Skip to comments.Tools for Migrating from Windows to Linux
Posted on 01/07/2009 6:01:51 AM PST by ShadowAce
Taking baby steps to become more familiar with a new operating system can be as simple as revamping the OS already in use on your computer. It begins with unlearning Windows-born behavior to free up your mind for a new way of doing things.
Here are some tips on utilizing different open source resources to make the goal of a full time switch over to Linux a lasting one:
Relearning software installation with Win-Get
For Windows users, software installation is nearly always accomplished from some sort of simple GUI installer. The idea is basically to keep pounding away on the "next" button until the installer alerts its user that the installation has completed.
Linux users, on the other hand, generally prefer the simplicity of installing software through a command line prompt. Different distributions have different means of making this happen, but generally the end goal is the same install/remove/update some specific software package.
To become more familiar with this sort of behavior, I suggest getting your feet wet in the Windows world using a program called Win-Get. Based off of the same methodology of software installation for Debian Linux-based distributions, Win-Get allows its users to add and remove software via the command line using commands that are similar to what would be used in a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu.
Potential users should be aware that proprietary applications are included with open source software offerings through this program. Applications such as Adobe Reader, AVG anti-virus, Avast anti-virus are among a number of other closed source programs made available to those who opt to install Win-Get onto their Windows PCs.
While these applications are perfectly fine to use, I want to stress that not all applications offered in this way are of the open source variety.
Using a Live CD to learn Linux is simply not practical for someone interested in making a long-term switch over to desktop Linux.
Why? Being able to install and update software from the command line is going to make for a more effective Linux user in the long run. Yet at the same time, no one running a Live CD is going to fully grasp this without some previous experience.
Besides the familiarity issue, should a software installation go poorly, it will be the command line that will yield the most relevant information as to what might have taken place. So clearly, learning to become comfortable in this environment now has its merit.
Taking the keys away from the administrator with suDown
One of the first things Windows XP users complain about is the need to deal with a prompt every time they wish to install or remove some piece of software after trying to work with sudo user-enabled distributions such as Ubuntu.
While some of us might point out that this same user could very well take it upon themselves to simply becoming root, the obvious dangers of running as an administrator go without saying. Clearly, running as a limited user of sorts is an important part of a very basic level of desktop security.
As Windows XP is "wide open" due to its issuing administrator accounts without any real warning as to how dangerous this truly is, it makes Windows XP the perfect candidate for a fantastic tool known as SuRun.
Unlike other open source sudo user tools for Windows, SuRun works well with Vista's UAC in addition to enabling the XP user to become more familiar with the idea of dealing with a prompt to accomplish specific tasks.
What I find most valuable about using this software is that it illustrates how many programs need to be operated using elevated credentials -- as most programs in desktop Linux do not need this when operating as a standard, non-administrator user.
While I see no inherent security concerns myself, the biggest issue is a false sense of security, as no matter what band-aid solution one uses, Windows remains an inherently insecure operating system as it continues to insist on running users as administrators. Protection tools aside, it is insecure period.
Realizing how desktop Linux distributions such as Ubuntu provide sudo level functionality by default provides some motivation behind moving beyond what this program can do and into an operating system that provides improved security out of the box.
Why install this yourself when you can simply choose a working Linux distribution that can do it for you out of the box?
Open source software in lieu to proprietary applications
Which applications are truly straight alternatives to those from the proprietary side of the fence?
The fact of the matter is no matter how badly a potential new Linux user might want to make the switch, not really understanding which software is the best replacement for what they used in Windows previously can soon become a real buzz kill to any Linux migration excitement.
Using the fantastic website known simply as Open Source As Alternative is perhaps the most straight forward means of discovering software that can help you to break free from your closed source masters.
I see nothing but good things coming from this. Open Source As Alternative helps Windows users becoming more familiar with software that they can then migrate over to Linux with. Gimp, Dia, Quanta Plus the list just keeps growing thanks to this helpful resource.
I envision a clean migration when the user is ready to move over to the Linux platform. Because they are already used to using the various open source applications linked from the osalt.com website, migration becomes less about trying to figure out which software replaces Windows apps and more about enjoying Linux.
Ext2 Installable File System For Windows
Despite Linux users enjoying the ability to mount and write to NTFS partitions for daily use with their preferred distro, there is still something to be said about Windows users having the ability to write to their Linux partitions from within Windows itself.
Once thought to be difficult at best, it turns out that with the use of a software program called Ext2 IFS, desktop Linux users that installed their Linux distributions on Ext2 or 3 partitions will be able to write data to these partitions with relative ease.
Another bonus is that Vista users need not worry either, as Ext2 IFS also works very well with Vista installs in addition to other releases such as XP or other NT-based options.
Using Ext2 IFS translates into Windows users using Linux partitions to store their data. I see no potential for data loss by going in this direction and to be totally honest, Id likely put more stock in the value of a well maintained Ext2 partition than trying to utilize an NTFS option any day of the week.
Ext2 IFS combined with the previously highlighted efforts in this article can empower otherwise hesitant Windows users to make the switch to desktop Linux for good.
Heres the key I would like readers to take away from this:
Switching to a Linux distribution for good takes a lot more than finding a Linux distribution that makes using it easy. There is also the matter of becoming used to the general flow of using Linux and the applications native to its world. With any luck, this article will serve to inspire those interested in taking the leap and making it stick.
Check out NDISwrapper. It’s a kludge, but it does work. Or get a different wireless card.
Just what is “better” about OpenSolaris than Linux? I use (regular) Solaris from time to time (I have it installed in VMware on my Linux laptop), but it is kind of a pain. The default userland tools are absolute rubbish. ZFS is nice, but for most people, it’s not something they’d ever use, particularly in a desktop/workstation environment.
My last command-line installation was several distributions (and years) ago. All GUI now, through Adept Manager.
Yah. It's better to hold it with both hands when driving nails.
A link sys what? It probably depends upon the distribution, in any event. Kubuntu and Xubuntu have drivers for a number of common WiFi chipsets.
There is a learning curve, there's a book on Amazon that explains installing 8.04 and setting it up completely. Very simple to do for beginners, using it. 8.04 much lower maintenance and better suited for daily use.
One thing I haven't caught on to with 8.04, is there a good tutorial out there that explains how to set up different wireless cards that don't work automatically with Network Manager?
Meaning, what are the steps to take when a card doesn't work?...Appreciate any info on that.
Newbies. *\;-) I "started" with IBM 360 & JCL (loved the "online" Wilbur editor, hated JCL), "graduated" to ASR33 Teletype, ROM-based CLI/Assembler w/4k RAM and Tarbell controller (you told it which track to store your code on), then to CP/M (and WordStar, though Ed was okay) before suffering with DOS and its hated EDLIN.
There are forums for such questions. I've had to use them in the past -- sometimes I had to sign up and ask myself, sometimes somebody else has already asked and been answered. I won't say the system is perfect, but I've often found answers to my questions there.
I tried that wubi.
It did install Ubuntu dual boot.
I booted into Ubuntu. It finally loaded, but stopped at some $$$ command line.
I have no idea where to go from there. [That is a major problem if Linux people expect non-users to ever convert.]
I finally found a command line ‘help’. It was useless. It had Linux terminology without explanations.
I just wanted to get to the Ubuntu Desktop.
Couldn’t figure out how. It did give an http for help.ubuntu. That was sort of useless because Ubuntu desktop didn’t load, so I finally had to reboot in Windows.
In Windows, the help.ubuntu.com tells how to do things on the Ubuntu Desktop — which was useless because I couldn’t find any way to load the desktop on start up.
That is why Linux has a long way to go before replacing Windows.
Linux needs user — not technobabble — documentation. It is reminiscent of the early PC days when the PC came with the technical reference manual and no user documentation. [I used to write user documentation for PCs in the mid-late 80s.]
I, like many users, am just not sure I want to take allot of time to learn a whole new system. With all of its problems Windows loads, goes to a menu, and allows you to select from there.
Ubuntu took me to a $$$command line — without any hint of acceptable commands.
I'm using PCLinuxOS 2007, which is a bit long in the tooth. But it was the first Linux distro that didn't force me to learn the command line. I tried Ubuntu, Knoppix, Suse, and a couple of others before I tried PCLOS. It works without any hassle.
I once opened the command line, out of curiosity. Other than that I have not done anything whatsoever with the CL. Synaptic is so simple to install new stuff, tried and tested for MY distro, why would I want to use the CL? I'm no Linux purist looking down my nose in a snobby fashion. I'm just glad to not put out a hundred bucks every time I pick up a used computer with no OS....
I was looking for a Windows replacement, and I found it. I don't want to learn programming, command line, or any of that. I want to turn on the computer and use it. PCLinuxOS was the only one I tried that I could do just that. I'm anxiously waiting for the 2009 version.
I am very tired of the Ubuntu=Linux mentality. Ubuntu is okay, I suppose. I hated it, but it is the best marketed distro, so whatever.
I do have a beef with USB wireless adapters under Linux. All the cheap Netgear WG111T adapters I bought don't work under Linux natively and take a bunch of work to get going. I bought other wireless adapters instead. The Netgear bits work well under Windows and I still have Windows on a couple of computers, so I can still use them. I'm waiting to see if the newest Linux Kernel addresses these. Suse 11.1 found my Belkin USB wireless adapter, so there's hope.
My favorite DOS based editor was "Edix". Part of a program called "Profession Writers Package". From the "ix" part of its name you could surmise it was written by some ex Bell Labs types.
I started with TRS-80 Model I BASIC, then spent 14 years on COBOL/JCL/ISPF
"graduated" to ASR33 Teletype, ROM-based CLI/Assembler w/4k RAM and Tarbell controller (you told it which track to store your code on), then to CP/M (and WordStar, though Ed was okay) before suffering with DOS and its hated EDLIN.
After that, I went to Windows C, and Linux programming/admin.
1972: the 9820A: http://www.hpmuseum.org/hp9820.htm
1973: the 9830A in BASIC: http://www.hpmuseum.org/hp9830.htm
1974: (same job) I moved up to a Data General Nova mini, in assembly and FORTRAN.
THEN, at college, it was the IBM-360...
Just read the thread all the way through.
WOW, were you right! Man what a vicious bunch. The searing flames and hew and cry of heresy nearly burned up my monitor.
I mean, when that guy said Solaris was "kind of a pain"... I can't believe his post wasn't removed by a moderator.
Oh, and then another poster called another "old"
I’ve been switching over from PC to Mac. Still have one PC computer for my wife. She plays solitaire on it.
I have a spare PC minus a monitor sitting around.
Might get a monitor and fire it up w/ Linux just for giggles.
I tried a live CD of Ubuntu some time ago and liked it but was afraid to dual boot. Now that I really don’t need the PC machine I might try it.
BTW, I had to fiddle around w/ a PC last week and realized that the Mac was sooooo much easier to use.
I’m thankful I switched. Now I turn the computer on and use it.
THANKS FOR A GREAT BUNCH OF MATERIAL.
My Acer Linux Aspire just arrived. Haven’t tried connecting it to the net.
Anyone got one? Any tips?
Have had a terminal or computer in my home since 1976.
How many 62 year old laymen can say that?
I’m not a NooooB
I have fought with Microslop for 20 years.
It’s sloppy code; cheeky hostility to !!!!CUSTOMERS!!!!! [only belatedly altered by pressures from Linux] . . . it’s refusal to use it’s megabucks super brainpower etc. to write some software to debug; prevent; evaluate; tune-up it’s operating systems and other software . . .
just blinking outrageous cheekiness unparalleled in my experience with any other company.
I have no sympathy for Microslop AT ALL.
They deserve all the hits they get and then some.
More likely . . . stuck on bias, pride, stubbornness.
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