10 great Linux distros for Christmas

In today's open source roundup: Give the gift of Linux for Christmas. Plus: Apple's Swift programming language comes to Linux. And PINE64 is a $15 computer that runs Linux

10 great Linux distros for Christmas

Christmas is nearly upon us and Linux might be a great gift to consider for your friends and family. But which Linux distributions are worth considering as Christmas gifts? Information Week has a helpful roundup of the best desktop distros for Christmas.

Curtis Frankin reports for Information Week:

Some might ask, "Why Linux?" when it comes to gift-giving. It's the perfect gift for several reasons. It's not likely that a person will end up with a stack of Linux distributions to return the day after the holiday party. Linux is practical and fun, allowing the recipient to learn new skills and join in a huge community while preparing for a life without ties to either Microsoft or Apple. Finally, Linux is free, and who doesn't need a few good gifts that come in below every company's limit on gifts to fellow employees?

Once you recognize what a great gift Linux makes, the question becomes which Linux distribution to give. Fortunately, the proliferation and forking of Linux versions means that there is a distribution for everyone, from buttoned-down business IT folks, to experimenters living outside the normal computing box, to kids dipping their toes into the deep-flowing waters of Linux.

Choosing a Linux distro can seem a daunting task given the sheer number of options from which to choose. According to the web site DistroWatch, there are more than 100 distributions available, some intended for a wide variety of uses, some designed for very specific applications. To help you figure out which distro would be perfect for the people on your gift list, we've winnowed the candidates down to 10.


Linux Mint




Snappy Ubuntu Core

Arch Linux



OpenMandriva Lx

More at Information Week

Apple's Swift programming language is now available for Linux

Apple has gotten lots of attention for its Swift programming language. The company has finally open sourced Swift, and it's now available for Linux.

Chris Hoffman reports for PCWorld:

Apple unveiled its new Swift programming language to much developer interest last year. Initially a closed-source project that only ran on Mac OS X and iOS, it’s now an open-source project with an official Linux port. Apple is currently offering pre-built images for Ubuntu 15.10 and 14.04 based on Swift 2.2.

Don’t expect Linux to easily run those fancy new Mac OS X, iPhone, or iPad applications written in Swift. Those depend on various user interface libraries that aren’t being open-sourced. Just as when Microsoft open-sourced .NET, Apple isn’t open-sourcing the user interface bits required to bring existing desktop or mobile applications to other platforms.

Many servers run Linux, and it’s that market that Apple is targeting here. A developer could write both an app and the server-side code for an app in Swift, running that code on a Linux server. Open-sourcing the platform also allows developers to improve Swift and contribute those improvements back to Apple, which benefits.

That said, there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping the Linux community from taking this Swift code and running with it. It could be ported to other Linux distributions, and could even form the foundation for many Linux desktop applications in the future with some more work.

More at PC World

PINE64: A $15 computer that runs Linux

PINE64 is a single-board, 64-bit computer that costs $15 and runs Linux (and Android). PINE64 is fully open source and seeks to offer a powerful but affordable computing solution.

Marius Nestor reports for Softpedia:

While digging through the Internet, we've recently found a new and powerful 64-bit expandable SBC (single-board computer) called PINE64 that costs only $15 (approximately €14).

Just by looking at its features, we can notice that PINE64 is a versatile single-board computer, which is capable of running the latest versions of the Android mobile operating system, as well as any other modern GNU/Linux distribution on its open source hardware.

Among the technical specifications of PINE64, we can mention a Quad-Core 64-bit A53 processor running at 1.2Ghz, up to 1GB DDR3 RAM, a Dual-Core Mali 400-MP2 GPU with 4K HDMI output, up to Gigabit Ethernet, two I/O expansion slots, two USB 2.0 ports, Bluetooth 4.0, Wireless 801.11 b/g/n, as well as an expandable MicroSD slot.

Another interesting aspect about PINE64 is that it has been engineered from the ground up to work with multiple modules and software, as well as the fact that it has been thoroughly tested with the Ubuntu Linux and OpenWrt operating systems, the XMBC Media Center, and openHAB.

More at Softpedia

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