This is the time of year when many people are trying to figure out just the right gifts for their family and friends. But some folks get to the open source users on their list… and everything comes to a complete halt. What do you give someone who is either not used to purchasing software or who has everything they need at their fingertips? What types of gifts are ideal for the open source lover? I have a list of 10 items that will put a smile on the face of any follower of the FOSS.

1: System76 Bonobo Extreme

System76 Bonobo Extreme is a powerhouse of a laptop, with the latest Ubuntu desktop installed. How’s this for specs: 3rd Generation Intel Core i7 CPUs, 17.3″ 1080p full high definition LED backlit display (1920 x 1080), nVidia Geforce GTX 670MX or Geforce GTX 680M, 204 pin Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1600 MHz, 2 x 2.5″ 9mm removable SATA II/III, multitouch with two-finger scrolling, gigabit LAN (10/100/1000), WiFi, and Intel Centrino 802.11 bgn? Add to that list a beautiful backlit keyboard and you have a high-end gift to make any Linux user happy. Price: $1,599.

2: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is all the rage at the moment. With this little gem, you have an ARM-based Linux box for around $35.00 USD. And because of its popularity, you can easily purchase accessories (such as enclosures, keyboards, and hubs). I will warn you, though, that because of that incredible popularity, the chances of getting one delivered before the holidays might be slim. But you can always place an IOU under the tree. The Model B offers a 700Mhz processor with 512 Mb of RAM.

3: Arduino

Arduino is an open source electronic prototyping board that’s intended for creating interactive objects or environments. It senses the environment thanks to numerous sensors and can effect change by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. The Arduino is programmed using the Arduino Programming Language. What’s best, the boards can be purchased preassembled or in pieces, so the user can have all the fun! The Arduino starter kit is $119.68 USD.

4: Linux Journal subscription

A Linux Journal subscription may seem a bit antiquated, but magazines still have value. And what better magazine to give than Linux Journal? And this isn’t an ordinary subscription. Gone are the days of collecting paper magazines. Linux Journal is now in digital subscription format. At the first of each month, subscribers receive a notification of the availability of the new issue. They can then download the issue for desktop, ereader, Android, or IOS device. Price: $29.50 for a year.

5: MintyBoost

MintyBoost is a DIY, open source, hardware charger. With this kit, users can create their own iPhone/Android/GPS/etc battery pack and charger. It provides 500mA @ 5V, tested, and is designed to work with all the latest iGadgets, including the latest iPhones and iPods. MintyBoost also works with high-drain devices and LiPoly battery mods. The kit does require some soldering, so keep that in mind when you hand that gift over. Price: $19.50 USD.


FLORA is a 1.75-inch round, wearable platform, designed by Adafruit. The FLORA’s addressable and chain-able 4,000 mcd RGB LED pixels and premium stainless steel thread has built-in USB support. FLORA works with Linux, Microsoft Windows, and OS X. Its modules include Bluetooth, GPS, 3-axis accelerometer, compass module, flex sensor, piezo, IR LED, and many more. Price: $24.95

7: Binary Code Bowl

Binary Code Bowl isn’t flash, electronic, or programmable. Nor can you connect anything to it but your lips and a spoon. This is a bowl for eating soup or your favorite sugary breakfast cereal. Even though this gift isn’t flashy, it could be considered classy by some. Specs: 2 3/4″/7cm tall, 5 1/4″/13.5cm diameter, and 16oz/500ml capacity. I do not know if the binary actually means anything, but it could be a fun task to figure out. Price: $30.00 USD.

8: MaKey MaKey

MaKey MaKey is a DIY kit at its heart and allows the creator to develop projects and power them from just about any energy source (such as ketchup, pencil graphite, plants, and coins). The kit contains the board (based on the Arduino), alligator clips, and a USB cable. The board can be switched to Arduino mode to make this kit even more expandable. Price: $49.95 USD.

9: Pandora Handheld

Pandora Handheld is the smallest portable Linux PC, created for gaming, surfing, coding, and more. The Pandora is fully open (software and hardware) and can boot from the internal NAND or any OS from an SD card. Specs: Wifi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0 Host, TV Out, two SDHC Card slots, a 43-button QWERTY keyboard, a fast CPU, and 3D GPU (800×48). You’ll enjoy 10+ hours of battery life per charge. Price: $860.94 USD.

10: Spotify

A Spotify Unlimited Subscription is one of the best way to keep open source fans in music. Not only will they enjoy extensive playlists, they’ll enjoy it without limits or ads. And by handing over such a gift, you can be sure you are doing your part to help stop piracy.

What else?

There are many gifts to give your open source friends, and I hope this list will help you find ones that are just right. If you have other suggestions, please share them with fellow TechRepublic members.

Happy holidays everyone! No matter what you celebrate, may your days be filled with joy, love, and open source!