Switch from Windows to Linux and Get Up and Running in Minutes

Christian Cawley 01-11-2017

I’ve long dual-booted my computer with Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04 7 Reasons Why You Should (and Shouldn't) Dual Boot Linux Often, making the choice of installing Linux over Windows can be tricky to justify. But why not opt for both? Here are five reasons to dual boot and two reasons you shouldn't. Read More , but a recent issue with a Windows driver left me high and dry. With only one operating system to choose from, I suddenly had to use Linux exclusively.


Incredibly, it took just a few minutes to get up and running. Now I’m using Ubuntu full-time, barely missing Windows at all (find out more about that below). What I did will work for you, too.

Google Chrome and Gmail

The first thing to do upon signing into your Ubuntu (or other Linux) distro is to open Google Chrome. Your desktop browser in Windows is probably Chrome too, and you’ll be able to sync information from your profile to Linux. This works even better if you sign into your Chrome account.

If your Linux distro doesn’t have Chrome (many don’t, as it isn’t open source), you’ll need to install it. You should find it in your Linux operating system’s (or distribution, “distro” for short) package manager. Otherwise, open the existing browser (typically Mozilla Firefox) and visit the Chrome download page at

Switch from Windows to Linux and Get Up and Running in Minutes muo linux switch chrome

Download the file, and double-click it to run, just as you would to install the browser in Windows. A few moments later it will be ready to run. After launching, you’ll see the option to sign into the browser with your Google account. This will start the sync, and a few minutes later, all of your favorite bookmarks will be synced. If the feature is enabled, your passwords will also be synced, along with your recent internet history.


And don’t forget your web-based email service. I’m betting you use Gmail, which of course you can find in your browser. If you’d prefer to use a desktop email client, however, many are available for Linux Email on Linux: 4 of the Best Email Clients Available Linux email clients still lag behind Windows and Mac, but the gap is closing. Here are some of the better ones I've found. Read More .

Various other Google tools can be used in Linux to help ease your transition Switched from Windows? 5 Google Tools You Can Use On Linux Read More .

Managing Files and Cloud Storage

You’ll probably need to access the files and folders from your Windows partition. Several options are available here. For instance, you could simply open the Windows partition in your file manager, browse it, and copy those files and folders to Linux. Note that working on them directly in the partition can lead to file-locking issues if you get Windows back up and running.

Switch from Windows to Linux and Get Up and Running in Minutes muo linux switch dropbox


Alternatively, you might (very wisely, in the event of disk failure) keep all of your Windows work directories on a secondary disk drive (or partition). This works best in Windows if you move your library locations. If this is the case, then you can simply browse to the data in Linux, edit it, and save it.

Cloud storage can be invaluable here. My setup involves both a secondary drive and a cloud drive. Because there are so few cloud sync options that offer a native app for both Windows and Linux, I rely on Dropbox across all of my devices (including my Android tablet and phone). With an official Linux app, Dropbox works particularly well, and I’ve previously set it up so that both operating system use the same Dropbox directory on the secondary HDD. This makes dual booting particularly seamless, and comes in very useful in Windows failure scenarios such as this.

Using Office Software and Productivity Tools

With documents accessed, you’ll need something to edit them with. Almost every Linux distro comes with LibreOffice, an excellent and free alternative to Microsoft Office Is OpenOffice Shutting Down? 4 Great Free Office Suite Alternatives OpenOffice is no longer a free Microsoft Office alternative you can count on. We have compiled the four best options for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Read More . DOC and DOCX files can be opened and edited with LibreOffice, as can spreadsheets and presentations. Meanwhile, your printer should effortlessly connect to Linux, so there’s no need to worry about getting hard copies of your documents.

Switch from Windows to Linux and Get Up and Running in Minutes LibreOffice Calc


Many sticky notes apps 5 Little Useful Sticky Notes For Linux Perhaps you have a habit of pasting small yellow pieces of notes all over your table just to remind you to do a particular task. Stop! Make your notes on Linux instead. Read More and standard note-taking tools Top 8 Notepad Apps for Linux That You Can Sync Evernote remains one of the most popular and widely used apps, but isn't available for Linux. Thankfully, there's no shortage of superb notepad options that sync from Linux across multiple devices. Read More are available for Linux. My personal choice is Google Keep Google Keep Is a Great Evernote Alternative and Here's Why For note-taking and list-keeping, Google Keep beats Evernote hands down. We show you seven features that make it a great choice. Read More , which I can easily access in the Chrome browser. Notes made on one device sync to the other, enabling me to make notes on my phone and see them on my PC for further development.

Quite simply, new Linux users should not fear a reduction in productivity; it simply won’t happen. Either you can choose a distro that focuses on the particular type of productivity that you have in mind, or install tools that help you — such as a pomodoro timer The Best Pomodoro Timer Apps to Rocket Your Productivity If you often hit a productivity wall after a few hours of work, a Pomodoro timer could help you keep your focus. This selection of timers has an option for every platform. Read More .

Will Your Favorite Apps Run in Linux? Probably!

Of course, there are other apps that you might want to run in Linux. Some are available natively, and can be downloaded from the internet (or via a Linux package manager Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? A key difference between the main Linux distros is the package manager; the differences are strong enough that it can influence your choice of distro. Let's look at how the various package managers work. Read More ). Many useful apps for switchers can be installed with little effort Can You Run It on Linux? 12 Vital Apps You'll Want When You Switch Considering switching to Linux but worried you can't take your favorite apps? Check these Linux compatible apps and equivalents. Read More .

For instance, if you enjoy online voice chat, Microsoft has released a version of Skype for Linux Is Skype for Linux Finally Good Enough for Windows Switchers? Skype for Linux is now available for download, but is it as full featured as its Windows and Mac cousins? Let's take a closer look. Read More . Other VoIP tools are also available. For fans of media streaming and home theater, the Kodi media center software The A-Z of Kodi: Everything You Need to Know Whether you're a Kodi newbie considering switching to the app, or a Kodi veteran looking to brush up on your knowledge, you should be able to make use of our A-Z of Kodi. Read More can be installed on Linux, too.


Switch from Windows to Linux and Get Up and Running in Minutes muo linux msoffice running

Pretty much every utility you can think of has a Linux variant. Take Adobe Photoshop, for instance, which has several Linux alternatives The 5 Best Photoshop Alternatives You Can Run on Linux Finding an Adobe Photoshop alternative for Linux isn't that difficult. Here are the best Photoshop alternatives for Linux. Read More .

If it doesn’t, you can probably run it in Linux using Wine How to Run Windows Apps & Games with Linux Wine Is there any way to get Windows software working on Linux? One answer is to use Wine, but while it can be very useful, it probably should only be your last resort. Here's why. Read More , or perhaps, as a final option, install Windows in a virtual machine How to Set Up a Windows Virtual Machine in Linux Many home users prefer to run a dual-boot setup when both Windows and Linux are needed, but if you'd rather run Windows inside Linux, here's how to set that up. Read More .

It’s possible, for instance, to install the full Microsoft Office suite in Linux How to Install Microsoft Office on Linux Microsoft Office on Linux is possible. We cover three methods for getting Office working inside of a Linux environment. Read More using Wine and PlayOnLinux. You might prefer an individual component, such as Microsoft Excel How to Install Microsoft Excel on Linux Can't open an Excel spreadsheet in LibreOffice? Here's how to install Microsoft Excel on Linux Ubuntu. Read More — Wine will do this too.

What about Windows Games?

Sadly, there is still a weakness when it comes to switching to Linux from Windows. While things have improved in the gaming world, big titles are still released without Linux compatibility. This is frustrating. If you’re a gamer, you’ll need to carefully investigate whether your favorite games will run in Linux.

Switch from Windows to Linux and Get Up and Running in Minutes steam linux

For instance, Minecraft can be run in Linux, but this is an older title. Civilization VI is available via Steam (which also runs in Linux) How to Install Steam and Start Gaming on Linux Installing Steam on Linux computers is straightforward, and the result is usually the same seamless gaming experience you had on Windows. Read More ; 2017 release Divinity: Original Sin 2, however, does not currently run.

However, it’s not all bad. For instance, I had just begun a game of Dead Space a few days before Windows failed. What could I do? Well, the smart answer is to check the WineHQ database of games and find out if Wine can help. If so, use our guide to tweaking Wine and PlayOnLinux Wine Programs Not Working? Try These Steps Wine gives Linux users the the ability to run Windows software and can aid in switching operating systems. But it isn't, so what can you do to ensure your Windows software runs in Linux? Read More to get started with your favorite games on Linux.

It’s This Easy to Switch to Linux!

I was forced into a situation where the only OS I could use was Linux. Sure, I could have reinstalled Windows 10 How to Reinstall Windows 10 Without Losing Your Data Using this option allows you to reinstall Windows without losing the files, personal data and programs you already have on the system. Read More , but this would have been time-consuming. Thanks to the working practices I had set up, finding myself using Linux was seamless and pleasant. In short, Linux is now a great option for all users 5 Reasons Linux Is Now a Great Option for Anyone Linux is a great desktop operating system -- ideal for everyone, regardless of prior computer knowledge. If you know how to use a smartphone or tablet, then you can use Linux. Read More !

Of course, Linux is famously an open source platform. Many of the applications we’ve discussed here are not free and open source. That’s not a problem, but if you wish to embrace FOSS Open Source vs. Free Software: What's the Difference and Why Does It Matter? Many assume "open source" and "free software" mean the same thing but that's not true. It's in your best interest to know what the differences are. Read More , Linux is the place to do so.

Have you switched from Windows to Linux? Perhaps you’re not sure which Linux operating system to choose (here’s what we use Which Linux Operating Systems We Use and Why It's one thing to recommend a Linux distro. It's another to show you which ones we actually use on a daily basis. Here are the ones we prefer and why! Read More )? How did you switch go? Tell us below!

Image Credit: minervastock/Depositphotos

Related topics: Linux, Windows.

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  1. Rajeev Bhatta
    November 2, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    I have been a long time Linux user some 11 years now.. my life saver is Chrome as most of my work is using Web apps on Chrome which makes a lot of things easy ( although Chrome entered much later ). I use the base os for development and data analytics projects. If you are used to working on Web apps switching is painless.

    • Tp2215
      November 4, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      I second this, in this day and age windows can almost be over kiill. You can also use the chrome store to install apps and they will show up in linux as regular apps. Added benefits include everything syncing online with my android phone. I have used windows for many years and switched to ubuntu about 2 months ago and don't think I will go back. Believe it or not everything just worked for me when I switched, including a network issue that I was having in windows.

  2. Fik of Borg
    November 2, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    What keeps Windows 7 in my main machine is the lack of a Linux version of Sketchup Make (and using Wine would negate any performance increase from changing from Win 7 to some light Linux distro).
    I do have Linux Mint on two of my other machines, and Puppy Linux on an old Pentium 4.

  3. Lokum
    November 2, 2017 at 6:23 am

    The only thing that keeps me away from Linux is the lack of an alternative to Evernote.

  4. ReadandShare
    November 2, 2017 at 4:10 am

    I think articles like this could have been attractive 20 years ago - back in the days of Win 98 (and earlier) when the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) really was a regular occurrence to numerous users.

    But with Win XP, the OS started to stabilize significantly - and BSOD actually became rare starting with Win 7.

    All this time, desktop/laptop Linux in all its flavors never amounted to 1%-2% of all users -- a continuous statistic made even more pathetic after decades of giving away for free! Basically, 98% of users don't want Linux - and have been saying so for the last twenty years!

    Apple OS is stable. Windows OS is stable. The desktop/laptop market is non-growing. There is simply no space for Linux to muscle these two, after 20 years of failure!

    For the 1-2% who love to tinker, more power to them. But I think Linux is wasting too much time and effort. Better to devote precious resources to ensuring Linux's winning streak in the mobile / server / supercomputer segments!

    Finally, while I see no future in current Linux distros (unless you want to pretend that 1-2% constitutes a future) -- I can see Google's Linux-based Android/Chrome actually expanding from mobile to encompass desktop computing as well some time in the near future.

    • Shawn
      November 2, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      While your statements are somewhat true about the desktop user space OS market, this can't be further from the truth in the enterprise space. Most large organizations choose to run Linux or Unix because it is stable, and finding a well supported distro isn't hard (Red Hat or SUSE for example). I know many organizations that use Windows for their end users, but the back end, all the servers run some form of Linux almost exclusively. Linux is actually growing quite a bit, and is the preferred choice for most of the internet.

    • Paul
      November 8, 2017 at 1:55 am

      I was wondering how many comments I'd scroll through before the first Micro$oft shill comment.

    • MartinPC
      December 21, 2019 at 5:44 pm

      "Basically, 98% of users don't want Linux -- and have been saying so for the last twenty years!"

      Or maybe 98% of users have just been buying computers with Windows or MacOS *pre-installed* for the last twenty years. Do you see a lot of computers with Linux pre-installed at Best Buy, Costco, and Walmart? Or even online? Installing a new OS, whether as complete replacement, a dual boot, or even a virtual machine, is an intimating prospect for the *vast* majority of users. I'm sure that bundling Windows or MacOS with the hardware accounts for their dominance every bit as much as any substantive OS advantages do.

      And I say this as a home user who is becoming *acutely* aware of Linux's shortcomings in certain areas. Setting up a home network in Windows is *trivial* compared to Linux, and in Linux there simply *are* no equivalents to "Macrium Reflect" for cloning or imaging a running system, or to "Everything" for getting instantaneous file-search results. (Sorry, Clonezilla, Catfish, Drill, and Recoll, but no cigar.)

  5. Brenden
    November 1, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    I run a virtual machine with Linux on it (the Pop! _OS, 'designed' for software developers), because the main purpose of my desktop at home is to play games (and I have the resources to comfortably run a virtual machine of reasonable power in the 'background'). However, I use the same distro for my laptop (which is now going on its 6th year), and it works fantastic for everything I need and want. Admittedly, though, Windows (and, to my understanding, Mac OS's) safeguard a TON of what can be done to mess up a machine, and that's not always the case with Linux. On my Linux distros, I always heavily backup data (keep projects in online repositories, etc), because I'm much more likely to murder my OS than even a virus on another machine is...

  6. Olivia
    November 1, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    I switched to Linux after using Windows and even Mac. The Sierra OS just slowed my Macbook down so much that it was a waste of time. It actually took 10 minutes for me from start to my browser logging on! In the end my Macbook finally died! Bought a Windows laptop and just dual booted with Ubuntu 16.04.

    I use Linux almost exclusively now especially after the fiasco update of a Windows update, forgot the number but it just gave me a black screen. Not to mention it always tried to update and failed so many times. I had enough and don't even allow Windows to connect to my wifi.

    Linux is it! Fast and really great programs. I can't say I miss much. Gimp, Xnview, do well for photography editing. Clementine is great for music. VLC for movies. Amazon music works great on Linux. I really have no complaints.

    Oh wait, I do have a complaint, when will there be a Linux tablet? I would love to have one of those!

    • dragonmouth
      November 2, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      "when will there be a Linux tablet?"
      This article talks about 7 companies that sell computers preloaded with Linux. Check their sites out. Maybe one of them sells Linux tablets.


    • rc primak
      December 26, 2017 at 7:52 am

      There are Chromebooks with Intel core-i3 processors. Using Crouton, Ubuntu Linux can be installed in Developer Mode on these Chromebooks. There's your Linux tablet or laptop right there. (Tablet, laptop , convertible, netbook and a 2-in 1 are all synonyms.)

      • Olivia
        December 27, 2017 at 2:00 am

        Now, you got me thinking!!!

  7. Rann Xeroxx
    November 1, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Truthfully if you are a good candidate for Linux desktop, you maybe a good one for Chrome OS. And now that Android apps are showing up on Chrome OS, the viability has increased.