Review of Zorin OS Core 7 RC and Trench has another adventure in Linux

zorin-os-type

Last week Zorin OS released their release candidate of Zorin OS Core 7. If you’ll recall I was a huge fan of Core 5 but not so much of Core 6. Core 7 has got me back in the Zorin fold once again.

The first thing that struck was how much cleaner it looked with its new crisp themes and default icons. Gone were the cartoonish icons used in the indicator panel that made it hard to customize the taskbar. Speaking of the taskbar Zorin is still using the abandoned by its developers AWN Dock but in the case of Core 7 they are using it correctly. Also they’ve turned down the 3D effects to where it’s no longer a distraction.

The improvements are not just on the cosmetic level either. Core 7 feels a lot faster than previous releases. I don’t know if this was done by Ubuntu since 7 is based on Ubuntu 13.04 or if it was something the Zorin team did. I’m going to give the nod to Zorin because it feels much faster than Xubuntu 13.04 which I previously reviewed here.

My only complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that Zorin is still using a version of Gnome 3 on the back-end. The fonts in Zorin always seem a little oversized to me so I always reduce them by a point or two. For the life of me I couldn’t find the setting to do that. After a little research I found that Gnome Tweak Tool can do that so after I downloaded that I got the fonts to where I wanted them.

Again Zorin’s main purpose is to get users of Windows 7 to use Linux and I think that anyone who has used Win7 would be able to use Zorin with no problem. The only way it could be more like Windows 7 is if they made the window frames transparent but again that’s a minor squabble.

Not only does Zorin OS Core 7 RC get the Trench Reynolds seal of approval *bark bark* I’ve installed it on my desktop and I’m using it right now.

***

Now for my latest Linux adventure.

Most of the computers I install Linux on are either underpowered (1GB of RAM) or they’re old. My laptop on the other hand is less than a year old with 6GB of ram. This past weekend I finally got around to installing Linux on it but not without some troubles.

First I downloaded the 32 bit version of the distro in question. Even though my laptop is 64 bit I wanted to use the 32 bit version because in my experience I find the 32 bit versions to be faster. So I put the distro on to a USB stick using Unetbootin and installed it on to my hard drive dual booting with Windows 7. It installed no problem but when I rebooted it went straight into Windows 7. The GRUB screen didn’t even come up to ask me what OS I wanted to use. I thought this was because my Windows installation had two partitions, one of the OS and another for the data.

After some research I found out that I needed to install the 64 bit version in UEFI mode. Apparently GRUB doesn’t play well with UEFI on newer laptops. So when I went to install the 64 bit version I selected the UEFI boot on the boot load screen and installed with no problem and I even had a boot screen. Problem solved I thought. Not quite.

When I went to boot into Windows 7 I got an error message instead of Windows. As I said before GRUB and UEFI don’t play well together. Luckily I could still boot into the Linux partition and was able to use Boot Repair to fix the problem. Now I was able to boot into both OSes.

So then under the Linux partition I downloaded my favorite music player in Audacious. It installed with no problem but when I played the music there was no sound in my headphones. There was sound coming out of the speakers but not the headphones. I did a lot of research on this one and tried a number of supposed fixes. Before I get to that it turns out that since Ubuntu 12.04 this has been a bug that has yet to be addressed. The distro I was using was based on Ubuntu 13.04 so obviously the bug is still there. It turns out that it’s because of the PulseAudio volume control causing a glitch in Ubuntu distros. So I uninstalled PulseAudio and the headphones were working again, with a catch. The volume indicator in the taskbar was now gone. That was easy enough to reinstall by entering the command ‘sudo apt-get install gnome-sound-applet’ in the terminal. However the headphones were still only working about 50% of the time. After a while I noticed a trend. If I booted into Linux after restarting Windows 7 there would be no sound but if I turned my laptop off completely and booted directly into Linux it would work fine.

What I’d like to know is why would Ubuntu release a completed distro into the wild with this kind of obvious flaw in it?

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