Linux lovers have received a double load of delight this week with the emission of the 4.18 kernel and a refresh of Windows-wannabe Zorin OS.
Zorin OS 12.4
Zorin OS has been around for a while, with the avowed goal of weaning Windows and Mac users off their respective operating systems and into the world of Linux. The Ubuntu-based distribution has now hit version 12.4, the last version until the platform is shifted to Ubuntu 18.04 towards the end of the year.
In the meantime, Zorin OS remains one of the easiest ways to get into Linux for users fearful of leaving their closed source ways behind. Version 12.4 gets version 4.15 of the Linux kernel, expanding the hardware compatibility of the operating system as well as some patches and performance tweaks.
Installation from an ISO image remains straightforward – The Register was up and running in minutes, first simply booting from the ISO image itself, and later committing a few GB of disk space to the thing.
The default desktop bears a striking resemblance to Windows 10, replete with a familiar-looking start menu. The Core edition also features a Gnome 3 desktop layout, although if Gnome is your thing, you probably aren’t in the target market for Zorin OS. Spend €19 and Zorin will let you download the Ultimate edition, which adds macOS, Gnome 2 and Unity desktop layouts.
The Ultimate edition also includes a boatload of bloatware (or what Zorin describes as ‘the best business and media apps’) and, more usefully, access to the Zorin team for support.
To further ease the transition from Windows, Wine 3.0 remains part of the distribution. This should, in theory, allow users to drag at least some of their Windows applications with them. This does remain a little touch and go in practice, and users are likely to resort to the slightly clunky PlayOnLinux application to get a favourite game up and running. Or, in the case of El Reg, Microsoft Paint.
The OS rattles along at a fair old pace, and a ‘Lite’, stripped-down, version is available for older computers. As with the Ultimate edition, a paid-for Business version can be picked up for a fee.
The release includes a raft of new toys, including support for the Snapdragon 845 chipset found in high-end mobile phones and a vanishingly small number of Windows 10 laptops. The inclusion should mean that the normal “I’ll wipe that and install Linux” comment that follows many a hardware review can now be applied to Microsoft’s latest and greatest Arm-based devices too.
Other notable enhancements include support for the Raspberry Pi 3B and 3B+ computers along with some early work on upcoming AMD and Intel graphics chipsets in the form of the Vega 20 and Icelake 11 chips respectively.
The gift that keeps on giving, Spectre, also gets some attention, with mitigations for the V4 variant on 64 bit Arm architectures and V1/V2 mitigations on aging 32 bit Arm hardware.
Other hardware, such as USB 3.2 and Type-C, also see improvements as well new support for a wider array of sound chips.
In his note, Torvalds reckoned that he “could just have released on schedule last week” but held back to get some more stable bits and pieces into the release and avoid backporting. He went on to note that “the merge window for 4.19 is obviously open” with pulling kicking off this week. ®
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