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long time Windows and Mac user here.

I am planning a plunge into Linux this week for the first time ever. Specifically, I'll be installing the latest stable release of Ubuntu.

Any advice for making the experience go smoothly?

Some details: Laptop: HP Compaq tc4400 Tablet PC. RAM: 2GB Hard Drive: 80GB

Advice from former switchers would also be appreciated.

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Ubuntu requires no special knowhow and should be quite intuitive if you have worked with computers before. – matthias krull Aug 23 '10 at 15:25
This is a near-duplicate of this question. However, I may add that if you are a Mac diehard, there's a theme/guide called Mac4Lin you may like. – digitxp Aug 23 '10 at 18:20
It might help to tell us what things you do the most with your computer, and what prompted the switch. Ubuntu and linux are awesome and can do almost anything, and it's highly customizable, but giving advice on what to do with it is hard without knowing more about your aims and desires. – frabjous Aug 23 '10 at 19:23
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Do you plan on making this a Linux only system or a dual boot system with both Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux on it? When installing Ubuntu Linux it has an import tool so it can import settings and saved items from Windows so your saved items will be there ready to go in Ubuntu. Before you make the switch however make a backup of anything you want to keep such as documents, music, videos, etc and save them to an external device such as a hard drive.
The setup of Ubuntu is pretty straight forward, so just follow the prompts as you go along. Ubuntu comes pretty well setup with software right from the install. Here is also a nice guide to help if you want to add software once you get Ubuntu installed: I have been using Ubuntu for a while now and for me and my uses I find that it fits me the best. You may have heard that you need to know the command line to use Linux, that is not totally true. Yes the command line is very powerful, however in Ubuntu you do not have to use it. You can install software through the Synaptic Package Manager which allows you to simply search for what you want, click on it, and install. I hope this helps.

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+1 for "duel boot system". – whitequark Aug 23 '10 at 15:46
I edited this to refer to "dual boot", as in "two ways to boot". If you meant "duel boot", as in "letting two operating systems battle to see which one launches", then you may revert. – Doug Harris Aug 23 '10 at 16:17
No. It's going to be a single boot system. The hard drive is far too small to dual boot, plus I simply don't like dual booting. – AngryHacker Aug 23 '10 at 16:42

I have been using Ubuntu inside a VirtualBox on my Vista laptop with no problems for quite a while now.

I had tried dual boots before with XP, and had all kinds of problems, so I decided to try it in VirtualBox, and after a little tweaking in the virtual machine, I am able to use either Vista or Ubuntu. In fact, I just upgraded the Ubuntu to the latest version a couple of weeks ago while I was still working in Vista.

I think a virtual machine is the way to go, unless you are using a spare to be a Linux only machine.

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Also, look into Linux Mint. I have it on a triple boot (Ubuntu, Win7, Mint). Mint is very good for new users.

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I have Linux on a Dual Boot with Windows 7. I Used the Free Ubuntu CD that you can request off of the site, it took like 6 weeks but ive put it on an old crappy desktop and it feels like new. Its a great option and its pretty refreshing layout and style. my advice is to test it out before making it your main OS, because my resolution got a little messed up and im a hardcore gamer so it wasnt to good on that front.

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I noticed you're using a laptop. Ubuntu is a fantastic distro to start with, but it doesn't (usually?) come with wireless support "out-of-the-box" [EDIT: If your wireless card is made by Broadcom.]. Once you install Ubuntu you'll have to hook your laptop up with an ethernet connection for it to grab wireless drivers. It should auto-detect which one you need within a few minutes of its first boot.

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This just isn't true. Wireless works fine out of the box except for all but very unusual hardware. – frabjous Aug 23 '10 at 19:21
Unusual being Broadcom. – digitxp Aug 23 '10 at 21:22
Oh. I guess every laptop I've tried installing Ubuntu on has been Broadcom. – REDace0 Aug 24 '10 at 22:35

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