Is Moving From Windows to Linux The Right Choice For You?

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The intention of this article is to provide Windows users with some basic information about why and how they might choose to move to a Linux based operating system instead. 
 
In general, Windows users tend to stay with what is the most familiar computing environment, but many complain about it. 
 
Moving to a Linux based system instead is now a much easier operation than it was a few years ago. Linux systems have become much simpler to install and use, and some have even been developed to mimic Windows so Windows users will feel more “at home” in their new environment. 
 
Windows operating system logoWhat are the main reasons why Windows users stay put?
 
  • Influence exerted by Microsoft
  • Familiarity with the operating environment
  • Hardware support at which Windows excels
  • A misconception that stuff they need doesn’t work with Linux
  • Confusion. Anyone researching Linux for the first time is likely to be confused by the sheer number available and also the different desktop environments such as KDE, Gnome, Xfce etc.
 
Linux logoWhat are the reasons why folks might decide to change?
 
  • Security. Apart from exploits targeting *servers, Linux can be regarded in general terms as being virus free.
  • Speed. In general, most Linux systems run many times faster than Windows.
  • Customization. Pretty much everything in Linux can be changed to suit your personal preference. With just a few minutes work you can have a system that looks very different to the default package. There are tons of examples of standard and customized Linux systems in these two forum threads. (work backwards from the last pages to see examples of the latest releases).
  • Try before you (don’t) buy. Most Linux systems provide a “live” mode option that can be run from a DVD or USB drive. This provides the ability to try out a selection of Linux distros to see which might suit you best. This does not affect your installed Windows system in any way. 
  • Support. Most Linux systems have their own support community where users can post queries and receive help with problems.
  • Ready to go out of the box. Unless you choose a minimalistic Linux distro, all the programs you need for daily use including web browser, mail client, office suite and media player come pre-installed and ready to use.
  • Dual boot with Windows. You can install one or more Linux systems alongside your existing Windows installation and choose which one to run at boot. You can also access your Windows files from your Linux system(s). There are comprehensive guides detailing how to dual boot specific Linux distros with Windows. See also our own guide here for dual booting an existing XP installation with Linux Mint.
  • The ability to run many of your Windows programs in Linux using a special program called Wine (explanatory video).
  • Ease of maintenance. Updates for your Linux system and all your installed programs are automatic. 
 
* Other exploits do exist, including Linux specific rootkits. However, Linux was designed to be secure from the outset and unless users ignore the default safeguards, the chances of a home system being compromised are to all intents and purposes, nil.
 
Where do I start?
 
Read some reviews. Good sources are:
 
 
There are also some great reviews on YouTube including: https://www.youtube.com/user/LinuxSpatry
 
A not too accurate guide to the popularity of individual Linux distros can be found here: http://distrowatch.com/
 
“Popular” however does not always equal better and many of the lesser ranked distros are worthy of consideration.
 
Choose a distro and download the ISO image for it. Always use a torrent download if one is available as the results will be more consistent. Use Google to find a torrent download if one is not provided by the developer. Then burn the ISO to a DVD or USB drive using the slowest speed possible (for DVDs). I use ImgBurn for Windows (beware of the unwanted bundled components!!) and either UNetbootin or Win32 Disk Imager to transfer the files to a USB drive. 
 
Use the resulting DVD or USB to boot into a live session of your chosen distro. Now you can try out all of the different functions you would normally perform to check everything works as expected. Hardware compatibility with Linux is not as good as for Windows. Some systems for instance will not run at all in my NVIDIA desktop and yet work perfectly in my Intel system. AMD systems may also be inconsistent with some Linux distros. Even if some functions do not work, these are mostly fixable and the solutions will already be in the Linux forums. To avoid spending time researching fixes however, it is important to at least check that your network connection(s), sound and video function correctly before committing to a full install. I have always enjoyed better results by installing from a live session, rather than choosing the direct install option when booting from the live DVD or USB.
 
Don’t be put off by the default “look” of a distro because everything you see can easily be changed (see the screenshot links above).
 
 
Recommendations:
 
I guess from the popularity stakes alone I have to include Ubuntu and Linux Mint, but I wouldn’t use either. :) Also, providing a big list of options here is only going to add to the possibility for confusion already highlighted above. So, here are just a few covering a selection of the various desktop environments (DEs) *available.
 
Ubuntu (Unity desktop)
Linux Mint (Cinnamon desktop)
Point Linux (MATE desktop)
Manjaro Linux (KDE desktop)
Zorin OS (custom desktop)
ChaletOS (Xfce desktop)
Voyager (Xfce desktop)
Trisquel 7 (Gnome desktop)
Elementary OS (custom desktop)
Peppermint (LXDE desktop)
 
*Many distros offer a choice of DEs although (mostly) these need to be downloaded and installed separately.
 
Release Types:
 
Some distros offer a variety of release types such as Standard, LTS (Long Term Support) and Rolling. Standard releases might come out every six months or annually. Usually an upgrade is possible from the previous version but this operation is not always successful. Rolling releases are continuously updated so in theory you would never need to reinstall. These however tend to be more unstable than the other release types. LTS releases can be supported for up to five years and tend to receive more love from the developers and be more stable in use.
 
 
 
 

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Comments

But of course. The comments thread for an article titled "Is Moving From Windows to Linux The Right Choice For You?" is clearly no place to debate Linux vs Windows.

(Just sayin'.)

The article was meant to give the readers a message "There are options out there especially for free".

I think I will take another look at this.
by MidnightCowboy on 27. January 2015 - 9:56 (120781) New

It helps if you include a link to your forum post and the replies it generated because otherwise no one is able to assist further. MC - Site Manager.

It's been several years now and I dont recall.

------------------------------------
Be sure to download more than one DE type though so you can test out the different file managers for KDE, Xfce, MATE etc. MC - Site Manager.

I have no idea what all these abreviations mean LOL
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On my windows system I use it mainly for family tree Images (30,000 so far) and video editing, filming and producing etc.
Audio editing creating cd/dvd etc.
No Gaming.
current systym win7 pro
intel quad cpu 8gb ram

Wich Linux would be good for the work I do ?

Thanks
PS I have a shared drive with my wife.
One external for photos another external for Audio and backups.

I run mainly Linux Mint Cinnamon on machines all older/slower than yours. I do genealogy with the Gramps program. Edit videos with KDenLive, AviDemux, or OpenShot, view with VLC, edit photos with DigiKam, Gimp; edit audio with OcenAudio or Audacity. Mint or Zorin are best for beginners.

You can install any of these apps that aren't included by going to the distro's "app store" and searching, reading the review, and click once to install. None of this going to dodgy shareware sites and getting adware included with your download. Or worse.

Speaking of which: if your Windows machine was hit with a Cryptolocker virus, all your files would be toast. If you keep backups in a Linux format (ext4, btrfs) there's no way they can get infected, even if the virus gets stored with your files. Just sayin'.

I'd stick with Debian based distros; if you want to install stuff, most apps are packaged for Debian first. You'll find a .deb extension on the downloads. Half the distros are Debian based. The biggies are Ubuntu, Zorin, Bodhi, Mint, Lite, Elementary, Deepin; and they're all good for beginners. Go to the distro web site for instructions and introductions, then the forums for more info & resolve problems. If you install Mint or Zorin, look at the Ubuntu info too.

Links to a selection of DE's (desktop environments) are included in the article text. You can also see examples of these in static form from the distro links given (screenshot sections), the links included to our own screenshot forum pages, or in video format by searching Youtube. I'm not into media editing so cannot advise from experience but Ubuntu Studio is targeted at this audience. http://ubuntustudio.org/ In any case, you can just as easily pick another distro and install your own suite of apps into it. http://www.techdrivein.com/2013/09/top-5-video-editors-for-ubuntu-linux.... MC - Site Manager.

So when it comes down to leaving Windows for Linux, I'm potentially a fan. It really comes down to two things:

1. Microsoft office. It's kind of a standard. Are the Linux Office Suites truly 100% compatible?

2. iTunes - Apple has never released it for Linux, which strikes me as strange since OS X is essentially a Linux Distro. What's the best way to manage one's iPhone or iPad via Linux?

Thanks,
Matt

Cannot help you with 2., being oblivious of anything that starts with an i followed by a capital.

As for 1., the question is too general since there are a few suites. Let me consider Libre Office, which is by many rated the best: No, it is not fully compatible, but that is a feature, not a bug. It is compatible enough. Having dropped MS Office more than five years ago, I would not go back to this overblown piece of s...oftware. On Windows machines I use there is Libre Office only, and one of my business conditions is that all work be done in it, not MS Office.

In my experience, there are obvious incompatibilities in MS Office itself when switching between machines with Windows and OS X. The grief one gets is doubly annoying for it is unexpected.

What richtea said plus try WPS Office (formerly Kingsoft Office) which many regard as being a direct clone of MS Office. The Windows free version now comes with restrictions, but the Linux version does not. Chalet OS (link in article above) ships with this as standard. Try it using a live session to see how compatible it is for the operations you need to perform with it. MC - Site Manager. http://www.wps.com/linux/

A good video on switching to Linux: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gVZxQWlLOk
Jupiter Broadcasting is going to continue this show this year, so subscribe and learn. Their regular weekly "Linux Action Show" can get a bit...involved.

As for Ubuntu, there have been privacy issues due to how the Unity Dashboard works; this - https://fixubuntu.com/ - still exists. Admittedly, via System Settings, privacy and security can be adjusted so that any potential online snooping is eliminated. One would hope.

On the one hand, it is understandable that Ubuntu needs some revenue; on the other, it might be better if they just charged for their OS. It is definitely worth a reasonable amount of money.

And the #1 reason people stay with Windows: Laziness! They don't want to fool with their PC or learn something new. Still, they put up with upgrades, not realizing that there are modern Linux distros that are more like XP or 7 than Windows 8 is.

The last reason to switch to Linux: a lot of "old" hardware will run on it, like scanners and printers. And it's 2 clicks to install, no hunting for the driver disks like in Windows.

Hey vandamme,

you write "... modern Linux distros that are more like XP or 7 ...".

WHICH ONES? Why don't you name names?

PLEASE!

I'm a retired vacuum tube engineer, and I've used PCs since the 8086 days. I like the menu systems in Cinnamon, MATE and KDE, where the first menu is categories (sound & video, graphics, preferences, office) and the next level is applications (GIMP, Image Viewer, Scan). If I can remember what the name is, I just type it in the search (GIMP) and there it is; otherwise I run through the menus.

When you install a Windows app, it gets put where the autor wants it, plus a bunch of other cruft. So you get menu items for "Funkysoft --> FunkySoft on the Web Link, Uninstall FunkySoft, FunkySoft" etc. So, after trying to sort them into logical submenus, you just give up and put a shortcut to FunkySoft on your desktop. When the desktop gets full, you buy another monitor.

ZorinOS is specifically designed to not shock Windows users when they see the desktop, and there's a "look changer" that goes from Windows 2000 to XP to 7. Mint Cinnamon looks like Win7 to me. There are distros for Mac switchers, too: they have nice docks on the bottom, where they "should" be. Elementary is another gateway distro. Of course you can change a lot of things to suit your fancy, but it's better to start with something close to what you like.

So, go to distrowatch.com. Go to the Search at the top and click on "beginners" in the search box. There's links on each distro page to reviews and screenshots. Download a couple and give them a spin as a live disk, to see how your hardware works and how you like it.

For a variety of reasons,I need my computer to run a program which will accept one phone line, distinguish between types of calls, and either receive a fax or record and play back a voice message. I started years ago with WinFax. It stopped taking voice, so I switched to HotFax Message Center. The source stopped supporting that, so I have used FaxTalk Communicator. I am now running Windows 7 Professional.

In the past, when I have considered switching to Linux, I could not find a similar program using Linux. Is there now a similar program available that will run on a Linux Distro? Thank you.

Thank you for the suggestion. However, from what I can see on their site, Hylafax is an enterprise fax program, but I see nothing about any ability to detect and record voice messages. The combination of fax and voice on one line is critical for me. If I overlooked something, I would appreciate it if you could direct me to the right place. Thank you.

I have been a Linux user for around 10 years, I have found that the best Distro that I have found is Pinguy Linux, which is basically a cross between Ubuntu, and Mint. The reasons for leaving Windows are mentioned more than once above, but these are my reasons for using Linux. the most important reason for using Linux is exactly the reason mentioned above "most people in the world use Windows", this in my opinion is the main reason for NOT using Windows. All malware is designed to catch out Windows users! If you have say 250 updates for Linux, it will take approx 20 minutes to download and install these updates, you will have that amount of updates after installing Linux for the first time, as when you download and burn an install disk, you will have a large amount of updates from when the Distro was made live (downloadable), until the time you later install it. Usually updates are from 1-10 in quantity, and take seconds to download and install. How long would 250 Windows updates take to download and install? Nobody can log into a Linux computer and alter the O/S, add anything or remove anything from it without your password. When you download an app, you only get that app, there will be nothing added to it.
There are no restarts when using Linux, and you can use your system as soon as your Computer is switched on and you log in, you do not have to wait while Windows updates. Updates are NOT obtained from the Internet as such, they are obtained from a sealed Linux repository. When your Distro is updated after 4 years, you simply upgrade and carry on, there is no system to buy, Linux O/S and updates are always free. The only downside of Linux that I have found is that last time I tried, you could not update a satnav using Linux, and my carcam can only be updated using Windows. Also a defunct Linux App,(and there are 50.000 official supported ones to try) can sometimes cause a problem to your updates, this is a small problem and temporary.
There is no reason to use ANY security software for Linux at all! If however you feel safer using some security on your Linux, Anti virus and Firewalls are available to download from the Linux repository.
Finally there is a version of Linux that will run on a 256MB camera card, so go on get yourself a used desk top pc from an auction site, £30-150, and put Linux on it, Linux will fly on old processors and 2-4GB of ram, compared to Windows.
I run a Linux computer club, and have converted all of my club members over to Linux, when my club members were using Windows, I had to sort out approx 12-20 security breaches a week for my club members, now I never have that problem, I just advise on which app is best for doing X Y or Z.

ClamTK anti-virus may still be useful. I find that guys running some marginal browsers and/or standard browsers not properly tweaked for security will get suspicious items from time to time.

I would just comment that some updates for Linux do require a system restart and they can also be quite hefty in number especially if you install an LTS at the point within its life cycle just before an updated disk is released. It is also worth mentioning that the antivirus programs available for Linux are only deigned to detect Windows malware in an attempt to prevent this from being passed to Windows users from a Linux machine. It is only the dedicated rootkit detectors such as chrootkit and RKHunter that are Linux system specific. Linux distros ship with a firewall (iptables) as standard, as does Windows, although there are enhancements to this in terms of usability and features such as UFW/GUFW, Firestarter and others. Most Linux distributions now ship with one of these enhancements by default, but they might not be activated until so instructed by the user. http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1871177 MC - Site Manager.

OK so I use UNIX at work so using Linux is less of an issue to me but we use it nearly exclusively at home and neither my wife nor children have had any problems at all barring some minor issues getting Google Earth working.

The main PC runs OpenSuse using KDE as a desktop. We have a couple of refurbished laptops running Mint Cinnamon. Both have a "start" menu accessed at bottom left that brings up a menu that for the most part is usable pretty much the same as Windows. Applications most used are Firefox and Thunderbird also same (pretty much) as Window. The children like to use Scratch and they are getting used to OpenOffice and Scribus.

Advantages to giving them Linux include security and safety. They can install stuff like Windows, it's less vulnerable to malware. It also just works. On the main PC Windows complains about hard disk drivers and won't install whereas Linux just sees the disks and off it goes. We are using refurbished, slightly older laptops and you can pick a distro best suited to both the hardware you are using and/or the purpose you want. So you can pick a "light" distro to run on really old equipment or something newer tuned to a purpose like music production.

There may be issues with how Linux filing works. There is no concept of C or D drives, everything gets mapped to one directory structure but since users mostly work in "My Documents" and that visually looks like Windows that can be a non-issue.

I love to use LINUX have tried installing Ubuntu and Mint as well.
First of, there are so many distributions wich one is the best und most user friendly?
They all run perfect from the cd/dvd then when installink I usually get some type of an error that something I never heard of is missing. Dont know what to do next.
In the forum I got several pieces of advice bu that works fine if you understand the system.
My question still remains after years of trying. Is there a flawless install Linux out there that is simple and user friendly?

I usually have to end yp formating the drive and install windows again.
Linux does not have an option to revert the drive the way it was?

Still frustrated:-)
NEWBIE

OpenSUSE was the easiest install I've seen, Zorin was pretty good too. Deepin is reported to be simple too (looks pretty also). I always dual boot, even though I'll probably never use Windows again.

On many distros there are beginner forums that you can ask really basic questions and get a kind (if slightly condescending perhaps) answer. We were all noobs once.

You need to be specific, though, about your problem, what the result was, what you tried, and what hardware you are using. If you have a 32 bit system with a weird video card, 512MB memory, and a non-supported wifi card, you will be frustrated trying to install Ubuntu 64 bit.

On an old machine, you might find that Lubuntu 32 bit will run off the CD, but it won't install because the nice pretty installer won't run on low memory. But you can use the "altenate installer" (old one) for that.

RAM is the make-or-break. Lubuntu does install on old machines with 1GB memory, but there may be occasional problems running it (e.g., multiple browser tabs with complex web pages = trouble). Doubtless with 2GB RAM it should be a breeze.

I've put Lubuntu on 10-12 year old machines with less than that. It will run off the CD, but not install with the "new" installer. Use the alternate download with the old installer, and it loads fine. I've run SuperGrub (a Debian spin) on a PC with 256MB, then run Firefox on it (one tab at a time, and slowly). Puppy is another good OS choice, and runs well off a CD if you have no hard drive. Midori is a better browser if you have tired hardware.

At some point you just need to throw out your antique machine, if it's worth less than a month's internet service.

OpenSuse is my favorite of last year. Mint is my all time favorite.
It helps if you include a link to your forum post and the replies it generated because otherwise no one is able to assist further. MC - Site Manager.

maybe someone can answer this so i can make a decision to try or not to try linux. i am really used to windows explorer..the filing system. i use it all the time and its easy and simple for me. i really dont want to have to "go to school" and learn a radically new system for my "stuff"
so is linux about the same as a filing system or what?

As recommended in the article, why not download a couple of distros and try them out as a live session? Will not interfere with your installed Windows system and you can test how the file managers operate and a selection of programs to see if the these meet with your expectations, or not. :) Be sure to download more than one DE type though so you can test out the different file managers for KDE, Xfce, MATE etc. MC - Site Manager.

Can recommend Linux Mint, the main edition. Used it full-time for about three years, but then job forced me to use Windows. I still keep a copy of Mint on my desktop and laptop PCs, double-booting with Windows 7. Why? Mainly in case some drastic malware attaches itself to my PC - I can (presumably) boot Mint and repair some of the damage. Also, if I need a more secure computing environment, I can boot Mint. But when all these reasons are said and done, I just enjoy being in Mint on occasion, for a computing environment that feels less distracting, more quiet. more secure. A shame that any unique apps that might make Linux attractive will immediately be translated to Windows.

The main reason why I changed was stress. I just found Windows stressful to use. There always seemed to be something swallowing up my time with updates. Half the time program updates did not complete properly using Secunia so I had to download them from somewhere else and install manually. I even lost a complete system when in “Windows is installing updates do not switch of your computer” mode we had a power cut. Maybe it was recoverable but I couldn't work out how. :) Also, having to check out the large number of dodgy links posted on our site, there was a constant fear of infection. The overall speed using Linux is also far greater, especially with anything web related, and with Linux I don’t have security software grinding my speed down checking downloads, links and the content of USB drives. Lastly, I like to customize my desktop to achieve an individual look. This is only partially possible using free software for Windows. To get anything worthwhile you have to pay, plus many of the free offerings are riddled with PUP’s and malware. MC - Site Manager.

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