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Migrating from Windows to Linux, Part 1: Preparation


Crashes, viruses and headaches. You have had it with Windows and you want to switch to Linux. Where to begin? How do you save your documents? Will my hardware work?

Slow down... take a deep breath, because you have a lot of work ahead of you. Millions of people have made the same switch before you, so it's not impossible. We are going to take you step-by-step through a whole migration from Windows to Linux, covering everything from picking the right Linux distribution to installing Linux applications.

At the end of the article, we will provide printable checklists to make sure that you don't miss anything during your migration.

Linux Distributions

For the longtime Windows user, choosing a Linux distribution can be confusing. Microsoft, to their credit, makes choosing Windows very simple. It usually comes with the computer you buy, already installed.

Linux, on the other hand, is fragmented into numerous "distributions". Most modern operating systems, which include Linux, are composed of two parts: a small central piece called the "kernel" and a larger piece that has the applications and drivers. Linux distributions have pretty much the same kernel, but differ in the applications they offer.

Most distributions such as Red Hat Fedora, Gentoo and Debian are free. Others, such as SUSE and Lindows, cost money.

There are plenty of good Linux distributions. You can find reviews of Linux distributions on sites such as , , or THG (of course). Some distributions have a large and almost fanatical following. You could argue that the Linux movement itself is fanatical, but that is another article!

We recommend Red Hat Fedora, Mandrake Linux or SUSE for the first time switchers. These three distributions are easy to install, have good hardware compatibility and come with boatloads of software. As you gain Linux experience, you can try more difficult distributions such as Debian or Gentoo.