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 most difficult part of learning Linux is to forget about Microsoft Windows.
Tips for easier transition
Install versions of Windows for free applications or open source
For many applications running on Linux there are also versions for Windows (and in some 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: e-mail client
- Opera: web browser and suite of web applications
- Google Chrome: web browser
- GIMP: image editing application
- Inkscape: Creating and editing vector graphics
- Pidgin: instant messaging application (formerly Gaim)
- NVU: HTML editor application
- Azureus: client for bittorrent protocol
- KPlayer, SMplayer or VLC: media player applications
- Xchat: client for IRC
- Scribus: Desktop Publishing and Desktop Publishing
- Audacity: audio editing
Check the compatibility of all existing data generated by Windows-based applications
Early audits 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 corresponding 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 alternative applications available to Linux users.
Try the LiveCD
Most Linux distributions come in LiveCD format. With it 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 the 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 a virtual machine
The 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 like our family members 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 malicious programs are not a problem.
- A very stable system
- It includes three-dimensional graphic effects, search, widgets and many other features that you can find in a modern operating system.
- Application development is functional and is very fast.
- There is no need to buy an expensive operating system. Linux is free.
- There is no need to buy an expensive office suite suite.
- There is no need to upgrade your hardware. Linux does not have huge and ever-increasing hardware requirements, pushing you to upgrade your computer hardware before its time.
- Most software included in Linux distributions is Free and Open Source software, which guarantees the user a freedom that is not known in the world of proprietary software.
- Since you can have enough quality software for free 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 opinions 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 applications that are most missing from Linux. There are, however, many viable alternative applications available. On the contrary, there is much more malicious programs (viruses, adware, spyware, trojans, etc.) that target Windows due to the vast user base and the traditional lack of strong security measures.
- There is more support for Windows devices. 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.