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Migrating to Linux from Windows can be tricky. There’s the unfamiliarity of the new platform, the lack of a familiar desktop environment, and a shortage of familiar apps.
Or is there?
These seven apps, usually found on Windows, are also available on Linux. Use them to ease your transition from the world of Microsoft, to the world of open-source software and operating systems.
The first app you need when switching to Linux, this popular cloud storage solution can play a major role in your migration. With the right tier of storage (2GB for free by default, but there are many ways to expand this limit), Dropbox can be used to store all of your vital files and folders from your original operating system.
Once you’re certain that everything has been synced to the cloud, simply boot into Linux (dual booting is a convenient way to do this), install Dropbox, then wait for the data to sync to your new operating system.
Photos, music, documents, and more will be available for you to use in Linux. Dropbox for Linux is available for Ubuntu (DEB) and Fedora (RPM), and can also be compiled from source.
Download: Dropbox for Linux
Note that Dropbox isn’t the only option for cloud storage. Check out our comparison of popular cloud storage services to see if there might be another one that’s better suited to your needs.
Long ago, Skype’s original developers launched a Linux version, which they soon abandoned. Happily, since Microsoft bought Skype, it has ensured a new Linux version is available and working. With so many VoIP clients available for Linux, it makes sense; voice chat is a popular option for Linux users.
After installing, all you need to do is sign in with your usual credentials. All of your usual contacts will be available, ready for you to chat with using text, voice, or video. You’ll even be able to buy and use Skype credit in the same way; the differences are barely noticeable!
You’ll find Skype for Linux available in DEB format (Debian/Ubuntu family), RPM (Fedora), and as a Snap package. Check our guide to Skype for Linux for more tips.
Download: Skype for Linux
Popular digital audio workstation (DAW) Audacity is an open source tool, so it should be no surprise to find it available on Linux. Offering pretty much identical functionality (including all of the latest new features), Audacity is perfect for anyone hoping to edit and process audio.
But you may be reassured to know that projects started in Audacity under Windows can also be opened in Linux!
Download: Audacity for Linux
4. Google Chrome
Need to browse the web? Of course you do!
Some Linux versions come with Mozilla Firefox or another open source browser installed. But Google Chrome is also available, both in its more familiar form, and as the open source Chromium. This gives you a particular advantage when it comes to migration from Windows.
One of the biggest issues for switchers is the lack of browser bookmarks. This is a particular problem if you have spent years (perhaps 20+) collecting and saving the addresses of your favorite websites. To see these lost or unavailable can seem like a massive disappointment, and might even discourage migration completely.
Fortunately, it’s possible to sign into Google Chrome with a Google account and sync your bookmarks and other data (including recent tabs). As long as you have done this in Windows before switching to Linux, you should be able to sign into Chrome on Linux and get all of your bookmarks back!
Download: Google Chrome for Linux
You’ll no doubt need an email client in Windows, so what better than the open source Mozilla Thunderbird. Capable of handling emails, RSS feeds and Usenet groups, Thunderbird is the most versatile open source email software available for Windows and Linux.
Thunderbird is also capable of displaying calendar information (thanks to an extension) and backing up your email data. If you prefer POP3 email to IMAP, then this might prove vital for your email archive. Backups made under Windows can, of course, be reinstated under Linux, meaning you won’t lose your emails when you switch. However, it’s easier (and less data-intensive) to rely on IMAP syncing with the email server.
Download: Thunderbird for Linux
6. VLC Media Player
Need a reliable multimedia app? Windows-based music and video players are famously chopped and changed by Microsoft, so it makes sense to seek out a reliable third party solution. Perhaps the most popular alternative is the open source VLC Media Player, and like almost all open source tools, it is available on Linux.
Suitable for subscribing to podcasts, playing your music library, enjoying videos in almost any format, and converting formats, VLC Media Player from VideoLAN is one of the most popular multimedia download on the web. VLC even runs on a Raspberry Pi!
Download: VLC Media Player
Finally, if you’ve been reluctant to move to Linux due to the limited gaming possibilities, you’ll probably find the Linux version of Steam is ideal. While Linux gaming has increased over the past few years, it is still a smaller scene than Windows gaming.
As a result, there are still big name games being released that aren’t available on Linux. The situation is currently similar to Mac gaming around 20 years ago; these days, most games will run on macOS. Back in the day, however, few games were available for Apple computers (and fewer still for Linux).
Things are improving, however. To find out what games you own are available to run on Linux without emulation, open Steam, and click Library. Here, ensure you have set the list of games to Linux Games, using the drop-down menu. The compatible games will be displayed.
Check our guide for installing Steam on your Linux PC for more information. Steam for Linux is available only as a DEB file officially, but other Linux families should be able to find it in third party repositories.
Download: Steam for Linux
Migration to Linux Is Simple With These Apps
With these apps to aid your migration to Linux, you have an advantage that simply wasn’t there a few years ago. To recap, these apps are:
- Google Chrome
- Mozilla Thunderbird
- VLC Media Player
As you can see, your migration to Linux from Windows need not be difficult. Many familiar apps are available to ease you in. Similarly, you’ll find plenty of alternative but high-quality Linux-only apps to introduce you to the world of Linux.
And if that doesn’t deliver everything you need, you can always use Wine-based tools to run Windows software in Linux!