Linux Gifts for Christmas, Holiday, and All Occasions
Mike Angelo -- 24 December 2001 (C)
Are you looking for a neat and very useful computer related gift for someone on your Christmas or Holiday gift list -- or a gift for any occasion for that matter? Consider making that gift Linux. If you think about it, Linux is a great gift idea.
Linux has come a long way over the past few years. Some Linux packages (distributions) now are fairly easy to install and to use. There is lots of software for Linux and it's likely that you can do everything you want to do computer-wise with Linux. All in all, Linux now is a decent alternative, or perhaps more importantly an excellent supplement, to Microsoft (MS) Windows.
In part, that is because Linux and MS Windows no longer are a one or the other choice. Linux and MS Windows can be installed on the very same computer. And you can use a dual-boot or multi-boot scenario to let you choose which OS, Linux or MS Windows, you want to use for that computer session. Please see Dual-Boot Linux & Windows to Get the Best of Both Operating System Worlds for more about dual-booting Linux and MS Windows and Triple-Boot Caldera OpenLinux, Red Hat Linux, & MS Windows for Best of Three Worlds for more about multi-booting Linux and MS Windows. Incidentally, since those articles were written Mandrake Linux and SuSE Linux boots have been added to the triple-boot system.
Here's the deal. The basic Linux operating system, called the kernel, is free. However, commercial Linux distribution developers such as Caldera, Mandrake, Red Hat, and SuSE add features to the basic Linux kernel and charge for the value added features they include in their commercial Linux distributions. Hold that thought, please.
There is a tremendous amount of open source software (OSS) and otherwise free software for the Linux operating system OS. Some of that software is not so good. However, lots of the free software for the Linux OS is very good. So in addition to the Linux kernel and the value added features, Linux distribution developers also include a nice collection of free software with their Linux distribution packages.
In addition to the Linux kernel, Linux distributions generally include:
Of course, if you already are into Linux you know about all the goodies that are packed into commercial Linux distributions. If not, there are some links in the Resources section of this article that have more information about all the stuff that is included with the four major Linux distributions. If you are a MS Windows user interested in trying Linux, please check our Linux for Microsoft Windows Users series.
If you are a Linux fan, there is an interesting ulterior motive for giving Linux as a gift. It's a darn good way to introduce people to Linux.
Most Linux distributions come with a complement of software development tools -- compilers such as C, C++, and Java plus interpreters such as, Perl, PHP, and Python. Typically most Linux distributions also come with FTP, Mail, Web, and other servers. That makes Linux a great gift for youngsters who are interested in learning computer programming and system management.
Caldera OpenLinux, Mandrake Linux, Red Hat Linux, and SuSE Linux hold about 95% of the market. Below is a list of their popular, gift-appropriate Linux products. They have other products too, including enterprise level products and system management tools, which are not gift-appropriate and therefore not listed below. All in all, this list presents a nice set of choices. Take your pick.
A gift of the Linux operating system (OS) could just be the best gift of all -- computer-wise. With all the free software that comes with many Linux distributions, plus all the additional free software and free upgrades that are so easily downloadable, Linux is the gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving.