What do I need to know before I switch from Windows 8.1 to openSuse?

I have hardly ever used Linux. Back in my college days, had a course in computer science and they taught us a bit of UNIX but I hardly remember any of the commands (I remember some, like ‘ls’, ‘clear’, ‘mkdir’. I think there was one called ‘chmod’, one called ‘pwd’, but i don’t really remember the syntax and what these commands do- except for the ls and mkdir, which are like the DOS “DIR” and “MD” commands if my memory isn’t failing me much).

Let’s just say I don’t know anything about Linux.

I’m currently using Windows 8.1 (in a laptop). If I wipe off the hard drive and install OpenSuse, will my laptop continue to work like its working with Windows now? I mean will the basics be covered- like the ability to connect to my WiFi network and browse the internet, to play movies and music from DVDs/external HDDs/web streaming etc? Will I need to hunt for device drivers for internal components (like the touchpad, the WiFi, the webcam, the internal audio device, etc)? Will I need to buy an updated book of UNIX (or maybe take out to old college book again)?

I’m NOT into games any more, so lack of gaming graphics is not a problem (as long as I can play mp3s and videos).

Sorry for the silly questions, but I have never used Linux except in the college lab, and when you’re using something in the college lab you just learn the stuff that’s being taught (and then most of us eventually forget those if they’re not a part of our everyday work later in life). In college, we just worked with a dark console screen where we needed to type commands that the instructors taught us- and installing drivers and stuff was not a part of the course…

Most of the time, Linux will just work.

But I think the most important thing you should know here is that it is NOT needed to “wipe Windows 8”. Most people (not me btw) just install Linux alongside Windows and thus always have the possibility to boot in Windows when really needed. I think it is a comforting idea to most that they can try out Linux while still being able to use Windows until some day they find out they do not use Windows anymore.

Further to Henk’s advice, you could dip your toes in to the Linux water by installing openSUSE as a guest OS within a VM perhaps. That makes it easier to play with openSUSE, and even try other distros/versions if desired.

3 points:

  1. Backup your data.
  2. Try a live media GNU/Linux version first (e.g. Linux Mint 18 KDE).
  3. Consider dual booting with Windows as a safety net.

Thanks for your replies all.

I’m running Ubuntu live from a USB flash drive- everything seems to be working fine.

But I really don’t like the way it looks (it looks more like a Mac, not like Windows at all- so it’s kind of confusing for me- I don’t have much experience in Mac).
Ubuntu forums are suggesting to use a new “desktop” called “kde” with Ubuntu, to bring the Windows look and feel- but this will probably be too much work for someone who’s trying out Linux for the first time… I’d rather use opensuse as the default look is much closer to Windows.

Given that Ubuntu is working fine from a live Linux stick, can I assume that opensuse will work okay too?

here are the devices as reported by Windows:

CPU: Core i7 5500U
GPU: Intel HD graphics 5500 AND Nvidia GeForce GTX 840M
Audio: Realtek high definition audio
WiFi: Intel Dual band wireless AC 3160 (Intel bluetooth radio)
HID: Synaptics PS/2 clickpad, FHD TouchScreen (full touch support with 10 touch points), Standard PS/2 keyboard (fixed).
Camera: Standard Microsoft Camera (fixed)
IDE ATA/ATAPI controller: Intel 9 series chipset family SATA AHCI controller.

and a bunch of other “system devices”.

This is as reported by Windows, I don’t know how to check device details in Ubuntu. And everything seems to be working fine when I boot to the USB stick.

PS: Windows has the option to create a “complete system image backup” in “CONTROL PANEL → RECOVERY → ADVANCED RECOVERY OPTIONS”. I have taken a full backup to an external hard drive, in case something goes wrong I can restore Windows from the backup, and I also have another (desktop) PC from which I can access the forums for help in case of an emergency. Thanks for suggesting to backup first.

Current versions of KDE (one of the oldest Linux desktops) can be made to look and feel very much like Windows.
Having moved several people directly from Windows to Linux, the key things are:

  1. find out how to transfer your emails and contacts - this will vary depending on what you use now and what you intend to use in Linux.
  2. back up all your data files preferably to a USB backup drive.
  3. make a note of all your passwords and usernames.
  4. install Linux
  5. decide which email client to use and import your emails and contacts
  6. connect the USB backup drive and take time to decide how you are going to store the files from Windows in Linux - this may be a good time for a shakeup in how you store things.
  7. congratulate yourself and enjoy the new experience.