After years of using Windows, you’re finally fed up with it and have decided to give Linux a try. Linux, though, is available through many different distributions. Which one should you choose? And will you be able to do everything in Linux that you did in Windows? Read on to find out how you can smoothly move from Windows to Linux!
Note: If you are still on the fence, not sure if you should switch to Linux from Windows, check out the commonly-asked questions and see if they answer your doubts.
Start by Picking a Linux Distribution
There are thousands of Linux distributions out there, and it can be confusing just to read how one is different from the others. To get started, you may want to try Ubuntu, not because it is the easiest to use, but because it is the most popular. Thanks to its millions of users, you can easily find help if you run into issues (which you are bound to do).
If you are looking for a desktop that looks and feel like Windows, you can check out these Linux distributions for Windows users. If you are just getting started with Linux, these Linux distributions are good for beginners.
Other than Ubuntu, some worthy alternatives you could look into are:
- Ubuntu “flavors”: for everyone who wants all the support that comes with Ubuntu but doesn’t like its default desktop and apps
- Mint: for those who like a user-friendly distro that uses the stable Ubuntu as its backbone
- Manjaro: a rolling release distro which will always keep your operating system up to date.
- Debian: for those who want even more stability or to avoid any hint of closed-source software
Installing Linux on Your PC
The steps to install Linux are almost universal:
- Download the ISO file.
- Create a bootable flash drive.
- Boot your PC with the flash drive. You have a choice to test the live desktop or follow the instructions to install it on your system.
For the installation, start by selecting the hard disk drive where you want to install your new operating system. You can choose a different partition or device if you wish to keep Windows intact or erase the disk where your current OS resides and replace it with Linux.
The rest of the options you’ll meet are pretty straightforward and don’t need an explanation. You will be asked to select your preferred language for the OS interface and the keyboard, your geographical position (used for geolocation and time-syncing), and set up your primary user account with an alias and a password.
Start Using Your New Desktop
Depending on the Linux distribution you are using, you will have different desktop environments. Gnome 3 is used by Ubuntu while Linux Mint is using Cinnamon.
Check out our user guides for the various desktop environments:
Set It Up/Customize It/Make It Your Own
Although each desktop environment in Linux comes with its own settings, they are all much better organized and easy to tweak compared to how the same options are organized in Windows. In other words, if you are able to make sense of Windows 10 settings, customizing your Linux desktop environment will be child’s play.
Run the Settings app found in your distribution’s main menu and go through the categories of options, one by one, to:
- Choose a theme
- Change the wallpaper
- Control notifications
- Select your preferred applications
- Sync online accounts
- Set up sharing
- Configure your hardware
An App for Everything
A lot of the software you probably used in Windows is also available for Linux. For some of the more prominent commercial applications, though, like Microsoft Office, or the members of Adobe’s suite, you will have to find alternatives. Thankfully, most of them are more than up to the task, so you won’t feel like you’re missing something.
Some of the most popular apps for different tasks are:
- Browsers: Firefox, Chromium, Chrome, Opera
- Internet/Networking: Skype, Pidgin, UFW, Remina
- Antivirus: you don’t need one
- Productivity/Office: LibreOffice, qOwnNotes
- Audio/Video: VLC, Audacity, Kdenlive, Handbrake
- Graphics/Photo Editing: GIMP, Darktable, Gwenview, InkScape, PencilSheep
Most Linux distributions come with a Software Center or Package Manager where you can easily find software to install.
Linux was never considered a gaming powerhouse, but thanks to Valve’s efforts, it now has access to a significant chunk of Steam’s collection. And projects like Lutris can help you manage all your games.
Learn to Love the Terminal
As a newcomer to Linux, you may try to avoid the terminal. Still, like everyone else, in time, you will find it irreplaceable. We suggest you start getting familiar with the basics. Before you realize it, you’ll find it’s become your primary means of interaction with your computer and is much more powerful and versatile than any GUI.
We should warn you, though, that moving from Windows to Linux is addictive in. You may soon find yourself in an endless cycle of distro-hopping, moving from distribution to distribution, trying to find the perfect one as if you were playing Pokémon.
If you have recently moved from Windows to Linux, let us know in the comments below.