A lot of people asked me two questions since I made the switch, 'Is it hard?' and 'Can you do everything you want to in Windows?'
The answer to the last one is a resounding yes. In fact, after switching from Windows, whenever I have to use a Windows machine, I find it very restrictive and most of my tools are gone. Linux give you so many choices and options, you can't just make up your mind and stick to one set. I find myself switching from KDE to GNOME and back every few months. Without losing access to the core programs I use.
The answer to the first one is 'Hell, yes. It was very hard.' But I was on my own and in retrospect, could have avoided a lot of heartache if there were someone to tell me what to do or what to avoid. This series is dedicated to those thinking about making the switch or the jump. Something to think about and do before making the leap. Most of it will sound like me talking to you as a network administrator but even if you are switching alone, everything still applies. Think of yourself as your own administrator.
First, Why are you making the jump or at least thinking about it. The reasons have to be sound because you have to do it for the right reasons. If not, you will be disappointed or you will find it not suited for you and you switch back. Time lost once will never be regained.
If you are switching for idealogical reasons (i.e. not wanting to pay Microsoft Tax), then you are a Believer. Nothing I say will discourage you and all pain is worth suffering. Just make sure other people involved believe it too. Note to Believer: All proponents of idealogies (prophets, do-gooders) face lynch mobs. Sort of a Darwinian thing about idealogies, those that survive lynch mobs are most likely superior.
Remember, it has to get worse before it gets better.
If you are thinking about saving costs, I will tell you right now it will be some time before you see significant cost savings. Unless, of course you include licence costs for a large number of people. The is where the most savings will be. But for every cost factor you take away, you will be replacing it with another one. Training or retraining will cost. Reinstallation or upgrades of older PCs will cost. Sure the PCs won't crash as often but people who switch to Linux forget that Linux may not be hard on CPU speed but it does require some amount of memory before things really fly. My suggestion is that hit 256MB as soon as you can. If you are looking at older PCs, 128MB will work. While on this issue, sometimes it's not even the RAM. Getting a new video card with more memory works wonders too. Coming back to cost factors, live with the fact that cost factors are just going to be replaced not eliminated. But if you are smart about it, it just won't cost as much. That is, each cost factor replaced, will likely be less in value.
That said, hunker down for some productivity loss and doubts (or doubting people) nagging you. Remember, it has to get worse before it gets better.
Update: Part 2 and Part 3