So, you have decided for one reason or another to give up Windows and switch to Linux. One of the problems is that most people don’t know how to accomplish this and those who do understand have already done. Human nature dictates that most people, once they learn how something is done become sensitized as to how hard it was to gain that knowledge. I decided to think back and then document exactly what one needs to do in order to migrate successfully from Windows to Ubuntu. When I say successfully I mean completely including getting flash and Java to work in Firefox, installing the most needed codecs for your Media Player files, MP3s and DVDs. Also perhaps setting email and for a good measure a few tips and ticks. During this guide I will be showing you how use what is provided by the default Ubuntu install and only installing minimal applications. I will not be showing you how to install what I think are the best applications for doing things, I’ll just be showing you how to get things working and installing the minimal apps to get things working.
One problem you may or may not have considered is all your files and settings. Now I am not trying to talk you out of moving to Linux just making you aware of troubles you will be facing when trying to migrate over. If you opt to re-size your Windows partition and install Ubuntu in a dual boot environment, the Ubuntu installer will prompt you to transfer your files and settings over from your Windows installation. If you are going to opt to obliterate Windows all together you will want to back up your files and settings before you begin (I would back up my files in either case). Make sure you back up your Internet Explorer bookmarks or FireFox bookmarks or both as the case may apply to you. Ubuntu will be able to read from (and even write to) Windows partitions, so copying files from a Windows partition to your new Ubuntu file system is possible. So if you are just choosing to use a new Hard drive then you will not need to back up your data before hand. If those files are on a server (shared), you can get to them via smb (included by default in e.g. Ubuntu’s nautilus file browser). In this case, you will have to log on to that server with a user account known to that server, and with the necessary permissions to at least copy files and directories, but that’s easy to set up.
OpenOffice will open MS Office documents, spreadsheets and presentations, Visio and MS Projects clones work towards compatibility with files created with the Microsoft products, pdf’s are not problem, Adobe even releases a Linux version, … But your mileage may vary as so things still don’t port but this will be the exception I promise.
If you were already using Firefox on Windows, this is going to be pretty straightforward. We already know we can copy between the two file systems, and Firefox keeps all settings inside a user profile so moving thins around will be easy. If you are using IE I suggest you install FireFox right now and then import your IE bookmarks to FireFox and then continue this will make life so much easier for you.
As for the rest of your media you will just need to copy things over and then learn the new applications you are going to use to read, listen, or view them. Pretty straightforward here.
OK, lets get our hands dirty, The first thing you need to do is print this article out so you can have it own hand or at the very least write down the URL or bookmark before you begin installing Ubuntu. You should have already downloaded Ubuntu 9.04 and burned it to a CD, if not you need to do so now here is a link if you need it, for those not sure you need the Desktop version. OK, go ahead and install Ubuntu. If you need help with that here is a link.
So you have Ubuntu installed now this is where I enter with some very useful information that is missing in most manuals when you switch to Linux. The reason most install guide leave you here is because Linux is about choice, and they expecet you to make your own choices, but what about the simple everyday things we use our computers for. Media, mail, and the Web (This is where flash and Java come in). They are most likely not working at this point an most Linux distro and there is of coarse a reason for that as well. Now, I am not going to dive to deep into the legalities of why codecs are missing and things don’t quite work but just understand that there are legal ramification for the maintainers and they have to watch out for their own interests.
OK, So I am going to give you a little bash script here to run from the command line. This should get your Shinny New Ubuntu running with all the restricted stuff installed, Flash Working as well as Java.
A Migration Story – Windows to Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope)