One of the greatest culture shocks you can have on a computer is switching from the Windows world to the Linux world. While no guide ought to be treated as comprehensive (because every case will be different) here is a little collection of pointers to ease you into it gently!First, some ethnic differences:* Linux has far more choice. In Windows, all software is owned, proprietary, and generally costs money. Since most software that runs on Linux inherits its open and free nature, it’s far more software titles to choose from. For instance, your average Linux distribution comes with around 10 to 15 programming languages built. On the desktop, Linux has KDE, Gnome, XFCE, Fluxbox, and hundreds of others. No kidding! So if it looks like there is more to learn on Linux, that’s because there’s more software! * Linux takes security very seriously. Windows user get quite befuddled when asked to manage permissions -“What do you mean, I have to be root?” Now that Microsoft has adopted an Administrator mode on the home background, some users are starting to become comfortable with the concept. But anyway, Linux had the concept of file permissions and levels of access built-in. Since day one. Your file may be executable by a group, not viewable to the world, and with only you having write access. Linux (and the Unix philosophy it is based on) is like that. Buck up! That is where the security comes from. * Path designators. On Windows, directory paths are . On Linux (and the Internet) the directory paths are /. On Windows, the option character is /, making it more confusing. On Linux, you define and option with a – or –. * Linux (and Unix) is case sensitive. So MyFile, Myfile, and myfile are all three different files.Now then, for the move:The first thing you should do is back up everything. Use whatever archive feature is included with your current CMS system to zip up a whole package and download it on your own personal machine. This ensures that each and every document has a backup stored with you, as it matters most to you!Search online for specific guides for instructions to change from one CMS to another. There might be various processes for switching from WordPress to B2Evolution, for instance, or you may be moving a site from DotNetNuke to Drupal. In any case, once you get your site’s files copied you will need to make changes to some files – for instance, your blog posts may need to point to another database!Another new thing will be coping with Apache server. Most of your user-level configuration will be done through files such as’.htaccess’ – think of it as the’autoexec.bat’ file from Windows, only for your site! This document controls things like redirects, how to handle errors, and so on. You’ll require a tutorial about that, if it is your first time.All whatsoever, changing a web site from one platform to another can be a bit of work. Plan to set aside a day or two to work out any problems you have, and if your site hosting company offers a site-porting service, by all means, take advantage of that! If you are doing it yourself, you’ll need a window or two open to a support line at all times – a webmaster’s forum or a site IRC chat – where you can pop up with the occasional question. Have fun!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Brittain operates Web Hosting Business in Western Australia. Peter also possesses a Web Design & Development Directory at Web Design Source.