How can I switch my personal laptop over to Ubuntu? I don't want to dual-boot it, just remove the old OS (Windows 10) and install a new one. I also need to keep all my files.
I'll just explain how to keep your files from Windows. All the details about replacing Windows 10 with Ubuntu can be found in other Q&A's, e.g:
- How can I replace Windows with Ubuntu?
- How do I install Ubuntu?
- How do I install Ubuntu alongside a pre-installed Windows with UEFI?
Method 1: external drive (recommended)
- Copy your files from Windows onto the external drive
- While you're at it, you should make a full backup of Windows
- Replace Windows with Ubuntu
- Copy your files from the external drive to Ubuntu
Method 2: internal NTFS partition
If you may want to dual-boot Windows later, this might be a better option. Or in the same vein as Ivan's answer, you could use the NTFS partition as temporary storage, and delete it once you've copied the files off of it. (See Ivan's answer for a few warnings about this option.)
Note that NTFS doesn't support all the features of Ubuntu (e.g. it doesn't support the executable bit, which means it is not good for storing Linux programs).
- In Windows, create an NTFS partition
- Copy your files to the new partition
- While installing Ubuntu, choose manual partitioning, and keep the NTFS partition
- See How to use manual partitioning during installation? for more details
- Once Ubuntu is installed, mount the NTFS partition to access your files
- If you want to have the partition auto-mount during boot, you can set this up via config file /etc/fstab (see Adding an entry to fstab) or via GUI Disks (see Is there a program to mount all of my drives automatically?).
You could do as suggested by wjandrea as he will explain in his answer (it is the recomended way since you definetly should create a backup anyways), but if you do not intend to do a backup (again, NOT recomended), or if you have a lot of large files you don't really need to back up, or if you don't have any removable media around, you can do a dual boot, transfer your windows files from within ubuntu, and then just delete the windows partition and resize the ubuntu partition to use the free space left.
In this case the dual booting is just an intermediate step, and you will have a full ubuntu installation using the entire disk, just as if you made a clean installation.
The pages explaining dual booting will also explain how to work with partitions, but be careful and always double check what you did before hitting "apply".
I'd recommend keeping Windows 10, and dual-booting.
You'll always need Windows to do things like BIOS updates (some exceptions), firmware updates, vendor warranty/support claims (as most vendors won't support you if you only have Linux), and run apps that are only available on Windows.
You can always create a NTFS partition to share files between Windows and Ubuntu.