How to Switch From Windows to Linux – Guide

If you’re tired of Windows 10 or don’t want to upgrade to Windows 11, you can install Linux. Here it is how to switch to an open source operating system and install apps. Microsoft is getting close to replacing Windows 10 with the sleeker Windows 11, but if you’re tired of embedded ads, constant updates, data collection, software lock-ins, and growing hardware requirements, we don’t blame you. The good news is, you have options. If you’re considering switching to a different operating system, now is the perfect time. But you’re not stuck with the Windows-macOS binary, and you don’t have to settle for browser-based Chrome OS. Instead, you can resort to the world of Linux.

Choose your distribution

Unlike Windows and macOS, there is not just one version of Linux. Instead, Linux is packaged into many different distributions, or “distros”, each with its own interface and set of features. One might use a Mac-like interface with a dock and an “app store,” while others might use a more minimalist interface and require installing apps from the command line. Exploring the bevy of Linux distributions out there is a fun part of the hobby, but for your first install, you’ll probably want something popular and friendly for beginners, so it’s easy to get help when you need it. That’s why I recommend starting with Linux Mint. There are many distributions that aim to mimic Windows in layout and functionality, like Zorin OS, but they are smaller and you won’t have such a large community to explore while you learn to get by. Ubuntu, on the other hand, is arguably the most popular distro on desktop PCs, but it’s not much like Windows these days. Linux Mint is a perfect intermediate option: it is designed for beginners, offers a familiar desktop environment and is based on Ubuntu, so you can make use of the huge Ubuntu / Mint community when you need help. You are free to check out other distros, but I will use Mint for the purposes of this guide, and I recommend you do too. It’s not my personal favorite distribution, but it’s great for new Windows migrants, and it’s easier to explore other distros after setting the basics on a beginner-friendly system.

Create your installation unit

Go to the Mint download page and choose the 64-bit “Cinnamon” version. Cinnamon is the desktop environment I recommend for former Windows users, although MATE is also very similar to Windows, albeit a little less modern. XFCE is ideal for older or low-powered PCs, thanks to its light use of resources. Mint’s download page offers several links depending on where you live. If you use BitTorrent, I recommend getting the torrent file, which will be much faster to download. The installer will come as an ISO or disk image file. To install it on your system, you will need to burn the file to a DVD or USB flash drive. We’ll do the last one using a tool called Rufus. Install Rufus, open it up and insert a 2GB or larger flash drive. (If you have a fast USB 3.0 or 3.1 drive, even better.) You should see it appear in the Device drop-down menu at the top of the Rufus main window. Then click the Select button. button next to Disk or ISO Image and choose the Linux Mint ISO you just downloaded. Press the Start button, if prompted to download new versions of Syslinux, click Yes. Note that this will erase your flash drive, so make sure there is nothing important on it before continuing. When finished, you will see a success message and your pen drive will be called LINUX MINT. now it’s time to go back up your data and restart your computer. Fasten your seatbelts because it’s time to install Linux.

Install Linux on your PC

When your computer restarts, you’ll see a message asking you to press a certain key to access the boot menu (usually something like F12). Otherwise, you will see a key to enter Setup (usually Delete). Press one of these keys and look for the option to boot from inserted USB drive. (If you go into the full setup menu, you’ll be in a boot settings menu somewhere, and you’ll have to exit the menu to restart again when you’re done.) You will then be greeted by GRUB, the Linux Mint boot menu, where you can choose to boot into Linux Mint. If you find any errors, you may need to Google a solution. I had to enable the nomodeset option for my video card, for example. Others may have to adjust or disable safe boot in the BIOS. This installer is what we call a Live CD, where you can actually tweak and use the Linux Mint desktop before installing it. This will give you a chance to see if this particular distro appeals to you without actually touching the system unit. When satisfied, double-click the Install Linux Mint icon and follow the wizard. Be sure to check the box next to Install Third-Party Software, as it contains useful drivers and codecs that you will almost certainly want. From here, you can wipe your entire hard drive, erasing all traces of Windows and using Linux as your only operating system. (Make sure you support up your data before doing this.) Alternatively, you can split your unit. up on two partitions and dual booting Linux along with Windows. This will allow you to reboot into one or the other whenever you like. At the very least, it’s comforting to know that you have this safety net during the transition, before removing Windows completely. Choose the relevant option from the Installation Type menu and click Install Now. The process may take a while, but when it is complete you will receive a success message. Click Restart Now button to boot into Linux Mint and begin familiarizing yourself with your new operating system. Get familiar with Linux and install some applications

linux applications

Upon restarting, you will be taken to the Linux Mint desktop once more – only this time, it is installed on your PC. The basics are quite familiar: click on button in the lower left corner to view applications, manage windows in the lower taskbar, and so on. There are, however, some things in Linux that work differently than Windows, with applications being the biggest. On Linux, downloading applications from the web is less common. Instead, each distro has its own repository – like a free app store, with a directory of popular apps. You can install an app from the repositories in one of two ways: from a graphical software manager (again, which looks like an app store) or from the command line. To open the Linux Mint software manager, click on the menu button in the lower left corner and go to Administration > Software Manager (or just start typing “software manager” as you would in Windows). From here you can download many free open source apps. Some are Linux versions of their Windows equivalents like Steam and Spotify, while others are open source alternatives to common applications (Banshee is an iTunes-like music player, Gimp is an image editor similar to Photoshop). You can browse here or search for apps using the bar at the top.

How to Install and uninstall apps

install apps If you know what you’re looking for, it’s usually faster to install apps from the command line. And while it may seem intimidating at first, Linux relies on the command line for a lot of things, so you might be comfortable with that. To install an application – say the open source media player VLC – open a Terminal window and run: sudo apt update sudo apt install vlc Let’s break it down: “sudo” tells the system to run the command as root (or, as it might be called in Windows, as administrator), “apt” is the name of the Linux Mint package manager, and “update” guarantees the list of available apps is up Until the present date. The second command, which includes “install vlc”, is self-explanatory. You must run “sudo apt update” before installing any application and you can replace “vlc” with the name of any application you want to install. If you’re not sure what the repository calls it, you can run: sudo apt cache search vlc To uninstall an application, just run: sudo apt remove vlc This will remove the app but not its configuration files, so if you decide to reinstall it later, your settings will still be there. If you want to remove the configuration files too, you can run: sudo apt purge vlc

How to Update apps

update apps You’ll also want to periodically update these apps to have the latest versions. You can do this again in two ways: in the graphical tool or on the command line. For the graphical tool, click the shield icon in the lower right corner to open the Update Manager application. You can then click Install updates button to update all your software. Alternatively, you can open a Terminal and run two commands: sudo apt update sudo apt update Again, the “update” command checks for new versions of your software and the “upgrade” command actually updates all your applications. You’ll want to run these two together, just as you do to install new apps. Those are the most important things to know right now, but take the time to browse the Mint interface and its settings to see what it has to offer. The Welcome window that pops up on startup can be a big help – its Getting Started area will show you how to choose different desktop layouts, install desired multimedia codecs, and install drivers necessary for your hardware. You’ll learn the basics quickly, but the Mint and Ubuntu forums are always there to help if you get stuck. Just be sure to search around as there’s a good chance someone else before you’ve asked the same question.

Final note

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