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I am sure part of my story is a familiar one. I have become tired of various practices of the makers of my current system (he said tactfully, supressing urges to say more...). Actually I am a happy user of W7 but see threats on the horizon. I would like to try Linux on a Windows machine and in particular I would like to see how Gambas shapes up and whether it will be practical to rewrite my huge accounting suite that I had written in Visual Basic 6. Add to that I would want to be able to use email and the internet and have an Office suite comparable to MS Office 2010. This is all for work purposes. If all looks OK (presumably in a virtual machine box -- or would you suggest a separate machine?), I would then ditch Windows altogether. Is what I would like within reach? And how would I get started? PS. I do not want to go right back to command line / console stuff // brain too tired at 75!.
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
I suspect you would have to completely rewrite from the ground up if it's written in VB. If you like a challenge it could be good fun.
For web browsing you have Firefox and Chrome as you do under Windows. As far as office suites go, you can try LibreOffice on Windows and see whether that does what you need. There can be formatting problems opening Microsoft format documents and VBScript is absent so any spreadsheets you may have with VBA in Excel, for example, won't work. If you can deal with that kind of thing though you ought to be OK.
If you're willing to learn and be patient Linux can be very rewarding to use but if you're not you may soon find yourself giving up as the learning curve can get very steep. That isn't meant to put you off, by the way, just trying to be honest. Heck, if I can use Linux day-to-day with my lack of patience and inability to learn anybody can.
Cannot comments much on VB6. You can make .Net (and Mono, cross compatible for the most part) on Linux but I have not used VB6. I used VB5 when it was NEW, but have long forgotten why.
LibreOffice is a wonderful replacment for MS Office that is pretty compatible. Each has superior poiints, but are equally powerful. And LibreOffice is free. (Runs on both Linux and Windows easily and well.)
The ONLY MS Office piece that has no direct replacment on Linux is MS Outlook. I use ThunderBird with Lightnig (in the latest release they are integrated) but it does not do everything Outlook does with an Exchange server. Handles Google/Gmail/Calendar nicely though.
There are MANY browsing options, but Mozilla is the engine of choice for me. Not only do most of your themes, addons, and settings port directly, but if you use sync they just will automagicly!
I like the command-line and mostly code in bash shell these days, but the development environments for Linux blow away most of what is available for Windows. With one or two exceptions: example while I dislike visual studio, those who live in it like NOTHING else as much. If GAMBAS interests you, I am sure you noticed that it is MADE for Linux: this is the natural home for OS and Software Engineers.
Not having to worry about license restrictions, annual fees, forced upgrades that break my work, unforced upgrades that cost $$$, and other Microsoft and Apple 'features' is worth a lot to me.
You may want to run something like VirtualBox and load a virtual linux with a development environment before you dive into the deep waters. This can give you experience and a comfort level before you blow away your current OS.
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
To install in a Virtual Machine, as long as you have a fairly modern processor and a few GB of RAM, you can do something like Linux Mint install in a virtual machine bearing in mind that there are other distributions out there which may server you better (hard to know) and that Mint is now on a version 17 so just get the most recent stable version from the site.
I have made "the switch" myself too. I first installed Mint and after that Ubuntu. Both in a virtual machine on my windows installation. I tried a few distros, but I've found out that I do like Ubuntu best. I used this virtual machine to play around and see if I could find replacements for various windows programs I use. For most programs I have found a replacement, but I was not able to find a suitable replacement for Adobe Lightroom. I know there is Darktable and Digikam (and a lot others), but they don't come near the ease of use Adobe Lightroom offers.
After a few weeks I decided I was done using Ubuntu in a virtual machine and I decided to format my harddrive and install Ubuntu. I'm very glad I did and I am very happy working in Linux now. I managed to be able to use Adobe Lightroom as well. Not by using Wine, but installing a windows virtual machine, by using VMware player and installing Adobe Lightroom in there. This is working pretty OK for me. Especially now that VMware has released VMware player 12.
Only other thing I'm struggling is my email. I currently use outlook.com webmail. I haven't been able to propperly connect to that with thunderbird/evolution or some other client.
Pherms said "I used this virtual machine to play around and see if I could find replacements for various windows programs I use."
That is what I'll be doing, and I am particularly interested to see if I can convert a large Visual Basic 6 program to Gambas! See my other thread for the huge problems I am having getting Mint to run in a virtual machine. I will also need email and currently use Windows Outlook 2010.