J. R. Swab

How To Make The Switch To Linux

Categories: [Technology]
Tags: [open-source], [linux], [apps]

So you know that Linux is a better system for privacy and security, has more customization features, and is lightweight compared to its other operating system candidates. The problem is that the leap of faith into Linux is a bit anxiety inducing since it can feel so much different than your current day-to-day system.

There is also the fear of not having a program that can do some task you need on a daily basis. But I can assure you that there is an alternative to almost every application you will need on a regular basis, so you may not even need to worry. More of the name brand programs come out with Linux versions every year.

Two of the "non-free" applications I use are Steam and Spotify. The reason for Steam is for the games I bought in the past that I'd still like to play. There is another gaming platform called Lutris that is open source, but I have yet to move my library over. As for Spotify, I pay for the family plan for my wife and I because we listen to a lot of music.

There are many ways to get started with Linux and free yourself from the proprietary operating systems that may or may not spy on you, harvest your data, and force you to upgrade your computer every two years. I run a Lenovo X220 from 2011 with Manjaro Linux, and it is faster than my wife's 2015 MacBook Pro.

Why Use Linux?

Linux has many versions or flavors that you may install. If one version does not operate the way you want, you can load up another. It also allows for a ton of customization so you can change the look and feel over time to fit your exact needs.

On top of all the fancy graphical stuff, it is fast, efficient, and reliable. Even on my old computer, it operates better than some newer machines as I mentioned. Its reliability is far better than that of Windows and even MacOS. Once Linux is set and you have all the programs you need, you will find that it works day in and day out.

Step One - Find Open Source Alternatives

The first step in moving to Linux is not moving at all. You will have a more natural transition to Linux if you take the time now and look for open source alternatives to the programs you use already. At the very least check to see if they have a version for Linux.

Doing so will allow you to be comfortable once you choose to make the full-time switch to Linux. Since you already use open source programs, you will be able to search for the exact application within your distributions' app centers or repositories. Knowing what programs do what right off the bat will help you stick with Linux.

The best place to find open source alternatives for the apps you use on Windows or Mac is AlternativeTo.net. Just head over to the site, enter in a program you use such as Microsoft Office, and the site will display all other office suites. The best thing to do in our case is to select the option only to show open source or programs that run on Linux.

AlternativeTo.net is my go-to site when I need a program for Linux, but I don't know the name. Say I have an app on my phone that changes the color of my screen at night for better sleep, but don't know of a Linux alternative. I head over to AlternativeTo.net and enter the app name, set to display Linux, and profit!

Step Two - Dual Boot

Once you have moved all of your programs to Linux-compatible versions, it's time to Dual Boot your current system with your choice of Linux. For new users, I recommend either Ubuntu Mate or Linux Mint as they make it easy for new users moving from Windows.

These versions of Linux have a familiar desktop environment to that of Windows, making it more intuitive to use than something like i3wm. Both use floating window managers and have start menus that Windows users will find comfortable. If you are moving from MacOS to Linux, you may like elementary OS and Deepin more.

The beauty of giving your system the ability to dual boot is that you can switch back and forth between the two operating systems. This ability is great while you get used to Linux since you will be able to use your old OS for productivity while you learn your new system. Be efficient during the day and learn Linux at night!

I am not able to get into how to dual boot your system in this post, but there are many guides online. Just search for computer model dual boot Linux, and you are bound to find an in-depth tutorial. Make sure to read the instructions a few times before you dive in, so you have a good understanding of what to expect.

Step Three - Wipe The Old Operating System

Once you find yourself using Linux more than your old operating system, it's time to make the switch and go full Linux. You may find this step nerve-wracking since you will have to delete your old system, but it's not the end of the world. You can always buy a copy of your old system and use the provided key if you need.

If you make it to this step, though, I am sure you will not go back to your old system and will continue to learn ways to make Linux better fit your life each day. Just follow the method as I outline here and you'll be all Linux within a year, maybe even less if you are ambitious.

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