Migrating from Windows

The last Windows computer in our house is very shortly going to be history 🙂

I have been threatening my wife’s PC for quite some time now, but there has been no real motivation to move until today… Our bank called and told her a credit card has been fraudulently used in the last few days. Fortunately they appear to have correctly and swiftly identified the misuse and are dealing with the problem.

However, this experience has obviously caused my beloved (Helen) to start wondering how her details were captured in the first place. She is pretty scrupulous with the shredder, and this particular card is almost only ever used for on-line transactions; so her PC was a possible, if not likely, route for the thieves. The ClamWin AV scan threw up a few nasty sounding files, including some IE.IFrame trojan thing, although they had all been quarantined already.  But the fact that Windows is so vulnerable to attack and subsequent compromise when compared to Linux, this saga has just tipped the scales. We now have a good reason to start the final migration of the Lord household.

This evening, I have installed Thunderbird on Helen’s Windows PC and imported everything from her Outlook email client. The import was basically flawless and after changing a few settings she’s now up and running with TB. (Interestingly, her first few comments were very positive: “This looks nice”, “It’s much faster”, “I like the address book layout” and so forth.) I added Lightning and connected her up to our caldav Calendar Server (Cosmo) which is an added bonus for Helen. We all use this for work, family and personal scheduling and Helen had been limited to using web access (simply because Outlook doesn’t support the Caldav standard) which is not the optimum interface to this calendar.

Helen was already using Firefox most of the time but now I’ve asked her to stop using IE altogether.

Helen also has OpenOfice.org (OOo) installed already but has not been using it much as the Windows defaults are [were] set for MSO 2003. This will probably be the area where there will be some new learning as she stops using MSO and starts using OOo but it isn’t that painful to be frank.

I think within a month, I will install Ubuntu 8.10 as a dual boot for a short period just in case she finds there are things that don’t work and then we’ll turn off the malware-that-pretends-to-be-an-OS Windows within a few weeks from then.

She does use iTunes for her work and pleasure so I am thinking we’ll need to have a VM (VirtualBox) running her copy of XP to support that, unless someone would like to offer advice on alternatives. She runs music therapy classes and her material is ripped onto her iPod using Apple’s lossless codec IIRC that iTunes seems to default to. Never having used it myself, nor do I own an iPod I am not the best source of advice on this one so if anyone can help here I’d be grateful.

I can’t think there is much else that will bite us though; she doesn’t have any other proprietary apps I can see that are going to prove troublesome to replace.

One thing that is really important in this story is this ability to run the main applications: Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice.org, on both Windows and Linux platforms. It will make the transition, for a non-technical user, much less painful than having to switch wholesale over to new apps and a new OS all at the same time. Thanks Mozilla and OOo.

As we go through this migration I’ll write a little more (I might even ask Helen to document her experiences and thoughts). Hopefully it will help others doing, or wanting to do, the same thing.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  • We finally made the switch to a non-Microsoft (notice, I didn’t say “non-Windows”- NO Microsoft product is allowed) home a few months back. My wife has a legit copy of Fastt Math, but lost the key for installing it, so she went online in search of one. Unfortunately, she downloaded a compressed executable, and executed it. Needless to say, the box was hosed with more viruses, trojans and other malware than you can count. When I returned home from a business trip, I promptly removed Windows from the computer, and announced our Freedom. It’s good to be Microsoft free.

    So far, she hasn’t had much trouble making the switch. She’s a Mac OS X user primarily, so other than Office 2003, which she knew inside and out, she isn’t missing much, and it hasn’t been hard for her to get her work done. She’s the creative types anyway, so Mac OS X just fits the bill nicely for her anyway.

    At any event, welcome aboard! 🙂

  • Mackenzie says:

    Assuming she’s not using DRM’d music bought from iTunes, Rhythmbox should work just fine for syncing her iPod.

  • L4Linux says:

    2 good alternatives are Songbird and Amarok. Songbird is also available in Windows, so she can start using it now to make the migration easier. There are instructions about installing Songbird in Ubuntu here:

  • I second Songbird… it can connect to emusic etc. as well or she could use amazon mp3 downloads to replace itunes purchase features.

  • Alan Lord says:

    Thanks for the comments so far. Songbird I played with quite a while ago and left it as it was very “raw” at the time. I do recall the recent announcement of the 1.0 release too, but then completely forgot about it again! Doh…

    As it is cross platform I will give it a go with my wifey first in the next day or two.



  • Ed Landaveri says:

    Way to go OpenSourcerer. We did migrate the last one 8 months ago when my wife’s computer’s power supply crashed. I had a good excuse and voila! After a few months nevertheless she asked me to switch from Ubuntu (which she didn’t get used to) to Centos whose interface she’s well aware off, since that’s what me & my daugthers been using for over six years. Now I have to Centos boxe’s (mine & my wife’s), my daughters debian’s box plus my personal laptop. Cool! My second daughter (7) is always the most enthusiastic about this. “Papa there ain’t no losers in this house, We all run Linux”! That’s right daughter! We’re all winners!


  • twitter says:

    I moved my wife away from Windows four of five years ago without many issues. I used Mepis and highly recommend it for it’s use of KDE easy installation and excellent package choices. It comes with Adobe Flash and a few other programs most people consider indispensable. While there was some initial frustration, the wife almost never looked back. Dual boot did not last long at all.

    Good luck with it.

  • kyttkat says:

    Back to the initial trigger for this post – if it looks like an iFrame issue install the NoScript Firefox add-on on Helen’s computer (presuming you haven’t already) – about as close as anybody gets to dealing with the problem. You do need to “train” it like a firewall but probably worth it in the long run.

  • Wayne says:

    My wife has a love/hate relationship with Microsoft. She keeps buying Microsoft products, and absolutely hates how they work. I asked her about this, and her response was that it was what she was used to, that OSX was too hard to work with, and that Ubuntu wasn’t as polished.

    I pointed out to her that we’ve never had a problem with OSX, and the only problem we’d had with Ubuntu was hardware related (oddball mother board), and that neither of them had ever crashed, or lost any data. Right now she’s thinking the situation over. There’s one Windows program, Personal Ancestral File, that she uses a lot, as she’s a genealogist. We did try it under Wine at one point, and ran into data file corruption issues. I’ve going to check with the Wine project, and see if I can get them to look into PAF compatibility.

  • Mike says:

    My mother rang earlier today: her computer (XP) has suddenly become slow/unresponsive.

    I’m going ’round to install Ubuntu/XP dual boot in a few days – It’ll stick if I’m able to wean her off Publisher ’97…

    My wife used to be stuck in Windows – hated Ubuntu. I convinced her to buy a Mac, she’s enjoyed OS X. Has to dual boot though – she’s Chinese and therefore uses the “Chinese Internet”, which is very Microsoft orientated. All the Chinese programming graduates I’ve talked to (OK so only 3-4) only know MS languages – it seems to be all they’re taught.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>