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Cover image for My transition and journey from a Windows operating system to Linux (Ubuntu)

My transition and journey from a Windows operating system to Linux (Ubuntu)

andrewrgarcia profile image Andrew Garcia Updated on ・5 min read

A Linux 🐧 operating system (OS) can be a perfectly lean and open-source (essentially "free") alternative to Windows. As a matter of fact, this post [and all others] are being written using an HP Spectre x360 laptop with a fully-integrated Linux 🐧 OS (Ubuntu).

The perfect metaphor for going from a Windows to a Linux 🐧 operating system (OS) is getting rid of your training wheels; it is liberating and allows you to go farther without the burden of the small wheels at no additional expense, but it requires a little bit of work at the beginning to do so.

Not to worry, this coming from a relatively decent computer-savvy individual : it's not that bad with Ubuntu.

What is Ubuntu ?


Just like Windows has had several OS distributions (e.g. Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows.. something else) Linux 🐧 has a diverse variety of distributions you can choose from, each of which comes with pros and cons in terms of performance and learning curves. Among these distributions is Ubuntu, which is a fork [or a "child" so to speak] of the older Linux 🐧 distribution Debian

My Windows --> Ubuntu Switch

Dual-boot (Windows / Ubuntu hybrid computer) installation

I initially went with this option as I was initially worried about the extra work I may have to do if I were to need some functionality only offered to Windows.

I found instructions on YouTube on how to install Ubuntu alongside Windows to begin with due to these concerns.

I liked it a lot. When I booted with Ubuntu, the startup was instantaneous, all my programs ran faster and I could surf the internet with ease and no notorious lags. What I did not like so much was the fact that I had to allocate my computer's memory between the Windows and the Ubuntu boot.

Heads up: Keep in mind that once you go with the initial Windows / Ubuntu memory partition, you cannot re-partition the memory again [or with that much ease anyways], so be wise about how many GB you want to give Windows and how many you want to give Ubuntu

The way I saw it, it was a limitation on performance on the Ubuntu side.

Full Ubuntu installation

As I got more familiarized with Ubuntu, I found ALMOST every one of the tasks I used to perform with Windows I could do with Ubuntu. This along with the statement on the previous section was what motivated me to go with a full Ubuntu installation. You can easily go from dual-boot to full Ubuntu installation by learning from the same YouTube video(make sure to back up your data always)

Here are my Ubuntu "work-arounds" to Windows OS software

Microsoft Office --> (many; see below)

I am a graduate student so a lot of my work uses a software suite for office work (or what used to be Microsoft Office for me). There may be a million ways Microsoft Office programs can be replaced, but I'll go with mine below:

Microsoft Word --> TeX / LaTeX

Linux's open-source version of an office work-related software suite is LibreOffice, which may come pre-packaged with your Linux 🐧 installation. This suite has programs with functionalities very similar to those of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. However, some of these are not as mature as the Microsoft Office versions for my needs.

As far as word-processing software goes, LaTeX has become my best option. In contrast to how it may be for Windows OS's, it is very easy to install TeX and all packages thereof in Ubuntu. The syntax for writing documents is a whole programming language as a whole, but this can be made simpler by just starting with LaTeX templates and adapting them to your needs with ease.

If you would rather not put effort with LaTeX, I would go with Google Docs.

Microsoft Excel --> LibreOffice Calc

This is a part of LibreOffice which shines in my opinion. Not only is the quality of Calc as similar as that of Excel, but it also has some nice helper features, such as converting .csv files to spreadsheets and viceversa with ease by detecting these formats when you load them with Calc.

Microsoft PowerPoint --> Google Slides

This is the best option for me. LibreOffice version of presentation software does not cut it for me. You can use Google Slides with your google account.

EMAIL [Microsoft Outlook --> Thunderbird Mail]

Thunderbird Mail will come pre-packaged with your Linux 🐧 installation and is a great replacement option. It can do many practical things like tagging your emails, creating subfolders for emails and synchronizing all changes thereof with your email account. It can also be used to create custom signatures to your email accounts.

Mounting Drives / Network Drives

Not only is it very possible, it can also be faster than doing it with Windows. You just need to Google a bit
https://askubuntu.com/questions/46183/how-to-map-a-network-drive

Video Games

This is where Ubuntu may not be so great. However, if you like Steam games you may be in luck. A Steam app can be installed with Ubuntu and some Steam games can be run through an emulator/adapter such as Proton which will basically give comparable gaming quality as playing Steam from Windows. I have even been able to make it possible to run Minecraft through Steam on my Ubuntu system

Be aware that this may not apply to all Steam games, so thread with caution.

Conclusions

There is much more subject matter to cover than what I've given here. I may or may not make a sequel to this post later on. Nonetheless, I think this was a pretty good overview of what Ubuntu has to offer with Windows as a reference point. And I hope it makes you more confident on making the switch if you need to [or want to]

Alt Text

You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief.
😎

-Andrew

Discussion

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andreujuanc profile image
Juan C. Andreu

I run PopOs (Ubuntu based) exclusively on a daily basis for more than a year, and it's a great dev experience. There are a few things I would like to comment on:

  • Mail clients: Thunderbird is horrible. There are no great alternatives to outlook. So what I do is just to use my phone as my main mail client (ironic?) and then I keep a separate chrome profile for each email account I need and pinned a tab with the web client.
  • Stability: It's really smooth, but time to time I have so re-install (it's good I only use .devcontainers now, so the only thing I need to install is docker)
  • If you work for a company that uses Ms Office, you'll miss the OneDrive desktop client a lot.

Having so may web-based solutions will require a lot of RAM, 16GB for me is not enough, and I'm looking to upgrade to 32 at least.

Good post,
Cheers

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Oskar Pietrucha

Hi guys!

I am loving PopOs and it's the distribution I think I am using for the longest period of time.
I didn't like native mail client, nor the Thunderbird.
Then I've got my hands on Mailspring which is very easy to use and configure, has the modern look and feeling and just suits me well. Check it out by yourself! Cheers

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andreujuanc profile image
Juan C. Andreu

I wanted to try it, but I didn't like the fact that I had to open an account in order to use it.
How is it going for you?

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v6 profile image
🦄N B🛡

I've had the same experience, especially with MS Office.

It makes me wonder if there is not some kind of history of anti-competitive practices involved, to lead to a single player with so much of the market share of integrated productivity software.

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andreujuanc profile image
Juan C. Andreu

Not anymore, since Office is now available on Mac, but they have the web version as well as Google ones.
Maybe that used to be true and helped get things the way they are now

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andrewrgarcia profile image
Andrew Garcia Author

Thanks Juan!
PopOS is not Ubuntu. It’s a fork of a fork of a fork of a... you get it. Though it has features Ubuntu does, it may lack in others.

  1. To me, Thunderbird Mail outperforms Outlook. Maybe this is because I’ve learned to use it pretty well. I’m also very familiar with Outlook and I don’t like it as much.

  2. Stability: PopOS is not Ubuntu. I wouldn’t install PopOS if they paid me. I have never had any stability issues with my Ubuntu OS (currently running 20.04 LTS). I make sure to install all dependencies when I want to install a complex program.

  3. I am sure you can find some options to make onedrive work. Worst case scenario, you may need to write a bash script to make it sync fast. I use a Python script to sync/start my Dropbox.

Again, Linux is great if you don’t mind putting some additional effort not usually needed with Windows to make your workflow more streamlined in the long run. Otherwise, it’s better to switch to Windows (or get a Mac)

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Juan C. Andreu

Fair points, specially the Thunderbird part, i agree that's more of a subjective topic :)
Forgot to say that before using PopOs I've been using Ubuntu since, uhm 2007 or so, so I know it pretty well.

I never said PopOs was Ubuntu, i just said it was *based" on it. And it's instabilities are inherited from Ubutnu and Linux itself. Tho, it might be just a hardware compatibility issue as well. I still remember when i coudn't even use WiFi xD

Linux is lacking on the desktop area, but it's the way to go for developers. Android Emulator runs faster, npm runs faster, docker is native!

I just miss some windowsy thingies time to time :P

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Andrew Garcia Author

Gotcha. About the instability inheritance, that’s the problem with many-forked distributions; if the instability is inherited from the parent distribution, it’s close to impossible to implement a patch for such, because it implies you’d have to make changes to the source-code of the OS itself! If I ever encounter major compatibility or performance issues (which I haven’t yet) with Ubuntu, I’d be ready to make the switch to Debian, which is Ubuntu’s parent dist

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andreujuanc profile image
Juan C. Andreu

That's a good approach!!
Have you ever used on a day to day basis any non-Debian distro?
I have but not for long. I think all the ubuntu based distros tend to have better hardware compatibility.

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Mikey Joel

My DevOps Linux Box App List(With some creativity tools in it):

Exchange Alternatives:
Evolution Mail(Full Calendar, Contacts, Mailbox, Tasks)
Hiri (Fully featured as well)
Mailspring(Mailbox but packed with features. You can pair it with MineTime calendar)

Music Production: Bitwig

3D Modeling: Blender, Modo, Maya, Houdini.

Image Editing: Gimp, Krita, others.

Productivity: Google Work Suite or Libre Office. (Keep in mind that if you are exporting reports to .csv format, there are libraries like openpyxl for Python and gnuplot for graphs)

Dev Tools: Visual Code, Sublime, Intellij Idea, PyCharm, Vim, docker, Ansible, kubernetes, zabbix, vagrant, kvm, Powershell Core, Dotnet, ASM, others.

Security: Metasploit, Medusa, Nessus, Others.

For gaming there are many kernels like XanMod but they might break if you need VMWare Workstation to manage ESXI servers or use the vmrun CLI, you'll prefer the stock kernel on Ubuntu/Debian distributions. Steam has a community that reports on games compatible for Linux via Protondb and there's also Lutris for non-Steam Games like Blizzards Overwatch or League of Legends.

Make sure you compare versions and compability if using snap vs Deb packages since dependencies on snap are sometimes not bundled (for example some dependencies for connecting via winrm onto a win box.) I rather install Powershell for example via Deb/repo on the host than using snap and sym linking whichever ever dependencies is looking for with different/updated versions.

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Sahil Pabale

What about Photoshop?? How can i use it in Linux??
This is the reason I'm not shifting to Linux from Windows...

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André Taranto

You can use Gimp, which is free, powerful and really stands for a solid Photoshop alternative. If you don't need CMYK related functions, I recommend you to check photopea.com . It's simpler than Gimp, but it's very useful. Its interface and shortcuts are very similar to Photoshop.

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Niels Böhm

I always found Gimp very unintuitive, even though I've known it for many many years now.

So I was very happy when a new alternative showed up in the repositories which is better in this regard in my opinion and that's Krita.

(It's also available on Windows, btw.)
It's still not Photoshop, but oh well, many functions feel really good to use in Krita.

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Andrew Garcia Author

You got me there. You could use wine, but I understand it’s not ideal

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Md. Shahadat khokhar

nice one dude, I really appreciate the effort you have put in that post this will be really helpful for people switching from windows to ubuntu

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Rishit Khandelwal

Minecraft had a Linux version in the Ubuntu store?

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Andrew Garcia Author

What? I really dislike using the Snap store. I downloaded the one for Debian based distributions on the Minecraft website

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Shone Binu

Btw, I use Manjaro in my main machine.😅
And I hope you likes ubuntu.
And you can get Spotify app in your machine. No need to use web version.
And finally, the article was great :D