Looking for Linux Christmas gift ideas to give the tux-loving nerd in your life a memorable noel? Well, call me sudo Claus cos I’m here to help!
There are just 22 days left until Christmas — already? so soon!! — at the time of writing this, so you’ll need to move fast and buy your gifts now to ensure that they arrive in time to be wrapped, fondled, and stashed under the xmas tree.
Now, the Linux gift ideas that follow are not based on anything other than my own subjective tastes, i.e. this is stuff I’ve seen and thought: “heh, that looks like something I wouldn’t be annoyed to receive”.
But though what follows isn’t exhaustive, I reckon these Christmas gift ideas (which are just as applicable to any denominative or non-denominative gift-giving event of your choice) would please even the most ardent Linux geek, gadget head, technology dad, or coding mum.
Caveats out of the way, let’s get on to the merriment mince in this post-shaped pie!
Linux Xmas Gift Ideas
Stocking Fillers/Secret Santa
Penguin USB Stick
When you think of Linux you think of two things: a plethora of distros and a fixation with penguins.
So why not combine the two with a penguin shaped USB stick that has enough storage for multiple Linux distros?!
But don’t feel limited; a decent sized USB stick of any design is sure to go down well with Linux users. And as removable media can be reused, it’s a relatively greener option compared to disposable DVDs and CDs!
If you plan on plumping for a distro tee my only advice is to make sure you know which distro the intended recipient is a fan of. I can’t imagine any Arch Linux user would be thrilled to unwrap an Ubuntu tee on Christmas morning!
For a less specific (but still awesome) Linux t-shirt try searching online merch hubs like RedBubble and TeeSpring with terms like “Linux”, “Ubuntu”, and “geek humour”. This should turn up a wide range of designs created by other Linux users, graphic designers, and indie outfits.
Another outlet worth checking out is the ace apt-get shirt store.
Price will vary depending on design and outlet, but expect to pay somewhere between £10-20 for a decent quality tee.
Tux cookie cutter
Know a Linux lover with a fondness for sweet treats and baking?
A huddle of penguin-shape cookie cutters can be found swimming in the retail ocean. But why settle for a generic penguin shape when you could have Tux, the Linux mascot, instead?
This handmade Tux cookie cutter on Etsy is made from bio-degradable materials and costs a tasty £5.10.
Open Source Stickers
Linux stickers are are so plentiful that it’s hard to make any specific recommendations.
Personally, I love plastering my laptop(s) with stickers that promote the great open source apps and projects I use (as well as generic geek nonsense like Pokemon and Splatoon, and the logo of my site).
Now, there are a slew of places you can find great Linux and open source stickers and prices start from just a couple of pounds/dollars.
RedBubble is my go to place. Not only are the stickers high quality, but price per sticker is relatively competitive — though sadly postage is fairly steep, so it pays to buy a lot at once!
Gift cards for Linux-friendly services like Steam, Netflix, Google Play, and Spotify make for a relatively inexpensive, but person-pleasing, gift.
And don’t overlook the usefulness of an Amazon gift card either. Beyond “things”, Amazon sell a tonne of books on open source technologies and Linux topics which gift cards can easily go towards.
Main Present Ideas
Raspberry Pi 4 (4GB)
For a Linux geek there’s no gift as versatile as the Raspberry Pi 4. The latest version of the famed low-cost computer boasts up to 4GB RAM and ‘desktop level’ performance.
Adaptable, expandable, and eminently giftable: the Raspberry Pi 4 is also pretty cheap too. The 4GB model (the most powerful) costs around £57 in the UK and ~$60 in the US.
Lower spec’d models, as well as other variants in the Raspberry Pi family, can be found even cheaper, but it’s the latest model (the most powerful) that offers the most bang for your buck.
In the US, Amazon offer a complete Raspberry Pi 4 desktop set for $138. This includes the official Raspberry Pi keyboard and mouse, official case, power supply, HDMI cables and getting started guide.
If your giftee already has a Raspberry Pi (or you simply want to spoil them) there’s the official Raspberry Pi keyboard (US edition) for $28.99 on Amazon US.
Subscription to Linux Format
Call me old school (because hey: I am) because I don’t think you can beat relaxing with a magazine in yer’ hands!
And Linux Format is one of the few remaining Linux-based publications (and literal publications at that) out there.
Each month sees a new issue released, jam packed with news, tips, reviews and advice on everything Linux and open source.
Physical copies also come with a DVD (yes, some people still have disc drives) loaded with the hottest Linux distros, software, and tools.
Physical subscriptions in the UK start from just £14.99. Digital versions are available internationally.
8bitdo Games Controller
Gaming on Linux has never been in ruder health (thanks in large part to Valve!). This makes a decent gamepad a must have for any self-respecting would-be Linux gamer.
While any modern bluetooth controller should work, you get what you pay for. It should be possible to find the ‘Steam controller’ being sold relatively cheaply on places like eBay. This device has great Linux support.
But personally? I dig the 8bitdo SF30 Pro controller.
This Bluetooth controller is styled after the Super Nintendo gamepads but with modern touches (like shoulder buttons). The SF30 Pro works with Linux, macOS, Windows, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.
8bitdo also distribute firmware updates via the LVFS, allowing Linux fans to flash the latest firmware directly from Linux — a nice touch!
Yubico is a USB authentication device compatible with a tonne of online services, apps and tools including Google and Microsoft accounts, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Github, GitLab, and Proton Mail.
Heck, you can even use a Yubico to login to Ubuntu!
But the most compatible version — support for FIDO U2F, FIDO 2, TOTP, HTOP, PIV and PGP — costs from £40/$45+, hence the reason for the tiny Yubico being in the pricer section of our gift guide!
The Lavish n’ Luxury List
Finally we come to the big ticket items. If your budget — ahem, I mean Santa’s budget — can stretch to it, there are some hugely desirable devices out there that would make terrific tinsel-laden treat for a tech-inclined loved one.
Among them the GPD MicroPC. This 6-inch laptop is super tiny, but impeccably well spec’d, touting 8GB RAM, a quad-core processor, and a 128GB SSD. m
For the ultimate in nerd appeal the device touts a serial port — yes, a serial port! While the GPD MicroPC is sold with Windows 10 (boo) there’s an official version of Ubuntu MATE 19.10 available (woo) for it — I use it, and it’s great.
If your price range stretches even further then something from latest Dell XPS 13 line is SURE to be appreciated. These powerful, professional developer laptops are available in a range of configurations many of which are available with Ubuntu pre-loaded out of the box.
If you’re in Europe do check out Slimbook. This plucky Spanish company recently released a Linux-powered rival to the 16-inch MacBook Pro costing a (comparatively) modest €1.2k sans shipping.
What’s your perfect xmas present?
This list is just a starting point for wider exploration. See, no two Linux users are the same; Linux users tend to be as diverse and as varied as the distros and software they use. This makes “catch all” present ideas a little difficult to come by!
But I’m interested to know the kind of gifts you’d like to unwrap at xmas, so use the commands section below to tell me!
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