There are important things to consider before undertaking the task of replacing Windows with Linux, which will save you time and energy further down the line.
Are you a technical user yourself?
If so, I’m assuming you’re doing this for yourself – great! I’m sure you are as excited as the next Linux geek to be doing this, and that you’ve thought out your own reasons. Far from me to stop you.
Are you a non-technical user?
If you are looking to make the jump from Windows to Linux, may I firstly say, congratulations on the choice! Secondly, however, please note a few of things beforehand:
- Linux is not Windows. Normally, you cannot run exactly the same programs you did as you used under Windows – namely the most popular Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Internet Explorer, or any other software intended for Windows only.
- Linux does however provide some tools to try and force Windows applications to run, but it’s not foolproof – Internet Explorer can be made to run, and some have had success getting Microsoft Office to be usable. Adobe Suite has proven problematic.
- The best thing to do, however, is to use their Free Software equivalents: LibreOffice in lieu of MS Office (note that LibreOffice is available for WIndows too!), Firefox in lieu of Internet Explorer; and the GNU Image Manipulation Program (aka The GIMP) in lieu of Photoshop.
- There are myriad other programs, readily and Freely available to you on secure online software repositories, accessible straight from your computer’s software manager. Some of them, like LibreOffice, are available to you on Windows too, but most are Linux-only!
- You may want to have a technically savvy person help you during your switch over time, as you will doubtless have many questions. Having a helping hand is always beneficial, and migrating incorrectly might cause you to loose data. Again, Linux is not Windows, and whilst it should be easy for you to use once installed, you need to have a lengthy talk about what the differences actually are.
Are you migrating a non-technical user?
Here be dragons. Before you migrate them, you have to absolutely clear that
- they will not be getting Windows. Even with Wine, programs they used under Windows will not always run perfectly
- they will be getting a whole new system, that runs a ton of other programs, some of which very similar to the Windows programs they’re used to
Also, this is a conversation to have at length with them – not something to be telling them as you insert the installer DVD into the drive. It will be such a change for them that it’ll be as strenuous a decision as to whether to move homes – minus the money, but with all other practical considerations, in terms of change.
Remember also that with non-rolling releases, you will need to reinstall the OS from time to time, so ongoing maintenance is to be considered. Most pertinently, make sure you do separate the /home directory to a new partition.
What about Mac OS X?
Apple are a tricky bunch. They’re making sure nobody other than them can fully support an alternative OS on the machines they build, so at the current point in time, switching a Mac to Linux is a bit more involved… Read more