30 votes

Need help with Switching to linux

Hi all, Hope ya'll doing good. I am done with windows. So I want to switch to linux. I have used it a few times. I just wanted to know, how long will it take to have it setup? Also, I am learning data science. Will switching to linux have any serious implications? Thanks

38 comments

  1. [4]
    666 Link
    Nobody has mentioned this yet: don't just ditch Windows and try to replace it with <your randomly chosen> Linux distro. Chances are that if you are a complete newbie you'll mess up your...

    Nobody has mentioned this yet: don't just ditch Windows and try to replace it with <your randomly chosen> Linux distro. Chances are that if you are a complete newbie you'll mess up your installation or your setup once it's installed. My recommendation is that, whatever distro you choose, install it on a VM on Windows (get VirtualBox or the free edition of VMWare). Repeat the installation procedure until you feel 100% comfortable with it, if it feels very complicated it may be the distro you chose, in that case try choosing an easier one (like Ubuntu with KDE).

    Use the distro you managed to install for a few months on the VM until you begin to understand how updating it works, how installing things work and how to configure things. Once you feel confident installing and using it try getting a live CD of that distro and try it on your real hardware, this will reveal any kind of incompatibility with your computer (it's likely that WiFi and/or GPU drivers will break and you'll need to figure out a way to install the non-free versions). Read recent forum posts on how to solve those issues, for example by installing WiFi drivers using an Ethernet connection or by downloading the .deb package (if using a Debian based distro).

    After that you can replace your Windows with your distro of choice. If something breaks during or after the installation, many times it's easier to just reboot, format and try again.

    PS: if you want to dual boot, recreate your setup on the VM. Install Windows on the first partition and try to install Linux on a second one without breaking Windows. Learn to use VM snapshots before doing anything that can break your virtualized OS, restoring them after a breakage will save you a painful and long reinstallation.

    21 votes
    1. [2]
      Muhammed Link Parent
      Thanks, I did this, I installed Ubuntu on VM and played a bit with it. I have an extra laptop, I am going to install Ubuntu on that and see with the setup and all. Currently, being a student, with...

      Thanks, I did this, I installed Ubuntu on VM and played a bit with it. I have an extra laptop, I am going to install Ubuntu on that and see with the setup and all. Currently, being a student, with the burden of finding my first job in a few months, I have e decided I will start with the process of fully once shiftingy work to Ubuntu once I am free. It does seem like rebuilding the world from scratch,Lol(exaggerated)

      8 votes
      1. J-Senior Link Parent
        Testing on a spare laptop is how I switched too. Try a few distros though before you settle on one to install on your main pc. Something else to check out is that most distros have versions with a...

        Testing on a spare laptop is how I switched too. Try a few distros though before you settle on one to install on your main pc. Something else to check out is that most distros have versions with a different desktop environment. So if you like how Ubuntu works but don't like the appearance of the desktop and menus, try xubuntu or kubuntu.

        4 votes
    2. CrazyOtter Link Parent
      Really good idea about installing onto a VM rather than using a live cd or usb. Should be a faster experience as well.

      Really good idea about installing onto a VM rather than using a live cd or usb. Should be a faster experience as well.

      2 votes
  2. [3]
    Whom Link
    Others can and will give you specific info, but I'll give you a bit of advice in how you should think about it. Your #1 priority should be comfort. Escaping Windows is exciting and there's so much...

    Others can and will give you specific info, but I'll give you a bit of advice in how you should think about it.

    Your #1 priority should be comfort. Escaping Windows is exciting and there's so much you can do to customize and streamline the way you use your PC, but none of that matters if you get burnt out and switch back or completely change your setup every day and never find yourself satisfied. Find software that fits your needs (and on the note of finding software, don't think "how do I replace x program," think about your needs and find programs from that perspective...it's a subtle difference, but an important one), get a desktop environment that makes sense to you and feels right, then just chill out and use your computer. Browse the internet, play games, do work, whatever. Don't make it a project except when you really want to. If you just use your computer for the things you want to use it for, you'll naturally pick things up while accomplishing those tasks.

    30 votes
    1. MarkusG Link Parent
      +1 to getting out of the "replacement for x program" mentality. Many programs have no Linux alternative simply because they don't need one. For instance, ShareX is, in my opinion, the best...

      +1 to getting out of the "replacement for x program" mentality. Many programs have no Linux alternative simply because they don't need one. For instance, ShareX is, in my opinion, the best screenshot/sharing tool out there. I thought I wouldn't be able to live without it on Linux, and none of its Linux alternatives really satisfied me. A few months ago, though, I realized that most of ShareX's functionality that I relied on could be replicated by a couple 5-line scripts. Not only should you be looking for software that suits your needs rather than replacing another program you like, but you should familiarize yourself with scripting and be on the lookout for functionality you can implement yourself.

      Also, if you want to get familiar with the basic tools of Linux, this is a really nice book. It explains the shell, file system, processes, package management, networking, and scripting. It's pretty long, so I don't recommend reading it from start to finish, but if you ever find yourself with a question about something, this book is a very nice resource to have.

      7 votes
    2. Emerald_Knight Link Parent
      Just to expand on this, the difference between "how do I replace x program?" vs. "what program fits my needs?" is analogous to the difference between "what kind of gas do I put in my electric...

      Just to expand on this, the difference between "how do I replace x program?" vs. "what program fits my needs?" is analogous to the difference between "what kind of gas do I put in my electric car?" vs. "what kind of fuel does my electric car use?". If you keep forcing yourself into the mindset of "I need to get gas for my car", then you may just end up hitting your head against a wall.

      3 votes
  3. [3]
    thisonemakesyouthink Link
    It shouldn't take you long, but that's the beauty of linux. You choose. You can (and I suggest you do) start with Linux Mint (really good beginner friendly distro) and you should be up and running...

    It shouldn't take you long, but that's the beauty of linux. You choose. You can (and I suggest you do) start with Linux Mint (really good beginner friendly distro) and you should be up and running in 30 minutes or less. Alternatively if you wanted, you could start with Arch (don't start with Arch) and you'd be up and running in 12 hours.

    After you install it, get used to daily use and just get to know Linux and the terminal (you'll be using the terminal a lot). From there, play around with different themes and desktop environments and such to learn how to use your OS. KDE Plasma and i3-gaps are my favourite desktop environments. After that you can start to distro hop a bit if you'd like.

    14 votes
    1. [2]
      cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
      If you want some/most of the benefits of Arch but without the massive headache of setting it up, you can always start with Manjaro or Antergos though. Ditto. KDE + i3-gaps represent! :)

      you could start with Arch (don't start with Arch)

      If you want some/most of the benefits of Arch but without the massive headache of setting it up, you can always start with Manjaro or Antergos though.

      KDE Plasma and i3-gaps are my favourite desktop environments.

      Ditto. KDE + i3-gaps represent! :)

      3 votes
      1. thisonemakesyouthink Link Parent
        True. I actually had more trouble with Manjaro and Antergos though because the automation kept messing up, so it wouldn't install Nvidia drivers. Whereas on Arch of course, I manually installed...

        you can always start with Manjaro or Antergos though.

        True. I actually had more trouble with Manjaro and Antergos though because the automation kept messing up, so it wouldn't install Nvidia drivers. Whereas on Arch of course, I manually installed Nvidia drivers the first time around so it worked straight away. That said, highly recommend Manjaro if you want a user friendly version of Arch.

        Ditto. KDE + i3-gaps represent! :)

        My setup exactly, i3-gaps for normal use and KDE if I need something only achieved by a standard DE rather than WM.

        1 vote
  4. [2]
    TheSaltShaker Link
    I’d recommend an easier distro like Ubuntu, or something derived from it (mint, budgie). If you’ve never developed on Linux, you’re in for the time of your life because the bash command line makes...

    I’d recommend an easier distro like Ubuntu, or something derived from it (mint, budgie). If you’ve never developed on Linux, you’re in for the time of your life because the bash command line makes installing and managing dependencies a dream, especially with the aptitude package manager that comes on Debian-based distro like Ubuntu.

    Something that may take getting used to is the fact that no matter how polished a system is, you will always need to use the command line for certain things. This isn’t a bad thing, and really if I can use the command line for something, I do, because it’s usually faster.

    Specifically for data science, you can find packages like tensorflow or scipy through apt. I’m not sure if there’s something similar to python virtual environments on windows, but I’d recommend using those as much as possible, and if you can install something through pip instead of apt, do that. All assuming you’re using python of course, but other languages are nice to use as well. There are a lot of great GNU tools for C/C++ like gcc, gdb, and make. I spend most of my time with C, Java, and Python so that’s really all I can talk about. I can say though that development feels a lot easier on Linux than on windows.

    10 votes
    1. 666 Link Parent
      I don't know if this is still the case, but the last time I installed Ubuntu (a few months ago) I had to run sudo apt install aptitude before I could use it.

      especially with the aptitude package manager that comes on Debian-based distro like Ubuntu

      I don't know if this is still the case, but the last time I installed Ubuntu (a few months ago) I had to run sudo apt install aptitude before I could use it.

      1 vote
  5. rickdg Link
    What do you need to use a computer for? Any complicated microsoft office files? Adobe projects? Blizzard games? Are there any hardware requirements, like a laptop with fingerprint recognition or...

    What do you need to use a computer for? Any complicated microsoft office files? Adobe projects? Blizzard games? Are there any hardware requirements, like a laptop with fingerprint recognition or multi-monitor support?

    6 votes
  6. [2]
    tomf Link
    The best way to get comfy with Linux is to not copy and paste anything --- no matter how long the command is. Typing everything out (at least until you know what its doing) is the best way to...

    The best way to get comfy with Linux is to not copy and paste anything --- no matter how long the command is. Typing everything out (at least until you know what its doing) is the best way to learn the basics.

    I'd start with a normal desktop environment at first, and then when you're off school, check out i3-gaps-next and some of the other fancier things.

    For a terminal, I prefer Terminator, but everybody has their favorite.

    If you're in the Googleverse, use Google Sheets and Google Docs to replace that part of Office. I love sheets and find it to be superior to Excel in most ways.

    Lastly, get into the IRC channels on Freenode. People are nice and mostly willing to help out. If you have any hardware that doesn't work as expected, no doubt someone else has had the same issue and resolved it.

    If you have some specific software you truly can't live without, just spin a VM for those. At first it may seem daunting, but in a month or so you'll wonder why you didn't take the plunge earlier.

    6 votes
    1. Yome_sai Link Parent
      Voted.A better recommendation for newbies

      Voted.A better recommendation for newbies

      2 votes
  7. [2]
    CALICO Link
    My daily driver (for non-gaming) is Arch Linux. It's a distro you essentially build yourself from the ground-up, only installing exactly what you need. It took me a couple of hours before I had a...

    My daily driver (for non-gaming) is Arch Linux. It's a distro you essentially build yourself from the ground-up, only installing exactly what you need. It took me a couple of hours before I had a build that could go onto the internet and render everything properly, and even then I've spent as much or more time setting up some Windows installations in the past.

    If you pick any of the more common distros your experience will be much smoother and take far less time.

    5 votes
    1. thisonemakesyouthink Link Parent
      I also use Arch as my daily driver. I will also never mention Arch to a noob, except as a warning.

      I also use Arch as my daily driver. I will also never mention Arch to a noob, except as a warning.

      8 votes
  8. piedpiper Link
    I recommend Ubuntu. I switched from windows almost two years ago, dual booting at first. In the first few months I found myself needing to boot into windows once or twice a month. Then I just got...

    I recommend Ubuntu. I switched from windows almost two years ago, dual booting at first. In the first few months I found myself needing to boot into windows once or twice a month. Then I just got comfortable with it and ended up deleteing my windows partition.

    I actually find it easier than windows in a lot of ways and so easy to troubleshoot because it is the most popular distro of Linux. Any problem I have there are tons of forums and blog posts with a fix. It's actually easier to troubleshoot then windows.

    I've never bothered to try other Linux distrobutions cause Ubuntu just works and is easy to use. What else do you want?

    5 votes
  9. [6]
    jlpoole Link
    Come play with the big boys: Gentoo Linux. Yes, it will take you much longer to install, but then an education is not something you can acquire in a few hours. If you don't have time to learn,...

    Come play with the big boys: Gentoo Linux. Yes, it will take you much longer to install, but then an education is not something you can acquire in a few hours. If you don't have time to learn, then follow the advice of other posted in this thread.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Soptik Link Parent
      I think he should learn the basics before trying to install (or even, god forbid, use) gentoo. He'll be lost in gentoo as he's coming from Windows and probably doesn't know anything about linux...

      I think he should learn the basics before trying to install (or even, god forbid, use) gentoo. He'll be lost in gentoo as he's coming from Windows and probably doesn't know anything about linux terminal.

      I know it, I came to linux about half a year ago. It took me few months to really understand how it works, and I'm still stuck with Ubuntu (I've been considering installing Arch, but never did it). I think it's really bad idea to go straight from Windows to Gentoo.

      I compiled two programs from source code as binaries weren't available to download and I cannot imagine compiling everything, especially with zero knowledge about linux.

      7 votes
      1. jlpoole Link Parent
        Well, now that I think about it, I transitioned from Windows to Redhat in 2000 -- whatever their public release was that was discontinued around 2004 -- that's when I switched to Gentoo realizing...

        Well, now that I think about it, I transitioned from Windows to Redhat in 2000 -- whatever their public release was that was discontinued around 2004 -- that's when I switched to Gentoo realizing that I had misplaced my trust in Redhat thinking it would always have a current build. So, yes, I cannot speak from experience of transitioning from Windows to Linux using Gentoo. But... the Gentoo Handbook is so well polished, I'm inclined to think anyone who can follow directions might be able to get themselves to the same place with Gentoo and several hours of time versus an out-of-the-box turn-key system.

        2 votes
    2. [2]
      Eva Link Parent
      Oh God. I love you for posting this but also let's not kill him. ...not this soon at least.

      Oh God. I love you for posting this but also let's not kill him.

      ...not this soon at least.

      2 votes
      1. jlpoole Link Parent
        And I thought opera had drama.

        And I thought opera had drama.

        1 vote
    3. Chobbes Link Parent
      There's definitely value in learning / using Gentoo. You'll know your system much better than if you just install Ubuntu or whatever, which can make it easier to find and fix any problems you...

      There's definitely value in learning / using Gentoo. You'll know your system much better than if you just install Ubuntu or whatever, which can make it easier to find and fix any problems you might encounter later on.

      Honestly, I have had far better luck with Gentoo than other distros simply because if something is broken it's usually my fault, which usually means I know where to look to fix it.

      It will probably take you a weekend to set up the first time, but the handbook does a fairly good job of explaining things. It might be lacking context for newcomers, though.

      1 vote
  10. CrazyOtter Link
    I'd recommend you try linux out thoroughly before installing it. You can follow the instructions here for Ubuntu but many other distros let you do this as well. Not sure about data science options...

    I'd recommend you try linux out thoroughly before installing it. You can follow the instructions here for Ubuntu but many other distros let you do this as well.

    Not sure about data science options but you could try dual booting linux and windows until you figure that out.

    Finally please take good backups (if you haven't already) and test that they work. Installing still has pitfalls and problems that can catch you out.

    4 votes
  11. [2]
    NeoTheFox Link
    Most distros are really fast to setup, especially the user-friendly ones like Ubuntu and Fedora. As for Data Science - you probably need Anaconda and Matlab? If so you are covered.

    Most distros are really fast to setup, especially the user-friendly ones like Ubuntu and Fedora. As for Data Science - you probably need Anaconda and Matlab? If so you are covered.

    3 votes
    1. DanBC Link Parent
      Fedora is not for beginners. It breaks and the documentation does not keep up with the changes.

      Fedora is not for beginners. It breaks and the documentation does not keep up with the changes.

      3 votes
  12. Silbern Link
    That's entirely dependent on how you plan to use it. A lot of people are perfectly happy to just install the OS and a few tools, and use it like stock; using that approach, and a user friendly...

    How long will it take to set up?

    That's entirely dependent on how you plan to use it. A lot of people are perfectly happy to just install the OS and a few tools, and use it like stock; using that approach, and a user friendly distro, you can probably be up and running in about an hour or 2 at the most. If you have a lot of tools or you like to configure your OS exactly like you like it, like I do, the process can sometimes take as long as several days to fully complete. I wouldn't worry about it though, especially if you dual boot or use a second computer; for essential functionality, it doesn't take long, and once you've done it a few times you get really fast at it.

    3 votes
  13. [2]
    annadane Link
    Surprised no one mentioned Debian Stable. If you think you'll need firmware necessary for the installation use the non-free firmware image but really, Debian is rock solid. I always see everyone...

    Surprised no one mentioned Debian Stable. If you think you'll need firmware necessary for the installation use the non-free firmware image but really, Debian is rock solid. I always see everyone recommending Mint and Ubuntu (which have known problems)...

    3 votes
    1. Happy_Shredder Link Parent
      Yup. Debian stable should be the go-to distro. Rock solid, decent documentation, and no surprises. One only needs non-free firmware for wifi and nvidia. And just be sure to tick the desktop option...

      Yup. Debian stable should be the go-to distro. Rock solid, decent documentation, and no surprises. One only needs non-free firmware for wifi and nvidia. And just be sure to tick the desktop option in install (which shouldn't take more than 20 min or so). Pick a desktop environment --- KDE is great --- and you're good to go.

      3 votes
  14. [3]
    cadadr Link
    Hi! If you can give a bit more details we can be more helpful. What software do you need? How much customisations would you like to do? If you will use a Python or R environment, and won't need MS...

    Hi! If you can give a bit more details we can be more helpful. What software do you need? How much customisations would you like to do?

    If you will use a Python or R environment, and won't need MS Office software (there is LibreOffice, but is not as good), I think linux is better because the packages will have all you need, and it is very easy to find and istall them. If you need MS Office stuff specifically (especially Excel, LibreOffice Spreadsheets won't cut it), staying on mac os or windows and maybe using linux in a virtual machine might be better.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Eva Link Parent
      MS Office works pretty well in WINE these days, luckily.

      MS Office works pretty well in WINE these days, luckily.

      1 vote
      1. cadadr Link Parent
        Thanks! That's good to know!

        Thanks! That's good to know!

        1 vote
  15. [4]
    Eva Link
    Okay, there's a bit of information that might hurt you without appropriate knowledge in this thread. Let's go over a few bits of it. . ----------- . | Shell Tricks | Typing out commands is useful...

    Okay, there's a bit of information that might hurt you without appropriate knowledge in this thread. Let's go over a few bits of it.

    . ----------- .
    | Shell Tricks |

    Typing out commands is useful for learning. However, what these people refuse to tell you is that there's an easier way to learning efficiently: tab completion.

    Typing a long directory out? Hit TAB after the first few letters, it'll either complete it for you or give you a few options on how to complete it, if multiple options exist.

    Typing a command you aren't sure about? Same thing.


    Before committing to anything, try the two most popular shells, zsh and bash. I prefer zsh, and it's far more convenient for learning. bash is a bit more common, though, at the expense of being rather dated.

    . ------------- .
    | Distributions |

    Contrary to popular belief, there's no wrong choice in which distribution you pick. All have upsides & downsides.

    I, personally, prefer Arch. There are two beginner-friendly spins of Arch I'd recommend: Manjaro and Arch Labs.

    Arch Labs is a bit more of a pure experience—an installer script with an extra repo, basically.

    Manjaro is a bit of the exact middle between Gentoo and Ubuntu. Very user-friendly, not exactly rapid-release, lots of power, and with repositories containing every single program you could ever want.

    With this in mind, I would have to recommend the default Manjaro with KDE. I don't personally use KDE, but it's similar enough to Windows 7/10 UI-wise that you shouldn't have any difficulty adjusting. (And extremely customisable to-boot. By the time I stopped using it mine was genuinely beautiful. I recommend playing around with it a bit.)

    . ----------- .
    | Linux For ... |

    Linux is where you'll get the finest data science experience, practically objectively. Most of the Python ecosystem was created by people running POSIX-compliant operating systems, even!

    Linux admittedly doesn't have a wonderful native text-processing suite. However, Office runs flawlessly via WINE, and if a release breaks it, a Windows VM is trivial to get set up.


    Any questions?

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      apoctr Link Parent
      Libreoffice really isn't bad when applied to a general use-case. The average Word user shouldn't have many issues switching over.

      Linux admittedly doesn't have a wonderful native text-processing suite.

      Libreoffice really isn't bad when applied to a general use-case. The average Word user shouldn't have many issues switching over.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Eva Link Parent
        Libre Office is awful in comparison. Mainly because of the bloatedness; it's terrible. It's not even the best text-processing suite on Linux (WPS Office is).

        Libre Office is awful in comparison. Mainly because of the bloatedness; it's terrible.

        It's not even the best text-processing suite on Linux (WPS Office is).

        1. apoctr Link Parent
          I don't notice much bloat..? If that's a legitimate concern you're probably better off using Google Docs or something. Never heard of WPS Office.

          I don't notice much bloat..? If that's a legitimate concern you're probably better off using Google Docs or something. Never heard of WPS Office.

          2 votes
  16. Burek Link
    Most of these recommendations are so bad... If you want science Linux distro, go with - https://labs.fedoraproject.org/en/scientific/ If you want sweet spot Linux distro -...

    Most of these recommendations are so bad...

    If you want science Linux distro, go with -
    https://labs.fedoraproject.org/en/scientific/

    If you want sweet spot Linux distro -
    https://www.ubuntu.com/download

    Good luck.

    2 votes