Windows to Zorin OS

Switch your organization to Zorin OS.

How to prepare your fleet of computers for a migration to Zorin OS.

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Migrating your business, school, or organization to a new operating system can be a significant undertaking. We've created this guide to make this process easier for IT staff; and to increase acceptance of this change amongst your employees.

For a smooth migration, we recommend taking these 4 steps to ensure your employees feel comfortable at every stage:

  1. Try Zorin OS on one computer by yourself. Learn more
  2. Identify which apps would need to be installed. If any apps that your employees use can't run in Zorin OS, select cross-platform alternatives. Learn more
  3. If alternative apps are needed when using Zorin OS, deploy these apps to employees' computers on their existing operating system. Learn more
  4. After employees are familiar with the new apps, roll out Zorin OS to their computers. Learn more

If a staged rollout of Zorin OS is preferred, this guide can be followed separately for each department in your organization.


If you have any questions or queries while following this guide, feel free to contact us at any time.

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Try Zorin OS on one computer.

Start by testing Zorin OS by yourself to see if it's right for your organization.

  1. Download the right edition of Zorin OS for your computer.
    • In companies and organizations, we recommend:
    • In schools, we recommend:
      • Zorin OS 15.3 Education (With educational software) Learn more
  2. Follow our installation guide to set up Zorin OS on your computer for testing.

    Learn how to install Zorin OS

    You can run Zorin OS from a USB flash drive to try it before installing it on your computer. Please note that the system runs slower from a USB flash drive than when it's fully installed on the computer.

  3. Spend some time using the desktop to test compatibility with your peripherals (such as printers and scanners), and to ensure that it would be easy for employees to adapt their workflow to it. We've designed Zorin OS to be simple and user-friendly, thanks to its familiar user interface. That way, little or no training would be required for employees to use the desktop. Zorin OS desktop

    “[Zorin OS] has the advantage of looking very similar to Microsoft Windows systems, thus allowing users an intuitive, simple and painless migration”

    ― City of Vicenza, Italy

    Switched to Zorin OS in 2016

Identify apps to be installed.

Take note of the important apps your employees use in their work to make sure they can run in Zorin OS.

Installing apps

Apps can be installed in Zorin OS using the built-in Software store. You can open it from the Zorin Menu → Software. In addition to the Software store, there are other ways to install third-party apps in Zorin OS, which you can learn more about in our "Install Apps" guide. Because Zorin OS 15 is based on Ubuntu 18.04, most apps built for Ubuntu and Linux are compatible with Zorin OS.

Learn how to install apps in Zorin OS

Native & web apps

Many apps you use in Windows are also available as Linux apps in Zorin OS. Popular productivity apps that are also native in Zorin OS include…

  • Google Chrome
  • Zoom
  • Dropbox
  • TeamViewer
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • PowerShell

Lots of Windows-native productivity software is now also available in the cloud in the form of web apps. You can use these apps inside a web browser in Zorin OS.

Alternative apps

However, some apps are currently not able to run in Zorin OS and Linux, or as web apps in a web browser. We would recommend selecting alternatives to these apps which work cross-platform. The following are a few examples of cross-platform alternatives to Windows apps, some of which are pre-installed in Zorin OS:

Windows app Cross-platform app
Microsoft Office
LibreOffice (pre-installed) Open Source ONLYOFFICE Open Source Microsoft Office 365 (in a web browser) WPS Office SoftMaker FreeOffice Google Docs (in a web browser)
Microsoft Outlook
Evolution (pre-installed in Zorin OS Core) Open Source Mozilla Thunderbird (pre-installed in Zorin OS Lite) Open Source Mailspring Open Source Microsoft Outlook (in a web browser) Hiri BlueMail
Adobe Acrobat
Nitro PDF
Evince Document Viewer (pre-installed) Open Source LibreOffice Draw (pre-installed) to edit PDFs Open Source
Remote Desktop
Remmina (pre-installed) Open Source TeamViewer Chrome Remote Desktop (in Google Chrome) AnyDesk NoMachine
Microsoft Hyper-V
VirtualBox Open Source VMware Workstation Pro
Microsoft Your Phone
Zorin Connect (pre-installed in Zorin OS Core) Open Source
Autodesk AutoCAD
FreeCAD Open Source LibreCAD Open Source Autodesk AutoCAD (in a web browser) DraftSight BricsCAD SketchUp (in a web browser)
Adobe Photoshop
Affinity Photo
GNU Image Manipulation Program (pre-installed) Open Source Krita Open Source Photopea (in a web browser)
Adobe InDesign
Affinity Designer
LibreOffice Draw (pre-installed) Open Source Scribus Open Source
Adobe Illustrator
Inkscape Open Source Figma (in a web browser) Gravit Designer
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Darktable Open Source RawTherapee Open Source
Adobe Premiere Pro
Kdenlive Open Source Shotcut Open Source DaVinci Resolve Lightworks
Autodesk 3ds Max
Cinema 4D
Blender Open Source Autodesk Maya MODO
Autodesk Sketchbook
Krita Open Source MyPaint Open Source

Many of the alternative apps listed above are free and released under Open Source licenses (marked with the Open Source symbol). Switching to Open Source apps can help you to reduce or even eliminate licensing costs for the software you use – saving your organization money.

Deploy alternative apps to employees' computers.

If any apps your employees currently use can't run in Zorin OS, choose the most suitable cross-platform alternatives that work in Zorin OS. If all apps your employees use are compatible with Zorin OS, you can skip to the next step in this guide.

After you've identified the most suitable alternative apps, begin installing them on employees' computers on their existing operating system. This will ensure employees will be familiar with the new apps before making the full switch to Zorin OS – decreasing disruption and user frustration.

  1. Start by selecting a small number of employees to pilot test each new app for a set period. The more important and significant the app is to employees' work, the longer the pilot period should be. This pilot will allow you to gather feedback about any potential issues employees may have when using the new app – giving you time to address these issues before deploying the app to everyone.

    We recommend choosing a group of 5 employees to initially pilot test a new app on. According to research, small-scale tests of 5 users are sufficient to find 85% of usability issues. Afterward, adding another 10 employees (for a total of 15) should allow you to find most if not all usability issues before a full-scale deployment of a new app.

    Source: Nielsen Norman Group
  2. After identifying and addressing the usability issues that your pilot group found, deploy the new app to all of your organization's computers. Keep the legacy app installed on the computers (alongside the new alternative app) so employees could gradually become familiar with the new app at their own pace. Continue gathering feedback from employees to address any new usability issues they may find.
  3. When employees become comfortable using the new alternative app, you may uninstall the legacy app from the organization's computers.

If you've selected multiple alternative apps, you can repeat the above steps for each app one-by-one; or by running pilot tests in parallel with each other on different groups of employees.

Roll out Zorin OS to employees' computers.

  1. Just like pilot testing a new app before mass-deployment (above), it's recommended to start installing Zorin OS on a small group of employees' computers for a pilot test.

    Learn how to install Zorin OS

    Zorin OS can be installed in a dual-boot alongside the existing operating system on a computer. That way, employees have the option of restarting their computer and booting into Windows if they experience any usability issues while working in Zorin OS.

  2. After identifying and addressing the usability issues that your pilot group found, install Zorin OS on all of your organization's computers.
Deploying and managing computers

We're currently developing a tool for Zorin OS deployments called Zorin Grid. It's designed to simplify setting up, managing, and securing a fleet of Zorin OS-powered computers in your business, school, or organization. It will allow you to remotely configure computers to:

  • Install and remove apps
  • Set software update and security patch policies
  • Monitor computer status
  • Enforce security policies
  • Keep track of software and hardware inventory
  • Set desktop settings

These configurations can be synced between groups and computers, so there's no need for custom scripts or disk imaging. Simply enroll a new computer into Zorin Grid, and the computer will automatically set up as intended. Zorin Grid will be launched this summer, but you can learn more about it here.

Learn more about Zorin Grid

Be the first to know when Zorin Grid is available, and get early access to it.

Notify me

Zorin Grid dashboard
Disk imaging

In the meantime – before Zorin Grid is available – we would recommend setting up a Zorin OS installation – with all necessary third-party apps installed – on one computer and creating a disk image of the Zorin OS partition. This will allow you to reduce the time needed to install Zorin OS and set up a working environment for your employees.

Clonezilla is a free and Open Source tool that can be used to create such a disk image.

Have a question?

Contact us for more information about bringing Zorin OS + Zorin Grid to your business, school, or organization.

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