How to make the switch to Linux

This article recommends a step at a time:

The 6 month guide to desktop migration:

1. Switch Outlook for Mozilla Thunderbird. If nothing else this will immediately give immunity from quite a lot of viruses which exploit weaknesses in outlook. Although Thunderbird can do all the things Outlook does, many of them it does in different ways and the configuration is different. There are procedures for migrating, but is far better to learn how to configure it from scratch if you want to make best use of it’s features.

2. Once Thunderbird is doing your mail and newsgroups, then drop Internet Explorer and move to Mozilla Firefox. Here there are few configuration issues, and Firefox will import your bookmarks for Internet Explorer. Once again, read the users FAQ because Mozilla/Firefox does have some features that IE does not have. You will find a few sites that will only work with IE, particularly e-commerce sites. There is no necessity for this, it is just cost cutting on the vendors part. Major e-commerce sites such as Amazon have no problem with different browsers. I have yet to find a site that only accepts IE who does not have a “competitor” that is not so limited. So don’t bother moaning to the site admin, vote with your feet and surf elsewhere.

3. After a month or so you should be happy with Microsoft free surfing, so it is time to get rid of MS Office. There are a number of Office suites available for Linux, both Open Source and commercial, which will run on Windows. I am going to recommend OpenOffice because it does a good job of being familiar to MS Office users and is open source, but other alternatives could be just as valid for this exercise. Most people use office suites for more than one type of task, even if they only use one application. So, don’t suddenly decide to do everything with the new office suite, learn on a task by task basis. OpenOffice does a pretty good job of import and export of MS Office formats, thought in complex documents some re-formatting is required. OpenOffice is generally able to open office documents sent as email attachments and documents on the web, if you can’t open them then tell the sender!

When you are publishing to the web or sending email attachments, get out of the habit of sending them in Office formats. If they are intended to be ‘read-only’ then PDF format is a good choice for documents that are to be formatted to physical pages, otherwise you could just use HTML. OpenOffice has a handy PDF button for converting the document to a PDF file. If you are sending a document that the end user can edit, send them an OpenOffice version of the document and point out that you have “upgraded”, but you can send them an MS Office file on request.

4. Expect to take at least four months to get all your browsing and office work over to OSS apps. Then look at all the other things you do with your PC and evaluate what alternatives will be available under Linux. One place you could start looking is or

Your aim is to do everything you do under Windows with software that will also be available under Linux.

5. Having satisfied yourself that you have solutions to all your problems, it is time to find yourself a friendly Linux guru. You should show the guru what you are using on Windows and ask for a recommendation for a distribution. Having established what distribution you are going to install you should make a list of your hardware and check it out for compatibility. You also need to establish how your new system is going to be organised (disk partitions) and booted. Do not rush into this, read about it and think it over. Look for newsgroups and forums for your distro of choice and post a list of your hardware (in particular printer and video) and any unusual applications you will be planning to run… try and find out what the potential problems are beforehand.

6. Nike… just do it. No dual boot! Install your distro and forget Windows ever existed. Any problems you have from now on must be resolved in Linux. If you have followed this procedure then you should be able to come up to speed very quickly using the apps you were using under Windows. With time you will find that you have many more options available to you.

Sounds like good advice to me.

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