Migrating from Windows to Linux

Migrating from Windows to Linux

So you are thinking of migrating from Windows to Linux? Or you are just assessing the feasibility? Whatever is your reason; let’s try to understand the migration process and general concerns attached to this migration.

First of all we need to understand that there are many similarities between the two operating systems. On the other hand, they have enough differences for one to stick with one operating system and not to migrate to another. Luckily, we are not bothered about the reasons for migrating from Windows to Linux here, as it is out of our focus. Let’s try to focus on the usability aspect and a few other views of this migration.

Let’s start from the installation of a Linux system. The installation part of a Linux system could be little complex than installing the Windows counterpart. There is some level of technical knowledge required for installing a Linux system. Of course you do not have to be a techie to install Linux, but should aware of the general technicalities related to Linux or UNIX-like systems.

For the users who migrate from Windows and then install Linux as the second operating system in the same PC, modern Linux distributions offer migration assistance. Using this facility, you can simply import your Windows documents to the new Linux system during the installation time. This cuts back a lot of time for you.

We do different things with computers. It could be word processing, image manipulation, or something more specific that we do with them. Therefore, let me categorize the similarities and differences into usage categories.

Word Processing

Word processing is something we all do using computers. For this purpose, we mostly use Microsoft Office package on the Windows platform. For a writer or an extensive user of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, a life without Office package could not be imagined. When it comes to Linux, a similar package exists for helping out the migrants. This is called OpenOffice and comes with no price tag at all. It is true that there is a little compromise on the features and usability, but OpenOffice is well worth when considering the cost factor. OpenOffice will be your primary word processing package once you get your foot onto Linux.

OpenOffice Package in Linux

OpenOffice Package

In case if you are into graphics and image manipulation, you got a competitor for Adobe Photoshop in Linux. This is called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) and again, comes with no price tag. This is a GNU software developed by the open source community. Although GIMP cannot compete with the latest Adobe Creative Suit programs, it gives you enough tools and flexibility to produce decent images for commercial purposes.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)


The area of communication is one of the most advanced areas of Linux. By now, Linux is equipped with advanced email clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird and IM clients such as Empathy. Almost all the major IM clients have their versions of Linux clients. Similarly, almost all the other application and usability areas present in Windows have their own counterparts in Linux.

When it comes to the screen and menu navigation, there are a few differences. First of all the new Linux user will have to get use to having two bars at the top and the bottom, instead of the single taskbar present in Windows. In addition to this, the menu system is totally different from what Windows users are used to. Adapting to the new menu system and navigation usually takes sometime, and it all depends on the frequency of the usage.

The installation of software could be one of the main differences between and Windows and Linux. Although click-and-run installation method is available for many programs under Linux, some software uses command-line installation method. But there is a breeze for Linux users over the Windows users when it comes to software installation. There is concept called software store in modern Linux distributions. The users can view all the free software available in a catalogue and then select to install the individual software as they wish. The software will be downloaded and installed automatically in the PC with the expense of a couple of mouse clicks.

Software Installation in Linux

Software Installation Facility in Linux

Sometimes, you cannot live without your Windows software. How much you try, you may not be able to find a successful substitute for the software which runs on Windows. Such inconveniences are effectively solved by solutions such as Wine. Wine is software that can emulate Windows inside Linux, so you can install your favourite Windows software using Wine on Linux. This has been one of remarkable features of Linux for the users migrating from Windows. If you need more software support on Wine, you can opt a commercial solution such as CrossOver for getting hundreds of Windows software running on Linux.

When migrating from Windows to Linux, you can actually use a Linux distribution that supports the migration. Let’s take Gentoo distribution as an example. Gentoo is one of the most technically complex Linux destitutions available today. In order for you to use it for everyday purposes, you need to have some level of technical knowledge in Linux. If you opt Gentoo as your first Linux distribution when migrating, you might end up going back to the world of Windows. Instead, trying a distribution similar to Xandros will make the transition easy, as Xandros resembles the Windows GUI. This way, you will learn the new features of Linux while achieving the productivity and being at the comfort of Windows. Once you get to know the Linux system better, you can move on to more advance Linux distributions.

There are no hard-and-fast rules in Windows to Linux migration. Giving it time is the key in this process. After spending a considerable time, maybe weeks, with Linux and still has no progress, Linux might not be for you. In such case, it is critical for you to fall back to Windows at the right time, without making yourself frustrated and disappointed.

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