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December 24, 2001

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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.

Note: You could download the basic Linux kernel and all the free software, burn it onto some CDs, and give that as a gift. Depending on the speed of your Internet connection and demand on the FTP servers, downloading could take some time. More importantly, however, a commercially boxed product perhaps is more appropriate for a gift.

You can purchase a boxed Linux distribution for about $30 for a basic package to about $200 for the works. Generally, the main differences in prices reflect the amount or level of included technical support and how much additional (free) software comes with a Linux distribution. The amount of darn good, free, software you get with the major Linux distributions is almost unbelievable. All that free software makes buying a major Linux distribution one heck of a great value.

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:

  • office productivity software such as Abi Word, Star Office, and K Office;
  • several Web browsers such as Konqueror, Mozilla, and Netscape;
  • graphics applications such as GIMP (a very good PhotoShop clone) and K Illustrator;
  • lots of games such as solitaire, mahjong, and a minesweeper clone;
  • software development tools such as C++;
  • lots more.

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.

Caldera OpenLinux:

  • OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 (6 CDs, 60 days of maintenance support with Volution Online) $59

Mandrake Linux

  • Mandrake Linux Standard Edition (3 CDs, 1 manual, 30 days of MandrakeExpert web technical support) $29
  • Mandrake Linux PowerPack Edition (7 CDs, 2 manuals, 30 days of phone support and 60 days of MandrakeExpert web technical support) $69
  • Mandrake Linux ProSuite Edition (9 CDs and 1 DVD, 2 manuals, 60 days phone support and 90 days of MandrakeExpert web technical support) $149

Red Hat Linux

  • Red Hat Linux 7.2 (4 CDs, 2 manuals, 30 days Web-based installation support) $59.95
  • Red Hat Linux Professional (10 CDs, 3 manuals, 30 days Web-based installation support, 2 incidents telephone support) $199.95

SuSE Linux

  • SuSE 7.3 Personal edition (3 CDs, 3 manuals, 60 days of installation support) $39.95.
  • SuSE Linux 7.3 Professional (7 CDs, 1 DVD, 5 manuals, 90 days of installation support). $79.95.

Conclusion

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.


Resources

Related Articles


Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 -- A First Look

Caldera OpenLinux 3.1 to Ship June 30, 2001


Mandrake Linux 8.1 Boxed CDs Available Now

Mandrake Linux 8.1 Released for Downloading


SuSE Linux 7.3 Ships In North America

SuSE Linux Free for US High Schools




Copyright 2000, 2001 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved

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