Give the Gift of Linux this Holiday Season

by Marcel Gagné

Sorry about that last part. I don't know what came over me. Anyhow, the more I think about this, the more I think it is an excellent idea. After hanging out with me in the SysAdmin's Corner for the last year (or perhaps spending some time with François and Chef Marcel at the restaurant), I can't help but think that you are the people to share this crazy idea with.

This year, why not give the gift of Linux for Christmas or Hannukah? Sure, I admit it: When your loved ones see a Linux CD in with the rest of their gifts, they might look at you as though you are a little bit strange. Then again, don't they already think that?

The worst that can happen is that the very presence of that Linux CD will prove a temptation they cannot permanently avoid. They'll install Linux, the memory of "this program has performed an illegal operation and will shut down your whole system" will fade from their minds, and you will be a hero/heroine. This is the year. I can feel it in my bones. There is even going to be a solar eclipse on Christmas day. check it out:

Here's my sales pitch. Many of us have a CD burner in our Linux systems, and the GNU Public License allows us to redistribute Linux freely. So, let's do it. Some suggestions come quickly to mind. For instance, if you happen to like one distribution over another, then perhaps that is where you should start. Go to that web site, be it Red Hat Caldera, or S.u.S.E., and download an ISO.

Did I just say ISO? How about a web site that is a kind of one-stop-shop for Linux ISOs? Consider as a place to start. This web site has ready-to-burn copies of just about every Linux distribution you can imagine. Their motto is "Fresh ISOs, just like Mom used to burn".

Feeling particularly generous? Buy them a boxed set or buy yourself a boxed set, and then start passing it around.

For those friends not quite ready to dual boot or simply load up, might I humbly recommend that you provide them with a copy of one of the distributions I wrote about in the Linux for the Timid series. Find your favourite, make them a CD, and give them a copy of the article.

Since I wrote those articles, both Dragon Linux and DemoLinux have released new versions. The versions mentioned in these articles are still available, should you not want to shake them up too much.

If space is a great concern, there are a few Linux distributions that take space very seriously (including some of the ones I mentioned above). Try out Peanut Linux or Pygmy Linux.

Once their system is installed and things are going just dandy, don't leave your loved ones out in the cold. Go to the Linux User Groups Worldwide site, locate their local LUG and provide them with the URL and mailing list information. Give them a taste of the community, that wonderful group of men and women of all ages who are always ready and willing to share their experience with the newcomers. Here's the link to that site:

It's time for me to wrap this up. I hope that I've given you pause to consider my crazy idea as something less that totally crazy. Linux has come a long way in terms of flexibility and friendliness. Recent distributions of KDE and GNOME make the whole experience almost familiar to our friends and families who still run that other OS. Think back to those days of UAEs, invalid page faults and blue screens of death. Now, consider that somewhere a friend or family member is going through those same torturous trials that you abandoned. It is only right that they should share in your good fortune and run Linux.

This holiday season, you know what to do. Give them a little something extra. Give them Linux.

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