Zorin OS 12

Open source Linux-based OS that is fast, powerful and secure

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Sam McLeod@s_mcleod · Ops Lead
While it looks pretty, there's hardly any detail on what makes it 'secure', it doesn't even state the basics like if SELinux is in enforcing by default, if the kernel has been hardened with GRSec packages and is kept up to date with the mainline kernel version, what package verification it uses, if it's based on any other distros in any way or even what makes it more secure than the next diso and the list goes on... I'm not saying it's a bad OS or isn't 'security focused' (which is much better than saying something IS secure) but there needs to be these basic details provided on the landing page.
Sam McLeod@s_mcleod · Ops Lead
Update: I'm downloading it now (From sourceforge which I don't overly trust mind you) and I'll report back.
Sam McLeod@s_mcleod · Ops Lead
Short review below *Edit: PH isn't letting me edit my typos on my quick review, but concertised = containerised and unbeatable = unbootable
Artyom Zorin@artyomzorin · Co-founder, Zorin Group
@s_mcleod Thank you for your feedback. I wanted to bring more clarity to some of the questions you've raised about Zorin OS: Zorin OS is designed for beginners who are more familiar with Windows and Mac. We aim to present the advantages of the Linux environment to less technically-savvy users, such as the improved security compared to Windows and Mac. We have focused on developing a simple, familiar and compelling desktop experience through the Zorin Desktop environment (powered by Gnome Shell). For many of our users, Zorin OS acts as a stepping stone to the world of Linux. Zorin OS is based on Ubuntu which we mention on our homepage. Version 12 is built on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, which provides a good balance of software support and ease of use, especially for the beginner users we are targeting. Zorin OS uses AppArmor which is an alternative to SELinux, and is well integrated into the Ubuntu-based environment. The software in Zorin OS licensed under open source licenses such as the GPL. All the source code is available from the included repositories (such as the Ubuntu repos and Launchpad PPAs). Our premium editions include additional software and features out of the box as well as technical support, and help fund the development of the project.
Rebecca Garcia@geekgirlweb · GeekGirlWeb
@artyomzorin @s_mcleod thanks, it would be helpful to see more of this info on the website, and/or a link to a changelog or repo that mentions this. Thumbs up though, looks good.
Adithya ShreshtiHunter@adithya · Founder of Knowmad Life | Startuposphere
Wow! This looks awesome! With the familiarity of OS you are currently using (Windows, Mac etc) this Zorin OS is an open source Linux-based operating system that's a replacement designed to make your computer faster, more powerful and secure. Check out the product and the community :-)
Pietz Prove@gopietz · Media Computer Science Student
my first impression was very positive as i dig the looks, but it went downhill from there. the text on your website sounds like you are targeting rookie-windows-users, but even many of those people know that "safe from viruses" is just a flat out lie. personally, i lost any trust in the product following that sentence. to me it means that clever marketing has a higher priority to you than honest communication. but quite possibly i'm just paranoid. is it correct that although Zorin OS is based on Linux, itself is actually closed source? because i'm trying to understand the logic behind selling a product as secure because its based on open source software and then not providing its source.
Sam McLeod@s_mcleod · Ops Lead
@gopietz I have no idea how they're getting away with re-branding Ubuntu 16.04, not adding any real security features from what I can see, using ext2 for /boot (what theeeee?!) and then trying to charge for a premium version.
Pietz Prove@gopietz · Media Computer Science Student
@s_mcleod i agree with you. lets wait and give them a chance to make their case :)
Sam McLeod@s_mcleod · Ops Lead
@gopietz oh for sure, I'm all for more competition and creativity in software, the only bits I really have a problem with are A) Claiming outright that it's going to increase your security and B) Theming an existing distro then charging money for a premium version of it (which might actually break the licensing, thus law).
Sam McLeod@s_mcleod · Ops Lead
* Installer: Open VM Tools not installed by default so when installing in a VM (using VMware Fusion / Veertu) it means that the resolution is sub-optimal as is the performance of the installer. Disk encryption is not enabled by default and is not suggested as an important factor in securing your machine, however there is an option to use disk encryption with LVM, so I have chosen to select that. The installer resolution is low and you cannot see all the buttons such as 'next' when selecting a keyboard layout, so you need to tab through elements until you think you're on the next button and hit space / enter. The installer details while processing packages does not fit on the screen in the installers default resolution. At this point I can see that it's Ubuntu based judging by what I can see on the installer details window, using Ubuntu as a base for a distro does not give me great confidence in it's potential security, Ubuntu has a long history of not properly testing packages before releases resulting in issues with booting after OS updates, loss of USB functionality amongst others. Ubuntu also often tends to suffer from NIH (not invented here) syndrome where instead of utilising widely used and reviewed software, they often write their own implementations of key parts of the operating system such as the display server, boot / process manager, their own security hardening frameworks, non-standard configuration paths, widely disputed default configuration of core system services such as sshd, grub, concertised namespaces and firewall rules amongst others. The installer did correctly use a mirror near my location which is better than several other distros I've tested recently. The overall install took quite a long time, it was about on par with older Ubuntu installs, but not nearly as fast as installing Fedora or lightweight distros such as Arch etc... but that is to be expected and not a big deal - ideally you only do it once. At no point during the install was I prompted what packages / applications I would like to install or what services I permit to start on boot, this worries me as I do not wish for bloatware or undesired applications or services to be installed. * First boot: Booting to the desktop was very fast - impressive! Fancy animations are turned on by default, not overly impressed by this reduces battery life and uses additional CPU/GPU resources. The menu is in my eyes a bit ugly, but each to their own with what themes and colour schemes they enjoy. The displays resolution was not detected on first boot and the GUI did not scale to the available virtual screen space, so navigate the GUI was difficult. The kernel installed by default is quite old now at 4.4.0-47-generic Ubuntu SMP, although having said that, it is newer than the default kernel supplied on many distros, I'm sure than newer kernels will be available via a trusted repository. The filesystem (ext4) was not mounted with optimal mount options such as discard and noatime resulting in sub-optimal performance. I was shocked to see that /boot, one of the most important mount points in linux was formatted as ext2 - yes you read that correctly, not ext4 or XFS but ext2, that doesn't even have a journal - just wait and you'll experience file corruption resulting in an unbeatable system. I was however please to see that /etc/lvm/lvm.conf correctly contains issue_discards = 1, which many distros miss. A big concern: SELinux was not only not in enforcing, it's not even installed! That is completely unacceptable of any desktop or server distro in 2017 and a crucial part of securing any Linux based distro, there is no good reason not to have SELinux in enforcing mode at all times, it essentially doesn't affect performance and has a HUGE impact on hardening your operating environment. * Final thoughts: For me, the combination of an early 2016 Ubuntu as the base OS, no install-time package / service options, no SELinux at all and ext2 each being considered acceptable is enough of an indication that it's not worth me proceeding with investigating the distro any further. This shows a lack of concern for the hardening of the operating system and demonstrates a lack of security focused mindset when re-packaging Ubuntu 16.04.
carlos garcia@androidlove · Co-Founder, Internet Missionaries
Open source Linux distributions failed on the desktop. Maybe Chrome OS has a chance.
Sam McLeod@s_mcleod · Ops Lead
@androidlove it's not because they're open source and they don't all fail, it depends a lot of what you're using them for, if you're doing development or surfing the web - Fedora is a fantastic, well engineered distro. Chrome OS only has a chance in my eyes if it's going to be truly open source and if you can A) Choose a version that does not include Google products and lets you install your own choice of email client, your own choice of web browser etc... B) Is installable on a wide scale of modern (but relatively standard) hardware.