis and Comparison!!

A Complete Guide For Choosing A Distro For Your Computer’s Specs..!!

Best Distro For Software And Hardware Support: An Analysis.!!

Distro-Hopping, What, Why & How Explained!

Reasons Behind The Existence of SO MANY Linux Distros: An Analysis!

EI

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