What is a dual-boot ?
A dual-boot is a way to have 2 (or more) different operating systems installed on your machine (on separate partitions or even on separate hard drives). This way, you can choose on which operating system you want to boot when you’re powering your machine on.
I will not explain how to configure a dual-boot in this article, there’s plenty of tutorials available on the internet.
It is a well known and used technique for people who want to give Linux a try before considering a complete switch to it. With a dual-boot you can install both Linux and Windows operating system(s) on the same machine and choose to boot either on one or the other.
But, how do you know when you’re ready to quit dual-booting and switch completely to Linux ?
Before getting into answering that question, I will highlight some obvious benefits of having a dual-boot configured :
– Dual-boot is a secure way of giving Linux a try, offering you an easy way to get back to Windows (or any other OS) if your opinion has changed. Of course, trying Linux using a Live Session through an USB stick or in a Virtual Machine can be a first step, but if you ever considerer switching to Linux, you’d better try it for “real”, if I may say.
– It is a good way to run Linux at most and still having an easy “come back” to Windows for some specifics needs (either professional or personal).
– Gaming… Obviously, you knew I’ll get to that point ! Just to make things clear : Linux is growing fast and most Linux distributions are now “gaming compliant and ready”, more then you can imagine ! But yeah… I guess Windows is still the premium platform for gaming as of today. But we’ll get deeper through that point a bit later.
Difficulties you may encountered in taking your decision to switch completely to Linux while having a Dual-boot
Let’s assume you’re a Linux enthusiast and you decided to configure your machine to run a dual-boot between Linux and Windows. Here are some troubles you might face off (based on my personal experience back when I was performing a Dual-boot) :
When I first installed Linux, I spent few days using it (about a week or two I would say). At that time, I was still at school, studying computer science. The school offered us some useful programs for our studies that we’re only available on Windows (at least for the most part).
So, at some point, I had to switch back to Windows to work for school using those programs. Obviously, some friends asked me for a gaming session with them.
Well… I booted on Windows, to work. Work’s now done. Alright, let’s go for a gaming session ! You guessed it… Habits took me, and I switched back to Windows for a while. Even if you took the decision to give Linux a serious try, habits and specific needs or deadlines might make you consider that, for now, Windows is simpler for you as you’re used to it.
It is not that simple to switch from one operating system to an other :
Yeah, I kept saying that dual-boot is an easy way to switch from Linux to Windows, but let me contrast this point…
Actually, switching from one OS to an other implies stopping/rebooting your machine, select the good operating system at start, wait for it to boot-up…
You’ll probably see that your “specifics needs” are more frequent or accurate then you imagined and it might discourage you taking some time to learn how Linux is working and find the way it can help you with those needs. Which leads us to our next point.
You’ll need to be patient and courageous :
I truly think that Linux is the easiest operating system to use, even more than Windows or OSx. Anyway, if you’re new to Linux, it will take some times to get used to it.
As easy as it is, you’ll still need to learn it a bit. It is as complicated as switching from an iPhone to an Android based phone for instance, so nothing quite difficult there. But it will take a few sessions to get used to it obviously…
Distro Hopping :
You might know that there’s only one “version” of Windows out there (I’m not talking about versions in the way Windows98/2000/XP/8/10 are. I’m talking about the OS itself. If you wanna use Windows nowadays, you can either install Windows or… Windows).
It is not the case for Linux. Linux has a large number of distributions available. You can choose between Ubuntu, ElementaryOS, Linux Mint, Manjaro, Arch Linux, and the list goes on… They have (for the most part) the same base (I’m not going through technicals points here) but each one has their desktop environments, their “mechanics”, their specificities…
At first, I installed Ubuntu which is the most common choice. But, at some point, I didn’t want to use it anymore due to some reasons (that I’ll not detail here).
So, I went through the process of trying each biggest/most used distributions available to see which one fits my needs in terms of desktop environment, package manager, etc… This process can be quite long. It is called “Distro Hopping” and it can also discourage you from making the switch to Linux if you get trouble finding the perfect distribution for you.
So, how to get rid of those difficulties ?
I will not talk about distro-hopping here. It’s a very subjective point, but I wrote an article about “How to find the Linux distribution that suits your needs” if you want to get some tips.
Keep getting interest in Linux :
During my studies in computer science I developed my interest for Linux. Each articles, each videos, each things I could discover enforced my desire to switch to Linux (I mean, as a daily-driver. I was already convince that Linux was the way to go on the server side).
This might be my first tip. If you’re already interested in Linux but having trouble switching to it, just keep your interest growing by documenting yourself.
Linux is constantly evolving, this can help you preserving or getting your decision back while waiting to take the plunge !
Be serious about trying Linux :
My second point may be obvious but, spend time on your Linux system.
A good way to do so would be to “obligate” yourself to use only Linux during week-ends for instance. This way you can get used to it gradually.
The point is to try to do all your daily-stuff during those Linux session and maybe see which of those things are easier/faster/better or, on the other hand, harder/slower/worse compare to Windows.
In any case, if you’re not able to perform what you’re usually used to do, then do some researches (remember, switching back to Windows is not that easy and fast as you may think :p ). It can leads you to awesome (even better) alternatives ! That links you to my first point 😉
I also wrote an article about programs I use daily on Linux, it might help you.
Let’s talk a bit about gaming… As I said earlier, Windows is probably still the premium platform for gaming currently.
To be honest, gaming was the only thing that prevented me switching entirely to Linux back in the days.
But, as I grew up, my interest in gaming went down and nowadays I’m just playing a few casual games now and then that are all running well on Linux.
Being on Linux also helped me being more selective about the games I want to play. Furthermore, as my interest grew up for Linux, I really wanted to support developers that consider Linux users by making their games running natively on Linux (that also works for “normal” programs obviously).
But anyway ! Linux is now more “gaming ready” that you might think.
As I also said earlier, Linux is constantly evolving and that implies gaming as well. There’s now a tons of games running natively on Linux (via Steam for instance).
If your favourite game doesn’t, do not worry. There’s still plenty of possibilities to get it to run on Linux, such as Wine, Lutris, Proton and so on… There’s also some promising solutions that can let you play any games whatever operating system you’re running on, such as Stadia for instance. I’ll let you search about this (still linked to first point right 😉 ).
So now what ? Am I ready to quit dual-booting and switch entirely to Linux ?
This is a tuff one… Only you can judge if you’re ready or not, obviously.
But I can give some tips to figure it out :
It’s time to give Linux a serious try guys ! My first tip would be to boot to your Linux system for a complete month and not coming back to Windows during that time (unless you REALLY need to for some reasons). The idea is to use Linux as your primary system for a moment and write down good and bad stuffs about this experiment.
For instance :
– Good stuff : I can customize my system however I want and it looks and feels exactly the way I want.
– Bad stuff : I miss Microsoft word
At the end of that month, summarize your notes and see what was the good and bad feelings you had about Linux. For the bad stuff you wrote down, do some researches. As I said earlier, you’ll always find a way to do whatever you want.
If I’m taking my previous example, I can either run Microsoft word via Wine, or give LibreOffice a try (which is fantastic in my opinion, at least on its “fresh” version).
Let me remind you that I wrote this article, just in case 😉
If you can’t find an acceptable solution anyway (allow me to doubt about it), you’ll have to decide if you’re ready to get over it or not…
After doing this, I felt comfortable with the idea of switching completely to Linux !
Another thing I did was to delete my Windows partition from my laptop (that I do not use as much as my desktop computer). To be honest, that was an accident… I didn’t meant to do that but nevermind, I did !
For the best actually, it made me realise that I didn’t need Windows at all (according to the purpose my laptop has to me). Even though I didn’t meant to do this, uninstall Windows/install Linux on your “secondary” machine could be a good way to try things out.
At this point, my laptop runs only on Linux. My desktop computer still has its Windows partition, but I still consider myself as an entire Linux user that quit dual-booting.
Why is that ?
Because I only booted to Windows twice on my desktop computer since last year.
The first time I did was to let my Girlfriend play a Windows only compatible game on my PC (so that wasn’t even for me). By the way, I could run it via Lutris or Wine on Linux.
The second time was because I was editing a video and wanted to do a special effect that I only knew how to do on Sony Vegas (a Windows video editing program). So I booted to Windows just to do this FX, but I could do it via Kdenlive (a Linux video editing program).
Both times I didn’t respected my own tips… Anyway that was the only times I got back on Windows this entire year !
You may ask, “why don’t you delete your Windows partition on your desktop computer then ?”
Well, I bought the licence for it years ago, it is configured and its presence do not bother me that much. So there’s no point deleting it actually.
By the way, I’m considering buying a new desktop computer because the current one gets quite old now… If I ever do so, it will obviously run Linux and I’m not planning to install Windows in any way !
That’s it ! Hope these tips helped you to adopt Linux in any way 🙂