Taking the Plunge: Ditching Windows/OS X and Switching to Linux

I’m a bit of a coward, really. I’m less and less happy with Mac OS, as it strives to dictate how I use a computer, store files etc. more and more. And I never liked Windows a whole lot. So really, I should be Linux user. It’s just that I’m too lazy—or something.

Today, SitePoint published a nice article that shows how easy it is to get started with Linux: http://www.sitepoint.com/trying-linux-for-the-first-time-a-beginners-guide/

If it’s that easy, I really have no excuse for not giving it a go.

What about you? Have you tried it, or switched to it? If so, how have you found it? Do you miss anything you were used to? (That’s one of my fears—that I’ll regret walking away from some programs I love, like ScreenFlow.)

If you haven’t tried it, but want to, what’s holding you back?


I’ve used it, I use a Mac now, but I want to go back to Linux.

One of the things to accept before you dive in, is that stuff breaks. It just does. Things are much better now than they used to be, but it’s still going to happen. But if you’re familiar with the command line and know how to Google, you can get most problems solved easily. Windows or Mac doesn’t break things with updates nearly as they do on Linux. Ubuntu based distros are pretty good about this happening less frequently, but distros like Fedora are basically just beta testing stuff for RHEL. Then things like Arch are just a whole level beyond that.

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Yes, I’d agree that you need to choose your distro carefully, and if you’re new to Linux, pick one that aims to be user-friendly, such as Ubuntu or Mint.

[quote=“mawburn, post:2, topic:204761”]
But if you’re familiar with the command line and know how to Google, you can get most problems solved easily.
[/quote]I’d say it’s not so much being familiar with the command line as being unafraid to follow instructions and use it. My experience of the Ubuntu forums is that people will walk you through things step by step (and explain what each step does, if you want to know).


What is ScreenFlow and what other programs do you absolutely love that you’d miss?

This is probably the first thing you need to do, list the programs you can’t live without. Then install Linux in a Virtual Machine (such as VirtualBox), and try to find alternatives to see how they rate in comparison to what you know.

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“Screencasting and video editing software for Mac”

I came across a few options with a brief search, although I don’t see a combined option like ScreenFlow. A random selection:




Video Editing:




I’ve never used any of them - have fun exploring!

(When we first thought about switching to Linux, there were a couple of programs I didn’t think I could manage without. I can’t remember now what they were… )

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Ah, I use SilentCast (Screen Recording) and OpenShot (Video Editing). I enjoy both of them.


Hah, thanks guys. Those options look quite nice. Are there any apps for Linux that you actually have to buy? I could end up feely very stingy using just Linux. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes there are commercial apps. For example, I’ve bought IntelliJ for development, and moneydance for Finances because I’ve found them to 1) be worth the cost and 2) fit my needs for both of those products.

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No need to feel stingy as many Linux systems and apps accept donations.


Ubuntu software center still has a bunch too, but I doubt they make a whole lot of money off those.


I’m still new to Linux (using it for a couple of years but still got much to learn). My one piece of advice is get comfortable with the command line and first up learn how to back up (/etc & /home) and restore. Even when everything seems to have gone wrong if you can get to the command line (you almost always can) then you can backup-reinstall-restore.

Also thanks to Steam there are plenty of games now available on Linux.

We set up a Xubuntu system for an elderly friend who’d never used a computer and was terrified of them. Her equally-elderly friend is a long-time Mac user and had no problems in using Xubuntu when visiting.

An unexpected benefit came when our friend was targeted by telephone scammers, claiming to be from MS and telling her she needed to follow their instructions to fix a problem with Windows. She knew next-to-nothing about computers, but was able to say confidently that her computer didn’t have Windows. Asked if she had a Mac she said no, and was told that in that case, she must be running Windows. When she said no, she had Xubuntu, there was a surprised “oh” at the other end of the line and the scammer hung up.

If she had been running Windows, she might have been sufficiently worried and uncertain to fall for the scam (I know others who were). As it was, she ended up sounding like a geek and has had no problems since.

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I’ve got a physical server running Ubuntu with the KDE sitting on top of it. It’s basically a LAMP server for doing web type things, but not directly on the machine itself. I tend to communicate with it either via SFTP, or through PuTTY. I’ve also got a Hyper-V running on my Win10 laptop with another Ubuntu server on it, but no desktop. I’ve not tried Gnome as a desktop, or any of the others, but they leave me rather underwhelmed and I’ve no real desire to work in them regularly. I don’t use a Mac at all, aside from debugging Mrs of Arabia’s MacBook Air now and then.

I like Gnome. When we first switched to Ubuntu, it used Gnome by default. More recently, they switched to Unity, which I didn’t like, so I was delighted to find Ubuntu Gnome as an official flavour.

But one of the things I like about Linux is the variety; you can look around until you find the set-up that suits you best. @James_Hibbard recently linked to this site, which I’d not seen before: http://www.tuxradar.com/content/distro-picker-0

I’ll have to take a look at that and see what’s what. The other reason of course, is that I’ve worked with Microsoft (home & office) for the last 25 years, since we called them IBM compatibles - I kind of know my way around and don’t have to think about it…

One of the things I really like about Linux is the middle-button paste. You can highlight text (by mouse or keyboard) and paste it by simply clicking the middle button; very quick and handy. Even better, it doesn’t overwrite what’s in your clipboard, so you can highlight one block of text, use Ctrl+C to copy it, highlight a second block of text, and then you can paste either block, by using Ctrl+V or the middle mouse button.

It’s the thing I miss most any time I have to use a Windows machine.

You can take that further by setting window focus mode to sloppy. That means you highlight text in one window, move your mouse to another window and you don’t even have to focus it before middle clicking. Takes a bit of getting used to, but is a great feature. Dunno if they have anything similar on Windows …

@ralphm: you should seriously take the plunge, dude!


Also,in Linux you have ALT + F2 which will permit you to launch any application by starting to type its name and pressing enter. Sort of like Run in Windows, but more powerful as it will help you guess the name of the application and it works for ANY application.

You can also set transparency on most windows, and if you use a plain background, it is a good way to add additional contrast to a single application that forces you to use its bright white background (granted most applications now-a-days follow your Desktop Environment color scheme).

Which is another point, you can customize your Desktop Environment color scheme! You can set the background from white to a grey, or black, or red (for that matter), along with text color, font size and type, icon placement in the title bar, the color of the title bar and the window borders, etc. All of it is fair game.


You can customize almost everything : )
One of the Windows features I couldn’t live without was aero peek. Basically, this:

It took a while to find it, but guess what, there’s an applet for that: https://github.com/jake-phy/WindowIconList


Hah, thanks guys. Those options look quite nice.

To make the transition even easier:

Make Ubuntu Look Like Mac

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