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Last-Minute Gifts for the Linuxy at Heart

Last-Minute Gifts for the Linuxy at Heart

Bloggers with a Linux bent took a break from last week's bashing of a misinformed teacher to focus on the holidays -- and to ponder aloud yet again whether next year will be the year of Linux's long-awaited mainstream breakthrough. Hint: Don't hold your breath.

By Katherine Noyes
12/22/08 4:00 AM PT

It was a relatively quiet week on the Linux blogs last week, as the world counted down the final stretch before the holidays.

On Digg, the biggest discussion to follow the now-famous Teacher's Letter Controversy -- which we covered last week -- revolved around an Okii Living blog post titled "Is Linux ready for the average user? My wife thinks so."

Almost 350 comments had been made on Digg by Friday, in addition to the more than 50 on the blog itself.

Grandma Approved?

"The only reason computer-illiterate wife is not complaining is because computer geek hubby tweaked her new laptop for her so she would have printer access and she'd integrate seamlessly with her Windows and Mac buddies," charged dsoltesz on Digg. "In other words, Linux is not really ready for the average computer-illiterate user. If my Grandma can't use it out of the box without my intervention, it's not ready."

On the other hand: "Linux is only as ready as the tasks you want it for," argued FyberOptic. "I use it for servers, because that's what it does best. I use Windows on my desktop computers, because that's what it does best. I use OSX on... never mind, I'll get back to you when that's actually useful."

Then again: "Buried for being the 10 billionth 'Is Linux Ready for the Average Desktop' article," wrote RUGERSP101.

Yes, well ... touché!

'Year of the Linux Delusion'

Coincidentally, a similar topic also came up last week on Slashdot, where bloggers discussed an iTWire article titled "2009: Year of the Linux Delusion." That article, in turn, was a response to one in Fast Company titled "2009: Year of the Linux Revolution," and was a pretty clear indication that many are simply tired of the cheery predictions.

"'Year of delusion' sounds about right," wrote Erie Ed among the 600-plus comments on Slashdot. "Don't get me wrong, I love Linux to death, but this year just won't be different from the other years. If people really want Linux to become mainstream then it needs to be more user friendly, and the elitist attitude will need to be dropped."

Yes, well. Future-gazing and lofty discussions are all very well and good, but this week, there's a much more urgent problem at hand. These are the very last shopping days before it's time to begin giving, so there's simply no more putting it off -- the time has come to bite the bullet and finish that list!

"Where to begin?" you may moan. Never fear: LinuxInsider is here to help.

Save the (Real) Penguins

First, in our ongoing quest to uncover all things Penguiny, we were touched to find an offer from the folks over at MindTouch, who are doing their part to help the endangered Emperor Penguin. Specifically, for every MindTouch Deki Open Source user who upgrades to MindTouch Deki Commercial (Deki Standard or Enterprise), MindTouch will make a donation on their behalf to the World Wildlife Fund to help save the majestic penguins. More info is on the MindTouch blog.

Penguins help cheer us up every day -- now it's time to help them back!

Then there's the helpful Holiday Gift Guide that was put together by Jesse Casman over at HeHe2-ness. Filled with ideas in all price ranges, the list includes inspirations ranging from a US$3.99 Linux sticker all the way up to an Ubuntu-loaded $1,239 Dell Mini 9.

Not to be left out, Ars Technica also put together a handy little gift guide this year that's well worth checking out.

Giant Inflatable Penguin!

For Linux lovers with a sweet tooth, there's a wide array of delectable treats available at the Penguin Gift Shop, including the Rich Penguin Double Truffle Hot Chocolate Mix and the adorable Penguin Candy Lollipop. Not to mention a giant, 61-inch inflatable holiday penguin! Hard to imagine what could ever top that.

We also like the Penguin String Light Set over at Penguin Place, and the Penguin Radio at Whales & Friends.

Cafe Press has a sizable Linux section, of course, and ThinkGeek always has an impressive assortment of toys for those of the geeky persuasion. For other ideas, we took to the streets of the blogosphere to find out what real, live Linux geeks are craving.

'Drooling' for Android

"An mp3 player that works with Linux and doesn't have a crap interface," Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack told LinuxInsider.

Others had more specific ideas.

"I'm battling with myself over pre-ordering a new phone," Monochrome Mentality blogger Kevin Dean told LinuxInsider. "I own both the Openmoko Neo1973 (first model) and the later Openmoko Freerunner, and I'm greatly disappointed all around."

With that in mind, "an Australian mobile newcomer, Kogan, has me drooling for their Agora Pro mobile phone running Android!" he added.

'Must-Own' Linux Books

"Some things that come to mind are the Eee PC, any Linux books and maybe even a cool Linux T-shirt from an online store like ThinkGeek," Foogazi blogger Adam Kane told LinuxInsider. For those seeking specifics, Kane has even compiled a list of 10 "must-own" Linux books on his blog. How handy is that?!

"This is tricky because my experience is that true Linux fans are pretty self-sufficient," Slashdot blogger yagu told LinuxInsider. "However, in the interest of spreading Linux cheer for the holidays, I'd recommend anything Linux, whether it's apparent or not."

Some of yagu's favorites:

Tivo: "Join the TV Revolution, and support Linux at the same time," he said. "Fortunately, this is a category for which I can safely vouch that not only is the Tivo DVR Linux-based, it's also far and away best-in-class."

Chumby: "A fun AND useful gadget. This all-purpose toy is an all-purpose tool," he said. "It poses as a digital photo frame and wakes you up every morning at the appointed time. It brings you games, and helps you cook great meals. It plays your favorite music, and brings you headlines and weather forecasts. A great gadget."

TomTom GPS: "This is another best in class, and now it's really affordable," yagu said. "Get one! It will change the way you drive."

'Give a Gift That Has a Soul'

And what of those Emperor Penguins?

"I remember several years back seeing software released as 'careware,' where instead of paying for the software you were asked, under the honor system, to make a charitable donation instead," Slashdot blogger Mhall119 told LinuxInsider. "It's all nice and altruistic, but still closed-source."

MindTouch's offer "has the same problem," he added. "They only do this if you upgrade from their open source to their 'commercial' product, which I can only assume means it's closed. Now, I like Emperor Penguins as much as the next guy, but I'd rather promote the cause that helps people (like me)."

And for other ideas? "If you are a Linux fanboy, walk your talk," yagu urged. "Google Linux gadgets, and give a gift that has a soul."

And on that note, dear readers, we'd like to wish you all a holiday week filled with soul, cheer and Linux!


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