What you should have known before switching to Linux from Windows?

Hello folks,

I am planning articles on Windows to Linux migration. Now my switching days are far too away in the past and I don’t recall the issues I faced when I first started using Linux (it was Ubuntu 9.04).

So, if you have switched to Linux recently, what kind of issues you faced? What information you think you should have known before switching to Linux? What problems are usually faced by new Linux users?

Your input will help shape the articles that will eventually help future Linux users.


Interesting topic.

However, I won’t be of any help. I gained most of my initial computer literacy on UNIX workstations. Windows was for me never more than a platform to run certain programs that didn’t have an equivalent on Linux at a certain time.

I also had to use it at work at some jobs, but I never really got warm with it.


just some thoughts:

  1. executing files (chmod…etc…)
  2. In windows the type of file can be identified in the end after the point.
  3. drivers installation in windows is in most cases an “exe” file, how are drivers installed in Linux?
  4. How to install programmes (package managers vs. exes from internet)

Thanks @mina and @Cicero for your inputs.

I used Windows–as far back as the early 90’s–and even developed Access applications to help bring the cave dwellers into the light. When I discovered Linux, maybe in '96 or so, the differences became more and more obvious. I still had to use Windows at work, but by 2000 I had rehabbed an old machine with Ubuntu and was moving toward a complete switch at home while still using the crap at work. Equivalent software became the way I could set aside Windows almost completely. Ultimately, my Windows computer was just a console: Steam and games only. I still have a minimal (refurbished, not suitable for Win11) Windows box, but that will go when I find a Linux equivalent to Overdrive.


Great idea. I made the move about 18 months ago(Windows 10 to Linux Mint).

I think the following topics would speed along the transition process:

  1. File System comparisons . I was used to finding programs on the C: drive, and then Program Files, etc. Learning about the Linux File Hierarchy helped a lot.

  2. Software Package Management systems. Took me while to understand what people were arguing about regarding SNAPs and Flatpaks.
    2a. Software Management systems and how to use the Terminal to acquire software that isn’t available in the Software Management System’s repository.

  3. How much fun you can have using the Terminal to get things done or acquire system information. Linux seems vastly superior in coaxing out useful information with a few key stokes. I still remember how amazed I was at the inxi -Fxz command compared to Windows System Info tab.

  4. Customizaton options are overwhelming to the new user coming from the more perceived restrained environment of Windows.

I look forward to seeing your article.


The key for Windows users to know about Linux is that there are thousands of applications that come with Linux, you just have find the one that does the same thing that the Windows application did.


Like you it’s been a long time since I moved from Windows. But some of the questions I’m asked frequently by new Linux users are mostly about the file system and how the drives are designated It’s hard for windows users to understand that there is not a c:/ drive in Linux. Aslo That the file system differs so much from the way windows works. Second most ask question I get is can I run my ??? .exe program on Linux. And games.

Linux is not windows - Everything is not done for you. and you must learn a bit.
Also there is much confusion about all the Choices of distros in Linux. Coming from a monolithic environment they are confused by all the choice.
Why my wifi doesn’t work (no understanding of propitiatory software) So you might want to explain something about the differences between free and open source and propitiatory software)
Sounds like a good series. thanks for taking the time.


It seems, my way was similar.
The very first step that I wanted to exit the Windows area
Whithout an intention to do it, nobody will convert, I think.
I started with a dual-boot solution, namely Windows 7 and Linux Mint (I think it was 18).
I intetionally looked for crossplatform solutions, which work the same or very similar both on Linux and Windows, and tried to drop Windows-only software.
Well, that was a long process.
I tried to do everything on Linux, except when I was in a hurry. If time didn’t allow to fiddle with the task, I booted up Windows, and used it, as I was familiar with it.
As time progressed I used more and more Linux, and less Windows.
I find this way of transition a long walk instead of a sudden jump, but it is absolutely painless.

@abhishek, I showed Linux to more people, installed for them. Sometimes I find that they still look for applications the “Windows way”. Download an .exe from somewhere, and try to run it in the hope it will install them something useful.
So yes, software installation is question along with package management methods, that worths a few words.
Then there’s the question of drivers, and hardware support. Windows educated people, that the OS handles hardware components with its builtin drivers at a basic level, but installing a vendor provided driver will handle tha same hardware better/fully functional/faster/ etc…
And this is not the case with Linux (well, mostly… :smiley: )
Also, in Windows world applications tend to be developed “almighty”. Linux applications tend to do less things, but that (probably one) thing tends to be done perfectly.


I still have dual boot with Windows 10 and openSUSE. I mostly use openSUSE. One reason is the lower resource requirements. My laptop is finally silent :wink:
Few things I think are useful for users that do the transition:

  1. How to get mails from outlook to Thunderbird (or whatever)
  2. Linux alternatives to popular Windows programs
  3. You can still use onenote in web (I think onenote is a killer application from MS; did not find something comparable in Linux)

I’ve been just over 2 years on Linux and I made the jump after doing a lot of research i.e. reading forums and blogs/watching videos etc. I finally made the jump after watching a Chris Titus video on trying Linux for 30 days (or something along those lines). I settled on Linux Mint (which is still my daily driver) as it was recommended at the time as the best for anyone coming over from Windows (W7 in my case). I dual booted with Linux Mint 19.2 so I was able to do a side by side comparison whilst moving more of my activities from Windows over to Linux.

I use Linux Mint simply because it works. It’s a great starting point - you can explore other distros if you wish or stay with what you’ve got (I am the latter). As I said at the beginning, research is the key. Don’t get blown around by trends and fancy eye candy - find out what fits your needs initially and stick with it until you gain proficiency so you can move on.

I was pointed to this article (Linux is not Windows) - a must read for anyone contemplating a move from Windows to Linux.

My 10c worth :slightly_smiling_face:


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I noticed that some if not most people stick with the Linux OS they first seriously try. I first tried RedHat in the days before a desktop environment and gave up quickly. Years later I seriously trued OpenSuSE with KDE and have stuck with it all these years.

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Have you tried wine to install its Windows version?

If your Debian-based distro doesn’t come with synaptic, install it.

I just tried Overdrive for Windows once again, and it does install with Wine. But it doesn’t seem to want to connect through the Internet nor to run the .odm files that the library provides. If you have a solution, I’m all ears.

It should be pointed out to Windows users that Linux does not have a Recycle Bin so if you accidentally delete wanted files, they are lost for good.

If there are ways to recover deleted files in Linux, I’d love to know how.

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There is a recycle bin for desktop Linux. Unless of course the file is deleted in the terminal.


hello, i switched to linux from windows last year and it has been hell, i’ve lost stuff through crashes and distro-hoppings but i dont mind its the only way to learn linux. I’m still learning it and i hope in 2 years i’ll be able to do more stuff. Currently, i’m using manjaro with bspwm. For me linux is okay and i dont regret leaving windows. I just wish i knew linux earlier. Also, the challenge that i face are small like installing stuff from aur, the github etc but i will figure it out eventually.

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I just went thru an issue where I couldn’t get my windows system running again after doing a hard drive swap with another computer (too much detail to explain here). In short I got really frustrated with windows that I just decided to install Mx Linux on the drive instead. I’ve dabble in Linux in the past but not as drastic as now where I just made the full jump to Linux on my main computer. One thing I know I’m going to have trouble with is finding software I’m very familiar with in windows. I’m hoping I can transition smoother if I can really get a grip on how to use Wine for some programs until I can find alternatives. So I would like to see a deep dive on Wine.


You will find alternatives in the software stores, the search mechanisms are excellent. Then messing with wine is uneccessary.