Afraid of the big bad Linux desktop? Zorin 16.1 is here

Pay for pro, get a warm fuzzy feeling


Zorin 16.1 has arrived, marking the first major update of the Linux distribution since August's release.

Unashamedly user-friendly, with an interface unlikely to scare off Windows or Mac users, the most eye-catching element of the update is LibreOffice 7.3, replete with better Microsoft Office compatibility, improved performance, and tweaks for dark mode fans.

Based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, the distribution also has improved hardware support. Handy for those with pockets deep enough for an Nvidia RTX 3050 or Apple Magic Mouse 2. 12th-generation Intel Core chips are also on the list as well as a range of printers and that bête noir of the Linux world: audio hardware. It being Ubuntu, the 5.13 Linux kernel is lurking under the hood.

It's undoubted a nice thing to look at, certainly for users making their first tentative steps away the worlds of Apple and Microsoft, although as with our look at Zorin 16 last year, you will need to pay up if you want access to desktop interfaces styled on Windows and macOS, and what Zorin calls a "professional-grade suite of apps," "advanced productivity software," and access to installation support.

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Zorin Grid, delayed to the first quarter of 2022, still has a "coming soon" tag and one cannot help but consider that, premium desktops aside, an experienced user could probably gather those app suites, or their equivalents, themselves. But that would be missing the point of Zorin, which is to take away that pain for new users.

Zorin Core or Lite are both free and should work on most 64-bit x86 Intel or AMD-based PCs (take note, Microsoft) while the Pro version with all its fripperies will set you back $39. The Core and Pro editions use the GNOME Shell for their desktop environments while the Lite Edition uses XFCE. Support runs to April 2025.

Finally, while anyone who picked up version 16 can get a free upgrade, the team behind Zorin, founded by a pair of Irish Ukranians, have pledged to donate all profits from sales of Zorin Pro between now and 1700 GMT on March 17 to charities providing humanitarian aid in Ukraine, which is under attack from Russia. These orgs are the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, and Tabletochki. ®

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