How to Migrate to Ubuntu 10.10 from a Windows Environment

By Dr. Muhammad Saleem, PhD

Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Engineering

Lest it become a nightmare, migrating from Windows to Linux/Ubuntu needs a systematic and well-defined plan. You can be sure that there’s a solution for almost every compatibility issue you’ll encounter – direct solution or a workaround. 

Being unfamiliar with the new operating system, at times, could make you feel uncomfortable, but if you are 

successful, you’ll enjoy the stability of Ubuntu and its immunity to viruses and worms that are always attacking the Windows system from the Internet. Here is a list of my recommendations.

  • Migration is not a “single-leap” process. To begin with, just prepare a list of software tools that you are currently using on the Windows platform. You’ll need equivalent tools on the Ubuntu operating system to convert all your document files, images, audio and video files, emails, preferences and bookmarks.

  • The migration path can follow more than one option. For example, initially Ubuntu can be installed in parallel with Windows OS for shifting files and folders on the same computer. Later on, you have the option to uninstall Windows. On the other hand, with the pre-requisites already fulfilled, you also have the option to completely remove Windows.
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  • To be on the safe side, make a backup of your data on a CD or on a network computer. Install Ubuntu 10.10 with existing or a brand new disc partitioning. After installation, you’ve come up with the first software tool that you’ll need extensively – Mozilla Firefox – for web browsing. Just like Internet Explorer, this software is an integral part of the new operating system. But the question here to ask is –

   “Does Firefox have all the bookmarks, saved passwords and preferences that you were using on Windows?”

Not at all! You have to copy those settings from the “Documents and Settings” folder if you were already using Firefox in Windows. But in the case of Internet Explorer, the trick here is that before migrating to Ubuntu, just install Firefox on your Windows system and allow it to import all the existing settings during installation and keep them inside the user profile folder. The next step is to copy this folder in an appropriate location in your home directory in Ubuntu. Mozilla Firefox will automatically capture these bookmarks.

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  • Now let us come to the repository of files created on Windows. Ubuntu 10.10 can read/write data from NTFS partitions. Start installing all those software tools you had listed earlier. For instance, you can install OpenOffice to use files from Microsoft Office applications. Your word documents, power point presentations, Visio drawings and spreadsheet will be handled by OpenOffice. Similarly, Acrobat for Linux is also available, so don’t worry about the PDF files. Install compatible applications for your image, video and other files.
  • As far as the most common Windows applications are concerned, there are compatible Linux versions where you can migrate easily without any data loss. But take a pause here! There are some typical applications for which don’t have a Linux counterpart. What will you do then? The workaround strategy! For example, MS Access database cannot be directly converted into a Linux-compatible database. The tip is: retrieve the data through SQL and use it in a Linux-based database, or use “wine”, the Windows emulation on Linux that can execute Windows applications. If you’re using a networked computer, you can access the desktop of a Windows station from your computer.

Editor's Note: Dr. Muhammad Saleem has a PhD from the Center for Advanced Studies in Engineering, Islamabad, Pakistan. He spends his spare time writing as a freelance writer. He is also the author/co-author of several research publications in the area of Ad Hoc networks. You can view more about his work over at:

The article above does not reflect the opinions, observations and recommendations of and are the sole views of the author. Always confirm information before you do something with your computer.