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    I prefer to order a dozen copies from Discount Linux CD's! where I know the CDs are ready to use, have professional labels, and are reasonably priced (although the handling fee is steep it makes up for my lost time sitting burning a dozen flavors at 4 CDs each!).  I also try to avoid pushing one flavor since I know people have preferences.  Instead, I usually order a handful of Fedora, a stack of Mandrake, and some copies of Debian.  Each has its advantages and meets specific needs.  

    These CDs not only make great stocking stuffers, they offer an opportunity to open up doors.  For instance, one associate who kept badmouthing Linux for the longest time received my Linux gift with joy and thanked me for finally sharing with me what this Linux is all about.  People love getting gifts and nothing is more satisfying than giving something that is useful.

    2. Give the Gift of a Helper with the new beginner book
    I know there are volumes of beginner books available.  However, the one I recommend is the new release Linux For the Rest of Us.  When I first received a review copy from Rais, I thought this could be yet another failed attempt at catering to the specific needs of new users.  There are too many such books already.

    After perusing the chapters, I was surprised to find that someone has actually taken the extra effort to speak encouragingly to brand new Linux users.  This book will not help me much; I have been using Linux since 1998.  Nevertheless, it definitely has the ingredients to help those who are just about to try out Linux.

    Linux For the Rest of Us covers a lot that brand new users need to hear.  The book includes chapters on installation of the latest flavors, focused on getting people started with Fedora, Mandrake, and SuSe.  There is a chapter on helping people install older Linux flavors such as RedHat 9.0.  The author wisely incorporates a section on post-installation configuration where he guides users to tweak their system after the install.

    To clarify similarities and differences between Windows and Linux, the author includes a very good starter guide on moving from Windows to Linux and follows it up with a number of very helpful tips for using the KDE desktop.  

    He goes on to add much more but all in concise and new user terms.  Not technological jargon and plenty of specific tips and advice like setting up Linux for internet use.  Did you know that in most major cities you can get on a free Linux dialup?  I did not until reading the modem chapter.  

    Give the gift of a Linux helper by giving this book.  It is a personal and personable helper for the new user to get over the humps and hurdles painlessly.  It is not a thorough Linux reference, but for new user it may just be the right motivator.

    3.  Give the Gift of Linux Driven Entertainment
    No stocking stuffer is complete without the gift of entertainment.  Give the gift of a quality 3D video game this holiday and prove that intense gaming also happens on Linux.  

    There are plenty of Linux native games available today, and most of all these stocking stuffers make great gifts for the new Linux users and us fans too!  In fact, I have chosen to treat myself to one just now.  

    Find a copy of your personal favorite video games at the  Tux Games site among many.  Or, go and download a demo game available for Linux such as Americas Army: Special Forces from places like

    The last minute crunch for gifting ideas is easily resolved by giving the gift of Linux on CD, a good Linux beginner book, or perhaps a quality Linux based game.  Choose any of these three gift ideas this week and it will arrive in perfect time.  Most importantly, you do not even have to think about stepping out of the comfort of your home.

    Walter V. Koenning Jr. is a freelance writer and contributes his voice to the technology industry on Opensource topics. 

    This brief opinion piece should not be construed as factual information, and only contains the opinions of the author at the time of publication. could not find information in this article that at the time of publication was inaccurate.  However, the opinions posted do not express the opinions of or the author and are not endorsed by either.  The Op/Ed web pages on this site are only for perspective and allow members of the general public to express their views from time to time.  All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners. 

    Last Minute Gift Ideas to Encourage Linux Use

    Contributed by Walter V. Koenning Jr. for Opinion/Editorial  December 9, 2004.

    There is still time to decide on a few holiday shopping ideas that can both help foster Linux use and benefit someone still hesitant.  I have seen very positive responses by giving one of the following inexpensive and practical Linux gifts:

    1. Give the Gift of Linux CDs
    I have a great holiday gifting idea for the dozen or so colleagues and friends I know spent most of 2004 hearing about Linux, asking me questions about the OS, and still sheepishly not trying it out.  Give the gift of Linux.  

    One method is to download and burn your own Linux CDs and hand them out as stocking stuffers to friends who will never take the initiative to try it alone.  However, please make the effort to add a good-looking label to your CDs; otherwise, we end up simply perpetuating the idea that Linux is cheap and second hand when this is far from the truth.  

    For personal help or answers to questions, please visit our message boards.

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