Tips for a smooth switch from Windows to Ubuntu

Install third-party software during the Ubuntu set-up

Since the Ubuntu release 11.04 you have the possibility to install third-party software during the Ubuntu set-up. If you select the "Install this third-party software", two things will happen:

Use gscan2pdf as Paperport equivalent in Ubuntu 10.04/12.04/14.04

Many people use the Windows application Paperport (Scansoft) to scan documents and books as ebooks in pdf format. Thus I frequently was asked how one can get the same functionality within Ubuntu.

Use WineHQ to run Windows Applications

If you are using Ubuntu and you want to run an application which is not available on Ubuntu, you can use WineHQ to run Windows applications. Wine (originally an acronym for "Wine Is Not an Emulator") is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as Linux, Mac OSX, & BSD.

Use Virtual Box to run Windows within Ubuntu

If you want to run alternative operating systems within Ubuntu (such as Windows or Solaris) you can use Virtual Box. After the set-up of virtual box and the configuration of operating systems, you can run their applications too (alternative to WineHQ).

Always check the Ubuntu documentation before you buy new hardware

Frequently I'm meeting Ubuntu users who bought new hardware and then realised that the installation of their devices is either very troublesome or in rare cases, not possible at all. To avoid such or similar unpleasant experiences, always check the Ubuntu documentation first. Hardware either a) works on the spot and is thus recommended, b) needs some extra installations/configurations or c) works only partially or not at all with Ubuntu. Optimally you buy recommended hardware components that work on the spot.
Usually you find guides at ubuntu.com. Examples:

If you are migrating from Windows, consider to start with dualboot and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

The migration from Windows to Ubuntu is not very difficult, but also not very easy. It's like moving house, everything feels a little out of place for a while. For a smooth migration I suggest the following: 1. Install Ubuntu first as dual boot beside your Windows installation or 2. Start with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.