Windows to Linux Migration

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Why switch to Linux?

There are many reasons to switch to Linux:

  • No viruses or other malware (spyware, adware, etc.).
  • Online support. Try getting a helpful answer from Microsoft's tech support sometime (it won't happen). With Linux, there are literally tens of thousands of people who are willing to answer your questions, for free, as long as you ask good ones.
  • It's free -- you won't have to pay hundreds of dollars for buggy Microsoft software any longer.

How to make the switch

Pick a distribution

There are many different Linux distributions out there. The best option for most people is to pick a widely-used distribution such as Ubuntu, Fedora, or SUSE. These are better supported and more actively developed than less common distributions. If for some reason, though, you feel that these don't suit your needs, take a look at Comparison of Linux distributions to find out which one will best fit you.

How to try Linux out without messing up Windows

If you want to keep your Windows while learning Linux, you have the following options:

  • Boot from a Live CD while testing out a GNU/Linux distro. After satified all (or most) of your hardware works, then consider installing to your hard drive.
  • booting from USB
  • dual booting - keep Windows as well as Linux on your hard disk. Decide when booting which OS you want to use.
  • using e.g. vmware to have a virtual machine on your Windows running Linux

Finding applications

For almost every common task, there is free Linux software that does what you need. However, these programs have different names from their Windows counterparts. For instance, if you need to edit a Microsoft Word document in Linux, then you use a program called OpenOffice Writer, rather than Microsoft Word. If you want to read PDF files, you use xpdf, Evince, or Okular (several choices) rather than Adobe Acrobat Reader.

If you know a Windows application that does what you want, but do not know the name of the equivalent Linux application, take a look at the article Linux software equivalent to Windows software. You can also natively run some Windows software under Linux using wine.

Alternatively there is a handy website called OSAlt which stands for Open Source Alternative. It is a large database comparing Windows applications to open source equivalents which can usually be run on Linux. If you search for the proprietary software you want, you may be surprised to find a free alternative which may even work better in some cases.

Various Tasks

Set File Associations

Windows

Explorer | Tools | Folder Options | File Types

Linux

There are no system-wide file associations. The different desktop environment each (may) have their own file association mechanisms.

KDE

Configuration | KDE | Components | File Associations

Clear Browser History

Windows Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer | Tools | Internet Options | General Tab | Clear History

Linux

Linux does not have a default default browser, you can just set your personal default browser.

Firefox

You can clear Firefox's cache in the options dialog, or even install a plugin to give you a button somewhere that does it.

Konqueror

The history of the Konqueror browser is stored in ~/.kde/share/apps/konqueror/konq_history To Clear Go Konqueror | Setting Configure Conqueror | History Sidebar (9th item down on left side panel) | Clear History

Kill a crashed App

In Windows

Ctrl-Alt-Delete

In Linux

Misbehaving programs can be terminated with the kill and killall commands. Also helpful is the ps command which lists running processes.

In some desktops (like Gnome and KDE) you can do the following:

Ctrl-Esc bring up a task list, and allows the user to select and kill a process.

Ctrl=Alt-Esc invokes XKill, which changes the cursor to Skull & Crossbones - and allows the user to kill a program by positioning the cursor over the crashed program and clicking to kill it.

See also