Miss Windows XP? Get it Back With Zorin OS

Ryan Dube 22-10-2015

If you’re one of those old school Windows users who loved Windows XP, but found yourself missing many things about it as the world progressed onto Windows 7 5 Windows 7 Features You Didn't Know Existed Windows 7 contains many little-known features. Here we highlight the more impressive ones that could boost your productivity and deepen your love for Windows 7. Read More , 8 and now 10 — have I got a treat for you!


Introducing Zorin OS, the alternative Windows XP Windows XP: What's Happening To It Now? Windows XP may be dead, but it's not yet gone. Over 27% of computers connected to the Internet still run Windows XP. Here's exactly what "end of support" means for Windows XP systems. Read More .

Okay, Zorin OS isn’t officially affiliated with Microsoft in any way. Nor is it even marketed as a Windows XP alternative, but the truth is that it is just about the nearest Linux Distro you’ll find to Windows XP anywhere.

Zorin offers both a full featured version and a “lite” version meant for older hardware. If you’re running this on a PC that used to run Windows XP, then odds are good you’ll want to go with the lite version.

Installing Zorin OS

Installing Zorin OS is about as easy, if not easier, than any other Linux Distro you might have installed in the past. The process is pretty much the same.

You’ll want to download the distro from the Zorin website (it’s free, obviously – this is Linux after all), and burn it to a DVD. Personally I prefer CDBurner XP to do this.



Once you’ve got the OS on a DVD, turn on your target XP box, put in the CD and enter the boot menu to tell the computer to boot to the DVD drive.

At this point, it’s just a matter of stepping through the usual installation procedures. First, make sure to move the cursor to Install Zorin OS, press F6 and enable “nomodeset”.



This will avoid the typical blank screen issue that occurs on most PCs when installing many Linux distros. Once selected, hit Enter to start the install. If your computer already has an operating system installed, you’ll see the option to dual boot. If you’re replacing Windows XP Upgrade From Windows XP to a Modern OS in 7 Simple Steps It's time to say goodbye! Microsoft is ending official support for Windows XP on April 8 2014. Are you at risk? If you are still running this ancient operating system, it's time to upgrade. Read More with Zorin, then you’ll have the choice of keeping a Windows XP partition if you like, just to play it safe.


Click Install Now, and let the installer do its thing.



Once it’s finished and the PC reboots, you’ll see this text based screen showing some processes going on. Don’t panic. Everything is alright. Just press Enter and keep waiting.


Eventually, the installation will complete and the desktop will appear. The first thing you’ll likely notice is how much like Windows XP the layout is – that is no accident.

How Zorin OS is Like Windows XP

Just about everything you liked about Windows XP 5 Reasons Why You Love Windows XP & What You Sacrifice Nearly 30% of computers are still running Windows XP. It was a stable and reliable system for years, but all good things come to an end. Almost no good reasons to keep using Windows XP... Read More can be found in Zorin. Clicking on the “Z” icon in the lower left corner (your new Start menu), you’ll see the good old Start Menu Best Alternatives to Windows Start Menu Read More that XP enthusiasts came to know and love through the years. This is complete with the old Accessories, System Tools and Preferences program groups.



Obviously the System Tools group will contain a lot of differences from your old Windows operating system, but a lot of things have been named to match what you’re used to seeing. You’ll find Network settings, Printer settings, and even a Task Manager here. Of course you’ll also find the typical Linux utilities like GParted and the Software Center 5 Great Tips for the Ubuntu Software Center [Linux] Read More . The Software Center is where you’ll spend a lot of time finding new (free) software to install on your new system.


The Preferences program group contain the rest of the things you’d expect to find in the Windows Control panel. Things like your monitor settings, firewall, drivers, power management, keyboard and mouse settings, and more.


Want to “Run” commands like you could do in Windows? No problem – there’s a Run option in the Start menu as well.


Want the convenience of right-clicking on the desktop to set up your desktop preferences. Go ahead – it’s in the right click context menu, just like you’re used to seeing in Windows XP. Choose whatever PNG file you want to use as your desktop background, or download whatever picture you’d like to use.


It won’t take long for you to get your new Linux PC looking and behaving just like your old XP machine used to, but with a whole lot more security available than the outdated and unsupported XP machine.

Running and Installing Applications

Want access to the same Notepad application that you’re used to on Windows? Not a problem!

Click on the Wine menu, click Programs, Accessories, and finally Notepad. The application is literally a perfect clone of the Windows Notepad Notepad Not Doing The Trick? Try Out The Lightweight Alternatives Xint & Subpad Read More that you know and love.


The File Manager also looks a whole lot like the Windows Explorer file manager that you’re used to. Windows are set up with minimize, maximize and close buttons in the top-right corner, and the folder structure is laid in that warm, familiar XP style too.


Zorin comes with your favorite browser, Firefox, pre-installed. So long as you’ve got a network connection wired to the machine (or you’ve set up your wireless connection), you’ll find yourself instantly online with Firefox, and surfing the web in no time.


Of course, you aren’t just tied down to what’s already installed. This is Linux after all. Meaning, you have a complete library with hundreds of apps and utilities ready to install at will. Just open up the Software Center from the System Tools menu, and you’ll find those free applications sorted by category.


Navigate through these to find the software you need. For example, in the Internet category you’ll find Chrome, desktop Gmail applications, IM applications and anything else you need to connect to your favorite sites and social networks. Not to mention your choice torrent applications, Internet security tools and more.


I literally spent an hour just installing all of the applications I wanted to use on this system like Audacity, Office applications and the Pidgin Instant Messenger.

The Desktop Layout

The look and feel of this desktop is so much like XP it’s uncanny. Of course there are a few enhancements as well.

In the toolbar you’ll find pinned application icons, similar to that introduced with Windows 7. Plus you’ll have access to two desktops that you can alternate between, not just one.


On the right side of the toolbar, as you’d expect, you’ll find volume control, a keyboard configuration menu, the time display and the network status.


It didn’t take long before I had the system looking just like my old Windows machine, complete with a galaxy background and a growing collection of icons scattered on the desktop.


You can quickly add any application you want to the desktop by right-clicking it and selecting to add it to the desktop.

And by the way, if you’re not exactly a Windows fan, and prefer Mac instead, just choose the Zorin OS Look Changer from the Preferences menu and select the Mac OS X theme instead.


In addition to the layout, I found Zorin OS Lite runs quick and snappy on my old Dell Optiplex (which formerly had Windows XP installed). While reviews from Linux users are mixed across the web, most agree that Zorin boots up and shuts down faster than distros like Mint or plain Ubuntu, but it also uses slightly more system resources if you install and run the full version.

The bottom line is that Zorin OS is a good alternative The Best Linux Distributions For Windows XP Refugees Read More if you’re looking to make the migration from Windows, but don’t want to lose the kind of GUI environment that you’re accustomed to. It’s a great foray into the Linux world. Personally, I was intending to install and test Zorin before moving on to some other Linux distro, but after seeing how feature-filled, easy to use and fast Zorin runs, I may stick with it after all!

Are you a Windows XP holdout, but looking for something a bit more secure? Are you a Mac OS X enthusiast but have always wanted to try a Linux system? Zorin OS may be for you. Why not download it and give it a shot? Let us know what you think about this Linux distro in the comments section below!

Related topics: Linux, Windows XP.

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  1. Useless
    May 20, 2018 at 4:17 am

    There is a lot more to Windows than a galaxy background!

  2. Peter
    July 16, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Can you use windows software with it? If not, it's not Windows XP.

    • davea0511
      August 25, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      You can with Wine, but it still isn't Windows XP. Wine doesn't work with a ton of windows programs, but even if it did, it's still not Windows XP. For the record, he never said it was Windows XP, only that the UI was a lot like it.

    • Falcore_PrimeLord
      March 6, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      I read something about using wine to run windows software

  3. Anonymous
    October 27, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    For those of you that have problems burning or even do not have the use of an optical drive.
    Use this application multibootusb
    it is a simple application you do not need to install any thing, just run the. .exe file that is all.
    It a simpler then unebootin, a dose also have persistence file and you can have as many Linux OS as you install on USB drive.
    You can then choose witch ever you like as live or install will still having a persistence live and still have room your music or any files on the USB.
    Remember you must start with a newly format fat32 partition.
    You do not need to know much, 1 USB location 2. ISO image location 3. create
    That is it you can also create ISO add Syslinux to USB and finally run Qemu to see if will work with your system.
    This will work with any Ubuntu & Debian base arch and some fedora, SUSE is not supported at all.
    There is one more thing the amount of OS that you install is only limited by the USB drive size.
    Also to place your music or any files out side the boot image that is created.
    What more can you ask for, ho one more thing you do need to know the type of OS that your system supports.
    Remember if your system supports 32 bit or 64 bit that is all, remember a 64 bit will run both 32 & 64 bit.
    but 32 bit can only run 32 bit OS.

    That is all that you will need.
    I hope this helps and enjoy it, and have fun

  4. Anonymous
    October 27, 2015 at 7:23 am

    really!!? why not just install XP!!!!

    • Anonymous
      October 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      Because it's old, outdated and has no support from Microsoft.

      • Anonymous
        November 1, 2015 at 7:34 pm

        very nice short and nice answer Bharadwaj! jaja but they are windows xp SP4 distributions that have most of the patches you will need for a long time to run without any issues and still retain the compatibility of the available windows software; no other alternative is going to give you the enhancement in windows 7 or windows 8 FOR THE NEW RELEASE SOFTWARE since today hardware was not even expected by the XP OS. The Windows xp sp4 unofficial release is available from different sources. In addition you can run Virtual instances of XP within the current releases with no problem.

        If you want an alternative the best one I tried and it had it's limitation on usability was Lycoris; the best; then you have Lindows and last but not least you go to a LINUX full distro like UBUNTU which gives you everything this Zorin OS claims to give you.

        Thanks for the funny and harsh reality answer you provided; by the way was the difference for the users or consumers to have support for windows 7/8/10 WHEN YOU HARDLY HAVE SOMEONE ACTUALLY PROVIDING SUPPORT!! Support is seen in the update automated services via hotfixes that some time break more that fix and is dependent on the functionality or services the OS is using. Support is also found in the Corporate realm and that's because of the licenses we buy. Wao! you made me do a flashback trip to the past and back to the future!! Thanks RAJU!

      • rew
        December 21, 2016 at 8:00 pm

        Also because ms Windows XP is no longer available for retail sale. No where at all except where it is still installed in some old machine and sold, on that old machine, in a second-hand shop or on discs gathering dust in someones cupboard.

    • davea0511
      August 25, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      WinXP never worked very well on my laptop, even after fresh installs. Zorin does. Don't know why. Win XP ran slow, acted like a resource hog. Also, nice way to get feet wet with linux.

  5. Anonymous
    October 25, 2015 at 10:44 am

    One more thing, if installing Zorin make sure you use a LTS version. If not your Zorin OS will need to be reinstalled more often. If you are an XP user I am guessing you don't want to do that LTS offers years between installs.

  6. Anonymous
    October 25, 2015 at 10:40 am

    If you are stil using Windows use LILI live USB creator to burn Zorin. Otherwise download Unetbootin for Windows.

    LILI is easier to use, but Unetbootin gives you the option of persistence, which means you can burn the USB key as an OS and save the changes, though it will be slow to do that.

    Jim Andrews, I would recommend Libre Office over Open Office. Zorin should have Libre Office be default in the repositories. To replace Quicken or MS Money I would recommend downloading Money Manager Ex . It will say Ubuntu but it will be a .deb file that gdebi will install for you.

    I like Zorin and have been using it for abotu 5 years. It works great but even though it will remind you of Windows, it is not Windows it is Linux. Zorin has a great forum for help.

    If you are new to Linux register, you will need the forum sooner of later.

    Last here is what I consider ther most important command and probably the only one you will need if you are a GUI user. If there is a problem with the package manager you won't be able to install or remove programs. To fix it you will have to open a terminal and run

    sudo dpkg --configure -a

    That usally fixes most package manager problems with broken packages. I have a cheat sheet with apt commands. I would recommend that so you can copy and paste. Also remember Zorin is Ubuntu at it's core, so most Ubuntu things pertain to Zorin too.

    • Anonymous
      November 1, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks Jymm56 for the clarification on the Linux part:

      I quote you: I like Zorin and have been using it for abotu 5 years. It works great but even though it will remind you of Windows, it is not Windows it is Linux. Zorin has a great forum for help.

  7. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Zorin is very user-friendly, and it has found WiFi and automatically connected after first boot. I had to give up with XP because on my old ASUS A6 it took ~40-50 min every morning to boot and tune WiFi hot spot. ASUS (2005) 1GB 1,3 MHz 128MB_RadeonX200M Laptop isn't of much use under XP nowadays.
    Zorin works out-of-the-box, but it's somewhat overweighted (for the sake of XP-refugees' usability), and you need at least 2GB+ RAM for comfortable work. IMHO Kubuntu suits better for low-end computers.
    Overall Zorin gives you good balance between XP-usability and Linux-flexibility. There are some tasks that require using terminal if you are power user, but average Windows user feels comfortable with Zorin (my wife used MS Office and Chrome for many years and she had hardly caught the difference after switching to Zorin Lite :)

    • Anonymous
      November 1, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      Thanks K_w_A for the honest and bias realistic facts about the OS; the out of the box features is very attractive specially with the libre office offer.

      I quote you:
      Zorin works out-of-the-box, but it’s somewhat overweighted (for the sake of XP-refugees’ usability), and you need at least 2GB+ RAM for comfortable work. IMHO Kubuntu suits better for low-end computers.

  8. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I loved XP, but HAD to upgrade to Win7.
    I don't look forward to the automatic update to Win10 as I have also dumped MSOffice in favor of OpenOffice 4.1.1 Much the same usefulness as MSOffice, but no $$$ (Base doesn't do the trick, but Calc works great!)

    Question_ Has anyone loaded OpenOffice w/ Zorin and have you had any problems?

    Great article. Absolutely considering for my Intel 64 bit system.

    Keep up the good work

  9. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Great to see a familiar interface again, but to be of real use, it needs to be able to run the programmes that were written for WinXP... yet you didn't mention how it handles compatibility with WinXP
    The issue I am seeing, is many people don't want to upgrade WinXP because they have particular programmes that are no longer available, and are not compatible with Win 8, 8.1, and 10
    It's pretty useless to most, if it LOOKS like WinXP, but won't run their software!

    • Anonymous
      October 23, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      You CAN run run your favorite Windows apps using Wine (special soft for running Windows apps on Linux, Mac OSX, & BSD), esp. those "particular programmes" from XP-era. I do believe that "if you can run it on XP, you can run it in Wine".

  10. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I Prefer The Real Deal, Thank You.

    A - Use Your AV Settings To Warn You When Programs Are About To Be Run From The Temporary Folders,

    B - Use Your AV Settings To ( Usually ) Block Any Program From Being Run From The Temporary Folders...

    ...And You Will Be Alright.


  11. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 5:00 am

    My question for you is will this OS make the wifi work out of the box, or will that take longer to figure out how to configure it than it did to install the OS itself?

  12. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 4:14 am

    Instead of burning the programme to a CD/DVD, can you kindly give a detailed procedure for burning it to a Pen Drive/ Flash drive as I would like to install the OS on a laptop which does not have an optical drive. Thanking you in advance.

  13. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 3:28 am

    I've been using Zorin Os since 6.4 and have installed it as a duel boot for 3 friends with windows 7 and then 2 buddies who just wanted the Microsoft headache to end and just wiped their Vista and 7 to end their pain. All are as happy as I have been for over six years. My wife loves her laptop with Zorin OS in it. Zorin just works, it never locks up or freezes, it just works. My brother half was across the country sent me his laptop and I installed the newest Zorin 9 core for him and sent it back, and he says I save that unit from the trash heap, he loves Zorin OS. Anyone interested just go to Youtube and type in Zorin 9 review, and watch them, then type in how to install Zorin as duel boot with Windows or just Zorin install. Its easy to do after watching the videos. People you will never regret having an Operating system that work all the time every time. Enjoy, because I do.

  14. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Peppermint = best distro imo. Not linux Mint but Peppermint it help with older systems including netbooks.. and looks like xp.

    • Anonymous
      October 23, 2015 at 5:00 am

      My question for you is will this OS make the wifi work out of the box, or will that take longer to figure out how to configure it than it did to install the OS itself?

      • Ryan Dube
        October 23, 2015 at 5:48 am

        I've yet to install a recent Linux distro that didn't just start up and working with wireless devices. Except for Puppy Linux I suppose, but I was trying to run that on a laptop from the 1990s, in all fairness. Since then I've installed over a dozen other distros, including Zorin OS, and honestly they just work with most wi-fi devices right out of the box, it's impressive.

        • Anonymous
          October 23, 2015 at 6:29 am

          Certain older ubuntu distro's don't work right out the box with the wifi unless you have it plugged into Ethernet for update. Even a few linux mint distros Ive ran into wont work out of the box with wifi but I'm assuming its the type of chip in the laptop.

      • Anonymous
        October 23, 2015 at 6:30 am

        As peppermint was designed for netbooks the wifi works right off the bat everytime. Even works with dongles, which I have connected to my desktop.

      • Anonymous
        October 23, 2015 at 9:50 am

        Most linux dis. i tried you get online very much like in windows. Click the bars select your net and put in pw/key!

  15. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 1:55 am

    Can it dual boot into Win 7, Win 8 or even Win 10 ?

    • Anonymous
      October 23, 2015 at 3:11 am

      Yes it can, like most linux distros.

  16. Anonymous
    October 22, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    If you set the computer up to dual-boot into Windows XP or Linux, you should be able to access the files on the Windows XP partition. If you use something like Microsoft Office, you should be able to open those files with LibreOffice under Linux. I've tried Zorin OS in the past (although I currently have my machine setup to multi-boot Ubuntu LTS, Linux Mint and elementary OS instead) and it works fine. It's built upon a version of Ubuntu and will boot the system up fine.

    You will need to download a .iso file and burn it into a DVD drive - hopefully you have a program to do that (if you're using Windows XP and don't have a program built in something like Imgburn or Burnaware Free would do it for you...)

    • Ryan Dube
      October 22, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      ....or just follow the instructions in this article. ;-)

      • Anonymous
        October 23, 2015 at 12:52 am

        I like to use a USB flash drive, usually. You probably have a bunch of 1-2 GB sticks in a drawer somewhere.

  17. Anonymous
    October 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    When putting Zorin onto xp, does Zorin have access to all my files on xp? Do you have to format DVD disc, or is it good-to-go?Not computer-savvy, just a user wanting to use linux/Zorin for security purposes, and still have access to all XP-files on the same computer. In practical terms, is that what dual-booting achieves??Thanks. Regards, James.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 22, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      Michael is correct, the XP partition is still mounted, you have just booted into the Zoring OS. I think security is an excellent reason for doing this. Take a backup of your XP system before you get started just to be safe!

      • Anonymous
        October 22, 2015 at 9:49 pm

        "Zoring OS"? LOL...

        • Ryan Dube
          October 23, 2015 at 1:40 am

          Typo! Unfortunately, I don't have an editor for comments like I do for the article. :-)

      • Anonymous
        October 23, 2015 at 12:56 am

        Any Linux can read Windows file systems. You'll see all the XP files in a partition, probably called something like "sda1" where your Linux partition is "sda2".

        Windows can't read Linux file systems because it's too stupid.

        • Stevie D
          November 5, 2018 at 6:32 pm

          Which one is stupid?

        • jim
          November 5, 2018 at 7:12 pm

          Windows is too stupid, i.e., it can't read the majority of other file systems like btrfs, ext2,3 & 4, xfs, and another dozen or so. Windows can read ntfs and FAT 16 & 32, that's it. I once tried a utility that was supposed to be able to read ext4, didn't end well. I've not run Windows in several years since.

    • Anonymous
      October 22, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Zorin would have access to your XP partition's files if it installs NTFS-3G (an NTFS reader for Linux) and mounts the partition (something beyond what I can explain here; if Zorin doesn't have NTFS-3G already installed, or doesn't auto-mount the XP partition, you'll have to install it and find out how to mount the partition).
      If you download an .ISO file (a disc image) and burn it to a CD or DVD, that "formats" (and closes) the disc with the files in the image, preparing it to boot the PC and install Zorin (or whatever ISO you've downloaded).
      Dual-booting your PC puts two different operating systems on your HD (or HDs), and lets you select which one to run at startup time.