Tonight is Linux Night!

Tonight is Linux Night!

Summary: I'm running a Linux night with my computer club tonight. Our theme?


I'm running a Linux night with my computer club tonight. Our theme? Get Lucky on Friday the 13th with Linux! We managed to get a local non-profit called the Athol-Royalston Educational Foundation to donate $400 towards a kit computer from TigerDirect. The computer club kicked in another hundred for peripherals, CD-Rs, and refreshments, and we have ourselves a computer giveaway.

This is the big incentive to get people out on a Friday night. The computer, one of TigerDirect's special case+power supply+motherboard deals. I added a SATA hard drive, a DVD burner, and came in for well under $500. The system itself includes an optical USB mouse, USB keyboard, 250GB hard drive, onboard NVIDIA GeForce 6100 graphics, a 16" widscreen LCD (actually a very nice size for only $120), an Athlon 64 X2 4400+ processor, and 2GB of RAM.

As I'm explaining to the folks who attend tonight, one of the major cost savings, aside from building the computer from parts, is the use of Linux instead of Windows. The computer that we're giving away is loaded with Ubuntu 8.04 and, although I took care of installing Flash and the other "restricted extras", we'll show the other attendees how to set up Ubuntu as a fine Internet system. We're giving away Ubuntu Live CD's (I'm burning them as I write this) so even those who don't win the computer can give it a shot.

One important piece of my speal tonight will be to discuss both the benefits and limitations of Linux. Obviously, hardcore gamers won't be satisfied with a non-Windows system. However, for the average student or family computer, Linux can handle movies, music, video editing, photos, productivity, web access, etc., as well as providing more than enough distracting games for free.

As with all things in computing, it's all about defining your needs. I could have kept the price down even further by using slower, cheaper components that, as we know, can still run Ubuntu with no problem. However, in this case, I wanted a home or college system that would be really useful for the next few years and would be up to photo and video and editing.

I'll post photos of Linux night; now if I can just get enough of the town out to see what we have in mind, we might be able to save some people some money and give them an alternative to Vista, not to mention help them give some new life to older computers they may have lying around the house.

Topics: CXO, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Kudo's!

    Great initiative! I've attended a couple of those install parties myself, and it was great fun. A lot of enthusiastic people.

    Maybe it can help the beginners if you give them this link to a support website that I've made, which is especially meant for beginners with Ubuntu 8.04:

    Have fun, Pjotr.
  • Wow.

    If one of the most interesting things you can do to get people out is to talk about computers, I'm glad I live where I do.

    Can't we just give computers a rest every now and again, and come up with something a little more different and original to do on a nice, summertime, Friday night?
    • It's summertime, after all

      [i]Can't we just give computers a rest every now and again, and come up with something a little more different and original to do on a nice, summertime, Friday night?[/i]

      Going outside is great in January, but this time of year it's a good idea to stick to places where people don't die of heat exhaustion.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Hmm, guess you've never heard of...

      "whatever floats your boat." If it makes one happy and doesn't hurt anyone then who should care. Btw, penguins are natural groupies. ;-)
      Arm A. Geddon
      • I Second that, and I wish...

        ...their was a Linux scene that vibrant in my hometown. That would totally float my boat every Friday.
      • I guess penquins would prefer

        a chily air conditioned room as opposed to a warm summer night. :)
    • are you on drugs??? (J/K!) <nt>

  • One addition, Amorok

    It may be a little late, but I would suggest showing them Amarok. Here's what I would demo.

    1) Drag 100 songs to your library
    2) Go to cover manager to show them how it gets them all automagically
    3) Open the playlist of podcasts, show them the few THOUSAND radio stations pre-populated.
    4) Install Wiki-Lyrics, show them how it gets them for any playing song by clicking on the lyrics tab.
    5) Show them the current artist playing and then show them how they can click on the artist tab.

    This one application, no matter how WMP or iTunesish the new user is, they get excited, yes, excited to play with linux to get to Amarok.

    I don't know Gnome based players well, but if they do the same, as easily, make it part of the demo.

    In one fell swoop you dispel the myth that Linux has no killer app, doesnt' do multimedia well or that it looks "basic".

    • Amorok

      If there is a better, more capable and better looking audio player out there for any OS I have yet to meet it.


  • Great idea

    That's pretty cool.
  • More kudos from me

    Allow me to add my heartfelt appreciation for what you're doing. I've considered doing something similar, but have never quite made it (so far.)

    One thing, though: Please consider giving PCLinuxOS a try. Personally, I find it easier to use and more attractive than Ubuntu, and my wireless NICs all worked without any twiddling. Plus, it's a little easier to install and find those "restriced extras" than with Ubuntu.

    I'm not affiliated with the folks who put PCLOS together or anything like that. I just use it and like it very much.
    • Probably too late to change OSes.

      I agree, Ubuntu is a great community, doing a lot of publicity with the general public, but other OSes do offer an easier out of the box (and prettier, but I am a KDE guy, so that's what I like) experience.

      • So install kubuntu-desktop

        Give people choices, no?

        IMHO a lot of Microsoft users are likely to prefer KDE, too, so Kubuntu is a reasonable choice.

        [i]De gustibus non disputandum[/i] and all that -- GNOME drives me nuts.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
        • Kubuntu is good.

          There are personal reasons why I prefer a KDE centric distro, but choice is great.

  • $370 complete system

    Plus your display. Don't want to bother with the rebate? Add $50 for a total of $420. And it includes a copy of Windows.
    • ...

      Guess you missed the part about it being [B]Linux[/B] night, not Windows night. And you forgot to add in the cost of productivity apps and security apps... all which come with Linux and not as 30-90 day trials with a subscription fee to boot. ]:)
      Linux User 147560
      • I Believe The Point Ye Was Trying To Make . . .

        . . . is not that they should build Windows systems instead, but that Christopher's planned assertion to his group that the reason the system is so cheap is because it is running Linux and not Windows has a few holes in it.
        • Ye would be right except...

          The Vista version is Home Basic, MS Office is trailware, as it Norton AV.

          Ubuntu isn't a "basic" system it's complete and the apps Christopher is putting on aren't trailware.

          As has been said elsewhere it comes down to "whatever floats your boat" but I'd say that what Christopher is building is far more complete than what Ye is pointing us to.

          All in all I'd say pin prick not hole.

          And preinstalled software kinda defeats the purpose of an install party doesn't it? ;-)


        • Ye's point as I see it...

          I think Ye made a point that if you can not build computer yourself then buy cheap Windows machine subsidized by Microsoft and install Linux on it.

          I thinks this is a GREAT idea! ;-)

          We know that Ye is smart and understands that Windows machine does not contain free productivity applications.
          Solid Water
          • You and Whyaylooh are both correct in interpreting...

   point. It was not to start a Windows versus Linux debate. It was to show two things:

            1. You can get a lower price on a fully assembled system.
            2. Windows doesn't make a computer more expensive than Linux.

            And as you said: If you want install Linux.