Using Linux to Create Holiday Cheer

That unused laptop in the corner can be revamped for someone in need this holiday season.
Posted December 10, 2008

Matt Hartley

Matt Hartley

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I do not believe anyone needs to be reminded that this holiday season is going to be substantially tighter economically than anything celebrated in the recent past. Realizing this, it may be time to dig deep in order to see what each of us are truly made of. Not just being able to weather through tough economic times, but also being able to do so utilizing our wits instead of our credit cards.

And with that theme in place, this article will examine the benefits of making room for open source solutions this holiday season in the place of dropping a ton of money – cash that many of us may not have this year in the first place.

Video games galore

Right now, you are likely scrambling around with the idea of finding the next latest and greatest video game system for the kids to have this Christmas. But let's be honest here, considering the cost, isn’t that money perhaps better spent elsewhere?

I believe so and I also think that by utilizing your existing computer system, chances are you already have access to what you need to build a really great gaming rig, with the right open source videos games. Enter PlayDeb for Ubuntu. Whether you download each game individually or opt to give the "gift of plenty" all at once, there are more games here than most people would likely have ever imagined.

From Second Life to a number of very well done first person shooters, even 3D strategy games, just about anything you might conceive of is available here – at no cost whatsoever.

Clearly, using Linux distributions like Ubuntu demonstrates that gaming does not rely on you purchasing expensive hardware for family amusement.

Assuming you can get past the fact that there is a world outside of World Of Warcraft, you will soon discover that gaming in Linux is not without its benefits.

Give the gift of fulfillment

If gaming is not really an interest for your loved ones, consider giving the gift of Internet access that is not tethered to a desk in the den.

Even if that means spending a little money on a new compatible USB WiFi dongle, the years of computing life the recipient will gain from their seemingly "new" notebook will make it completely worth it.

Also make sure to not only be available for immediate questions, but also ensure that the software install is the right choice for the loved one receiving the newly revamped notebook. And yes, in some cases, this means installing WINE for those troublesome legacy Windows applications that we all love to hate.

At risk of seeming like I am stacking the deck with this comment, consider the "switch" I made with my wife recently. She is a die-hard Mac user, had no interested in using Linux as it just did not "feel right" to her.

Yet since this last summer before we moved into our new home, her new iMac has remained packed away. Fast forward a few months, to this very day she uses my old notebook installed with an Ubuntu derivative as if she had been a Linux user for years!

This particular Linux install has provided my wife with everything she needs. Imagine what you can do with someone who does not have a platform preference?

Remember, the key is to be available, patient and if possible – a few steps ahead should the distro's updates do anything to put the current installation into jeopardy.

Now stop for a minute and imagine the joy you might be able to bring to others with nothing more than old hardware and some of your spare time? Even to complete strangers!

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Tags: open source, Linux, video, Windows, Mac

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