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Giving the Gift of Ubuntu Linux for Christmas? 235

Father Christmas asks: "This Christmas I have decided to give all of my friends and relatives Ubuntu Linux CDs from the Ubuntu ShipIt service. In addition, I plan to help them backup their old systems, install Ubuntu, and then introduce them to using Linux for their everyday tasks. What sort of post-installation changes should be made to Ubuntu to make it easy for everyday people to use? What extra software packages should be installed? Should I stick with the default Gnome installation, or would KDE be a better choice? Is there anything else that should be done to maximize the utility of their systems, as well as make their first experience with Linux a great one?"
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Giving the Gift of Ubuntu Linux for Christmas?

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  • by jZnat ( 793348 ) * on Saturday November 04, 2006 @12:53PM (#16716623) Homepage Journal
    Make sure to install the non-free media libraries (e.g. libxine-extracodecs, Adobe Flash 9 beta, libdvdcss2). Make sure they have main, universe, multiverse, and restricted all enabled in their sources.list. You might want to add the WINE repository (deb [] dapper main) so they get the latest version of WINE (install that too).

    If they use GNOME, I would still recommend installing Amarok [1.4.3] (deb [] dapper main) for their music pleasure. Hell, you could install Amarok 1.4.4 which comes with a built-in music store (Magnatune).

    In the case of whether to use GNOME or KDE, I recommend giving both LiveCDs to him/her to try and let them determine which one they like better; it's completely personal preference to non-geeks (us geeks seem to prefer KDE due to functionality and customisability, but others prefer GNOME for its simplicity as well) and geeks alike. I recommend KDE, but that's just my opinion (Kubuntu is a nice KDE distro; they provide backports for up to date KDE packages on including KDE, KOffice, and Amarok).
  • Bad f*cking idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by capsteve ( 4595 ) * on Saturday November 04, 2006 @01:05PM (#16716743) Homepage Journal
    i'm sorry, not to be mean, but giving ubuntu install media and a promise to help install it is like giving crocheted tea cozy to coffee drinker who neither has a teapot or likes drinks tea. it seems like an altruistic gift, like making a donation in someone else's name to help fight world hunger/peta/greenpeace, but it would probably be perceived as an excuse to get out of gift giving and yet another opportunity to soapbox your software political stance. they'd probably appreciate a bag of sticks and coal more than a linux install disk... at least they would be able to use is in a weber for grilling.

    i think ubuntu is a great distro, but not everyone will want to use it(linux in general)... so what happens to the gift receipient who needs to use windows at home because he/she is a telecommuter?

    "hey thanks father christmas! ubuntu linux!?!! this is really cool, but i can't install it on my work computer... really appreciate the thought though ;-) you know what they say, it's the thought that counts! *cough* bull$hit gift *cough*"


    "hey thanks uncle father christmas!! cool! i've always wanted to try linux on my pc! i can be a hacker just like you!! can i still play halo and GTA and WoW? no? what? maybe in emulation? no, i'm not allowed to drink wine... oh, thanks anyways..."

    being the geek in the family, they prolly come to you for all their computer needs/requests for help, etc, but would you appreciate a copy of windows and a promise to help install it on your computer as a gift? if you really want to give a computer or linux related gift, get you folks a giant mousepad, or a new usb thumbdrive(1gb thumbdrives at microcenter for $15!), or some other a wrt54g with dd-wrt preloaded, but not an install disk.

    most people don't like religion or politics crammed down their throats by friends and family, evangelism of any sort is usually a turn-off. be politically neutral with your christmas gifts and give something your family really wants. you can spend the rest of the year thumping you chest about ubuntu/linux/FOSS (you prolly already do), but make xmas not about your personal software beliefs.

  • by anon mouse-cow-aard ( 443646 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @01:13PM (#16716823) Journal
    I appreciate your sentiment, and I wish you the best, but I think you are... well, very optimistic...
    Checkout my dapper -> Edgy upgrade stories in my Journal. They arent smooth. They arent rocket science, but by and large, normal people would not get through it. So you are signing up to be the sole source of tech support for all your friends and family. Thats very generous, if you tell people to do something and they do it, after that time, anything that happens to any of those computers is going to be your fault... machine no longer has a power light? Must be that new fangled ubutnu thingum... Call Jake... This game doesnt install? Call Jake... For every single one of those problems folks are going to say... I dont understand this ubutnu thing because they cannot go to BestBuy and have the friendly teenagers there change the power supply because... "Ubuntu, we dont support that?!"

    It isnt like there is anything wrong with Kubuntu. I run it almost exclusively and love it. It is truly great linux distribution, and a very easy (in comparison to other linux distributions.) thing to use. The problem here is the network effect. Everyone uses windows, so everyone supports windows, so everyone uses windows. I dont know how to fix that. I keep hoping that MS could develop some really effective copy protection for MS-Office, so that folks at home actually start paying the legitimate prices for it. That would provide an eye opener

    I hope you can make it work for your friends and family, to help break the network effect, but be prepared for a lot of work.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Saturday November 04, 2006 @03:08PM (#16717847) Homepage
    If I were your friend, I'd not thank you for imposing your [religious|political] beliefs on me. *Especially* when such beliefs mean I have to change out virtually everything familiar to me on my computer, and limits my choices in the future of games and applications. (Seriously, would you walk into your friends house and dump all of his food in the trash, or all his books or clothes? Because emotionally - that's what you are doing.)
    What is it about Linux that leads people to such acts of zealotry?
  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @03:31PM (#16718045)
    There really seems to be no question of "Do these people want to be converted?"

    It's pretty audacious to assume that everyone you know really wants to learn a new OS, deal with a whole new slew of applications and the 'nix intricacies that they will inevitably have to work with to keep the installation functioning. A personal desktop OS isn't like a corporate desktop OS. You can't say "Here, it's installed, now don't touch anything." People will want to customize things, change settings and I'm pretty sure that somewhere along the line something will break. I'd much rather have someone who normally wouldn't even know what Linux is switch to something like Mac OS X.
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @04:00PM (#16718301)
    If you want to introduced them to linux, do this, install it on their computers as the secondary partition. Take care to resize their original partition (and save ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING FIRST) before you install linux. Then have Grub make Windows as the primary boot up.

    Tell them that if Windows is ever broken or whatever, to try the Ubuntu.

    Better yet, instead of installing Ubuntu at all, give it to them on a USB stick, (I'm fairly certain Ubuntu can boot off USB, like Knoppix, but not 100%, if not, go with Knoppix instead). Tell them that if their computer is broken, use Ubuntu on a stick. If they don't want it, they have a nifty 1GB USB stick (a decent present, I saw 1GB sticks at Aldi for $22 last week, not too expensive either) and can use it for other purposes.

    This way you can introduce them to Linux without forcing them and stay their friend. Yeah, most people won't use it, but perhaps 1 or 2 will and like it. The way you are doing it, you are almost guaranteed to have them all hate it and fill your time with more calls than ever before.

    Also, give them a disk with Windows Apps (ad-aware, AVG virus scanner) so it seems that they still have a choice.
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @05:25PM (#16718961) Journal
    You know, as much as I'd like my relatives to use linux - and they may appreciate it in the long term - I realize that it is something that *I* would like. Giving the "gift of Ubuntu" to others during the season is really a gift to yourself, as it panders to your interests, and not likely theirs. If they showed and interest in such things it might be a nice gift, but you really should consider whose interests you have in mind.

    One of these days I'll probably be nuking the grandparents' computer and throwing linux at it, probably after one-too-many windows service calls. However, I'd never consider changing everything over a gift, but rather a compromise.

    I put "linuxing" somebody's computer as a gift in the same arena as the girlfriends who tried to buy me clothes items they liked (and I didn't) for various occasions. It's not a gift to me, it's an excuse to spend money on yourself in my name. Alternately, I had some smarter ones who actually went shopping with me, and we picked out clothes that we both liked (casual, but not dumpy, and nothing that tried to feel like a smartass 15yr-old).

    Perhaps you should gauge what your relatives want before giving this gift, no?
  • Further proof... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 04, 2006 @05:36PM (#16719035)
    that Ubuntu fanboys have taken the clear, undisputed lead for the title of Most Annoying Distro Zealots. Please, try to act like a reasonable, sane human being and get them something they'll appreciate, instead of something you want to force on them. Geez.
  • What the fuck? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by butane317 ( 998898 ) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @08:18PM (#16720367)
    I hate it when people get me shitty Christmas gifts that I'll never use. Sometimes it's a cute stuffed animal, sometimes it's a talking keychain, sometimes it's a house decoration. I mean, it's fun for like, an hour, until I get sick of it. What a waste of money! I much prefer it when my grandma gives me a box full of clothes that fit me, or when my mom gives me enough toilet paper to last until next Christmas. I don't want cutesy shit that I don't need, the best Christmas gift is something that I'll actually use. Which would you rather hear, "Wow! Your Christmas gift saved me so much time and money it's unbelievable! Thanks so much!" or, "Ummm... Yeah... It's still sitting on my living room table. I look at it sometimes." You may think that your friends and family would do great to start using Linux and overthrow the monopoly, but I think that my family would be really smart to start driving smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, but they're in love with their pickups and SUVs and I'm not about to change their minds, so I get them a gift certificate for a full inspection of their truck, brakes, alignment, oil change, all that fun stuff instead. It does a hell of a lot more good. I know you mean well, but use your head. What will they really get use out of?

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall