SDB:How to migrate from Windows
Most people installing openSUSE or other Linux distributions have been using Microsoft Windows for a long time, many 10 years or more. Migrating to a completely different operating system can be more difficult than you'd think.
One of the hurdles when migrating from operating system to another is not the OS itself, but the familiarity a user has built up over the years with the previous operating system and applications running on it: how to install new applications or devices, where certain types of file are typically stored, how to configure the system, and so on.
It is no use pretending that migrating to a new operating system is a simple task, because there are significant differences between Windows and Linux; any difference makes life a little more difficult in the short term. Anyone who knows how to use Windows can use Linux however - there's no magic involved; just a little patience and willingness to learn.
The hardest thing about learning Linux is unlearning Microsoft Windows.
Tips for an easier migration
Install Windows versions of free or open source programs
Many Linux applications have Windows versions as well (and in many cases OS X versions too), knowing some of these programs makes switching easier:
- LibreOffice productivity suite
- Firefox web browser
- Thunderbird email client
- Opera web browser and internet suite
- Google Chrome web browser
- GIMP image editor
- Inkscape vector drawing package
- Pidgin Instant Messaging (formerly Gaim)
- NVU HTML editor
- Azureus bittorrent client
- KPlayer, SMplayer or VLC media players
- Xchat IRC client
- Scribus desktop publishing
- Audacity audio editing
Check out the compatibility of any existing data produced by Windows-based applications
Preliminary checks can address worries in this area:
- Check the "Save as..." or "Export" dialogs in your existing Windows program to see which formats are available
- Check the "Open" or "Open as" or "Import" dialogs in your Linux application to see if any of the formats discovered in your Windows program are available.
- Check the "Save" or "Save as..." dialogs in your Linux application to see if it can save to a format understood by Windows users.
- Application equivalents documents the various applications that are commonly used in Windows, and the alternatives that are available to openSUSE users.
Try the LiveCD
openSUSE has a LiveCD. With this you can boot a full Linux system that will only run from the CD and the RAM. It will not affect the data on your disk. This is a good way to get an idea how compatible your hardware is with Linux before installing. It's also an easy way to simply look at openSUSE. Please keep in mind, that the system is a lot slower running from a CD than when installed on your harddrive.
Experiment with a spare PC or virtual machine
Fear of losing data and system settings inhibits many people from exploring their OS. A trial-PC can be a powerful tool to convince others, such as family members, that a change to Linux is a good idea. Alternatively, you can install Linux as a virtual machine (VM) within Windows using free software such as VirtualBox.
To keep you motivated for learning and overcoming initial issues, it's important to know about the benefits that await you at the end of the tunnel.
- A secure system where viruses and spyware are not a constant problem.
- A very stable system
- Has 3D desktop effects, search, widgets, and any other feature you'll find on other modern operating systems.
- Development is fast. You don't have to wait 5-6 years for a new version. New versions of openSUSE are released every 8 months. Each release is fully supported for 18 months, and upgrading to new versions is made easy.
- No need to buy an expensive operating system. openSUSE can be downloaded for free or you can buy the comparatively inexpensive box set.
- No need to buy an expensive office suite - LibreOffice is included.
- No need to upgrade your hardware. Linux doesn't have monstrous and ever increasing hardware requirements, forcing you to upgrade your hardware ahead of time.
- Most of the software in openSUSE is Free and Open Source Software, which guarantees the user a freedom that is unheard of in the proprietary world.
- Since you can get so much quality software for free on Linux, you won't be tempted to pirate.
- Linux systems support open standards and open formats, thus keeping competition fair while guaranteeing diversity. You won't see monopoly and monoculture in a Linux world.
Linux is different from Windows and it takes time and effort to learn. Other than that Windows only has one thing going for it - it has more users. This means:
- There are more games and programs for Windows. Photoshop, Dreamweaver, MS Office and popular games are among the most missed applications for Linux. There are, however, many viable Linux alternatives available. On the flip side, there is also more malware (viruses, adware, spyware, trojans, etc.) targeting Windows because of its huge user base and traditionally lax security.
- There's more hardware support for Windows. No operating system supports more hardware out of the box than Linux - but Windows drivers exist for close to all hardware. This is not thanks to Microsoft, but of course their market share means any hardware vendor would be out of business quickly without working with them. Unfortunately the same can't be said for hardware vendors not working with the Linux kernel people. However most hardware is supported by Linux and more hardware is supported every day as Linux is developed further.
- Getting help is easy with Windows - almost everybody knows and uses Windows, so getting help is easy when you have problems. Not everybody knows people who use Linux. However you can get lots of help online on IRC, mailinglists or forums - or you can go to your local Linux user group (LUG) meeting.