There are so many Linux distributions it’s really hard to say what’s best for you. Only you know what’s best for you.
I don’t know anything about Zorin OS so I can’t tell you. I have seen reports on this forum of successful installations with Fedora 35, there’s a guide for Ubuntu 20.04 from Framework themselves, I believe Ubuntu 21.04 works but the recently released 21.10 does not.
You also want a distro where there’s lots of help available. Ubuntu and Linux Mint fit that bill. Does Zorin OS? If there’s an active forum, lots of documentation and lots of help that’s a good choice.
I’ve been using Linux since the 90’s and I’ve never heard of Zorin before I saw it in this message board. What you DEFINITELY want in a Linux distro as a beginner is a huge community of users. Something like Ubuntu. When so many people use it, it’s likely you will find a larger pool of answers for questions you have. Don’t fear the command line! It is your friend, and is magical!
Zorin OS like Pop OS are both based on Ubuntu. IE: if they are easy, Ubuntu is easy. Both of those have some qaulity of life improvements, etc. Pop OS is geared towards developers and gamers, and is not really intended to be a beginner distro.
Honestly I would say stick with Ubuntu. Learning on it will help you to move to any future distros.
As for the Framework, I think Fedora currently has the reigning lead on stability. I know from my own experiences, while I prefer Ubuntu, I have had quite a few bugs to deal with.
The most stable Linux, ironically, is the one running through WSL. (I’m half joking.)
Sure, it’s hard “to answer such a complex question with simple answers”. But after reading the long version of your question, I chose to answer “Yes”. In fact this is my answer to another question, it is not the “best” but it is a very reasonable good choice for first time Linux users.
I’m an advanced Linux user since a very long time, I’m a developer, I’m happy to use the command line, etc. I installed Zorin OS more than one year ago on my work laptop, to see how it works and if it could be a good choice for newbies. After this time using it, I can say I would recommend it for new users (and also a very usable choice for long time and advanced users, but that’s not the topic here).
It’s based on Ubuntu, so you benefit from the support, the large community and large number of available software.
I really like the look and feel. It’s simple and elegant. There is a nice Zoring looking layout, and if needed you can switch to a Windows or Mac OS looking layout.
Check each popular distro. Check how well the distro is maintained. Check if your hardware is supported. Check how active is the community, how software is packaged and availability. If you are happy, then use it.
I’ll add my two cents as someone who has already dabbled with ZorinOS on the Framework (and other machines) but ultimately went with a different OS. (Win11, for now.)
First, I want to say you’re probably more technical than you’re giving yourself credit for by even know about and taking the plunge into getting a Framework. Also, just knowing what terminal is, is more technical than the majority of folks in the world. As others have said, embrace the CLI and you might find you actually love it.
ZorinOS under the hood is essentially Ubuntu; just with nicer looking/more customizable carpet and drapes out of the box. It really is a nice to use OS that is very user friendly and has a nice aesthetic feel. Unfortunately, Ubuntu doesn’t fully support all Framework hardware yet which means neither does ZorinOS. You’ll be deep in forum posts and following guides to install the proper libraries to get things like the finger print reader and possibly the Wi-Fi card (if you opted for the Wi-Fi 6 card from FW) to work. (Most of this will be done in terminal btw, so be prepared for that) Since it’s not exactly Ubuntu, not all Ubuntu guides will work 100%. I was never able to get the finger print reader to work for me though I followed Fingerprint scanner compatibility with linux (ubuntu, fedora, etc), for example. Others have already mentioned, Linux is all about community support and ZorinOS doesn’t hold a candle to Ubuntu or Fedora in that aspect. Some Ubuntu guides will work but some won’t. So having said that, is it the best for a new Linux user on the Framework; probably not.
I also had issues with the Framework not really going to sleep when the lid was closed in ZorinOS which caused some heat and battery drain concerns; especially when the machine is in my laptop bag. That was the main driving factor for me to decide to go with a different OS for now. (Well, truth be told…touchpad gestures not working as well as they do in MacOS or Windows played a big part too but that’s not specifically a ZorinOS problem.)
At the end of the day, which OS you choose is a personal decision and really depends on what your needs are. If you need a daily driver for your job, don’t go with ZorinOS on a Framework as a new Linux user. You’ll spend more time learning how to use Linux and fixing little problems than doing actual job related work. If the Framework is a side piece to tinker with, by all means make the dive. Worst case, if you hate it you just install a different OS. You can always run it as live Linux off of a USB too, in order to kick the tires a bit with no commitment.
I’ll add also, if you do decide to give ZorinOS a try get the Core version. Pro doesn’t add anything significant to how the OS works.
Your responses really changed the way I looked at Linux, and I’ve come to terms with embracing and learning the CLI. I installed Ubuntu on my desktop to get a better feel for it, and it felt really good and accessible (my main difficulty so far has been about removing packages, but I’ll explore a bit deeper how to best to that).
I’m mostly afraid that it will take me time to get some of the Framework hardware to work properly, but I also feel like this forum and community will make that process more accessible.
So the winner of the poll is… UBUNTU! As soon as I get my Framework, I’ll get started with Ubuntu 20.04 and based on how I feel a few months in, I’ll explore other distributions.
I am a first time Linux user, and I am using Pop!_OS. My reasoning for that is that Ubuntu is definitely one of the easiest distros to start off with since there is lots of support for it, but the software isn’t fully open-source, and Canonical has had some privacy controversies before.
Pop!_OS is Ubuntu based, so you can pretty much just follow instructions for Ubuntu and it will work for you as well. Additionally, the OS is fully open-source, as seen here.
Additionally, Pop!_OS has an app store called the Pop!_Shop, and it’s quite good. I was able to install Zoom, Spotify, Chromium, KolourPaint, and many more with absolutely no hassle.
My only complaint is that screen tearing is quite prominent when scrolling, but this appears to be a Linux problem all around.
Overall, I’m very happy with my first Linux experience, and I hope you will be too!
The only issue I had was that I had to set up the fingerprint reader manually, but I’m pretty sure that is true for all distros except Fedora 35. @CJ_Elevated made a great video covering various distros running on the Framework.
There are a few ways to get the fingerprint sensor working. First, there is the install script that CJ made, and those instructions are
Download this install script - http://elevatedsystems.tech/media/scripts/FP_Reader_install.sh
then run cd ./Downloads
and then bash ./FP_Reader_install.sh
I did that one just because it was easy and I am very inexperienced in Linux. Another option is to follow @Brett_Kosinski solution found below.
I know no one cares about my opinion, and there are 100 people who have more time and could (and have) explain(ed) this more elegantly, but if you’re new to Linux, and must have an ‘elevator answer’ then mine is Pop!_OS and has been for about a year now.
for the 20-intel.conf file, but having the Driver line say "intel" instead of "i915" actually fixed it for me.
Though, I originally had it set up as "intel", it didn’t work. So then I changed it to "i915", but it still didn’t work. I decided to change it back to "intel", and now it works. Lol, it’s kind of like flipping a USB-A plug twice to have it go in properly. @Scratch also had these instructions in this post.
There are two distributions that are ‘good’ for the Framework.
Fedora and Ubuntu.
Both offer a good install experience, both have good documentation (Ubuntu’s ‘start from zero’ docs are better), and both will provide a fully functioning system immediately after install.
Those are the only ones appropriate to use if your question is ‘which Linux distribution should I start with’ or ‘which distribution is best for x’.
If you think I’m wrong then you either 1) are a fanboy of a particular distro (I’m guilty of this) or 2) know what you’re doing when it comes to trailblazing new hardware with a particular distro (also guilty of this).
I am a daily user of ZorinOS and I use MacOS too, if you want a powerful but still simple linux I really recommend ZorinOS, I use it since almost 2 years and I can not be more happy with it, but I do not know how the Framework Laptop works with it, since it din’t launch in my country yet:sob:. Really recommend you install it, as well on the Framework Laptop as on your old unsupported Mac’s.
I’m not a Framework user just yet as I will be purchasing one in the coming 2 months, but I am a relatively new Linux user having started full-time using Linux based OS’s exclusively since around December. For the poll, I answered the “it’s complicated” because anything “can be” easier or harder.
Prior to going full time Linux, I dabbled with Mint, Ubuntu, and Manjaro XFCE. I tried to use Manjaro XFCE full time at one point but couldn’t get past a month of usage and quickly found myself using Windows again.
I think ZorinOS has the best beginner friendly theming set up from the start (of the distributions I used previously). There is a lot of out-of-the box changes from the startup page when you first download the ISO. With this, I was able to make the theme very comfortable to me within the first 5 minutes of having the OS downloaded. Everything is very customizable with GUI’s that are immediately accessible, of which I think are more beneficial for someone who has never used Linux full time.
I think Zorin OS being Ubuntu based is also helpful as my experience with Manjaro XFCE (about a year prior to any mention of Steam Deck) made my time using Linux difficult. Almost all guides are written with Debian/Ubuntu in mind and when something breaks, it is a million times easier to find a solution as a beginner than with non Debian/Ubuntu based Distros. Having said that, I do think the future might entail more Manjaro-oriented, or Arch-oriented solutions as the release of the Steam Deck, and as a result Steam OS, will begin to flood with Stack Overflow questions/solutions. I think in the future if/when Steam Deck/OS becomes more popular, Manjaro KDE will be a strong beginner contender for intro distributions. It’s already seeing an increase in Forum questions and answers, I just don’t think it is on the same scale as Debain/Ubuntu yet.
TLDR; I think what helped me the most with staying on Linux was ease of use Varied Theming out of the box -AND- ease of solution attainment. I think Debian/Ubuntu derivatives are the better introduction for new-to-Linux crowd not because it’s inherently easier or what have you, but because there are years of solutions en masse available on the internet compared to other derivatives like Fedora or Arch. This doesn’t mean those solutions aren’t available, but when you have a very specific problem, you’re more likely to find it for Debian than the others, in my experience. If you can ease that frustration, then I think that will be a better experience and lead to more likely keeping Linux installed rather than falling back on Windows.
If you’re looking for a Linux OS similar to Windows, my solution would be Fedora with the KDE Desktop Environment. It offers a visually similar feel out of the box and is stable and well supported. For a Mac feel, Fedora with XFCE Desktop Environment might work (with some tweaking).
Bonus: For a very Mac-like distribution, check out “hello Linux.”
Everyone has their own opinions so picking one version over another is difficult. You could try reviewing some YouTube videos of people who show different Linux versions and desktops, and using that information, see which one speaks to you.