There are many of you out there who are looking to make a change from your current Windows operating system to the Linux operating system. Some of you may have doubts, many of you most likely have questions before taking the plunge. I’ll try to point you in the right directions before you switch from Windows to Linux.
Back up your important files
You’ll want to back up all important Windows files including documents, media, bookmarks, application settings, etc. Throw everything on a USB key, CD/DVD, or an external hard drive.
Grab a live CD of the distribution you are going to install
A live CD will allow you to ensure that your hardware is compatible with the Linux distribution as well as give you a feel of the desktop usability. You should be able to gather if the distribution you choose is right for you by running the live CD. However, not all Linux distributions contain a Live CD version, so be sure to check if the Linux distro you are choosing has one available.
Determine what functionality you will need
If you are a normal user who mostly enjoys browsing the web, using e-mail, chatting with friends online, and using media, then Linux is a great option. If you enjoy playing popular computer games, you want to check with Cedega to see if your favorite game is compatible before you switch from Windows to Linux.
Distrowatch has a variety of useful information from user reviews of many Linux distributions as well as the current most popular distros.
Wine is an open source application that allows you to run a variety of Windows applications. CrossOver Office is similar, and built on top of Wine to give the user an easier experience in installing and using the Windows applications on your Linux desktop. Be sure to browse through the compatibility list before assuming your favorite Windows application works with CrossOver Office.
Understand basic Linux commands
You can’t always rely on the beauty of the desktop with most of todays Linux distributions. What if X crashes and you’re sent to the command line? Rather then rebooting, check out this site for a straight forward guide on some of the basic Linux commands.
Also check out Open Source Alternatives and The Linux Alternative Project.
This article is very useful to new and old Linux users and contains a variety of quality guides gathered throughout the years.
Can you think of any other tasks to complete before making the switch to Linux? Leave your ideas in the comments.