How to get Windows users to switch to linux

I know this pretty well. Thankfully none of the people I dealt with IRL were hard to deal with. They either switched or did not. But online, man… people always seem to complain about stuff. First is that “app x doesn’t work.” Then app x works and then “app y doesn’t work.” This gets fixed and then “I want feature ab from my desktop.” This gets added and then “I’m not going to change, because it’s a pain to move all my files, or to reboot my machine whenever I need to work on something if I dual boot. And while people were working on programs x and y, I discovered and need program z, which doesn’t work yet.”

There is always something. That’s one reason I don’t even bother to try to evangelize (convince people) to convert. Either someone is sick of Windows and genuinely wants to move, in which case I would gladly help them get their setups up and running, or they don’t and I don’t waste my time trying to Jehova-witness them into even trying another OS.


I have pretty bad fomo when it comes to HW optimization. I’m pretty excited about DirectStorage and not sacrificing a few frames for the sake of gaming on linux. I’m happy to daily drive Linux, Mac, or Windows, but It depends on where I am.

Most of what I do needs to be mobile and efficient. I use Mac, there I said it. I have to for some work stuff and I’ve gotten past learning to live with it to realizing it’s value as a package product (Hardware & Software).

The biggest issue I’ve had with switching to Linux lately has been it’s remote desktop performance when compared to Windows. I use Apache Guacamole for a few things and a side-by-side comparison Windows vs Ubuntu, Windows performs way better, especially compared to video playback remotely.

It sux but as my instructor said, don’t use a screwdriver when you need a hammer for the sake of it being your favorite tool. And I think Wendell gets that hice his push for mulit-os support from a single gpu.


It would be great if there was better overall support for hardware and software to work on all platforms. That would make it a lot easier for people to choose what they want to use.
But as long as that isn’t the case, then using the “best tool for the job” dictates which the majority of people will use.

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Devils advocate:

Why should they change if their stuff doesn’t work?

You may want to change for reason X, but for most people a computer is an appliance that should run their stuff and process their data without hassle.

if it doesn’t do that, then it has failed. Most people are willing to pay a windows license or macOS license (typically as part of their system purchase) to have that work.

Most people aren’t religious about this and couldn’t give a shit about free vs. proprietary, and unfortunately the vast majority don’t care about security either.

Representing the typical end user:
Why are you saying I should take less software compatibility after going through the effort and risk of backing up, reinstalling, restoring data and learning a new platform? Where’s the benefit outside of some ideology I don’t care about?

Unless you can provide a compelling user-relevant answer to that question, most people won’t change. Or you’ll change them and they’ll end up resenting it.

I guess this is a round-about way of saying “just make linux better” (in terms of software compatibility, speed, ease of use, maintenance, etc.). If it is better people will switch of their own accord, eventually, when its ready for them.

Think of all the things normal people HATE about computers and make those things go away.

Apple (as an example) is good about this (but even they’re not getting all the users - due to expense):

  • a few predefined reasonable specs to choose from (hardware purchase wise). Looking for Linux hardware? It’s a stab in the dark. Its more likely supported than not in 2021, but its still a guess and you can definitely be caught out.
  • security by default - you need to go out of your way to do dumb stuff (e.g., code signature checks, etc.) rather than leaving that responsibility to the end user
  • biometric auth that works seamlessly
  • encryption that works seamlessly
  • backups/sync that are set and forget - e.g., plug in an external drive and macOS prompts you if you want to use it to back up. During install/first run, it asks you if you want to restore a backup. Why doesn’t any linux distort make it easy to restore your data from a backup during setup?? Why isn’t there a standard backup app included and promoted, by default? It doesn’t matter what it is, pick something to promote to the end user so they have something rather than nothing.
  • make it easy to migrate from one machine to another. Both Windows and Mac have profile transfer apps to bring your data over via the network, cable, etc. Ideally support data ingest from Windows and Mac.
  • self-contained apps that are easily removed/moved/installed/etc.

Fix some of those things, make them better than windows and people will switch.


Don’t :expressionless:


Haha magnus. The entire thread was made just to get your attention, so could ask for the output of so i can re-create a software rendering version of you, to tuck into at night. :slightly_frowning_face:

You found the wrong person to play Devil’s advocate with. Because I am the Devil in this conversation, lmao.

They shouldn’t. That’s what I kept saying in the past 3 or 4 threads related to switching to Linux, including the LTT Linux gaming challenge.

I believe they don’t care because they are uninformed. And people who believe they know and they appear to not care, probably don’t actually know. Very few people actually know and actually don’t care, at least about security. I would consider it the same case for proprietary software, but I’m not entirely sure about that. People use whatever tool they have available, but I would bet you if put to a blind test, 9 out of 10 would likely choose in a quiz the option that respects their freedom and allows to use their hardware the longest. That is, until you reveal which OS/software is which, then their opinions change. Because people don’t want to learn something new most of the time, they just want to use whatever they already know.

I am at a point where I think it’s a complete waste of time to even try to make a point for people to switch. All the information is out there, they have to look for it if they are interested. I think trying to compel people to change is counter-productive, similar to how trying to convince people to convert to a religion is, you will likely see a defensive response kick-in, unless the people you are talking to are really tired or sick of their current software stack they run or the religion they believe in. And when that time comes, people will be seeking to convert without any need for you to try to convince them.

I didn’t get convinced to switch to Linux, I just got informed by myself, used it for a while and decided that Linux is a better platform for me. I believe this is the case for most people here.

This ^

Well, I slightly disagree here, because I think both Windows and Linux are on par in terms of usability, it’s more of a “pick your poison” scenario. To someone who has used Linux extensively, it is hard going to a Windows machine from time to time when I have to, because it’s so different than what I am accustomed to. 10 or even 5 years ago I wouldn’t believe this if future me would be telling my past self this (to put things into perspective, my first Linux taste was about 10 years ago).

Going back to conversion, it took me about 6 or 7 years to switch to Linux full time since my first try. I did dual boot back in the day, but because everything I needed, I could do in Windows, I didn’t feel the need to reboot to switch OS very often (in fact, dual booting is the worse experience IMO, because you have to close everything that you are doing and reopen stuff in another environment, which is why I always recommend people use 2 machines, main Linux that just has to be powerful enough to do its job and if needed, a windows machine for gaming or photoshop or whatnot, or a console if they prefer that route).

Not even Windows has this. iOS and Android have iCloud and Google Drive by default. Canonical tried making Ubuntu One, I think that was a good idea, I’m kinda sad it failed. If it lasted longer, I probably would have bought that, just because it’s a FOSS company offering a cloud storage solution.

If GNOME and KDE would make their own versions of backup program GUI utilities and they would ship by default with every distro that ships with GNOME Shell or Plasma by default, Linux could probably become more usable than Windows. But you know what that implies? Work. And a lot of it. You basically have to rewrite the software stack to see what version of configurations a desktop has and what version of plugins there are installed, then try to import the configurations into the running version (which has to be newer or at least the same version) and try to install the plugins. With all the extensions, I doubt GNOME would agree, but KDE might do something about it. But after that, the backup tool must also be able to talk the language of the system’s package manager, so it can see what software is installed and to try to migrate it to another box, or spew out errors that some software cannot be installed because they are not in the repo. But installed programs could be integrated into something like Discover on KDE or Software on GNOME.

There are tools like fwbackups, simple backup suite, timeshift and luckybackup that makes backing up files a bit easier for people.

Apparently I forgot about kup, KDE’s backup utility, which uses bup as the primary option (if it is installed) or I believe rsync as the second option. And I also forgot about Deja Dup, GNOME’s backup utility, which uses duplicity cli backup tool. Well, neither get promoted a lot, which is why I always forget about them. I just use rsync from time to time, because I don’t always have a powered on NAS to do a scheduled backup.

All of these tools can backup user files, with few of them, like timeshift, being able to leverage file system snapshots (BTRFS) to save the whole system state. It’s just that none of the backups tools are being shoved down users’ throats. Sometimes they should, Deja Dup and Kup are pretty easy to configure. But again, people don’t usually have a backup hygiene in general, most people probably archive their files on a USB thumb drive and hope for the best, without assuming that a device can fail and knowing to maintain multiple copies of their important files.

This used to be an issue for me, especially because I was a KDE user. Trying to move my whole /home folder onto another machine would result in broken desktops. But it’s not just KDE, the same happens on pretty much all DE if you customize them or you move to a PC with a different version.

Ever since, I minimized my linux setup because I was looking for portability, because it was apparent that I was going to switch machines pretty often. Now whenever I just move my /home folder, I got everything set up and ready to rock. I just install my necessary packages and I’m off to the races. By minimal software I mean swayWM (used to run JWM for a while, also worked) and mostly terminal programs (nnn, neovim, yt-dlp and my scripts) and a few programs that I find myself using often (firefox, thunderbird, sxiv, mpv) and rarer (pcmanfm-qt).

Obviously people don’t want to learn how to do that and to sacrifice perceived usability (it’s not a sacrifice, it’s just an alternative way to navigate your OS) for portability. But another reason why I did this was because I was looking to minimize desktop distractions and to concentrate on the programs I wanted to use, because it was easy to lose time track when I was fiddling with desktop customization options.

Well, ok, I kinda agree, backup tools could get better to the point that you can just install a distro, use it, upgrade it, back it up, then restore the distro on another machine and have the same identic setup (without using cloning tricks like Clonezilla). But there’s no software like this yet, I believe macOS does have a similarly powerful backup tool built-in, but I could be wrong, as I never used Time Machine to do a full system restore.

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Maybe start with something easier like … World Peace.

For most people, computers are toasters. Non-technical Linux users are hobbyists like quarter-mile car and low rider builders. It’s just not for everyone.

Until Linux can be utilized by the lowest common denominator it will never get market share. What good is the security if, i can’t install it, maintain it, and only do 70% of what i need it to do.

On the positive side, SAAS is a gift-horse in the mouth for both Firefox & Linux they are OS agnostic.


I was thinking Devember?

I’d love to be able to afford working on fixing this full time (spoiler, I can’t, my mortgage makes me a slave of my bank for the time being)

Timeshift is a good start, needs to be expanded to other btrfs layouts and needs to support at least some ZFS and some LVM snapshots too, and ideally needs to support remote snapshots, like e.g. maybe restic/rclone supported backends…
… then integrate with installers as you say,… for easy restore…

… and build a mechanism to stub out / dedup files coming from distro packages with rest of the world (ipfs hosted by internet archive+distros themselves)… to make initial backup of fresh systems into various places frictionless… and not have to pay $$$ for cloud storage backup of what’s perceived to be an empty freshly installed system with a few drivers and apps and browser caches, a few containers, maybe a screen saver and a wallpaper and some steam games.

… making sure restores are possible onto slightly different hardware world be nice too… e.g. be able to pick what to restore… or not.

… oh and have a nuisance thingie in plasma or gnome shell that annoys a user … “you have no backups” same as windows of you don’t have antivirus or are not logged in with an ms account… but the kind you can ignore for a month from a gui or forever through a cli.

If anyone has Devember time, it’d make me super happy to see any of these features.

Definitely a fan of that particular mindset.

Most people don’t want to use software or hardware. They really just want the benefits those things promise. The failure to understand this is why programmable thermostats have historically been fucking awful in practice.


time machine isn’t perfect, but when it works (and most of the time, it does) its pretty good. Between FileVault, time machine and iCloud/onedrive sync, I have no qualms about my machine dying, being wiped, stolen, etc.

I’ve migrated with it several times, and its got me out of the poo more than once. But the best thing about it is its brain-out simple. Just plug into the drive at my desk and it does its shit in the background; if the drive isn’t plugged in, hourly snapshots are taken on device and rolled up to the disk when it comes back.

Assuming I had a machine to restore to, I’d be out of action for maybe an hour.

Ideally, linux should offer to image your machine to an external drive upon install.

And let me clarify that - I don’t just mean back up files from a Linux install. I mean back up the system state of WHATEVER operating system the user was previously running at the physical drive level.

It doesn’t have to be hard. Most end user machines are one physical disk, offer to dd it to an external drive.

Something like that would be a start, and work upward from there. However one of the first things you need to do to INSTALL linux is deal with setting up new partitions, a new boot loader, wiping your windows shit, etc.

That’s a large hurdle for most; having a reliable “put my shit back the way it was!” option would lessen that.

It’s not that the linux install itself is hard if you don’t give a fuck about your data, but most people do.

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Should we get an admin to close the topic then? @admins

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Agreed, but dd or clonezilla is a terrible idea. I mean, it’s good if you want to wait a while, but otherwise, ZFS or BTRFS snapshots sent to an attached storage would be tremendously better. But just like on macOS, you’d have to wipe your disk before you use it, so you format it with the file system in use by your system.

There are CLI tools like Sanoid/Syncoid and zfs-backup that can use used as backends, but in the case where you want to backup alocal storage to another local storage, I think zfs send/receive should be fine as the backend.

TBH, I wonder why Canonical hasn’t done that already. They have been using ZFS for a while and if you use any apt install / upgrade command, it will automatically take a ZFS snapshot of your system and by rebooting, you can granularly restore the system back to either the state of the whole disk before the command, the state of only the OS installation without affecting your home files, before the command, or only the state of your home files before the command was run, without affecting your OS installation. That is, from what I recall, I could be wrong.

But I think Canonical can make an easy GUI tool to help users either replicate those snapshots to a new disk, or to have manual or automatic replication of the system to the destination disk, or to have automatic backups (with a y/n pop-up screen asking if you want to backup now) once you plug in your disk to your system.

I personally don’t need that, but I can see how it would improve normies’ experience with the system and have a better backup solution than Windows currently does (probably better than even macOS at that point, because ZFS is just that good if you know how to use it).

TO clarify with DD i’m considering the use case of a new user who hasn’t installed linux yet.

ZFS backup only works if you’re using ZFS already on the OS you’re installing over.

if you’re not a linux user yet and just want a way to get back, offering a way to do that in the linux installer would be good.

the reason i say DD (as an example, not as an end-game) is because it is OS agnostic. But if a better method of imaging the existing OS/disk layout works, all for it.

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Oh, I get it now. Yeah, adding a backup option to Ubiquity / Subiquity / Anaconda installers make sense, but should be optional. The user should probably be presented with the option and just press skip if it’s not desirable (imagine being forced to make a backup of an empty disk).


Exactly. Not mandatory but a safety net for giving it a shot and having an easy escape back to whatever they had before.


to me linux just does what i want.
there is a small thing many older windows users stick to though.
the idea of if it is free then it isnt very good or its a virus host.
anyone who has ever worked with a lot of share ware early in dos/windows life knows exactly what im talking about.
Ive found shareware that does the job but man how crappy can they get?

but all aside with many people they will not admit when they need help for fear of how they will be treated by others, and so they refuse to ask questions but try to learn the hard way no matter what the cost.

quite frankly linux is actually much easier to install and in many distros by far much easier to use for most normal tasks.
hardware developers would have a much larger customer base If they included linux support, But how many of them have signed lucrative contracts with micro-sith and crapple under the condition of non support for other os’s?
the best way i believe is live demonstration of different distros (installed) so they can actually see the speed difference.
normal users are not coders, not IT tech’s and not necessarily gamers, but they are web surfers, e-mailers, and use office products.
an easy to use os with all this is the first step for them, the following steps depend on them getting used to the difference in the naming schemes that linux uses.

android! in many cases android is easy but not as easily customizable because you are limited to android apps.
and i know this sounds cold but the young are far more amenable to change and should be targeted early with linux.
the older generations, unless they WANT to change they never will!
being irritated with windows is only a beginning, but to many its a step they will never take.

clonezilla is an excellent program but there is a steep learning curve to it.
not in how its structured but the fact that it has so many options you can choose in duplication. including simultaneous machine to machine transfer, in other words you can net clone one machines OS to your entire server farm on one command.
damn powerful distro if you ask me.


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@moderators is what you’re looking for.

Going to close this. Any objections, pm us.