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Monday, 1 February 2016

Moving from Microsoft Windows to Linux

Subtitle: Moving from expensive to totally free

Many years ago, I moved from Windows to Linux. Yes, it was a learning curve, but when I think of all the money I saved, it was very much worth it. I recently moved from my “flavour” of Linux to Linux Mint as I heard the way they set it up was to make it easier for Windows folk to make the move.

I have been running it for a week and have had one or two Windows users to look at it and they were amazed at the ease with which they found their way around.

Stage One
Most PCs come with Windows installed whether you want them or not. I objected to this and found a company in Bedford who ship hand built computers around the UK.

They have a foolproof method of allowing you to choose the inside parts. Once you choose the casing then, as you go along, only those items which will work with all the others you have previously chosen will appear on the screen. A list of your choices appear on the right of the screen with the total so far showing. So, if you find it too high, you can go back and choose less expensive options.

The company is called PowerC.

Stage two
Once I receive my new computer, usually within a couple of days, and delivered free with a two year warranty, I go to the Linux Mint website to download their version of the Linux operating system. If you have a new, or reasonably new computer, you will need the 64-bit version so ignore the 32-bit one as this is for computers many years old. This comes as an ISO file.

Burn this onto a blank DVD. “Burn” is the computer parlance and means “copy”.

Put this in your computer's DVD drive, turn off your computer and turn it on again. The Linux operating system should load up, if it doesn't, turn off your computer, and press F2 or Del half a second after you turn it on again. You should go into the xxx where you can get it to load CD/DVDs before the hard drive, exit and save. Turn off, then on again, and Linux should load up.

At this stage, it is not on your hard drive but still only on the DVD. But it will give you a chance of playing with it before making any decisions. But bear in mind that it is awfully slow as it is only on the DVD. If you decide you like it, don't load it at this stage, there are other things you have to do. Come out, and load Windows again.

Stage 3
Make a list on a piece of paper of what programs you use.
If you use Microsoft Office, there are office programs in Linux which will read and save to the Microsoft Office formats on Word, Spreadsheet and Powerpoint. Two spring to mind are LibreOffice and WPS Office. Both these also have Windows versions, so you can download them and test them.

If you use CoralDraw, then Inkscape is a good alternative. Scribus is an excellent desktop publishing program. The Gimp will do most of what Adobe Photoshop does, and Digikam handles photographs, (not quite the way as Adobe Lightroom though) but will do most of what it does.

Two things to mention here, 1, all these programs are free. 2, There are 74,200 free Linux programs in Linux Mint.

If you have any programs you really need, see if they have a linux program.

Google Is there a [NameOfProgram] version for Linux,
if not, Google Is there a Linux alternative for [NameOfProgram]. 

This should help most of the time.

Once you have carried out your research, comes the easiest part. Load up the Linux Mint DVD and click on the “set up” button. It's then all straight-forward. It is best to be on line to the internet and if loading on a notebook, have the mains lead plugged in. If you have a friend who uses Linux, ask him to help set it up so you have a separate partition for your data. If not, don't worry too much at this early stage. Better still, a six year old child will think it's a doddle, they're amazing!

Stage four
Once you have finished, remove your DVD (you'll be told when) and load up your new operating system. You should notice how much faster than Windows it takes to load up. At the bottom of your screen, on the left, you'll see a menu button, in the same place as in Windows. Click on it and a menu of all your preloaded software will show in folders. They can be removed if you don't need them, or added to if you want more. Click the second button down in the row on the far left; put your password in, and you will see all the 74,000 programs available to download.

Stage five
Finally, if you have Windows software which you can't do without, go to the CodeWeavers website where you can download a trial version which will run for 14 days. They offer this so you can test that your favourite Windows version works. Some do, some don't. For example, Microsoft Office 2010 works but 2013 doesn't. If you are happy and it works, the full software is only £38.00. The good thing is, if it doesn't, you've not paid anything

I keep an eye on the comments, so if you have any problems, leave a message there and I will try to help.


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