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19 December 2006

Give Linux this year

By Andrew Clifford

Are you stuck for ideas for presents this year? Give your loved ones Linux!

I have been checking out the latest Fedora Linux distribution, and it struck me what a great gift it would make. Here are 12 reasons why.

  • Linux is fun for all the family. Linux distributions are packed full of games that are easy enough for all the family. Granny can beat the kids at four-in-a-row -- something you would never see on the Playstation.
  • Linux is educational. You can learn to type, view the night sky, or give the kids some extra maths practice.
  • Linux is useful. As well as games and education, Linux distributions have all the office, internet and email facilities you expect. And so much more -- like CAD programs, project management, and graphics.
  • Linux is safe. You can leave a Linux session running, safe in the knowledge that nobody can trash the machine (as long as they are not logged on as root). And you can download and install as much new software as you like without risking viruses and other baddies.
  • Linux is built to last. Not only are the programs that run on Linux high quality, they are constantly updated. There are no commercial pressures to make your current system obsolete, and force you into an expensive upgrade.
  • Linux grows with you. You can start with a few simple games and familiar office applications. Then you can download some educational software. Try your hand at programming. Set up a web server to show off your holiday photos. The sky's the limit with Linux.
  • Linux is hand built by craftsmen (and women). It's always nice to know that you are giving something that someone has put their love, care and attention to. Linux and the programs that run on it has been built up lovingly by an army of unpaid volunteers, who do it for no other reason than to give you great software.
  • Linux is made for sharing. Linux is a multi-user operating system. Everyone in the family can have their own logon, and do their own thing. You can even share your install disks with your friends -- there are no pesky product activation codes to worry about.
  • Linux is traditional. With its retro games, hands-on feel, and community spirit, Linux hearkens back to the good old days of hobbyist computing that many of us remember from our youth.
  • Linux is different. Everybody runs Windows, but you can impress your friends and neighbours by being different.
  • Linux is eco-friendly. Linux encourages reuse and recycling. You don't need to a new computer to run Linux. You can reuse an old PC, or run it alongside Windows on a new PC. You might even find that old equipment that doesn't work with the latest versions of Windows springs back to life with Linux.
  • Linux is free. You can get your hands on a Linux distribution for little more than the cost of postage. If you have good broadband, you can even download it yourself.

Linux is the perfect gift in so many ways. Spread a little happiness this year by giving it to someone you love.

Next: Influence: excellence is not enough

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