Migrating Away from Windows using Stylish Headgear!

Last week I wrote about my decision to attempt to migrate from Windows to a Linux distribution. I asked for advice from folks in the blog post as well as on Twitter and received several days’ worth of awesome advice. Thanks to all who helped me out!

I think I’ve made a determination about which distribution I’m going to stick with: Fedora Linux.

Why the interest in this distro? Why not others like Ubuntu or Mint? Two primary reasons:

First, Fedora is an RPM based distribution from Red Hat that indicates where the stable RHEL may be going. If I learn Fedora, I’ll be familiar with RHEL and be able to use that experience in real life situations. I’ll also be able to garner some certifications to show what I know (important to me since I’m working as a contractor and need to preen myself in front of clients).

Second, Ubuntu, Mint and Pinguy (Why haven’t I heard of Pinguy sooner?!) are all awesome distributions that I’d go with in a heartbeat if I wasn’t an IT pro. In fact, the next person who is a candidate for replacing Windows with a desktop Linux distro will probably get either Mint or Pinguy from me. However, perhaps they’re a bit too safe in my case. I’d like for things to be ever so slightly less ready for mass consumption (Slackware and Gentoo fans, stop laughing). Fedora isn’t quite as polished as some other distros. As it is, I’ve already had some fun with yum and package kit not quite working and learned a lot in the process.

Last Saturday I installed Fedora 14 on my laptop and I’ve been ootching it along day by day since. However, I’m not going to commit to leaving Windows for it until two things happen first:

  • Wait for the next kernel update just to make sure my nVidia driver takes the change nicely. It should since I used the akmod version, but… you never know.
  • Get a good backup scheme going and perform a full, bare metal restoration of my environment with no lost applications, settings or data. I’d like to be able to perform the backup while the system is running and not resort to image CDs like clonezilla, but I will if that turns out to be the best way. I might make a clonezilla PXE boot server on another PC so I can boot off the network and do it.

Once those two things are completed, especially the backups, I’ll start the complete transition. I think Wine and VirtualBox seamless mode may play large parts in this transition, but I hope to be using as many native Linux apps as possible. I’m just not willing to give up Microsoft Outlook 2010 (it’s also unwise since I support many people who use it). Sorry Mutt fans.

Thanks again to all those who helped me in this choice and gave me awesome advice on how best to learn Linux. Looks like 2011 is shaping up to be a year full of learning. Any last pleas to try a different distro? (Some day I’ll try Gentoo. Promise!)


  1. Twirrim

    February 16, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Despite operating in a CentOS environment, I use Ubuntu on my workstation for precisely the reason you’re suggesting it for others. I need my desktop to “just work” time spent making my desktop do what it should do is wasted time away from my real job: maintaining our infrastructure.
    Whilst I’m curious about the future for redhat, that’s what a test VM is for. The other advantage being if I badly screw up a test VM I’m not wasting half a day getting my workstation set up right again.


    • Wesley David

      February 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

      Part of me did consider the foolishness of running a more bleeding edge distro as my main OS. I mean, I’m fully expecting it to get hosed somehow. That will probably be a bad thing. I’ll certainly keep the VMs around for testing though.


  2. Jinks

    February 17, 2011 at 5:17 am

    I just read both your last posts, so this might be a little late…

    Gathering from what you want to achieve, Fedora certainly isn’t a bad choice. You get hands-on experience with RPMs and most certifications are pretty Redhat-centric.


    You should probably take a serious look at Arch Linux if you want some more deep-down learning experiences. Arch is a rolling distro which aims to stay as close to upstream projects as possible. (As an example, some KDE versions were already packaged a few hours before the official announcement on the KDE website. Most software is in the repos less than a week after official release.)
    With Arch you get most software exactly the way their developers intended them to be. No distro-specific patches, no mangling of configuration to fit in some package-scheme, etc.
    Installing it can be a bit daunting, since per default not even a GUI is installed. But the documentation is exceptional and, after installing *just* what you want or need, all software usually runs without a hitch.

    If you want to see how and why something works in a linux environemnt and how it all fits together, Arch is a good system to learn. (Think Slackware but with package-management and at least a *little* hand-holding.) If you think it’s to bare-bones for a primary desktop you can always try it in a VM or on some old spare hardware.


    • Wesley David

      February 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      I had seen Arch in my research and was attracted to it’s rolling nature. I decided against it in favor of an RPM based distro and also it seemed like Arch wasn’t mainstream enough for my noobiness. That was probably a hasty decision. Okay, so I think I’ll try and piece it together in a VM at some point in the future. It looks like a good choice. And yes, Slackware seemed a teensy bit too hardcore for me. =)



  3. akavlie

    February 17, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Let me know what you figure out for backup; I’ve found that to be a bit of a pain point on Linux… I miss Time Machine in OS X.

    I’m using Deja Dup, but I have yet to verify any of the backups.


    • Wesley David

      February 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      Wow, Deja Dupe looks awesome! I hoped to roll something on my own for the learning experience of it all, but Deja Dupe may work out awesome for any family and friends who I’ve set up on Linux. Thanks!


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