As per prodding from AristotlePagaltzis, I've decided to put some more about me here ;-)
I've been using Linux, intermittently, since about 2002. It all started when I was to investigate the usefulness of Linux as production servers (File, Web, Firewall, DHCP, DNS, etc,). I chose to not install X, but in stead try to learn more about Linux, using the CLI (aka 'The Dark Place') only. That was one of the toughest projects that I ever undertook, but one of the most rewarding, since this required me to learn about all the underlying technologies and protocols as the was not GUI or wizard to help with configuration. I decided that Linux was great for server applications, but that is was not quite mature enough to replace MicrosoftWindows as a desktop GUI. For a period after moving to NZ, there was a bit of a Linux drought for me, but soon after moving to Hamilton, I discovered the WLUG. I picked up a copy of Ubuntu 5.04 (at one of the few meeting that I have managed to attend). I tried it on a Pentium 233Mhz as a test. I was converted! IMHO the Linux GUI / Desktop OS had (finally) arrived. Linux has become accessible to the LinuxNewbie. Finally the LinuxDistribution looks, feels, functions, and even improves on commercial OSes. Simple to install, great to use, easy to customize and install new applications. There must be other Distros that could compete, it's just that Ubuntu is such a well thought-out all-round product, especially if for people who just want to get on with it, and don't really want to get to involved with tinkering with the technology to much.
Ok, so I finally managed to convert the last of my PCs to Linux (Ubuntu 6.10). However, actually installing Ubuntu was the easy part! Getting everyone to be comfortable with 'Linux' applications was the challenge. The reason for this is that most people just want to check their email, play that media file, or create <whatever file> in <some familiar application>. Most people (general users?) just are not interested in the technology, their PC is just a tool to them (not a hobby), they just want to get on with life! To make the transition simple (painless?) for them, I applied a two step approach:
The transition to MozillaFirefox was simple, however before replacing your email client, you will most likely have to have the Office replacement and media player in place. Most users require their daily dose of forwarded junk/joke video or cute warm and fuzzy presentation. Some might see this as an opportunity to try to break these habits.
One drawback of using the portable applications, was that I could not get the browser to open correctly from clicking a link from within the email application. This was not a great concern during the transition phase, but once I had Linux installed they were fairly impressed that I managed to fix this issue ;-)
Install Linux. Once all the (very few) teething problems were resolved and my users were comfortable using these applications everyday, I made the jump to Ubuntu (Edgy Eft) without any major issues. (There are tons of on-line resources that can offer assistance on the actual installation process, and is seems silly to try to replicate them here). Since these portable applications had the data in compatible formats, migration was as simple as coping the relevant profile, or bookmarks, or mail files into the applicable location for that specific user.
Some minor details such as shared documents was easily resolved and retaining for new Linux users (such as home folders and the lack of c:) was easily explained. This was that crux of what I was trying to achieve - the users were already quite familiar with using a GUI, and most of the major applications they will be using, all they need to learn was some Linux-specific details, which for most users is fairly minor.
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