Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at 22:40

Continuing my previous review, Zorin Education is a computer operating system designed for use in school. Aside from giving complete applications built-in for normal computing, it specifically includes applications for study fields especially math and science. Not only that, today it is perhaps the only OS in the world that include a game making application which is capable to create games for both phone and desktop games. This will make schooling and teaching more fun. For people with prior knowledge, if you are looking for Edubuntu OS continuation, I would love to say you are better to look at Zorin Education more closely. I tried to expose it briefly here by summarizing the school purpose first and game making then. For all teachers and lecturers everywhere, I recommend you to try out this OS. Enjoy!

(Zorin Education displaying its desktop with start menu displaying categories of Education, Science, and Programming)

More on Zorin: Zorin OS for Windows Users | Put Icons on Desktop Area | Academic Tools | Zotero Bibliography Manager

# Index
- Intro
- School Purpose
- Game Development Purpose
- Normal Purpose
- My Commentaries

# What is Zorin Education and for whom?

Zorin Operating System is available in several editions namely Core, Lite, Education, and Ultimate. Education is the edition available for schools. Zorin Education is a stand alone OS with built-in specific applications for schooling, teaching, and science. It is the edition never available in other distros, such as Ubuntu, Mint, or elementary OS. Compared to other distros, the nearest ones to come to it are Edubuntu, Debian Edu, and Fedora Spin Education which are either already discontinued or not popular. For whom it is? It is suitable for teachers, lecturers, classroom manager, and students speaking individually and also schools & university speaking collectively.

Detailed information:
- Minimum specification: a computer with Pentium and 4GB RAM is enough
- Architecture: 32-bit, 64-bit
- Based on: Ubuntu GNU/Linux
- Versions: 12 (in this article), 15 (latest)
- License: free software and open source
- OEM: yes, in StarLab computers (more vendors welcomed)
- ISO size: 2.5 GigaByte
- Source code: available, at GitHub and official repository
- Support: paid support, community support
- Website:

(Zorin Education version 12.4 running from LiveCD displaying system info and a tooltip preview on taskbar)

# School Purpose
- Math
- Science
- Architecture
- Language
- Kids education
- Programming
- Art
- Electronics
- Teaching tools

For mathematics, Zorin Education includes basic math, algebra, and advanced math learning applications. They are Tux Math and KBruch (cute games for kids), GNOME Dia (diagram drawing), KAlgebra and Geogebra (algebra calculation & simulation), and GNU Octave (MATLAB-compatible numerical scientific analysis software).

(Left: KAlgebra demonstrating graph of x^2 and x^2+y | Right: GCompris showing choices of games)
For science, it includes learning applications for astronomy, chemistry, geography and physic. They are Stellarium (sky simulation & calculation), KAlzium (periodic table explorer), Marble (3D world map), and Rocs (graph teory visualization).

For architecture, it includes 2D/3D design software to build houses, machines, and ships. They are FreeCAD (an alternative to AutoCAD or SketchUp) and LibreCAD.

For language, it includes applications to get introduced to alphabets and words, vocabulary, typing traning, word quiz, and pronounciations. They are KAnagram and Gcompris, Gbrainy (longtime Ubuntu users will not forget this legendary one), Tux Typing (funny game), and WriteType (this can speak out loud with voice whatever we type).

For kids, it includes game so they can learn by playing, namely language, motor skill, and building. They are GCompris (multiple education games in one app), Potato Guy (drag and drop drawing game), Tux Paint (drawing with  exciting sound effects for kids), and Minetest (similar to Minecraft - 3D world building game).

(Zorin start menu: displaying several applications under Education category)
For programming, or computer science, Zorin Education includes wide support of programming languages and tools to write the codes. But beyond that, it also includes new concept that programming a software can be done without coding. It supports all popular fields namely system, desktop, and web developments. It support by default the languages Assembly, C,C++, Shell Script, Python, and Perl by including the tools assembler, compilers, interpreters, and debuggers. To write codes, it includes convenient editors namely Bluefish and GNOME Builder. And as I said, beyond it all Zorin includes magic tool to create software by drag and drop without writing the code. It is Scratch.

(Gbrainy on left: a quiz-based brain and logic training game, we missed old time with it from Ubuntu 9.04 era! | Minetest on right: Minecraft-like video game to build world)

For art, or multimedia, it includes applications audio recording, audio editing, digital audio workstation, 3D modeling and animation, image editing, photography, and video editing. They are Sound Recorder, Audacity, Ardour, Blender 3D, Tux Paint (drawing for kids), GIMP & Inkscape (alternatives to Photoshop and CorelDRAW), Darktable & GNOME Photos (alternatives to Adobe Lightroom and ACDSee), and Kdenlive & Pitivi (alternatives to Premiere Pro).

# Game Development Purpose
- Game templates
- Create game
- Build game for Android Phone
- Build game for Zorin PC

It is all thanks to GDevelop Game Engine inclusion in Education Edition. This tool is a codingless game making software. To give you bigger picture, it is similar to the proprietary Game Maker or 3D Game Studio which is only available on Windows since long time. This can be fun for a class to learn an overview of computer science through game development with drag-and-drop method. It includes game examples built-in you can instantly try and makes it easy to export into Android (.apk) and also GNU/Linux executable formats other people can play. If those are not enough for you, there are downloadable examples available in their forum. By default, GDevelop is codingless, but it includes something called "Events Editor" that is table that represents if-this-then-that in the game being created. What is more important is that it supported by vast community in their Forum, Wiki, and of course published games. Personally, I myself started my computing life initially by game development when I was kid and I felt it helped me a lot to know more about computer in less time so seeing Zorin Education be like this is somehow nostalgic to me.

(Zorin OS making a shooter video game from examples available)

More about game development:

# Normal Purpose
- Browsing the internet, fetching emails, and chatting
- Writing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations
- Install more applications
- Playback audio and video
- Reading PDF, ebooks, and making them
- Taking notes
- File browsing
- See world map, weather, and time across countries
- Scheduling and making journal

(Zorin Education runs its Writer word processor, Calc spreadsheet, and Impress presentation programs we all know)

Daily computing with Zorin Education will be enough. It includes all capabilities a desktop system should have such as browsing and making documents. It includes LibreOffice so both teachers and students can exchange documents either as tasks or presentations. It also adds capability to take quick notes (like sticky notes) on desktop. This article for example, I made by using Gedit and Chromium, both text editor and browser in Zorin Education. I took screenshot simply by pressing PrintScreen key on my keyboard and it saved in the Pictures folder. If I want to open, manage, and arrange my ebooks collection, I just drag and drop them from File Manager into Calibre Ebook Manager. If anything, you can add more apps by using Software Center that resembles Google Play Store speaking about how easy it is to use. If I want to play games in spare time, there are small games built-in.

For some people, perhaps there are needs to run old Windows binary executables which have their developers gone, so there is Wine. For system controls, there are System Settings and Terminal Emulator for us. If you love to tweak desktop, there is Zorin Appearance.

(System Settings on left: it is our powerful control panel | Terminal on right: displaying outputs of command lines and among them system identities & repository addresses)

# My Commentaries

- Zorin Education is a luxurious complete operating system for school yet can be obtained gratis. All the sophisticated software are full versions --called free software-- and no "licensing costs" required. With all these features I mentioned above, Zorin is still a user-friendly operating system which is easy to use as well as to add more software if we wish.

- I will not wonder if there is any headmaster who decides to make Zorin Education as official operating system in their school. A headmaster can free their school from proprietary software and vendor lock-in, save monetary cost, reuse unused/old computers, improve education, and the most important thing is to pursue education goals to make students independent and cooperative.

- I love the fact all education software in Zorin Education are free software and not proprietary. For example, all KDE Edu apps are free software without doubt so are those GNOME Apps. I like the fact Zorin developers deliberately choose them and avoiding nonfree apps such as MATLAB or Mendeley (we hope these will be free software someday). This will teach important values our community have that education should be and (proven) can be done with free software. I wish Zorin developers will keep this forever.

- Zorin developers seem do not busy themselves with technologies. I mean, they do not stop themselves to put KDE Applications (those above which names started with K) in GNOME Environment (whole Zorin is basically this) and further they also includes KDE Documentations (press F1 when running KAlgebra, for example, you will see KDE Help Center that is so complete explaining all its applications). Of course this makes Zorin large (2.5 GigaByte size) but Windows is still far more larger yet nobody complained about it. I see here Zorin will choose it whenever it suits them no matter if it does not suit a technology choice.

(Marble World Map on left showing Jakarta, Indonesia [this virtual globe works without internet access] | KDE Help Center on right showing The Marble user guide along with full professional documentations of GNU/Linux)

- Zorin Education will be suitable to introduce specific educational free software (like Octave) to audiences in same fields.

- My suggestion for Zorin Team is next time they can consider to include Zotero Bibliography Manager, a must-have tool for researcher and university students (a head-to-head rival to the proprietary Mendeley) if one more inclusion does not affect goodness of Zorin. Why? Because Zotero is not available even in their upstream, Ubuntu, so even Ubuntu users should do manual install if they want it. If Zorin includes it built-in, that will help a lot not only for researchers but also universities.

- Finally, my problem is technically it is slow when going Activities Overview (Super key) and Blinken is not working aside from several KDE apps do not have its icon either on start menu or when running at taskbar. Also, in fact Zorin is not categorized as GNU FSDG-compliant distro like Trisquel. However, despite these considering the tremendous amount of goodness, I would love to say thank you very much Zorin developers and I admire your works!

I hope you find Zorin Education is useful for you!

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.