User:Linuxlalala1000/Draft:SDB:How to migrate from Windows

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This article provides information and guidance to people wishing to migrate to openSUSE from Microsoft Windows. Most of the information is also relevant to anyone migrating from OS X or any other operating system.
Warning: This is a draft article present on linuxlalala1000's userpage. Information present here are based on individual contributions on the original article. The information present on this page are of draft/unfinished/WIP quality. It's up to you to trust/distrust them.


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.

Before you migrate

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
  • 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
For more open-source alternatives to closed-source software, see Application equivalents and/or search The linux alternative project/

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 to learn about the various concepts applied in Linux

Linux is different from Windows in many aspects, and you will be probably noticing this by the time you boot from the Live medium. In order to avoid any confusion, it is suggested you study about various concepts which are integral to the nature of every UNIX-Like system. The best place to start is probably the Concepts page on the openSUSE wiki, which documents many basic concepts of Linux and other UNIX-like systems, along with openSUSE-specific advice. If you are using Mac OS X, try familiarizing yourself with the built-in shell, since most things you will learn there will be applicable to Linux as well, thanks to common UNIX heritage.

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.

After Migrating

Familiarize yourself with the Command Line Interface

Warning: TODO


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.

Technical benefits

  • A secure system where viruses and spyware are not a 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.

Economic benefits

  • 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.

Ethical benefits

  • 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.

Potential problems

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 easier 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.

See also

External links