My Experience Transitioning from Windows to Linux

First post here! I just installed Linux Mint on my PC for the first time, a few days ago, dual booting along with Win 10 so this is all very new and fresh for me. Apologies in advance if I bring out some really obvious stuff.

This is a media center PC I use in my living room to watch series, movies, browse the net, play music and use for gaming. My girlfriend also uses it and isn’t interested in having to fiddle around to make things work, so I have the additional (fun) challenge of making the transition as seamless and painless as possible.

I have to say, so far it’s been relatively fun and easy to set up. Performance is overall better than on Win10. This is a mid-range PC from a few years ago (i7 6700, 16gb ram, low-mid range Radeon from that era), so I’m not expecting blazing fast performance, but I’m seeing a nice improvement. For apps, I found everything I used on Windows, or close-enough alternatives. For example, replaced Foobar2000 with Clementine - installed a the Soundbox desklet to have a minimal music player interface on my desktop - hiding the taskbar and installed Unclutter to hide the mouse cursor. Really slick. With minimal searching for guidance on the web plus some tinkering and fooling around, I quickly made 90% of the way to get almost complete functional parity with what I had on Windows, with some nice perks on top.

Things I wish I had better knowledge of, coming in;

  • What’s up with AppImage, Flatpak, etc. - at first, when browsing apps from the app manager, I couldn’t understand why there were so many variations of the same apps available to download.

  • To this day, I’m still not sure how I need to manage keeping my installed applications up-to-date.

  • I haven’t done serious searching about this yet, but I’ve yet to stumble upon a kind of beginner’s primer to using the Terminal commands for basic operations.

  • How easy is it to set myself up with a particular Linux distro, then change my mind and try another one?

  • Setting up bluetooth devices so they don’t need to be reset on every boot from Win to Linux and back is incredibly complex for the casual user, especially LE ones like my mouse. I had to read multiple walkthroughs of the process, worded in a way that if I wasn’t a natural tinkerer and not too scared of breaking stuff, I wouldn’t have made it through. I appreciate my intelligence being trusted, but sometimes I need to have things explained to me like I’m a five years old, and this doesn’t seem to be a thing in the Linux communities, which seem geared towards very tech-savvy people.

This. I still need to find resources on getting up to speed for this - but yeah, a big part of the transition is learning the equivalencies between Windows and Linux.

  • I understand Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. I guess other distros are based on other variants. It isn’t immediately clear what’s what, and how this impacts instructions you follow on the web, for installing applications manually, for example.

I guess that’s about it for now. Good luck on your articles, very much looking forward to reading them!

1 Like

Ohhh, this one is golden. Thanks for sharing!


I put your post into its own thread, so it can be better addressed without a mix-up of too many different posts in a single thread.

Nothing can replace Foobar2000. Using this music player since about 15 years and can’t miss it. :wink:

That’s where the AppImage things have their downsides. If you just plainly install something from APT, you can just run an apt update followed by an apt upgrade and there you go, your software is updated, if there were updates available, in the first place.

There are tons of tutorials about this, but, to be honest, none of them are really beginner friendly, at least to my knowledge.
They just lazily dump all common commands into an article and call it a day, instead of explaining what each thing means, instead of only what it does

That sounds just like the life of a Linuxer. It’s “normal”, according to them.

Indeed. That is actually a huge issue in the Linux community. There is an amount of beginners, and then there is a huge elitist pile, who do not want to word it nice and easy for beginners, because they want to be so “pro” and whatever. It’s a problem of mindset and the inability to think human, instead of only like a Computer Scientist or DevOps specialist.
If the mindset would be more open to less techy people, Linux would be much more popular. It would also have a GUI tool for everything, just like Windows does. In Linux you have to do a lot in the terminal, if you want to do anything that is slightly more advanced than changing your wallpaper or opening the browser.

There is a sad truth to this, as it is often the case in life: You just need to practice and gain experience. That’s it. There is no shortcut around it. You can’t just read the LFS book and be done with knowing Linux. You need to live it and get to know it, manually. This is the only way to actually understand it. However, this, of course, takes a lot of time…

I disagree with that. Learning Linux is like learning a new language. The worst thing you can do, is always think in your language and then translating it to the other language, in your head, every time you want to speak. This is an extremely bad practice.
The best practice, when learning a new language, is to think in the new language, in the first place. Think like someone who uses the language as their default. This is the real way to learn a new language.

Same with Linux.

You have to think in Linux and then you can learn it. If you think in Windows and try to translate it, it won’t work. They are just too different. Try to find a registry on Linux. Try to find proper not-outdated GUI applications for Linux. :laughing:

Sure, there are things, that are similar, but if you compare them a lot, you will find out, that it’s not helping you, because even if they seem similar, like, for example, Systemd and Windows Services, they are still fundamentally different.

Therefore, long story short, if you want to learn Linux, you have to learn from a Linux perspective. Forget what you know about Windows, when thinking about Linux and trying to do anything in Linux.

This is actually one of the very few aspects of Linux, which are actually portrayed worse than it is actually the case. The reality is, that like 90% of distributions are more or less the same. They just look different. Sure, there are even differences between Mint and Ubuntu. There are. But they are so minor and exceptional, that you can more or less ignore them. For example, if you used Ubuntu, you will immediately get along with Mint, without any learning you have to do. They are pretty much inter-changeable.

Similar with other Ubuntu derivatives. They look different and smell different. The under-the-hood part is still 98% the same stuff you get from the original Ubuntu.

Thanks for taking the time to move my post and take it apart like this, I really appreciate it. I think it might be a cool idea to pick my brain apart on this whole transition thing while it’s still fresh (I’m already starting to get confortable over here haha).

Ohhh, that is actually one of the challenges I had solving the bluetooth pairing problem. The steps to go through were explained clearly, but it wasn’t immediately clear to me what I was actually doing. I guess I was supposed to just ape it, but there was one (contextual) info missing that made me repeat the same error multiple times, until I had an eureka moment and figured what I was doing wrong.

In this case, you need to manually copy the bluetooth pairing information from Windows’s registry to Linux’s bluetoooth config file.

This requires you to

  • pair in Linux (auto-writing the info to the file, that you’re going to overwrite soon but it needs to exist for that), then
  • pair in Windows (creating the registry entry you need to copy the info from)
  • boot into Linux again - the device won’t pair anymore (because it now has its pairing info from Windows) - DON’T PAIR IT - this is what I was doing wrong. Pairing it now makes the device hold Linux’s pairing info, and overwriting the config file with the Windows info at this point “desyncs” Linux and the device, and now that the device holds the Linux pairing info, once you reboot into Windows, you will need to re-pair it again, making the info you copied into Linux completely obsolete.
  • Copy Windows’s pairing info to the Linux config file.
  • Reboot into Mint. Device pairs automatically. Voilà!

I guess it’s a case of “there’s no real shortcut to understanding something” but… I don’t know. Maybe that’s how things go, after all - but I feel like if someone had told me first, before going into the step : “In this walkthrough, we’re going to pair your device in Linux to create an entry for it in its config, then boot in Windows, pair and copy the pairing info from the registry, then boot Linux without pairing the device (because that would restart the pairing “loop” problem), copy the pairing info from Windows into the Linux config, then reboot for Linux to connect to the device using the new info. Here are the detailed steps to do this : (steps)”

My problem is not with having had to do this tinkering to solve my problem. It’s more that, it seems like a regularly occuring problem for many people - the dual boot bluetooth pairing conundrum - and that no one seems to have put effort in documenting it properly, and perhaps find an “automated” solution to it. Especially for a platform like Mint, geared towards ease-of-use (it seems) and newcomers, this type of info (“here are some common problem you might encounter as part of your transition to Linux, and here’s some helpful tutorials to help you solve them”) could be integrated into that handy “Welcome” app they have running on startup when you install it for the first time for example.

That is one thing that we might be getting backwards here - Linux being what I consider a tinkerer’s platform, are Linux users really interested in making it more popular? I have a hard time imagining the community doesn’t want to share its fun and advantages with more people - but I assume they wouldn’t want the influx of newcomers to “change” what is perceived as good and unique about it. If being a bit obscure/obtuse/opaque is part of that fun, then making it more accessible (via “better” UX, for example) may go against this… Mmm… But yeah, with concerns about data privacy, security, big data and taking ownership of one’s digital presence becoming a more mainstream thing of the collective mind in recent times, this is probably going to become a real discussion (Linux’s identity versus the influx of newcomers expecting a warm welcome and easy transition - perhaps with the wrong expectation of getting “Windows but BETTER” - like you touch further on when you say you disagree about my “equvalencies” point), with more people being interested in Linux coming from Windows/iOS.

With some perspective, I completely agree. Perhaps I worded my thought wrongly too. I meant - part of the natural transition process, I suspect for many people, is at first to find your bearings, your hooks, a solid ground so you can start experimenting with the new paradigm that is Linux. To me, that was, OK, what do I need to do to get roughly the same functionality as before. This allowed me to explore and get familiar with Linux’s unique approaches to some parts of the process of using a OS in a “safe” way - how to find and install apps, stumble upon flatpaks/appimages in the process, get some info on that, move on to something else and go through a similar “exploration” of new concepts and so on.

And so, I guess there must be a way to organize this info into some form of welcome package - where you can say : this and this works similarly to what you know, but this works very differently than what you’re used to (and here’s why).

Nice. I appreciate your reaction to it, as well. :slightly_smiling_face:

What I want to say shortly about the whole Bluetooth thing:

Rest assured, you are not the only one with that problem. Let’s be clear: you ain’t stupid or anything like that. It’s a general problem, that situations like the one you describe, are faced by millions of Linux users every day. Sadly, it’s “normal” and they just have to go through it, because the tutorials are usually not that good and/or outdated and/or not existing in the first place.

Yes and no. They want it to be more accepted and popular in some sense, definitely. There is no doubt about that. Just look at the Linux Gaming community. They would sell their soul and kidneys, if they could go on a platform, like, for example, Steam and just pick any game they like, without looking and begging for half-acceptable Linux support.
Even the company being really nice to Linux users (Valve – the creators of Steam) with their whole Proton (Wine), Steam Deck, etc. situation are still not even close to support Linux users, as much as would be needed. And you can’t even blame them, because the Linux Gaming community is just so tiny and unprofitable.
So, for example, from that perspective, Linuxers definitely want Linux to become more popular. If Linux would be at least as popular as macOS, then they would be accepted as a serious target market and software producers would start producing software for Linux, too, without flipping every coin thrice, thinking about its profitability. (Though, often not even the market share of macOS is relevant enough, but that’s a different story…)

If Linux became more popular in this way, a positive spiral of success would begin. The opposite of a circulus vitiosus would begin.

  1. Linux would become more popular.
  2. More and better software would become available on Linux platforms.
  3. Linux would become more attractive, because it doesn’t have the issues that come with proprietary platforms, but at the same time delivers a comparable UX, having all the software and hardware opportunities at hand, that usually only Windows or at least macOS offer.
  4. Go back to point 1 and repeat the process.

So, from this perspective, Linuxers of course want it to get popular.

The downsides of getting popular are usually the whole, we get popular and once we are famous, we screw you over, thing. This is, for example, what Apple has done. Back in the PowerPC days etc. Apple made pretty much the highest quality end consumer PCs period. Look at them now, though.

This is just one of my favourite examples.

The thing with Linux is: it can’t really be destroyed in that way. Look at Ubuntu. It’s very commercial. For example, the whole Unity desktop thing was pretty much a lightweight Apple move. “Suck it, or leave.” Either you used their Unity thing the way they wanted you to use it or you had to use an older version or whatever.
Now here is the thing.
The people had a choice.
They could simply switch to Mint or whatever.
That’s one of the strongest points for Linux. You can always switch, if one does not fit.
That’s not the case with Windows and macOS. If you want to switch to a different platform with the same qualities of Windows – no can do.
If you want the same macOS stuff on a different OS – no can do.
They are monopolies in their own pool of upsides. You can’t get the same upsides in other operating systems. They just don’t exist. You always have to trade in good for bad and vice versa.

This is different with Linux.

You can switch to Mint and can pretty much have the whole Ubuntuness, without Canonical screwing you over, from your perspective.

Very good concise point. This is the summary of a huge problem in the whole Windows & Linux discussion.

You hit perhaps the biggest problem in the whole expecting a warm welcome discussion.

Windows is so “good”, because most things come from a single home.
Linux is so “good”, because almost nothing comes from a single home.

Windows is a whole operating system, which is controlled and offered by bajillion bucks company. They have documentation on it, they explain stuff and change stuff, in unison. It’s one operating system.

Linux is just a kernel. It’s literally just the heart of an operating system. (Emphasis on an.)
There is no the Linux OS. There are just operating systems using the same kernel, called Linux. On top of that, the OS creators put tons of 3rd party software and make it work together. This is how Linux based operatings systems are conceived.

This is the reason why it would be extremely hard, tedious and ungrateful to keep documentation up for entire Linux operatings systems. The maintainer would need to document hundreds of software packages, that he would never be able to understand fully in a single life time. Hundreds of people would need to put in their man hours, to not develop or maintain software, but just to understand 3rd party software and document it for that particular Linux distribution, only.
Oh and not only that. They would need to do that, every time there is a big update coming out for a package.
This is, at this moment, not feasible.

This is why Windows is so “good”.
This is why Linux is so “good”.
For the same reason,
Windows is so “bad” and
Linux is so “bad”.

They are fundamentally different platforms.

1 Like

That is a critical quote right there. I understood that, but reading it like this really puts into light a major strength of this ecosystem, notably how it shapes the situation you describe with Ubuntu turning commercial and people just having the option to get out and get another distro - it’s open nature makes it pretty much unkillable in that respect - but as you say, it’s also the source of misunderstandings (e.g. there is no Linux OS, there are OSes that use the Linux kernel - but now, that’s a word that isn’t part of mainstream knowledge: I sure as hell could not explain someone what a kernel is off the top of my head) and it’s the source of many hurdles for newcomers.

Indeed. Imagine people could do this with Windows. Microsoft would’ve gone bankrupt since two decades, at the latest when Windows ME or, at the very latest, when Windows Vista came out. Just mentioning those two versions will probably trigger a lot of undesirable memories for a lot of users.
Same with Apple hardware. As soon as they started to offer hardware that is not only way too expensive, but also gradually decreases in quality, people would’ve switched to an Apple fork, at the latest after the 3rd laptop broke down after exactly 2 years of normal usage or after having to pay roughly 2000 bucks for an official Apple repair, when the same repair is done free at an honest non-Apple repair shop.

If such a situation existed, there would need to be a company that does things right. They would do the best (on average) and then they would get the most success. Well, at least, that’s how capitalism works in theory.

It’s a bit like that with Ubuntu. They have issues and do some mistakes, but overall they are the most popular Linux distribution for a reason. It’s actually the most compatible and most working Linux distribution available. If you just want shit to work on Linux, you need to use Ubuntu or one of the flavours, like Kubuntu, for example.

Indeed. When articles explain “Linux is just a kernel!” it’s always portrayed as a technical detail, which only techie people would know about. In fact, every single Linux user on earth would need to know that. It’s what makes Linux what it is. It’s just a kernel. And whatever distribution you use, is up to the operatins system creators and maintainers, not Linux itself.
If people would stop confusing the two, there wouldn’t be millions of people writing issues about stuff, that are unrelated to the place they post them on. :laughing:

1 Like

Wow. CPacaud and Akito have given us a pretty comprehensive example of how to raise a question and how to answer it. Mature, measured, knowledge displayed and acknowledged from both sides of the discussion and presented with a total absence of inflammatory, ad hominem noise. This is such a refreshing change from, oh, maybe the whole Trisquel flaperoo. Congrats to both of you and welcome to CPacaud; it’s nice to have you in the Linux community.

I’m just going to throw my little log on the fire, because I think the discussion is likely to progress to the topic of backing up valuable data. CPacaud, you very likely have data that’s important to you–photos, music, documents, bluetooth pairing data, and so forth. With both Windows and any flavor of Linux, make a copy of all that valuable stuff in an external repository. Cloud services (MEGA, Dropbox, etc) are useful, external hard drives or USB sticks or DVD/CDs can work. Just remember that any external storage has finite viability: refresh it from time to time. Losing irreplaceable files is the worst part of any transition; help yourself by anticipating it.

Thanks for an enlightening discussion.


explaining a little more on updating of Linux apps

most of the updating goes automatic. (given you have set the right boxes in software update app).
That goes for the kernel, for all the apps that are installed as part of the distro e.g. in Ubuntu LibreOffice is automatically updated , be it that it will be a little later than the official release of a new LO version.
This also goes for apps that you have installed manually from the Ubuntu Software store.

Once you have installed app via the PPA route, that app will be update as soon the PPA developer has updated that app in his/her PPA.

There are also app’s you can download from dev. websites, e.g. tixati, updates will be announced and available to download from that site.

Lately there are a number of general systems, like snap, flatpak, AppImage, that have the intention to be suitable for all linux distro’s. Snap is very much promoted by Ubuntu and snap installed in Ubuntu will also be automatically updated.

Flatpak update, I am not sure, but you always can manually update.

AppImages imho are not update automatic, but you will have to manually update it.

once you have mastered the terminal , you may update with these 2 commans

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade -y

or you combine them like

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y

In the teminal you also can update one single app, by naming it

sudo apt-get update (app)

BTW: be careful with use of sudo, that gives you rights as root user and allows you make changes to many things, even things that can destroy you proper working linux os, or apps

success and enjoy

1 Like

there is a nice scheme , I just found on twitter that shows some relations of Linux distribution
see the image

you may also try website, it give a lot of information on Linux(ubuntu) and other interesting stuff,
in the Ubuntu string you will find:
Elementary OS
Linux Mint
Ubuntu Budgie
Ubuntu Kylin
Ubuntu MATE
Ubuntu Studio
so plenty of distro’s to try out. :slight_smile: