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.