Open Source Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

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It is the holiday season and a time to share and exchange presents. And what better way to share some love this holiday season than by giving your loved ones an open source gift. After meticulously going through all that is to offer, we have chosen the following open source gift recommendations.

Our judges panel assured us that one can never go wrong with these gifts. They are all sure winners. So lets see. We also reviewed what our users like to read on XenStreet and therefore were more inclined towards the gifts that you like. For example, our coverage of Linux Distros and Raspberry Pi were more popular than other posts. Hence, our inclination to find something around them.

The Swags

ubuntu swagWe all know how hard the open source community works to build a better software. And sometimes we are just too passionate about our Linux distros, applications or hardware. Would it not be nice to thank those weekend crunching developers by buying some swag of their product? Like a T-shirt, or a coffee Mug. So check out the stores of Fedora, Ubuntu, LibreOffice, MyCroft and buy the swag for your loved ones. A great open source gift swag. And don’t forget to buy one for yourself too while you are at it.

Here are some recommended swags:

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

rpi-3-model-bWe all love and tinker with our little Raspberry Pi and build cool gadgets using it. It’s the best gift to share with someone who likes to innovate and experiment. Especially, when it costs barely US$35. You can always add other goodies in there, like Raspberry Pi sensor kits.

We recently reviewed some competing products and clones similar to Raspberry Pi. And you can always choose one of those as well. But, we believe, Raspberry Pi, with its huge following and community support, makes it a powerful open source gift for anyone who loves to get their creative juices running.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B comes with the following specs making it a really powerful computer on a board. It is also almost 50% faster than the older Pi 2.

  • CPU: 1.2 GHZ quad-core ARM Cortex A53 (ARMv8 Instruction Set)
  • GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV @ 400 MHz.
  • Memory: 1 GB LPDDR2-900 SDRAM.
  • USB ports: 4.
  • Network: 10/100 MBPS Ethernet, 802.11n Wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.0.

Raspberry Pi bare bones kit on Amazon costs: US$35.

Raspberry Pi Sensor Kits

If you are going to build Raspberry Pi based IoT gadgets, you might as well invest a bit more on the sensors side. These sensor kits are ideal to come up with really cool workable gadgets.

The kit we have chosen comes with literally dozens of electronic components. This includes buttons, RFIDs, temperature sensor, photorelays, touchpads, joystick, distance sensors, capacitors, resisters, transistors, LEDs, LED digit displays and much much more. It also comes with lessons to teach you and guide you through using these and other components to make workable devices.

There are numerous such kits out there. Choose the one that you like and want to use. Browse through Amazon or other similar websites for your favorite versions. Here we have recommended one kit that we believe is a good starter costs around US$50 on Amazon.

Creative Learning Kano Kit

Kano KitHaving a Raspberry Pi is good. But having a kit to build even more cool stuff, is just awesome. Ask any kid. Kano Kits are unique, as they offer more enjoyable challenges for everyone, including children who want to learn new things. We reviewed a few kits a while back, but all our readers and panelists agree that Kano has the best package put together.

What can one do with the kit? Here are a few examples:

  • Put together your own little computer. Hook up all the parts that come with the kit (Raspberry Pi, speakers, batteries, keyboard, memory card and hook it up to an LCD screen through HDMI). And Viola, your little computer is ready.
  • Learn to code in Python and Javascript among other popular languages.
  • Build games, apps and other fun little activities.
  • Hook it up to sensors (separately sold) and build even more amazing gadgets.

Recommended Kano Kit on Amazon costs: US$130

It may not be cheap, but it’s worth a look and probably the best gift for your teenage (at heart) geek at home.

Crazypony Quadcopter Mini Drone

crazypony quadcopterThis is really an amazing 46g palm sized quadcopter. It’s completely open source, and perfect for geeks to customize and build on top of the existing functions. All the source code is hosted on GitHub making it easier for hacking and modifying.

Crazypony can fly for about 6 minutes on a full charge. The quadcopter takes about forty minutes to fully charge. You can control it through the provided remote control or through its Android App. Or if you are really motivated, then you will end up writing a better version of the controller for yourself.

The range is limited and it may not be suitable for flight on windy days. So try to fly indoors or when the its a bit calm outdoors.

Since its open source and is not commercial grade, kids and novices might find it difficult to operate and fly. So it is definitely not for the newbies. But if you want to learn and enhance its original features and add up sensors and devices then it is the one for you.

You can pick up a Crazypony Quadcopter on Amazon for about US$90.

Mycroft, AI – Alexa Alternative

mycroft aiThis is one of my favorites on the list. Alexa like assistant built on top of Raspberry Pi. We covered it earlier as well in our blog. Mycroft is still best suited for alpha geeks who want to be literally early testers of the software and hardware. It is still a few months away from being totally commercial grade ready. But hey, geeks love the early release.

It’s built on top of a Raspberry Pi, and all the source code is available on GitHub. So it is pretty easy to upgrade, modify and build on top of what the original team provides. Perfect open source gift and a great alternative to your Alexa, Siri and Google Now.

If you don’t want to buy a physical device, they have another alternate option. Download the whole code of Picroft and install it on one of your existing Raspberry Pi devices. Follow the instructions online and get it going within minutes.

There is also a version for the desktop. So there are numerous choices to choose from.

Mycroft Mark 1 is available for purchase as a hardware from their website here.

LulzBot Mini 3D Printer

lulzbot MiniSo here is the last recommendation of the season. And it is the best of the lot.

Who does not want a 3D printer in their homes? Seriously. Ask any geek, nerd or a Star Wars fanatic. Ask any Big Bang Theory fan. They all want one. So we searched for an entry that was truly open source. Including hardware. And of course the printer should be small, easy to setup and learn. We found, LulzBot Mini, a tiny printer measuring just 6x6x6.2 inches that can easily sit in a corner of your table. Though it is small, it still weighs a hefty 22 pounds.

A perfect open source gift for any geek in your family.

LulzBot 3D Printers are made by Aleph Objects Inc, whose mission it is to:

“Built upon the philosophy of freedom..which means the hardware and software … is free to be copied modified and converted by all users.”

The printer connects to a computer via a USB port. The filaments that it uses are 3mm in diameter. The resolution ranges from .5mm (500 microns) to .05mm (50 microns). ‘Normal’ setting is .2mm, which should be good enough for most projects out there.

It comes standard with Cura LulzBot Edition 3D printing software. However, the printer also supports other softwares including, OctoPrint, BotQueue, Slic3r, Printrun, MatterControl, among others.

LulzBot is recommended for novices and beginners. So if this is your first 3D printer, you would love it.

You can pick one up from Amazon here for US$1250.

So here it is, our list of open source gift recommendations. Hopefully, one of these will be the perfect for that special someone out there.


Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.
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