First thing you’ll want to do is forget about surviving and just use it.
Second thing you have to do is to stop making any comparisons to Windows. Just remember that you aren’t on Windows and so, it wont act like Windows).
After you install Ubuntu, heck, any distro for that matter, what you want to do is enable stuff that were disabled by default due to proprietary reasons. So enable them back, hehe. Here are some guides for Ubuntu 12.04:
If by “surviving” you mean having to deal with all sorts of difficulties learning to use Ubuntu, it will be worth it.
My two computers are dual-boot Linux-Windows XP but my family don’t use Windows anymore. They’ll get mildly annoyed only when I announce “Hey guys, I’m upgrading the Linux OS” since they’ll be faced with an unfamiliar new Linux interface AGAIN. But you know what, they figure it out in 2 seconds! Linux is lost in the background while they are absorbed using the computer doing school research, socializing online or listening to music and watching movies. They know where to find stuff.
So yeah, those difficulties will payoff.
I’ve been a longtime Ubuntu user (from 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog until 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx). I also have a lot of experience with other distros.
Honestly, I liked how Ubuntu worked (before). It was (quite) fast, had a good package management system [being based on Debian], could handle commodity hardware pretty well, and was easy to use (for a GNU/Linux distro).
However, after they switched to the Unity DM in 11.04 (instead of Gnome as in previous releases) it began to suck hard, really hard.
I don’t know why they love Unity so much, but that stupid thing really sucks b*lls. IMHO it’s the worst display manager there is (far below KDE, XFCE, LXDE and all others).
Sure, Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Lubuntu are still available, and it’s easy to go back to the classic Gnome interface, but what I hate is the fact that Canonical just forced Unity down the throats of mainstream Ubuntu users. GNU/Linux users are not sheeple, thank you.
So one of the things I did after installing 12.04.1 was to install Gnome-shell. Piece of cake! So now I can choose Unity or Gnome shell at log-in. By the way, Gnome-shell installed quickly and worked as expected. funny thing though, I now like Unity even more!
The icon theme NITRUX and Squared-Ambiance windows did help in this regard but this version overall has polish, class even. Silly but I find myself opening the laptop just to waste my time playing with the Unity desktop, haha!