Most people who install a Linux distribution have long used Microsoft Windows as their operating system, many for 10 years or more. Switching to a completely different operating system can be more difficult than you might think.
One of the obstacles in moving from one operating system to another is not the operating system itself, but the familiarity that a user has developed over the years about using an operating system and the applications that "run" on it: How to install new applications or devices, where specific types of files are usually stored, how to make various system settings and so on.
It is useless to pretend that switching to a new operating system is an easy task because there are significant differences between Windows and Linux. Every difference makes it more and more difficult for us in the short term. Anyone who knows how to use Windows can still use Linux - no magic required, just a little patience and a willingness to learn.
The hardest part about learning Linux is forgetting about Microsoft Windows.
Tips for an easier transition
Install free or open source versions of Windows
Many applications running on Linux also have versions for Windows (and in many cases there are also versions for OS X). Knowing and using some of these applications makes the transition easier:
- OpenOffice.org: Office suite
- Firefox: web browser
- Thunderbird: email reader
- Opera: web browser and web application suite
- Google Chrome: web browser
- GIMP: image editing application
- Inkscape: application for creating and editing vector graphics
- Pidgin: instant messaging application (formerly Gaim)
- NVU: HTML editing application
- Azureus: client for the bittorrent protocol
- KPlayer, SMplayer or VLC: media players
- Xchat: client for IRC
- Scribus: Application for document paging and digitization (desktop publishing)
- Audacity: audio editing
Check the compatibility of all existing data generated by applications running in a Windows environment
Early checks can address concerns in this area:
- Check the "Save As ή" or "Export" functions in your existing Windows application to see what file types are available
- Check the "Open" or "Open as" or "Import" functions in the respective Linux application to see if some or all of the previously recognized file types in the Windows application are available.
- Check the "Save" or "Save As…" functions in the Linux application to see if it is possible to save to a file type that Windows users understand.
- On page Equivalent Applications lists various applications commonly used in the Windows operating system and the corresponding alternatives available to Linux users.
Most Linux distributions come in LiveCD format. With this you can boot your computer to a complete Linux system which will run entirely from CD and RAM. It will not affect the data on your hard drive. This is a great way to get an idea of how compatible your hardware is with Linux before installation. It's also an easy way to just take a look at the distribution and interface it uses. Keep in mind that the system responds much more slowly when running from the CD than when it is installed on your hard drive.
Experiment with a backup computer or virtual machine
Fear of losing data and system settings prevents many people from exploring their operating system. A test computer can be a powerful tool to convince someone, such as our family, that a change to the Linux operating system is a good idea. Alternatively, you can install a Linux distribution as a virtual machine through a Windows environment using software such as VirtualBox.
- A secure system where viruses and malware are not a problem.
- A very stable system
- It includes XNUMXD graphic effects, search, desktop gadgets (widgets) and many other features that you can find in a modern operating system.
- Application development is both operational and very fast.
- There is no need to buy an expensive operating system. Linux is free.
- No need to buy an expensive suite of office applications.
- There is no need to upgrade your hardware. Linux does not have huge and ever-increasing hardware requirements, forcing you to upgrade your computer hardware ahead of time.
- Most of the software included in Linux distributions is Free and Open Source software, which guarantees the user a freedom not known in the proprietary software world.
- Once you have enough quality free software on Linux, you will not be tempted to get pirated software.
- Linux systems support open standards and open file types, thus keeping competition fair while providing diversity guarantees. You will not see monopolies and one-sided cultural views in the Linux world.
Linux is different from Windows and takes time and effort to learn. On the other hand, Windows has only one advantage - it has more users. This means that:
- There are more games and programs for Windows. Photoshop, Dreamweaver, MS Office and popular games are among the most missing applications from Linux. There are, however, many viable alternative applications available. On the contrary, there are many more malicious programs (viruses, adware, spyware, trojans, etc.) that target Windows because of its huge user base and traditional lack of strong security measures.
- There is more device support in Windows environment. No operating system supports direct the multitude of devices that Linux supports - but Windows device drivers are available for almost all devices. This is not because of Microsoft, but of course because of its market share, which means that any hardware vendor would quickly lose their job if it did not work with it. Unfortunately, the same is not true for hardware vendors who do not work with people who develop the Linux kernel. However, most devices are supported by Linux and more and more hardware is supported every day as Linux grows.
- Finding help for Windows is easy - almost everyone knows and uses Windows, so it's easy to find help when you have a problem. Not everyone who uses Linux knows. However, Linux has online help with IRC, mailing lists or forums.