MakuluLinux (or Makulu Linux) and Zorin OS are Linux distros capable of changing layouts without the user having to install or uninstall anything. Zorin OS has been around since 2009 and MakuluLinux has been around since 2013, but the ability to “shift” layouts didn’t exist until recently.
MakuluLinux, based on Debian, encompasses five separate distros, with the “Shift” distro being one of the latest. Although I’ve tested it in VirtualBox, I won’t bother to relay my experience. Jack Germain at LinuxInsider did a far better job at reviewing it than I ever could. The only thing I’ll mention is that you can choose from eight different layouts with the click of a button with the “Shift” distro.
The only thing that worries me is the small community surrounding MakuluLinux. Without large and strong communities, developers can lose interest in their own creations. Also, based on the website itself, MakuluLinux seems to be a one-man show, with the developer stuck in Vietnam due to the pandemic.
Zorin OS, based on Ubuntu, seems to have a huge following. The distro is widely supported. Although it’s one distro, it’s capable of looking somewhat like other distros. Well, the most recent version anyway. I don’t know about the past versions. The “core” and “lite” editions are free, but the “pro” edition will set you back $39 USD. I tested the “core” edition in VirtualBox.
I had difficulty with the keyboard and the default menu icon after installing it in VirtualBox. Whether it’s something wrong with Zorin OS or something wrong with VirtualBox, I can’t say. It would probably work fine as a regular installation.
I like both of these distros, but not enough to switch over to either from the Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition. The feature lists are impressive. I worry that MakuluLinux lacks a strong, vibrant community to keep the developer excited enough to continue for a long while.
Zorin OS is nice, but I have no need for multiple layouts. It’s something I can do on my own with the Cinnamon desktop environment, when I have the desire to do so. Basic aesthetics is all I really need to go with an already very functional layout.
Image Attribution: MakuluLinux