Mom blogs, open source goes to college, and penguins get cheap(er).
Give Your Machine the Boot!
Live CD’s provide instant Linux: Just pop such a disc into a compatible PC, reboot, and presto! Linux appears.
Now, a number of live CD’s take the concept further: insert disc, boot, and shazam! Instant word processor, instant multimedia studio, or instant technical workstation (among other specialized purposes).
Ghostwriter (http://billy-bob-ming.com/cgibin/ming.cgi?page=sites/ming-tools/ghost/index) is a small Linux distribution aimed at writers. This spartan distro contains tools for writing and little more. Surprisingly, a traditional word processor isn’t included; instead, LyX (http://www.lyx.org/) and templates for novels, screenplays, and articles lie at the core of the distribution. While the learning curve for LyX is steep, it’s a powerful formatting tool. With Ghostwriter, all you can do is boot and write. No excuses.
Next is a trio of multimedia distributions. Musix (http://www.musix.org.ar/) is perfect for the budding rockstar and contains dozens of audio tools for recording, mixing, editing, printing, and ultimately performing music. Visual artists shoud try Grafpup (http://www.grafpup.com/). Built on the tiny Puppy Linux, Grafpup has loads of advanced graphics tools, including Gimp, Cepaint, and Inkscape. It’s great for those days when you’re playing with a new logo or editing a picture. And if you were in the A/V club, try Dynebolic (http://www.dynebolic.org/, screenshot at right). It supports loads of media peripherals.
Whew! Release your inner writer/rockstar/artist/filmmaker today.
The Mom Blog
While Movable Type and WordPress and the Ruby-powered Typo are excellent blogging packages, using such elaborate systems is likely to be frustrating to a blogging newbie. For those that don’t geek, there’s Thingamablog (http://thingamablog.sourceforge.net/).
A standalone blogging application and feed reader, Thingamablog runs on both Windows and Linux. Its slick editor makes composing entries a breeze, and most important, it doesn’t require a database or a scripting engine to run. Thingamablog publishes content via FTP.
Given Thingamablog and the modicum of web space offered by most Internet service providers (or even the free hosting services), everyone can have fifteen megabytes of fame. I can’t wait to read what your mom has to say.
Ramen and Software
Who can forget the joys of being a student. Lot’s of, uh, studying. Yeah, studying.
Now, thanks to Software for Starving Students (http://mirror.softwarefor.org), you can save your favorite student some dough and expose him or her to the joys of open source. Software for Starving Students is a CD that contains a number of productivity applications released under the GNU General Public License. Term paper due? Do some research with Firefox, do some writing with OpenOffice, and look cool with Azureus.
Sadly, Software for Starving Students CD’s are only available for Windows and Macintosh computers. Still, it can’t hurt to introduce young people to the power of open source. With the money saved, perhaps your student can upgrade to macaroni.
Sorry, Only Linux Sold Here
Linspire and Mirus have joined forces to offer Koobox (http://www.koobox.com), a line of Linux-only desktop computers. Priced at $299, $399, and $499, the AMD-powered Kooboxes are sure to please beginners, power users, and value seekers, all.
Each Koobox machine runs Linspire Linux and is covered by a 90-day warranty. The buying process is very simple: choose a box, and optionally, choose a monitor and an extended warranty.
The $299 Essential Koobox makes a great gift or a serviceable spare machine. If you’re looking to replace a machine, consider the multimedia or performance versions available at the slightly higher prices. In any case, rejoice! The Koobox is free of any Windows tax.
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