Converting to Linux gets troublesome, specially when you don't know anything about it.
and most of the times you are told to learn Linux via Books or Guides.
Which is very inconvenient for the desktop end users, as they have to learn a very new system from the scratch.
Well, Its true. That you need to learn many things, but not in the geek style.
Q. Why should I convert to Linux?
A. There is no reason, Or there is? Check here. However You should use Linux only if you want to.
Q. Do you really need to migrate to Linux?
A. No, You don't need to migrate to Linux completely to try it.
Q. Is it worth to try Linux out?
A. Yes, it is.
1. Things to know about Linux
Linux is completely Open Source and free.
'Linux' is actually just a kernel.
Linux distribution or distro is a compilation of packages based on Linux kernel, that together forms a Operating System.
And much more information can be found here -> Linux, Linux.org
2. Getting and Trying out Linux Live.
Live. ( Live Linux will boot from a CD and load the Linux directly to your RAM, keeping your Hard Drive and current installation untouched )
Before you do anything to your system, get a Live Linux Distribution. Most of the modern Desktop optimized distros are Live.
i.e. Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Linux Mint
The more can be found on DistroWatch
Simply Download the ISO of any Live Supported Distro. and burn it on a CD.
After you burn the CD.
Restart your computer, and Boot it from your CD-ROM
Linux will automatically in Live environment.
Note that. every Linux distro have different System requirements according to its Desktop environment, components and size.
To be able to boot Live Linux its preferable to have at least 1GB RAM.
If your computer is low end you can try Lighter distros like Zenwalk, Xubuntu, Linux Mint Fluxbox Edition
Wubi (Windows-based Ubuntu Installer)
Install your Ubuntu Linux under Windows.
Heres a Official How-To of Wubi
Linux Mint, which is a variant of Ubuntu. also support Installation inside of Windows. ( The Wubi variant for Mint is know as Mint4Win)
3. Finding the alternatives for your applications in Linux.
Running Windows software in Linux
Softwares/Binaries made for Windows can not execute under Linux natively, for that we have a utility called as Wine (Wine Is Not Emulator)
Wine makes it possible to run/execute the Windows binaries under Linux, by just double clicking the .exe file or launching it through a command. Not all the software run on Wine perfectly but many softwares and games used by many users regularly can be run under Wine. To know about application whether it runs or not, Wine maintains a Application Database known as AppDB.
Finding native Linux alternative to your applications
Its always a better option to find a native Linux for your need, as almost all Linux softwares are Free and Open-Source so it is easy to get them.
sometimes you may find the Softwares available in Linux are way better than commercial softwares you are using in Windows.
To find Applications for Linux you can use Search facilities like Linux App Finder Which also Alternative Application Index for popular softwares.
You can also use Customized Google Linux Search
4. Choosing your Linux Distribution.
Finding a perfect Linux Distribution is quite complicated task. The best way to choose a Linux Distro is to try as many as many you can, but its very time consuming to try all the distros available in pool.
The easy way is filtering your search to your need. Distros are specifically divided into their various rolls.
- Ubuntu, and Variants ( Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu, Fluxubuntu )
- Linux Mint
- KateOS, Zenwalk
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
- Ubuntu Server
General Purpose Distros ( Can be used as Server or Desktop, or Both )
Minimalistic or Lightweight
- Puppy Linux
- Damn Small Linux
- Fluxubuntu / Linux Mint Fluxbox
This List can grow very long, but the mentioned distros are the most well-known.
You can also get a Distro suggestion following a Quiz.
Try it Here.
Quiz 1, Quiz2
Note: It is always good to select a distro with large application package base available, like DEB or RPM.
A very easy step, In most cases you have to boot your Live CD. and run the Installer.
Then follow through a Wizard like installation.
You can refer to Distro specific official guides..
Ubuntu Install Guide
Fedora Install Guide
Mandriva Install Guide
Arch Install Guide
OpenSUSE Install Guide
Some distros have different installation methods like Network Installations, PXE boots, Kickstarts...these are definitely not Desktop distros.
6. Knowing your Desktop Environment
There are lots of variants in Linux GUI. It is not similar to Windows GUI, but many standard shortcuts, and concepts are same.
To know whats Desktop Environment, check Here
Most of the Distros are defaulted to KDE, Gnome
While KDE and Gnome are in majority
Now XFCE is also widely used.
( These DEs provides the complete desktop functionality )
Each Desktop environment have its own special applications and items, like Panel, File Manager, Menus, Widgets.
and defaulted applications like Music Player, Network Manager, Package Manager, Browser, Accessories etc.
Here are the official guides for these Desktop Environements
Gnome, KDE, XFCE
So remember selecting a different Desktop Environment also changes your Linux experience.
7. Installing Software
Softwares in Linux are composed into packages, which contains the required installation files and post installation configuration scripts.
The packages are of different types, Like RPM - Yum/Urpmi, DEB - Apt-get, Tgz - Slapt-get and many more.
In most of the distros these packages can be installed, just by double clicking them.
but there are also other methods to install softwares, by using package managements systems like Apt, Yum, Urpmi
Each distro have its defaulted package managements system. and have Graphical Package Manager.
A very good software installation guide is given on Linux Forums by TechiMoe -> Here
8. Troubleshooting and Getting Help
You may get many problems while you are newbie.
Its the best way to help yourself, before expecting help from anyone else.
The easiest and efficient ways are.
Google about your problem, You are not the only one who faced it, so Solution is just around you.
Refer to official documentation. ( Check the Home Pages of distro web sites carefully )
Search of the official distro forums. ( Check the site once again )
Then Search the other forums like Linux Forums, Linux Questions
Then try IRC Channel for the distro or the community, if its available.
Can't get help on Distribution bases, try searching about the component or application giving trouble.
Still unsolved?...Try kicking your box.
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