The best Linux gifts to buy in 2019

Want to give your Linux-loving friend a great gift? Here are some of my favorites for the Tux-lover in your life.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
(Image: CNET)

I love Linux. It's a great operating system that gives me both power and far more privacy than any of its rivals. And it's fun! Here are some gift suggestions to help give your Linux-using friends and family members a happy holiday season. 

Also: Black Friday deals at CNET

Great Linux gifts

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Tux Stuffie


Every Linux fan should have at least one stuffed Tux, Linux's mascot, in their home or office. Tux stuffies aren't as common as they once were, but Linux PC vendor ZaReason still has a very nice Tux who is perfect for cuddling.

If you want -- and this would be very open-source of you -- you can make your own Tux using one of several open-source patterns

I am root

Linux hats and T-shirts

I have drawers full of Linux trade-show t-shirts. But if your friends didn't score an invite to Linux Plumbers or couldn't make it to Open Source Summit, you can still dress them in penguin splendor with Linux merch from CafePress or Zazzle. 

Or if you have some serious cash and you really like them a lot, you could always pay their way to one of the major Linux or open-source conferences. They can thank me if they see me there. 


Linux stickers

One easy way to spot a desktop Linux user is by the stickers on their laptop. Linux fans love to decorate their laptops. Help them celebrate their favorite operating system, and its related open-source software and programming languages, with Linux stickers from StickerMule. The Pro pack makes a great stocking stuffer with 10 stickers for a dollar. 


xkcd books and shirts

All Linux users and tech geeks love the webcomic xkcd. While they may read it religiously, they might not have an xkcd t-shirt. I particularly like the Linux cheat sheet shirt. I also highly recommend xkcd cartoonist Randall Munroe's books. In particular, xkcd: volume 0 is a must for any fan. 

Linux License Plate

Linux license plates

What better way to tell the world your friend uses Linux than a Linux license plate or a Linux license plate frame. Your friend will need to get the first from their home state, but CafePress also offers Linux plates.

The first decorative Linux license plate came from Compaq, now part of HP, in 2000. I've got one -- no it's not for sale -- but you might find Compaq Linux license plates on eBay now and again.

And now for some more expensive gift ideas...

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

Linux PC

Does your buddy need a new PC? Well, they can simply turn any old computer into a Linux PC with a Linux DVD or USB stick. Or you could buy them a ready-to-run Linux PC. There are several Linux PC companies; among the best of these are Eight Virtues, EmperorLinux, LAC Portland, Purism, System76, and ZaReason.

There are numerous great Linux laptops out there. One of my particular favorites is 2018's Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition. This model is still available for $804.99.

I haven't tried the latest and greatest Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition, which runs Ubuntu Linux. But I've been using this family of high-end Linux laptops for years and they never disappoint. The XPS 13 comes with a high price-tag. The entry-level version comes with 8GBs of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an Intel UHD chipset. It will cost you $1,139.99. 

If you want as free a laptop as you can get, check out Purism's Librem 13 or 15. These come with practical, open-source firmware, such as the Coreboot SeaBIOS, and hardware. But these aren't cheap. The entry-level Librem 13 with an Intel Core i7 7500U, 8GBs of RAM, and 250GBs of SSD lists for $1,399. If your friend or relation is serious about "all open-source, all the way," these are the machines for them.

Raspberry Pi Starter Kit

Raspberry Pi starter kit

There are dozens of Raspberry Pi boards and other single-board computers (SBC). If you want to get someone started on single-board, do-it-yourself computing, Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit 32GB Edition is a great choice. 

This package includes a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, cables, a power supply, a case as well a 32GB Class 10 MicroSD Card pre-loaded with New Out Of Box Software (NOOBS). With this, you can easily set up Raspbian Linux, and then you're ready to play and explore the world of Raspberry Pi. You can order this kit from Amazon for $74.99

So with all this, you should be ready for a Tuxful holiday season. Enjoy!

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