Switching to Linux. How and when to do that

Hardest choices require strongest wills

Some people claim that switching to Linux is as easy as flashing system image on USB stick and following a few simple steps after booting from it. Others state that switching to Linux is almost impossible and its only for lifeless losers. I dare to declare that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

A kind request to that community

Please, stop making this process even harder than it allready is. Avoid writing about purely technical details, as most people who want to give linux a try do not care about that. Do not order them to overprotect their files as most of them will give up on the whole process because of that. Remember, we just want them to switch to linux, we do not have to hide from NSA.

Who is Linux for

There are a lot of situations in which you might want to give Linux a try, for example if:

  • You are concerned about the mass data collection done by your current operating system
  • Your hardware is struggling to run your current OS and you want your operating system to run smoothly
  • You want to poses a new set of skills to get a better job

Who is Linux not for

In some cases, you should not switch to Linux, for example:

  • You do not have enough time and patience to transition and learn about this operating system
  • You depend on software that is only available for your current operating system

Don’t worry! You do not have to use Linux to improve your privacy and security. There are many ways to enhance it anyway, like “privacy.sexy”.

A torn in the eye

Those are some popular examples of software that is tricky to run on Linux:

  • Professional tools (Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, etc)
  • Some Games (usually those with kernel-level anti cheat, such as EasyAntiCheat, Battleye etc). It is however worth checking out Are We Anti-Cheat Yet? and ProtonDB as Linux gaming is becoming more prevalent.
  • Microsoft Office

It may be a bad bargain

Some people claim that Linux alternatives can work the same, or even better. I dare to partially disagree with that statement. While Linux compatible alternatives can be used to get your job done, they are very unintuitive to use and require alot of patience to use then efficiently. Gimp is not a decent alternative to Photoshop, and LibreOffice is not a decent alternative to Microsoft Office.

To have a cake and eat a cake

You can very easily try Linux without touching your main operating system. For that I would recommend trying it via live booting. It will give you the best idea of how it will run on your hardware. If you just want access to most Linux command line utilities, I would recommend Windows Subsystem for Linux(If you happen to use Windows 10 or above) or virtual machines such as VMware, or VirtualBox.

Which one should I pick?

I recommend one of the following distributions:

Pop!_OS and Fedora have really solid support by a serious companies (System76 and RedHat). They also quickly adapt new technologies (like Wayland and PipeWire) and they are really stable. If you wish for your system to resemble Windows, you can give Zorin a try.

Back up your data

Before the installation, make sure to back up all your important data. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Important Documents and Notes
  • Family Photos
  • Your Passwords / TOTP codes
  • Any files that are important to you

Even doing something as simple as compressing those files into zip archive and uploading them to your google drive or dropbox will be better than nothing. It might be a good idea to set a password on that zip archive (make sure to write it down).

Is my hardware compatible?

Assuming that you run one of the distributions mentioned above, your current device should be compatible. You can double check that by live booting from usb stick as mentioned earlier. Nowadays it is even possible to run Linux on apple M1 silicon thanks to Asahi Linux (it is in early alpha stages) and some people even try to run it on iPads and iPhones

How to actually install Linux

There is a nice and simple video that shows how to install Linux. It will be almost the same for every distribution, only the final setup steps might differ.

For Mac users, there is a nice guide on how to jump from MacOS to Pop!_OS.

To sum things up

If you think that you can do it, it might be a good idea to give Linux a try. And don’t worry if Linux is not for you, it is not must-have tool for everyone! If you have any questions, feel free to ask them!

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Meta question: why can I see that I can edit this topic? Is that what’s allowed when topics are categorized as guides?

I don’t feel like editing the wiki, so I’ll put my two cents here instead.


My copypasta of beginner distro recommendations:

Consider Linux Mint, Pop!_OS, Fedora Workstation/Cinnamon/KDE, and Fedora Silverblue/Kinoite. Mint and Pop!_OS are pretty much the easiest distros to use and daily-drive. Both of them are based on Ubuntu, so almost all guides/documentation for Ubuntu will apply to Mint and Pop!_OS too. Fedora Workstation/Cinnamon/KDE offer slightly better security at the cost of some of the nice-to-have’s in Mint and Pop!_OS. Fedora Silverblue and Kinoite use an immutable system model where you rely on sandboxed Flatpak apps almost exclusively — this comes with some inconveniences but should offer better security and reliability.

On the topic of software compatibility:

So much these days is done purely in a web browser. For this reason alone, many people would be able to do everything they need with exactly the same experience on Linux as on Windows or Mac OS.

For people that rely heavily on software like Adobe Creative Cloud or CAD software, ditching Windows entirely is completely out of the question. However, it is nevertheless entirely possible to use Linux instead of Windows some of the time (dual-booting) or on a separate device.

To actually try out or install Linux:

Download an ISO of your distro of choice and use Etcher to flash it onto a USB flash drive (this will wipe all data on the flash drive, so back it up beforehand!).

There are better tools for more advanced users, but Etcher is dead-simple and gets the job done.

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It is a wiki post, and yes, threads created in the #privacy-and-security:guides category will automatically be like that.

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Also some like MS Office and soon Photoshop have in-browser alternatives

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Sorry, but while this is true in some cases, there are equally as many cases where exactly the opposite is true.

The average FOSS app is intended to simply be as good as possible at accomplishing its design goals. Lots of proprietary software is designed or implemented very poorly and is just barely capable of functioning.
(Fun fact: You can switch those two points around, and it will still be true! Because this issue has absolutely nothing to do with FOSS v. proprietary or Linux v. Windows.)

Here are some points that are actually valid:

  • Dark patterns are far more prevalent in proprietary software than FOSS.
  • Proprietary software usually benefits from much greater development budgets.
    • These budgets are sometimes used to implement dark patterns and other anti-features.
  • Proprietary software almost always goes hand‑in‑hand with vendor lock‑in.
  • First-party support for FOSS is almost always quite limited compared to what proprietary software can offer, but the quality of first-party (and even third-party) support for FOSS is almost universally much higher.

Note that nothing here has anything to do with what operating system a given piece of software runs on, aside from the fact that much of the proprietary software most people are accustomed to is targeted at Windows.

Plenty of software these days, proprietary or FOSS, comes in the form of cloud-based web apps or Electron apps that will run equally as well under Windows, Linux, or Mac OS.

I have met many people who actively prefer Google Workspace (Google Docs) over Microsoft Office even for non-collaborative documents — these people are not going to miss Microsoft Office in the slightest.

Even among regular Microsoft Office users, the vast, vast majority don’t even know about, let alone use, the advanced features that are missing in LibreOffice, OnlyOffice, or FreeOffice/SoftMaker Office.

And I have absolutely no idea how you concluded GIMP is not a viable alternative to Photoshop. I will not deny that some workflows are better in Photoshop or outright impossible in GIMP, but the inverse is also true. Lots of people use GIMP professionally out of preference, including me. This is true even among Windows users. It all comes down to personal preference and individual usecase; the price difference of ‘free forever’ vs ‘exorbitant subscription’ alone is very compelling. Hardly anyone has a personal (non-business) subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud because they just don’t need it when their needs are served perfectly well by GIMP, Krita, Photopea, Paint.NET, Paint 3D, or even classic Paint.

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There are a few things that need clarification.

Professional tools (Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, etc)

No regular person uses them to their full potential. In that case, alternatives such as Krita for image editing, and Kdenlive for video editing could be preferred.

LibreOffice is not a decent alternative to Microsoft Office

As said, there is little that MS Office offers that LibreOffice does not replace for an average person. It definitely is an alternative. If you want better compatibility with MS Office, OnlyOffice is a good choice.

They also quickly adapt new technologies (like Wayland and PipeWire)

Worth noting that Pop!_OS does not use Wayland by default. And Zorin should not be recommended as it is a lacking OS.

they are very unintuitive to use and require alot of patience to use then efficiently

Incorrect. Very much depends on the software. Same can be said for Windows software (like Photoshop…).

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