Zorin OS 16.3: Visually Pleasing but Stuck to an Aging System Base

Powered by Linux kernel 5.15, the new Zorin OS 16.3 is here but still adhering to the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) package base.

In the vast and diverse world of operating systems, Zorin OS, an Ubuntu-based distribution, stands out as a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing choice for newcomers to the Linux ecosystem.

Its sleek and modern interface, reminiscent of other popular operating systems, ensures a smooth transition for those looking to embrace the open-source world without sacrificing usability.

The just released Zorin OS 16.3 was eagerly awaited but, unfortunately, rather disappointing. Here’s why.

Zorin OS 16.3’s Interface Shines, but What Lies Beneath?

Zorin OS 16.3
Zorin OS 16.3

With its latest release, Zorin OS 16.3, the developers continue to impress users with a sleek and modern interface that rivals even the most popular operating systems.

From the moment you boot up the system, Zorin OS 16.3 greets you with a captivating design that blends elegance with simplicity, making it an enticing choice for newcomers and seasoned Linux enthusiasts.

However, as we peel back the layers of Zorin OS 16.3, a critical question arises: what lies beneath this beautiful facade?

Despite its eye-catching appearance, this operating system has a less glamorous side – its foundation is based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) release, which has been available for over three years.

And while this is acceptable for stability purposes when we’re talking about a server distribution, it is unacceptable in a purely desktop-oriented one. Not to mention that Ubuntu 22.04 has been out for over a year, and Zorin OS developers could have pleased their users by switching to it.

However, we must note that Zorin OS 16.3 uses Linux kernel 15.5 from Ubuntu 22.04 (as in its previous 16.2 release). In addition, some of the main desktop applications have been updated to their current versions – for example, Firefox 115 and LibreOffice 7.5.5.

Sadly, the underlying system is based on old software, and betting on GNOME 3.36 (released in March 2020) needs no further comment. Fortunately, the built-in default Flatpak support in Zorin OS 16.3 may be a lifeline for users wanting to have up-to-date app versions.

Finally, we will note that users now have an in-house backed tool, Zorin OS Upgrader, with which they can easily upgrade between releases and editions of Zorin OS without re-installing the operating system.

Zorin OS Upgrader
Zorin OS Upgrader

You can refer to the release announcement for detailed information about all changes.

The base edition, Zorin OS 16.3 “Core,” is free for download and includes all the essentials. You can grab the installation ISO from the download section on the project’s website.

In addition, if you opt for the “Pro” edition at $39, you can access a “Pro Lite” edition, which targets low-spec PCs. Compared to “Core,” the “Pro” edition has more preinstalled apps, additional premium desktop layouts, and Zorin installation support.

Bottom Line

Zorin OS 16.3 is a fantastic-looking distribution you’ll love if you’re new to Linux. However, that doesn’t change the fact that you get outdated software.

For this reason, we don’t recommend this particular version of the distribution. Of course, things will change in the future if the developers decide to rebase Zorin on a more up-to-date version of Ubuntu.

Until then, however, our recommendation for a desktop Linux distribution continues to be the latest release of Linux Mint, 21.2 “Victoria.”

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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