Trying loads of Linux distros

I have been trying Linux distros this past week to reuse an old Samsung ultrabook for my youngest daughter to use to write stories on (she has an iPad, but she doesn’t like writing on that, even on an external keyboard). I had just bought a Lenovo Thinkpad for her older sister who’s starting year 7 in January, so I wasn’t going to spend a tonne of money on another new laptop until she needs one for school in two years’ time.

I finally settled on ZorinOS Core. Performs very well on the AMD A6 APU and has a consistent enough interface that very few things will trip up a ten-year-old, and be be easy enough for a non-techie mother can help with some tasks like file management and installing apps from the “app store”.

Other distros I tried (Ubuntu Mate, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Linux Mint Mate) had enough incosistencies with some interface elements to cause some frustrations.

I really liked the Budgie desktop, and I first came across it in a distro called Solus. However, the distro had not been updated in over a year, and the lead developer - also the developer of Budgie - had left Solus early last year. So, Solus as a distro might be a bit slow in updating.

Ubuntu Budgie was almost my choice distro, but for some reason bits of dark mode remained even when switching it out of dark mode, and it seems to override some applications like LibreOffice, with options to change application colours not having any effect.

So, it came down to Zorin. I had tried Zorin Lite, which was based on a highly modified XFCE desktop. I really liked that, but I ended up with Zorin Core, based on a modified Gnome desktop as the laptop was powerful enough to drive some of the nicer flourishes in the interface.

I also tried Manjaro, but it’s a bit too bleeding edge with all the updates.

Really happy with my choice. It has been a few years since I properly looked at desktop Linux and it has come a long way, and has made an old laptop useable again. Windows has dropped in the rankings of desktop OSes for me - ever since the hard sell of Microsoft services. For now, it is still MacOS on top for me. I just use Windows because I have to for work now.


I’ve heard good things about Ubuntu Mint. I’m a Fedora/XFCE user, so I’m not exactly typical, I guess.

Yeah, Mint is good, but just didn’t meet my out of the box needs and ease of use for a ten-year-old and a non techie mother.

I haven’t used Fedora/Red Hat for many years.

Did you take a look at Elementary OS? As the name implies, it’s a very simple, user-friendly dist that might fit the bill for you -

Once I got to Zorin and it met my needs, I stopped there. Elementary and Zorin are both pretty similar from the looks of it - both based on a modified Gnome desktop.

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Zorin OS Core does seem to use GNOME, but elementary OS uses their own Pantheon desktop environment.

That’s also true for Zorin OS.

As you can see from their release page, the latest version is from August 2021 and is still based on Ubuntu 20.04. Ubuntu 22.04 has been released in April this year. Judging from the past release dates, it seems to take the Zorin OS team around a year to update the distro to the latest version of Ubuntu.

But with snap and flatpack, you can still get a more up to date version of the software. So as long as you still get security updates, it might not be an issue.

Doesn’t really matter. This is for my ten your old daughter to do some typing offline. She’ll be getting a brand new ThinkPad when she starts middle school.