Zorin OS 16 is released. Zorin OS 16 is a Linux Distribution based upon Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and therefore inherits all the hardware support for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS provided by OEMs and chip manufacturers. The Zorin OS installation installer also inherits support for a UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot with a Machine Owner Key (MOK) from Ubuntu 20.04 LTS making installation straight forward on modern hardware.
The Zorin Desktop Environment is Windows Like making it one of the easiest to use Desktop Environments for those new to Linux. Besides the GNOME3 Desktop Environment, the Zorin Desktop Environment is one of the few Linux Desktop Environments that supports a 2 in 1 Touchscreen Device with Screen AutoRotation and a TouchScreen Keyboard inbuilt into the Desktop Environment.
The performance of Zorin OS 16 is good and is far more lightweight than Windows. In general Zorin OS 16 Core will likely perform much better than Windows 10 on early UEFI hardware (2012-2014 models) and in any case Microsoft have pretty much given up on any computer older than 3 years with Windows 11… The Zorin OS 16 Linux Distribution can be used to replace Windows on Devices used for most common tasks. There may be some slight issues with Windows specific applications but that is becoming more rare these days as third party software support for Linux is increasing and there are more browser based solutions.
Zorin OS 16 is still lacking when it comes to multi-monitor support due to the graphics display driver model it inherits from Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. This graphics display driver model requires a fixed DPI scaling and resolution for all screens making an extended desktop from a high resolution touchscreen to a standard resolution monitor sub-optimal. The graphics display driver model is being completely revamped in the Ubuntu 21.04 Feature Releases as well as the latest Fedora 34 release and addresses this issue but won't make it into Zorin OS 16 as Zorin OS is only based upon the Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) Releases. The newer graphics display driver model will be inbuilt into Ubuntu 22.04 LTS and we can speculate that Zorin OS 17 which will likely be built upon this will boast better multi-monitor support.
The Zorin OS Desktop Environment is also lacking behind Windows when it comes to Snap Window Layouts and the Emoji Panel (with Emoji and Symbol input) as well as a Paste Clipboard. There are some similar utilities inbuilt into Ubuntu/Zorin OS but their overall usability could do with some work to bring them up to scratch with the Windows Emoji Panel.
I demonstrate installation on my XPS 13 9365 with a UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot in the tutorial video below and have also put together a detailed written installation guide:
I have tested the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build on an OptiPlex 7040 with a 6th Generation Intel Processor and an OptiPlex 7050 with a 7th Generation Intel Processor. These systems are below Microsoft's recommended system requirements which are 8th Generation Intel Processors or later. Mid and High end 6th and 7th Generation Processors have similar system performance to lower end 8th Generation Intel Processors and have the additional Security Requirements; A UEFI BIOS with a GRUB2 Security Exploit patched Secure Boot and a TPM Version of 2.0 or higher.
Unfortunately the install.wim exceeds 4.0 GB. 4.0 GB is the upper file size for the FAT32 file system meaning it is not possible to create a Bootable USB with a single FAT32 partition. Some systems with a UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot require a FAT32 partition in order to Boot. In the case of my OptiPlex 7040/7050/7060 (6th/7th/8th Generation) Secure Boot blocks a USB with only a NTFS Partition. On my XPS 13 9365/9305 (7th/10th Generation) the same USB with only a NTFS Partition passes Secure Boot.
To get around this we need to create a USB with a 1 GB FAT32 Boot Partition with the remaining space allocated to a NTFS Install Partition. I demonstrate this in the video below using Disk Management.
Windows 11 has new Out of the Box Experience (OOBE) setup screens. The OOBE setup now prompts for a Computer Name.
My DeepIn 20.2.2 Written Installation Guide has been updated to configure the Dell UEFI BIOS to configure Secure Boot however I have not updated the tutorial video as changes otherwise are minor with respect to DeepIn 20.2.1 and this Linux distro still lacks support for a 2 in 1 touchscreen device such as auto-rotation and a touchscreen keyboard.
I installed the Windows 11 Insider Preview Dev Build on my OptiPlex 7050 (7th Generation Intel Processor). As Microsoft boast multi-tasking with Windows 11, I decided to have a look at it using a multi-monitor setup and made this video to leave some feedback.
The snap feature in Windows 11 seems to work very well and has taken Aerosnap to the next level.
There are however some multi-monitor issues.Essentially there is no option to launch an application in the monitor of the taskbar the application was launched from. The application will only launch in the monitor it was last open in. Some things such as widgets will only open in the Primary Monitor even if they are selected on the taskbar of the secondary monitor. There is no option to add the clock, touchscreen keyboard and system tray to each monitor.
The virtual desktops still carries over a flaw from Windows 10. If a program such as Excel or Powerpoint is open on Virtual Desktop 1 and is attempted to be launched in a Virtual Desktop 2, then the user is ejected from their new Virtual Desktop 2 and returned to Virtual Desktop 1. Having a different PowerPoint or Excel spreadsheet open in each virtual desktop for example should be common practice.
Windows 11 has an updated touchscreen keyboard, although the paste clipboard, touchscreen emojis and emoji panel are more or less carried over from Windows 10. These unfortunately favour emojis and useless gifs to mathematical symbols and Greek letters commonly used in scientific and engineering fields. Although these have a search bar, the search bar does not search for symbols… Microsoft should make the search bar work with the symbols and have an option to make both the emoji panel and the touchscreen keyboard more focused towards symbol input i.e. avoiding the need to scroll through screeds of emojis and gifs which are never going to be used in something official. A symbol focused setting would greatly speed up productivity when writing scientific reports for example. It would also be useful if the user could make a custom symbol/emoji pane where they could pin their favourite symbols (using a similar mechanism to the start menu) and having the user emoji pane display first when the emoji panel is opened (keyboard or mouse) or when symbol is selected from the touchscreen keyboard.
There is no tabs in Windows explorer, Microsoft should implement this in a similar manner to Zorin OS.
DeepIn 20.2.1 has been released. It seems to be an excellent Linux distribution for keyboard and mouse use but is still lacking sorely on touchscreen features (particularly screen auto-rotation and a touchscreen keyboard).
Anaconda 2021-05 has been released and comes with JupyterLab 3.0.14 preinstalled. It still has Spyder 4.2.5 however Spyder 5.0.3 can be installed using a standalone installer and the Python interpreter can be changed to an Anaconda environment if additional packages are required.
I spent the last year and a half learning Python as an open source alternative to Matlab. While learning I put quite a bit of documentation together and have finally went through it and made a tutorial video series. This covers an Introduction to Programming particularly geared towards the sciences and data science fields.
There is a Secure Boot Security Vulnerability that has been addressed by Intel CVE-2020-10713. Dell and other OEMs have been releasing a series of UEFI BIOS Updates to patch this.
The Security Update is related to the Grand Unified Bootloader 2 (GRUB2) which most Linux distributions which formerly passed Secure Boot rely on.
If you have an older Linux distribution installed or are using an older installation ISO you will get Verification Failed: (0x1A) Security Violation and either be forced to disable Secure Boot to boot into your old installation to update or begin the install from an older ISO or seek a newer installation ISO.
The Ubuntu 20.04.1 ISO, Ubuntu 20.10 ISO and Linux Mint 20.1 ISO have been updated to pass Secure Boot.
Fedora 33 and DeepIn 20.1 which previously passed Secure Boot are now rejected by Secure Boot.
I had a lot of questions asking how to create a Windows 10 UEFI Bootable USB on Linux and Mac. Most other guides on this were poor or just didn't work due to the install.wim exceeding 4.0 GB and not fitting on a FAT32 formatted USB flash drive. We can use wimlib to split the install.wim into multiple install.swm files and then manually create our FAT32 formatted USB lash drive. The main Windows 10 guide has been updated to include these instructions:
DeepIn Linux is a Linux distribution made by the Wuhan Deepin Technology Company in China. This company appear to be partnering with Huawei in a move to replace Windows as an Operating System on their hardware (similar to Google and Chromebook but this OS is much more functional and has the full capabilities of a Linux distribution). DeepIn Linux 20 Beta is freely available to download from their website and I demonstrate downloading the ISO, making a Bootable USB and performing a Clean Installation on a Dell OptiPlex 7040 and then taking it for a test drive. I then move to a Latitude 7350 to test its touchscreen capabilities. Although this is a Linux distribution it should be very familiar for Windows users due to having a very similar user interface to Windows 7/8.1 and 10.
The biggest bugs I found on a Latitude 7350 was with the onscreen keyboard, it does not work very well and the screen does not autorotate when in tablet mode.
Full installation instructions, download links and more detailed testing is available on my written guide:
Windows 10 Version 2004 (Final Built 19041.207) has been released.
We are now getting the Windows 10 May 2020 Update (20H1) ready for release and releasing Build 19041.207 to Windows Insiders in the Release Preview ring. We believe that Build 19041.207 is the final build and we will continue to improve the overall experience of the May 2020 Update on customers’ PCs as part of our normal servicing cadence.
In this video I demonstrate Creating the Bootable USB and performing a Clean Installation with a Windows 10 OEM License and a Windows 7 OEM License.
Note that all Product Activation Mechanism for the "Free Upgrade" from the now "End of Life Windows 7" to Windows 10 still work and this new build has substantial performance boosts over all previous Windows 10 builds. These performance enhancements prevent Windows Search from continuously indexing your Hard Drive throttling it and compromising your over all system performance. I decided to take the old low specification OptiPlex 790 I had lying around at home which has:
2011 UEFI BIOS (No Secure Boot)
2nd Generation Intel Processor
4 GB RAM DDR3
7200 RPM Mechanical Hard Drive
I used this to test the Activation Mechanisms of the Free Upgrade and compared the performance with Windows 10 Version 2004 with the previous build Windows 10 Version 1909. Both have a clean install and the performance difference doing a menial task such as watching a YouTube video with a Chromium based Browser is substantial:
Many older Windows 7 systems which had similar performance issues with older builds of Windows 10 should also run quite well with Windows 10 Version 2004 now that these fixes have been made.
All previous versions of Windows 10 were very intensive with Disc Usage when it came to indexing search results, displaying notifications and using browsers such as Google Chrome. This was particularly prevalent when using a Hard Drive with it being throttled at 100 % Disk Usage. Microsoft have finally addressed this feedback:
Back in the summer of 2018, a small group of Windows Insiders did something that we don’t typically recommend. They quietly turned off the Windows Search indexer on their PCs. Luckily for us, they also took us up on our request to explain why. The feedback they provided led to some of the most significant improvements we’ve made recently to the Windows Search experience.
Whenever a Windows Insider disabled Windows Search, a message would pop up on the screen asking why. Insiders gave many reasons for turning off the indexer, but it boiled down to three key areas: high disk and CPU usage, general performance issues, and the indexer didn’t seem valuable to them.
I decided to take the old low specification OptiPlex 790 I had lying around at home which has:
2nd Generation Intel Processor
4 GB RAM
7200 RPM Mechanical Hard Drive
And compared the performance with Windows 10 Version 2004 with the previous build Windows 10 Version 1909. Both have a clean install and the performance difference doing a menial task such as watching a YouTube video with a Chromium based Browser is substantial: