How was your experience when switching from mac/windows to Linux

thefern profile image Fernando B 🚀 ・1 min read

I've been thinking about writing a friendly guide for new linux users that might be afraid to use it. I would say I am a intermediate experience user. From what I remember the hardest thing for me was trying to install stuff on linux. Tar balls, compiling from source, were things I never had to do as a windows user. I mainly use Lubuntu, Ubuntu is just has too much baggage and UI that I don't particularly like.

If you have made the switch or are a dual/triple user, what did you struggle with the most?


Editor guide

I have been rotating my OSes for years so I've gone from Windows to Linux many times and many times back. Generally speaking my issues have been with:

  1. certain hardware having poor driver support. My old Chromebook (Acer c720) had crappy audio support and difficulty setting it up. Touchpads also tend to suck on most systems
  2. dealing with software that works fine on Windows/Mac but has limitations on Linux. Like Firefox not being able to play Netflix reliably on every Linux system :/
  3. figuring out replacements for my existing workflow on my other OS. For example, quickly switching between audio outputs, or using a password manager, etc.

Thanks for the feedback! I think you definitely hit a nail with all very good points. I've wondered why we still don't have modular built laptops lol where you can swap hardware with supported drivers for linux, but nowadays there are definitely way more drivers than back in the day. I do remember trying out Kali at one point and I could not find the driver for my built-in wifi, I had to buy an external one that had a driver.

And I fully agree with linux replacement apps, that is a big pain.


Yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and say that on my Thinkpad x220, drivers are not an issue at all. Thinkpads seem to have really good driver support. So while my Acer C720 sucked in terms of audio drivers, the Thinkpad required no craziness whatsoever (well, except for touchpad :/).

I think the replacement apps problem might be general in terms of switching OSes. Anyone I talk to that uses MacOS and goes to Windows struggles with that but they find alternatives eventually. Same goes the other way.


Friendly guides to switch to Linux is great idea, wish you luck!

I switched to Linux 5+ years back, thanks to my friend for building a PC and installing Ubuntu on it. I had experience with Red Hat at my job, so I'd say it was easier for me. Main reason to switch in those days was because I had enough with Windows virus, reliability issues, etc (and I didn't like their evil corporate ways - these days, there's no where to run to, and it is not like I'm any saint)

I still struggle with install issues, but I've become good enough to go through stackexchange Q&A, know where to ask (reddit, stackexchange, twitter, dev.to, etc). When my harddisk went bust late last year, I made it a point to note down all the links I was visiting for information and the exact command I used to install something. Makes it easier for future as well for helping others if it is something I had solved.


Thanks for sharing your experience.

I do think Windows Experience overall gotten a lot better recently, I loved Win7, and hated Vista, and I wasn't a fan when they pushed the OS without a start button. Win10 with linux kernel, and new cmd terminal is something I thought I would never hear lol.

Most viruses on a windows pc are brought by accidental clicks or installing malware but I agree they attack all windows vulnerabilities, and the regular user doesn't know how to protect against these treats.

You brought up a good point, just about anyone will have to get good finding answers to issues on stackoverflow. I do it all the time, and favorite those answers for the future.


Windows => Arch : Frustrating as I had no idea what I was doing
Arch => Windows : Frustrating as I had no customisation options
Windows => Ubuntu : Okay, felt like ubuntu was a bit meh though
Ubuntu => Arch : Okay, less lost but still kept breaking things
Arch => Mac : Good, just the right amount of customisation and ease of use

I like the idea of Arch and still use it on my personal machines, I find myself using my works MacBook at home though...


Thanks on the feedback. Yeah not a fan of ubuntu tbh. I feel your pain, it is a slow learning curve even by reading manuals and books.


It was about 5 years ago that I tried to go only Linux and ended back on Mac. Mind you I work on Linux machine everyday in one way or the other, mainly servers.

I am sure they are much better now but at the time I just couldn’t get past the fact that some of my main programs were limited on Linux because it was obvious the companies focused on the Mac/windows side. My memory escapes me now but 3 to 4 of the apps I used lacked majorly, I can list those now as I forget but I’m think it would have been photoshop/illustrator, most likely my IDE as well. It was enough where I waded through the annoyance for a few months. Also the up just seems to be lacking. The file manager seemed unfriendly, as well as things missing that I use such as hot corners and multi desktops. Those could be fix by adding programs but they never seems to feel like part of the system, it definitely felt like a hack. I really really wanted to make it happen but gave up after a few months. I am considering it as my next laptop but I’ll have to do a vm and see if I can get comfortable with it again.


Thanks for sharing your experience. VM'ing is the way to go to try out a system. I agree finding matching programs is another barrier, even that is one of the main issues for me when going back and forth between windows and mac. There is always that one app that is more awesome in one OS. For example scrivener is better on mac, than the windows version. And forget about linux.


these can help somewhat when it comes to finding what program to use:


The command line, with windows i didn't use it too much (except for git things) but suddenly with linux when you google things is all about commands. Even if you want help you need to use a command. explainshell was really useful during the early stage of the switch.


Thanks for the feedback on explainshell, yes so many users never touch the cmd prompt except for maybe pinging and maybe not even that lol. The terminal is one of those things that may scare people away.


Actually Linux such as Ubuntu Provides a Massive Amount of Administration Rights for example:

  1. You have choice to choose the packages to install from your choice of vendor.
  2. You will have experience of server side deployment if you use the Linux terminal.
  3. You will have more controls on the softwares than windows.
  4. You will be getting accurate completion time while installation of different softwares.
  5. You will be feeling very productive in Linux environment.

But there are something you should keep in mind as well, it takes sometime to setup everything on the Linux Distro, sometimes you would have to write the script and be careful while writing the Administrative Scripts as well.


Very good points indeed. Package managers, gui or not are a great way to get things installed and updated for sure.

+2 on point 5.


Personally, hardware support was the only big issue for me. It's gotten a bit better since I first tried Linux (about a decade ago now), but still has issues with certain types of hardware. I'm a bit of an odd case though, I already was mostly using FOSS programs for my regular workflow, and most of the other tripping points for new users (for example, the significantly different filesystem semantics) were just me shifting to a paradigm that made more sense to me.

Honestly though, most of the issues I see with new users other than having to change software come solely from being confused by things that aren't often explained very well. The differences in the VFS layer are probably the biggest thing here for people coming from Windows, permissions always end up covered, but there are lots of other things that aren't (mostly other POSIX semantics that catch people off guard, like being able to delete files that are in use without breaking things), but there are others to consider (like really driving home that you should be using the package manager for installing software if at all possible).


Thanks for sharing your experience. Ahhhh you just reminded me how painful that was for me in the beginning with linux filesystem. Being nearly an expert in windows, trying linux couldn't find where programs were installed, or how to uninstall something. Where is my C:\Program Files folder lol.

Very good points on your last paragraph!